While writing the blog about Scale House Etiquette I thought about the times I have been told to "Pull over and bring in your paperwork driver" or "Pull around back for inspection". Sometimes there is a light telling us to do this and other times it is a voice on the loud speaker.
What I have found helps me is to be organized. We have a great permit book that has everything in little pockets, or in sheet protectors, has a copy of our lease, and a copy of the 400lb exemption for our generator. I have a wallet that contains all of my credentials to drive a truck including, drivers license, medical card, TWIC card, our company ID card, and a couple of base passes.
As I exit the truck I grab the permit book, my wallet, my glasses that I use for driving, and my paperwork. If we are on a Hazmat load I leave one copy of my paperwork in the drivers seat.
Long ago we labeled each pocket in the permit book with a label stating what paperwork the pocket contained. Some permits are called by different names in different states and we used all of those names on each individual pocket.
When I approach the counter I lay my permit book down and my wallet and speak to the scale personal when they are ready. The usual question is to see our insurance and single state registration. Sometimes they ask what we are hauling and to see that paperwork. If they ask to see our logbooks I let them know that we are on an ELD (Electronic Logging Device).
What makes me the most nervous is when I get a level 1 inspection as each person has different signals for what action they want me to perform. They check the lights, the bright lights, the turn signals, the emergency flashers, and brake lights and as you can imagine some of the ways they tell us to do this is comical. So far though I have been able to get through each one without irritating anyone too much.
Personally I have not had a bad scale experience and have met some really neat people. When an officer is in a hurry or does not have time to chat I act as professionals and we get the inspection done. A couple of my fun experiences are listed below:
Once in Oregon I was stopped on the scale and an officer came running out and jumped up on the driver’s side running board and pointed at my windshield and asked what is THAT? I looked slightly dumbfounded (I have a tendency to be a smart aleck when someone asks me an obvious to me question) and said with a question in my voice "My GPS" and he said no behind it and I though said "My GPS Antenna?" It was really kind of funny and He was so serious and to me asking such silly questions. Well when I said GPS antenna he kind of slumped down and said, "I thought so they look and read on our computers just like car radar. So while the line behind me waiting we had a nice chat and he wished me a nice day.
Another scale house and I was once again stopped on the scale and an officer came out and got on the passenger side running boards and said, "Are you all right mam? " Well that was odd and I said, "Yes". He said, "Are you sure? There is a car following you and you are placarded." I said, "Yes " and explained why I was being followed. That very observant officer made my day, as they were getting ready to give that car a VERY VERY hard time. This one was so awesome I called into his superior to say how much I appreciated this inspector.
A back woods scale in Missouri pulled me in for a Level 3 and he asked about logs and I told him we had an ELD and he said let me look at it. It was easy to see he was struggling as much as we were to learn how to read the electronic graphs and him and I had a great chat about the device and how it works.
In Colorado I was pulled in for a random Hazmat check and met one of the nicest ladies. Her and I started talking about raising kids and having them be independent of us and at the same time missing them calling us for assistance. On a side note my paperwork was all in order.
Another time when in New Mexico I was pulled in for a Level 1 inspection and they had a pit so they could look under the truck. One inspector was looking over the underside of the truck while another was going over the topside. All of a sudden the lady under the truck hesitated and called out to the other inspectors. She had gotten to our automatic chains and did not know what they were. All of the inspectors ended up over at our truck were in astonishment over the chains. We all had a great conversation.
Another funny one was when I was pulled into a Texas scale that is never open. Once again they wanted to perform a Level 1 inspection. The day was absolutely beautiful and we were due for a periodic inspection so this inspection would save us some money. The officer was professional and after passing and finishing up our paperwork we were both walking back to the truck and I thanked him for the inspection. He looked at me with the biggest smile and said "Really?" I told him it was a beautiful day and it was nice to get out of the truck and enjoy some of it. When I left that officer was still smiling as I was, I always smile when I save money.
One more story about an officer in Montana. I was empty and was pulled into a small scale and was asked to bring in my paperwork. I brought in the permit book and he said I was almost over on my drive tires and that was a shock. In Montana it is 500lbs an inch of tread width. Well this was new to me so we went out to the truck and he discussed the law and how it came about. We had a really interesting conversation and I learned something new.
Ok one more... As I am writing these I keep thinking of more funny ones that make me smile. We were on a really rough HAZMAT load and the customer could not get the paperwork right. After several hours finally we were cleared to go and as I was entering California I was pulled in for a level 1 and HAZMAT inspection. I did a sigh of relief for how many hours were spent getting our paperwork right. This time I had a lady inspector and she was a former truck driver that hauled logs. She was a hoot and at that time we were on paper logs and she was so impressed with my logs she drew a smiley face and initialed it!
In all of these instances the inspectors continued to observe trucks crossing the scales except in the instance of the Oregon inspector. When going into a scale Bob and I look like professionals, our paperwork is in order, and we talk respectful to the officers. If we have any questions about how laws we ask the officer if there is not a line and we wish the officer a good day.