By: Kelly Levstek
Working in the shop we hear over the intercom, ‘Truck Party’. It’s no special occasion or celebration, but the call of a truck on the dock needing to be loaded or unloaded. We all gather at the dock and drop our dock ramp to begin. If the truck is ready to be unloaded, we unpack the truck and scan the large items such as; cases and speakers, into inventory before we move them to the proper department, where all items are unpacked and scanned. These tend to be the quickest of truck parties. Loading a truck often takes a little more time, due to planning how to pack the truck, especially if it’s gonna be a tight fit.
With each type of truck party comes different challenges. If a truck is being unloaded, some challenges I face are always gear that has shifted from the drive that could pose a falling hazard, loose latches on cases, and heavy objects that I maybe be unable to lift or push safely without causing myself harm. When I first started unpacking trucks, I was very eager in keeping up with all the guys and trying to do all the lifting. Being five foot and 125 lbs, I had to learn my limits.
I had to learn that maybe I can’t flip B2s by myself or stack amp racks, and rigging cases are tough for me to push on my own, but there are other ways to contribute to unloading a truck. I can still push cable cases and amp racks. I often find myself helping the flow of traffic outside of the truck by moving the gear to the designated areas after it has been scanned. I struggle a little with stacks of speakers, but it’s never a problem to ask for help and have someone give you a push over the ramp or help guide the stack out of the truck.
I often keep a look out for loose items in the pack as we unstack speakers or cases. Gear sometimes can shift and pose a falling hazard if we are not careful when unloading. I also look for cases with latches that are loose and hanging off. There have been numerous times where I’ve walked past a case and caught my leg on a loose latch, even sometimes ripping my jeans. Its not all that fun and its avoidable, if I payed better attention.
When we are loading a truck, communication and planning becomes important. The caller will often have an idea of how they want the truck to be packed. Sometimes we can be too eager and just start putting gear into the truck without a plan, which sometimes works out, but if space is tight, we very well could end up repacking the entire truck. We all have to be aware of what is going into the truck, as well as making sure it gets marked off on the manifest by the supervisor. If something gets missed, or we have an off count of speakers or amps, then we must find and recount the gear.
Another challenge I personally face with loading a truck is being short. Quite often, if I’m helping push in a stack of speakers, it is taller than me, which poses a problem if the assisting person on the other side of the speakers doesn’t see me. If we are putting the speakers next to another stack in the truck, I have to make sure I’m out of the way before I get squished, either next to a wall or in between speakers. It’s hard in a rush to remember whose in front or that there is even someone there, so I often make my presence known, but definitely get out of the way if I’m on the receiving end of a wall where the stack is going, or next to another stack.
Another challenge is safety around the forklift if it is in the truck taking items of the deck. It’s a tight space with a lot of people moving in and out with a lot of equipment. It’s important to be aware of the movement of the fork to make sure you are not behind it when backing up and your feet are never near the tires. Also, watching the traffic inside and outside of the truck is important, to avoid running others over with speakers and cases.
I find truck parties fun, despite the challenges I face with moving the gear around and stacking. At times it’s a bit like Tetris, getting things to fit into place is a puzzle and after we are are done loading, it feels good to have a nicely packed truck.