BUSTED! (Guest Post by Paul Curran)

Paul can be such a devil!  Enjoy:

BUSTED!

By: Paul Curran

PaulCurran

 

Thunderchicken, I think it’s the next left. Loverboy’s Turn me Loose  played in the background as I watched the back doors of Elroy’s trailer ahead of me.

 

In this time before GPS, navigating around North America was considerably more challenging than it is now. Elroy (known by his CB handle of “Thunderchicken”) with his green Kenworth tractor was ahead of me, and we were headed to Paris Foods on Highway 50 (Ocean Gateway) in Trappe, Maryland. We both had 40,000 pound loads of IQF baby carrots – that is Individually Quick Frozen baby carrots in 40 pound plastic bags in boxes on pallets. Paris Foods did packaging and distribution of commercial vegetables for shipment all over the US. We had loaded yesterday in a small town in Nova Scotia called Oxford and now, 900 miles later, were arriving for our 10 am unloading appointments.

Paris Foods

Paris Foods, Trappe, Maryland (Courtesy Google Maps – https://www.google.ca/maps/@38.6578046,-76.0536422,232m/data=!3m1!1e3)

Sure enough, there was the sign on the left, and we turned into the parking lot. Parking side by side, we both got out into the August heat and walked over to the dock entrance with our paperwork in hand. Elroy was a bit shorter and darker than me, thin with a black beard and mustache. He was the best friend I had and could be hilarious when in the mood. And he was in the mood today. As we started up the steps to the dock, one of the transport doors opened and a huge black man, standing easily 7 foot and dressed in a bulky freezer suit, hollered at us;

Are you my carrots?”

Elroy nudged me with his elbow and whispered:

Know what you call a man that big?”

I shook my head, afraid we’d be overheard, and he whispered;

Sir”

Louder he replied: “Yes, sir!

Awright then back in side by side here and there,” he pointed at the next transport door over, “and bring your paperwork in.” Slamming the door down, he disappeared from sight.

Elroy and I did as we were told and with two crews working on our loads, we were soon empty. I called our American dispatch in Meddybemps, Maine, and asked for our next loads. Dale, the owner’s son, came on the phone:

Are you and Elroy empty?” I assured him we were.

Good, then I have a special load for each of you.” Oh Lord, this couldn’t be good – Dale was abrasive and whenever he prefaced his orders with a feel-good comment like that, he wanted a favor.

What do you have Dale?”

Well, I’ve got two trailer loads of liquor from Baltimore to the duty free stores at the Maine border in Calais [he pronounced this with the heavy Maine accent as “Kal-ous”] and Houlton.”

This was decidedly illegal and I reminded him so.

Dale we’re Canadians and our trucks are Canadian, We can’t haul point to point in the US.” He new this, of course, for as abrasive as he was, he was no man’s fool. But he just wanted the loads hauled. His reply was disingenuous:

Really? I thought that if the load was headed for the Canadian border you could haul it.” Yeah, bullshit he thought that.

It was that way years ago Dale but no more – it has to cross the border for it to be legal for us.”

Look I really need these loads hauled. If there’s any problem, I’ll take care of it.”

Let me talk it over with Elroy and I’ll call you back.”

So, Elroy and I discussed it and decided that since the punishment for the illegal loads was only to unload and leave the country but then be permitted to re-enter (along with a hefty fine) we would do it for Dale provided he covered the fine. Calling him back we got the details and proceeded over to Baltimore to load.

Loading the duty free and bonded load was a pain in the derriere as each case had to be signed for individually in quintuplicate. I had 375 cases, and it literally took me over two hours of signing (1875 signatures) to be permitted to leave with the bonded load. The trailers were sealed with customs seals, which meant we had to report to customs to clear the loads at destination before unloading. This increased the chance of being caught.

So, I loaded for Calais, and Elroy loaded for Houlton and off we went. The loads paid well so I have to admit the temptation was part of the reason for taking them.

We stopped for supper at a Ponderosa Steak House and each had a steak to bolster our energy. Elroy was on a roll with the humor and as we were standing at the desk to pay there was an older couple – perhaps 70 – ahead of us. On the counter, there was a large bowl of dinner mints and a spoon so a customer could take one. The woman was dressed in her Sunday best and had her purse open sitting next to the bowl. Her companion gentleman had his wallet out and was paying for the meal. As he paid, the woman picked up the spoon and started spooning as many mints as she could into her open purse. Elroy watched this happening and again with the nudge to my ribs to get my attention, he walked to the side of the woman and grabbed the big bowl in both hands. Hoisting the bowl up and tilting it, he said in a very big voice that was audible through the restaurant:

Here Lady, you hold your purse open and I’ll pour in as many mints as it will take!”

With an audible huff, the woman slammed her purse closed, and spinning on her heels she marched out of the restaurant indignantly. The gentleman blushed a deep red and muttering his apologies as he slunk out the door. Behind them echoed the laughter of about 50 people who had seen the incident, including the cashier. Travelling with Elroy often involved surprises.

mints

Fill up Your Purse Lady? (http://www.almanac.com/sites/new.almanac.com/ files/imagecache/page_article/images/photo_7892.jpg)

Our bellies full, we headed up the highway. Twelve hours and 600 miles later, we pulled into Dysart’s Truck Stop off I-95 in Bangor Maine.  At the time, there were no highway scales on that route, so we hadn’t been caught yet. We slept in our respective sleeper berths for a few hours and then rose for a bite to eat and a shower. Here we headed in separate directions – me down Hwy #9 to Calais and Elroy up I-95 to Houlton. It was a bit shorter time-wise for Elroy, about 1 ¾ hours total to his destination, than it was for me at about 2 hours.

So, I arrived at the Calais border and parked well back from customs in the yard of the duty free where I was scheduled to unload. I made sure the truck license plate couldn’t be seen (parked behind a phone booth), gathered up my paperwork and bond documents and walked up to the customs house. I went in the front door, walked up to the counter and, greeting the officer on duty, set my paperwork down. I didn’t even have time to explain the load when the station commander came out of the office area to the desk and as he walked up he pointed at me and said:

Where do you live?” There was no doubt he had been waiting for me – and now he had asked the one question I dreaded. No use lying, as all my ID was Canadian. I was busted.

Halifax, Nova Scotia, sir.”

You’re under arrest. Follow me.” Drats, this wasn’t going well at all. The officer watched with wide eyes as I crossed behind the counter and followed his commander down the hallway. His gun swung against his leg as he walked. Trying to lighten things up a bit I asked: “I guess when the guy with the gun says to follow, everyone follows?”

There was no response. Oh well, I tried. We entered his office and he motioned that I was to sit in the chair in front of the desk.

During the ensuing conversation I pled that I had not understood the law clearly and was headed in the direction of home. He knew I knew better but clarified the law for me anyway. The fine was $10,000 USD. I contacted Dale and explained what had happened, and he arranged for the customs broker the company used to come down to the customs house and write a check for the full amount. After some discussion, the commander agreed to let me unload at my customer, as it was the closest and actually the only, warehouse but then, he said sternly, I had to leave the country immediately. Ha! This was not a huge deal as Canada was only 1,000 feet away. He seemed quite peeved when he realized that this had all been thought out carefully before hand – the immediate unloading and exit from the country along with the fine being the punishment for the crime. In my case that meant unloading at my customer and driving 1,000 feet, with the fine paid by the company. Basically no punishment at all for me. I asked when I could return to the States and he replied, in a pissy tone, that I could return as soon as reached Canada.

After unloading under the supervision of a customs officer, I drove to Canada, turned around and re-entered the States to drop off my paperwork at our office, which was only about a 15 minute drive from the border on the American side. As I was doing my trip report, Dale came out of his office quite sheepishly:

Everything OK, Paul?”

Sure Dale. I assume you will be covering the fine as we discussed?” He nodded. “I have to ask, how did customs know I was coming? As soon as I walked in, the commander came out and asked me where I was from.”

One of the potato haulers in Houlton saw Elroy unloading at the duty free and realized that we were delivering the backhaul that he normally did from Baltimore. When he went to confront Elroy, he noticed the tractor was Canadian and he complained to customs that we were taking his regular load. Your load was listed on Elroy’s paperwork because the two duty free stores are owned by the same guy and both loads were billed to him. So customs in Houlton called Calais and they were waiting for you.”

Dale was quite humble as in his desperation to get the loads hauled, he had just cost the company $20,000. – $10,000 each for Elroy and me. I still got paid my full fee for the trip and although I now had a record at customs, I wouldn’t get banned unless I did it again, and that was not in the plans – at least getting caught again was not in the plans.

Meanwhile Dale owed me one and I would collect on that. And, in fact, although I did haul many loads point to point in the US after that, I never took another duty free load and I wasn’t caught.

__________

Paul Curran and I love to hear from our readers. You may comment on this post, comment on my Facebook or Twitter pages, or email me at cordeliasmom2012@yahoo.com or notcordeliasmom@aol.com

__________

Image credits are listed under each photo

This entry was posted in Guest Posters, Paul Curran, Road Trips & Cars, That's Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to BUSTED! (Guest Post by Paul Curran)

  1. Paul says:

    Good morning CM! Thank you so much for the opportunity to guest post. I am honored. Would you like a mint? Ha!

    Like

  2. LOL! What a great tale, Paul. You are such a rogue. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much for coming by IB! i’m pleased that you enjoyed the story. Elroy was quite the character to truck with – the trouble we used to get into surprised even me. He brought out the best and worst in me – Ha! As casual and funny as he was, he had a deep and abiding faith and sometimes when he spoke i would flash to biblical passages. He is married with children now and living on Eastern Canada. He met his wife at the Deer Lake Truck Stop where she used to hang out with the truck drivers. Olivera is a kind soul but associating with drivers all the time she picked up an undeserved reputation in some quarters. Elroy was a beloved character and I once overheard a conversation where another driver had apparently mentioned Olivera’s reputation to his face and his reply was classic Elroy: “She may be a whore, but she’s my whore.”

      Thanks so much for dropping by IB – please come again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Victo Dolore says:

    That just upped your sexy bad-boy street cred considerably! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re a great storyteller Paul! You need your own blog. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much Karen! My old laptop doesn’t have the power or memory to sustain a blog – i tried and all i get are error pop ups and then it freezes. i’m saving my pennies to get a new one. thanks so much for dropping by. it is wonderful to see you here and i’m glad you enjoyed the story. Please drop by again.

      Like

  5. rossmurray1 says:

    Oxford! Blueberry Capital of Canada!
    I know that Calais crossing. Not as friendly as ours here on Vermont, even before 9/11.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      You got it Ross. Oxford frozen foods – we used to haul blueberries out of there as well. It’s owned and run (or was) by John Bragg. His son owned a truck and i worked with him for a while. They were a good family. Thanks so much for dropping by Ross. i am honored. Glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, Calais is tough. I did cross occasionally at Derby Line and there is a heck of a difference. Each of these crossings seem to have a culture of their own. I suspect it is because they are isolated and seldom see the big bosses. The crossing commander sets the tone for the agents. The Calais commander was an ex- marine and so were most of his agents. they could be tough. If you want to see a bunch of assholes (pardon my language) try crossing at Windsor/Detroit some time. Whew!

      Anyway, great to see you and please drop by again.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gibber says:

    Sneaky sneaky

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Shhh! Don’t want too many secrets out! Ha! Most saw it as a bit of a game Gibber. We never did anything that would harm anyone but if you could think of a rule, we could find a way to break it. And break it we did. Sometimes we got caught but very rarely, given the rules we broke. Thanks so much for dropping by. I am honored to have you visit. Please come by again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gibber says:

        Ha! An adventure eh?!

        Like

        • Paul says:

          Absolutely. It sure isn’t for everyone (long-haul trucking) but it can be rather adrenaline pumping. We were paid as a percentage of gross and most loads paid gross on weight. Which meant that the more we loaded, the more we got paid. You had to balance what you could go over by how long it took and difficult it was to keep from getting caught. that depended on a pile of factors, including time of day and day of the week (a lot of gov’t highway scales were closed on weekends – and some could be circumvented if open), weather, season, possible route changes, load temperature (running the desert in the summer was to be avoided with refrigerated loads), etc. i actually loaded 70k pounds on a truck only rated for 45k pounds once when i was sure I could get away with it, At that weight, you start breaking rims and equipment – never did that again – took too long fixing things.

          Anyway, it was fun – kept me busy.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Gibber says:

            Wow. This trip you wrote about though turned into an awfully expensive trip for the people you shipped for. Was it worth it for them?

            Like

            • Paul says:

              Maybe. You see they had contracts to haul for that warehouse and these loads came up. If they didn’t cover them, they may have jeopardized the contract. But in the short run, the answer is a resounding “No”. The loads only paid them about $2,000 each of which I got 73%. So I got about $1,460 for around 700 miles – or about $2.00 USD per mile. My costs were a bit less than $1.00 USD per mile, so i made around $700. USD for 1 day’s work. At the time the Canadian dollar was weak and all of my fixed costs were in CDN dollars – which was a bonus.

              Liked by 1 person

      • List of X says:

        Is this really a good idea to admit to breaking various laws on a public blog? 🙂

        Like

  7. Anyone who’d choose “Thunderchicken” as a handle has got to be all right. You are such a story teller. The scene at the steak house so real- it could have happened in so many places along the road. Mints!
    Authorities don’t laugh or crack a smile, do they? More the punishment for you evil-doers HA HA.
    Too bad you got ratted out. (One of my college age cousins got caught hauling whiskey up that way one time down back roads. It was how he was paying for college…and he always kinda stepped over the edge most of his life.)
    Lively read.
    Been wondering, while waiting on the computer fairy, would it be possible for you to email posts periodically to someone who could then cut and paste them into a WP blog for you? Are you able to do a basic/simple WP theme blog set up on your computer? (Could you do the comments/management from there?) Post pictures might be a problem and have to left off or sent separately and inserted in letter before loading in? There’s a solution somewhere…
    In any case, hope the weekend is hoppy and bright

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hi Phil! CM has made a home away from home here for me while I work on getting some new hardware. Under her “categories” drop down, she has set up a category for me where all my guest posts here are listed. Up at the top in the banner there is a link to a list of all my other guest posts on other blogs. I send her a word document with pics and links and she transfers it to wordpress and does some light editing. it works well for me , although it depends on CM’s kindness and i dislike taking advantage of people. She says that we have boosted her readership and that is good for her. So it is a win-win. many other kind bloggers have offered to give me space for guest posting and occasionally i do post else where – some material is not appropriate for some sites.

      I’m pleased that you enjoyed the post and i thank you for dropping by for a read. Please drop by again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have no problem with posting Paul’s stories any time he wants. Just sayin’.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Doobster418 says:

    Another fascinating Paul Curran saga. You’ve led an interesting and adventurous life, my friend.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hi Ya Doob! Awesome to have you pop by – Thank You. Yes i can honestly say that I’ve never been bored – scared shitless sometimes and in a pickle upon occasion, but never bored. ha! I’m pleased that you enjoyed the post Doob. Elroy and I used to travel together whenever we got a chance, he was a hoot.

      Like

  9. julie says:

    Paul! You have the best stories! I wish I could hear you tell em! You know, just so I can get questions answered when they come up….You do a good job covering them for the most part, and I can piece enough together to enjoy the story!

    Thanks again to CM for allowing you a platform!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Julie No-Blog! What a sight for sore eyes – another member of the No-Blog clan. ha! Welcome! i’m happy that you enjoyed the story. thank you. there is a lot of detail that I skip simply for the sake of post length. For instance this one is close to 2,000 words – which is long for blog post. I aim for about 1200-1500. many say it should not be over 800-1000, but folks seem OK with the longer story as long as it is interesting. Thank you so much for dropping by, please come visit again.

      Like

  10. willowdot21 says:

    You are the man Paul!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. markbialczak says:

    Cue the outlaw music, Paul. I’m sure glad you never got caught hauling duty-free point-to-point on our side of the border again, my friend. I wouldn’t you to be banned from a whole dang nation, especially mine. I indeed admire your storytelling talents, pahdnah. Dale had this one well-thought out, save for Mr. Potato Head tattle-tale.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Hi Mark! Thanks so much for dropping by for a read. ha! No, they didn’t throw me out although I sweated it a few times. I loaded a full trailer of pears out of Medford Oregon one day and dropped down to catch Donner Pass (I-80) through the Rockies. I had my Boston girl friend with me and it was just a few days before Christmas. The only load I could find to get her back home for Christmas was into Boston, so I took it and typed up a fake set of Bills of Lading showing the load going to Halifax. I forgot about the agricultural Inspection station entering California and when they checked the BOL’s they made me wait a long time and I thought I was cooked. Not only dd they pass, but they stamped the fake bills as Passed and gave them such credence that when they were checked by other weigh stations on the trip, one glance was all that was needed. Ha! that was a few moments of terror.

      Anyway, it was a wild and woolly time. The things we do when we are young. That potato hauler was an out-of-the-blue piece of bad luck. I bet we would have gotten away with it if not for for him. Oh, well – do the crime, do the time. Thanks again for the read Mark and i hope you drop by again.

      Like

  12. Melanie says:

    You only have to get caught once to know what not to do. Great story and storytelling Paul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much for dropping by for a read Melanie. Yep, it was a learn as you go business. I had a good time though Melanie, lots of adrenaline pumping times. Saw lots of territory and met lots of people. I would recommend it for a young person but you are married to the truck – no home life. There were hard times along the way and there were times of achievement. I wouldn’t do it again but I am glad i did it. Thanks again for the visit Mel. Please drop by again.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. suzjones says:

    And here was I thinking you we’re an angel Paul! My illusions have been shattered. 😛

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Ha! Not just a pretty face Suz. Thanks so much for dropping by for a read. It is an honor to have you visit. I was a wild one when i was younger – very stolid and staid now though –**Ahem** Ha! I have another guest post here later today as well. if you get a chance to drop by it would be wonderful. Hope you and yours are having a Happy Easter.

      Great to see you Suz. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Aussa Lorens says:

    Yikes! That is a hefty fine! For some carrots. Yowza.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks so much for dropping by Aussa! It is a pleasure to have you visit. Yes, the fines were steep, but covered by the company – so their loss. We warned them in advance, but the company insisted, so away we went. Hey, I saw your dance routines on the video that GG used for a post this week. Very slick, dare i say Aussome. Keep up the funky moves. Please drop,by again.

      (P.S. it was the alcohol going from point to point in the US with a Canadian truck and driver that upset customs)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aussa Lorens says:

        Oh that’s right! I was fixated on the carrots because of the photo and a long trail of thought that resulted and distracted me for a moment in the middle of reading… but I remember thinking about how they paid well for booze. Naturally.

        Like

        • Paul says:

          Yeah booze is considerate a luxury item and carrots a commodity. Luxury items can have basically any costs add to them and the sales will vary very little. That meant that booze and other luxury items all paid better than commodities. We liked booze. In more than one way.

          Like

  15. LindaGHill says:

    Having a best friend who’s a truck driver (as I’m positive I’ve mentioned before) I hear tons of stories – I’m still amazed at how many stupid things your employers ask you to do. It’s like they don’t like money.
    Great story, Paul! 😀 And very well told.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hi Linda! Thanks so much for dropping by my humble guest post. Yes, employers can be stupid and even funny sometimes. And there is always the pressure to produce even when it is illegal. Often it is financially beneficial to follow those orders, which does not encourage the rule of law. I’m glad you enjoyed the story Linda and I hope you will drop by again.

      Like

  16. The Hook says:

    Paul’s not a devil… he’s THE Devil… but in a good way!

    Liked by 1 person

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