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By: joealaska , 6:10 AM GMT on September 11, 2012

As I told you earlier. Labor Day we were laboring. This past weekend was a new superlative. And it came out of nowhere.

We had only three containers of food, and one container of freight. Friendly enough.

And the days between last weekend and this weekend were indicative of a slowdown.


The first flag was the boat was late, very late. It started unloading at 4 PM instead of 7 AM. Normally our first container gets to us about 2.5 hours after the start. But at 6 PM the union for the crane operators goes to dinner for an hour. No matter what is happening.

We were busy enough Friday, delivering freight and filling a few last minute orders, including one fat order of about 30 pallets.

But we REALLY needed that food off the container vessel. Two weeks prior we had a feeding frenzy from the Shell vessels just before they headed north. It included the single largest order I have seen in my 4.5 years here. So the warehouse was cleaned out, and I ordered the largest replenishment order ever for me. 20% more than the record up until then. This monster order was arriving NOW. MOST of the pallets arriving were for our warehouse, not all the other customers.

We already knew we were going to be busy early in the day Friday. The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) had popped in the day before wanting to see our records for training ourselves during the last few years. Turns out there were annual requirements of which we were not aware. We are agents of a freight company, pretty much doing what they tell us to do. Not good.
So just as the phone began ringing about orders needed in the next few hours, the TSA came back to see what we were doing to correct it all. The phone was ringing off the hook when they were back for a second visit in 24 hours.

But they were pretty cool, saying that this was the first time they have come to Dutch in the lat five years, so they were PART of the issue with no enforcement. We all agreed to get it fixed, and they were OUTTA here.

Now boats were calling about the food that was coming in, still unloaded. One wanted delivery at 8 AM. A big boat and big order. Another big boat asked for 7 AM. The Coast Guard was in and wanted 9 AM. We were getting an order in that needed to be examined and checked in, to be delivered at 6 AM. Another BIG boat called and wanted their order delivered Sat afternoon.

Mid afternoon Friday we got more calls. Shell. One of their tugs going back and forth, north and south, taking supplies to the vessels on site up north, was coming in. Evidently this was a big surprise to all involved, as we were suddenly presented with four orders to be filled by 8 AM. A couple of them were big orders. The phone kept ringing late afternoon Friday for early Sat deliveries. All to catch that same northbound boat at 8 AM.

To fill these orders we needed to unload our three vans. Which we were still waiting for. And we needed to break apart the pallets and put the product away, so we could PULL the product for those orders.

We had TWENTY FIVE pallets of frozen product alone to unload. These are pallets 6-8 feet tall. Find the shrimp! Find the hash browns! It takes HOURS to put this stuff away.
At 6 PM I sent everyone home for a break, until I knew a container was pulling up.

We had worked a hard typical day, and it was just beginning. Around 8:30 PM we were called back. The containers were all coming in.

Thank God the Shell orders were put off a few hours. So we all worked until past midnight, then went home. One of our guys who came in late stayed all night, filling orders and putting away stock. I left at 12:30AM after a 16 hour day, came back at 8:30 AM, and he was still cranking.

He gave us a head start, and we all kicked ass. Three guys worked until almost midnight, and they were back at 5 AM. Awesome effort. New Guys, great guys.

After a LONG day Friday, we returned to Saturday where everything was needed right away.

Thank God Saturday was a beautiful day, which made it all (a BIT) easier.

SUNDAY, it was all done. A quiet day, except I have to order the entire replenishment order for the warehouse. WHILE we are pulling large orders at the same time. WHILE some product just arrived is not put away yet. Order what?

Now it is Monday, and suddenly there is a calm.

I will never forget 911.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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10. lotis2
7:55 PM GMT on September 16, 2012
I had just pulled into the park to take the dog for a walk when the radio said a plane had just hit the World Trade Center tower. By the time I got home the second plane had hit. I worked outside that night and one of my co-workers asked if I had noticed anything? There were no planes over head going into the St. Louis airport. We were so used to seeing them all the time. You seem to never forget where you were at & what you were doing at times like that.

GOOD NEWS!! As of 2 a.m. Friday (09/14/12) I have my first great-granddaughter to go with the four great-grandsons. Annabel at 8 lbs. 2oz. and 20" long. Mom and daughter (and dad) doing great and came home today!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. Arbie
1:14 PM GMT on September 15, 2012
I guess all of us will always remember 9/11. Kind of like when Kennedy got shot, I think, back in my parents time. I was at work, and we were very busy. But people had it up on the internet, so we took glances as we rushed about. Nobody really talked about it, and I went home at lunch to reconnoiter with my husband, see how the schools were going to handle it, watch the news in more detail, and decide amongst ourselves how to handle it with our young children. The schools decided to keep the kids in school the full day and not mention it to the younger ones, feeling like parents knew best how to handle the news with their particular child. Very different from when Kennedy got shot, when I believe many schools announced the news and many had the kids watch or listen to the breaking news.

Joe, I hope things get better for you at work soon. I think it is very difficult to get a company to hire back an appropriate amount of staff when they lose a large percentage all at once. They are making a lot more money with fewer staff to pay, and it is nice. Of course, in all due fairness, it also simply takes time to go through the hiring process for so many people.

We do all appreciate your efforts to keep us all in pictures and up-to-date on Dutch news. :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
8. iaotter
1:25 AM GMT on September 15, 2012
on 9/11 I didn't even know what had happened til around noon. I hadn't turned on the radio and didn't have a TV. I found out when I tried to call to straighten out a phone bill with a company that was based in Pennsylvania.
They apologized for not being able to find something on their computer and said they had had a difficult situation near there that morning.
After I hung up I got the radio on and spent most of the rest of the day listening.
It was hard to believe. It wasn't until later that week I finally saw tv footage of the towers. What a horrible day. And what horrible things we did after to the people of a nation who really had no part of it.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. hanfyh
9:52 PM GMT on September 14, 2012
When the 9/11 attacks happened we were in Reno in Nevada. We were with friends who lived in Tracey in California. We had been to Lake Tahoe. Early in the morning Rose knocked on the door of our room and said to turn on the TV. Wifey said what channel. Rose said any channel. What a shock we got.

Driving back to Tracey we came down a mountain range and at the bottom there were lots of water bomber helicopters parked in a field. Every helicopter had a soldier with a great big gun in front of it. We didn’t stop for a chat. There were bad fires burning in the hills around there and when the attacks happened they didn’t know what was going on so they grounded everything that could fly till they sorted things out. They just let the fires burn.

We had 12 flights in the few weeks after the planes started flying again. It was a worrying time for everyone.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. hanfyh
9:44 PM GMT on September 14, 2012
Im here lurking.
Didnt have anything to add to Joes story of his work
Its amazing what he does in a day and he still has time to keep us in new pictures.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. Ylee
9:10 PM GMT on September 14, 2012
Where'd everybody go?
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4. insideuk
9:43 AM GMT on September 12, 2012
I recall early programmes in the Deadliest Catch series that showed boat crews shopping for groceries in the towns only cash and carry warehouse. I know it closed down a few years back with dwindling business, perhaps due to big cuts in the fishing fleet, but the port seems to have found new hungry mouths to feed of late. Now is the time to invest in UNALASKA it seems.

Or open a Weight Watchers class.

A recent news report about the Grand Aleutian Hotel said that they have struggled to cope with the high demand for rooms in the last few months, operating at 95% occupancy. Those kind of figures would be a dream to most hotel owners. They talk about oilmen, researchers and even a billionaire media mogul having booked there this summer...

Is nowhere sacred?

They have plans to create greater room capacity, be it in a new hotel or an extension to the existing one – details are not yet known.

Or at least they haven't yet told me. An oversight surely?

The airport capacity has been creaking under the pressure over the last couple of years too – the runway is a priority project, just as soon as they've finished paving the roads. The flagger guy can only disrupt life in just so many locations at a time. Flights will be stacking higher than Joes order book once work gets under way there. Maybe the longer runway will ease some of the problems with getting fresh food into town, if larger cargo/ passenger planes can fly in then the cost prohibitive 'air miles' factor will be lessened, and life will be made easier for all.

Though I don't expect that billionaire media mogul arrived in town with a case of wet lettuce on his lap.

The Shellmen must be feeling a bit peeved. They sat around waiting to get their permits for about 6 years. Then they sat around stranded in port/ on the beach, smiling for photos, waiting for sea ice to melt. Then, when they finally got the green light to make haste to the drilling grounds for some light drillage, they plonked their bits in the water for a few hours on Saturday, only to have to pause operations once more. It seems a chunk of ice was bearing down on them. This hunk of roving frozen lemonade lolly stuff is about 30 miles long, 12 miles wide and at its thickest point 25 meters/ 82 feet thick.

There were nations represented at this years Olympics that were smaller.

It is moving at about 0.3 – 0.5 knots. Which doubtless means its Starbucks outlet is achieving world record efficiency in its drive thru service speed.

I hope the Haupty-ear-oma can be fully resolved without further treatment. I'm amazed that you could have had light sedation and still managed to chat coherently with your surgeon whilst under the knife. I have had the pleasure of accompanying several Grandparents for minor surgical procedures, all involving light sedation, and have found them to be talking complete twaddle for hours afterwards! One nurse spotted the alarmed look on my face as I went to help my Grandad weave his way past imaginary, and apparently quite argumentative, obstacles and explained that men frequently have more of a 'reaction' to sedatives than women.

I managed to negotiate a truce with the pixies and fairies he was conversing with and get him safely strapped down in the passenger seat of my car to drive him home, where his wife was awaiting our return. My Grandma took one look at him careering into the front room like a drunken sailor and ordered him to sit down and stop making a show of himself.

He did too.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. BRLAgirl
3:04 AM GMT on September 12, 2012
Lord ! I got tired just reading that! I thought I'd take a break from the work I brought home tonight and simply enjoy your blog. Wrong! I'm having sympathy stress. I'm gonna print this out and give it to my girls tomorrow. We have been doing double duty since the storm but this makes what we do seem like a walk in the park. remember... The work can be physically exhausting but the stress is a killer. Take care of yourself.....I get the feeling though that you know how to handle that. I' m sending happy "golfy" thoughts to you.. Back to lurking for me!
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2. dotmom
4:49 PM GMT on September 11, 2012
I'm like you Dave - exhausted just reading the blog! Blood pressure went up too! Seems like something has to give up there to make it easier for Joe and his staff to fulfill these orders. He meets himself coming and going. I know Joe is looking forward to mid-October - it can't come fast enough.

Dave, good luck with your ear. JoeKY had a hunk excised off his lobe. They were going to do the "Mohs (sp?)" treatment, but when the day came - he just cut a hunk out and stitched it all back together. He is a bit lopsided - but so what else is new! (Sure glad he doesn't see these comments.) :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. DHaupt
8:53 AM GMT on September 11, 2012
I'm all wore out just reading about it. Sounds to me like you might need a bigger warehouse. That would work for the frozen or non-perishable items. Fresh stuff must be a nightmare to deal with. I wonder if there isn't some new technology for extending the shelf life of fresh produce -- nitrogen over-packing or something like it; works for meats. As it is, it's like a high-wire act with no net. It's sure a good thing that you've got some hardworking crew. I can only say WOW!

I can't recall whether I mentioned it before, but about a month ago I had this weird looking growth excised (fancy word for whacked off) behind my left external ear (it is called your left pinna). They still haven't figured out what sort of tumor it was exactly, but it is some sort of lymphoma! Not good, but maybe not too bad -- better than some "omas" out there. My ear has been over at Stanford Hospital's pathology department since mid-August and they still haven't got it labeled yet.

The surgical work is all healed now -- it was very carefully and skillfully done by a board certified Johns Hopkins guy (I like him very much). It was not a trivial operation even though it involved a fairly small patch. There was a full skin graft involved and something called "Von Burow's Triangle", some tricky way of patching up the hole. It was done under a local and took about 2 hours. I was only lightly sedated so the surgeon and I had a very enjoyable two hour chat. We've become good friends.

So, I have been sitting around for over a month waiting to find out what happens next. PATCHPATCHPATCHPATCHPATCH!

Another beautiful mid-80s day here in Livermore. Remember 911.
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