Sunday, August 22, 2010

This Is How We Do It

Today I got an email from the Plum Trucker. In addition to all the great stuff she had to say, now that she and Kendall have their own truck and are on the road, she had one important thing she needed to find out before she signed off. She said, "Oh but I do have a question, how in the hell do you get your truck into all of these Barnes and Nobles? Please share the secret, because me and Kendall would love to go into Barnes and Nobles and we don't know how the heck you are doing it :)"

I never really thought about it, I guess. I'm so used to going that it doesn't even occur to me that there's a parking lot with a Barnes & Noble (or Starbucks, or Dunkin' Donuts, or...) that I wouldn't consider pulling into. Well, I might consider not pulling into it, but I have Eddie (the master) by my side and as I've mentioned before, he can pull into a thimble if he had to. But that's not the point, so I'll leave that out for now. Since she needed an answer, I told her pretty much the following.

This is how we do it...

First I want to mention that our wheelbase is bigger than a lot of standard trucks out there; 316" as opposed to say, 245" which makes it harder for us to navigate some areas.

Second, we have a flatbed with a spread axle which makes pivoting on that axle grouping a little challenging when trying to get around tight corners. Granted, Ed could get in anywhere, but we're leaving that out, remember? They drive a van trailer with tandem axles, so they'll be able to navigate parking lots a lot easier than we could (on average) with much better pivoting ability.

That said, what we usually do when I pick out the lucky Barnes & Noble that will be graced with my presence, is to check it out before we go. If it's in a mall, we usually have no problem navigating the parking lot, but some malls don't let trucks park in their lots so we look for those signs right away. They're not hard to spot since they're typically like little beacons on every light pole. It's pretty much a message telling you they don't like you or your kind.

We try not to park in those places, but it's mostly a judgement call; sometimes we'll drive around the mall to see if there is a place that doesn't have any signs. Like an adjacent lot that has a store that's gone out of business or something; those places don't seem to care who parks in their lots.

We also usually look at the address on Google Maps, which is really an invaluable tool. Most Barnes & Nobles are in big shopping's rare that we come across one with a small lot, although in cities like L.A. or NY/NJ they are sometimes tighter. You can often get a good idea of the turning area in the lot by looking at the satellite image. In those pictures, we can see where the cars are parked. Most parking spaces are 10' wide by 20' long, so knowing that, we're able to determine how much turning room we'll have or where we'd be able to park the truck once we get there; it takes about eight parking spots to park a truck, so we can judge that in advance.

If you're new to the trucking game, and you want to go to a bookstore (or any store, for that matter) you'll want to pick places at malls until you get better at navigating small parking lots. You'll notice that many parking lots will put big, decorative rocks at the end of each row of cars or at the entrances. These are meant to keep trucks out, because we often can't make the turns without hitting the rocks. I never realized it, but you look at parking lots in a whole new light when you drive a truck!

OK, so once we find a place we can get into, we just go ahead and park. If it's in a mall, we usually pick spots at the end of the lot, or far away, where the regular shoppers aren't parking. Sometimes a mall security guard will drive around or stop to see what we're doing. I find that if I talk to them, we have better luck - I think it's something about being a girl trucker.

Their main concern is usually if we plan on staying overnight; they don't typically like that (thank you very much to all those truckers who throw pee bottles out the windows). I usually say something like, "Oh, we're just planning to go to dinner and then hit Barnes and Noble for a little while...we'll be out of here when the mall closes." or whatever. I make sure they know I plan on SPENDING MY MONEY in their mall and that I won't be staying there overnight. That usually seems to work.

Sometimes, we go around the back of the building and find a spot there. Most of these places need trucks to get in there to deliver stuff, so we look for the "Truck Route" signs. A lot of it is just common sense. We don't park blocking anyone in and we don't take up spots for cars. You don't want someone complaining because a truck is parked in a spot THEY could have had.

I also mentioned one VERY important thing, something I would have never considered until Ed told me: ALWAYS park in a manner that allows you to get out.

If you have to turn around and point the nose of your truck towards the entrance, do it. Make sure no one will block you in and make sure you have enough room to navigate the exit. Ed always makes sure he can get out - even if he has to back in from the road. No one knows you're going you're Barnes & Noble to drink lattes and read magazines - they'll just watch you back in because they think you're delivering something. Pretend you BELONG there!

This advice is good for wherever you want to take your pretty little truck; restaurants, malls, movie theaters, etc. With movie theaters, take into consideration the time and day you're there. It's a lot easier to find parking during a matinee than during Friday date night.

One other note - don't always rely on your GPS. It's great, yes, but sometimes it'll take you down roads you're not supposed to be on. Checking things out before you go is always the wisest choice.

I hope this helps Michelle and Kendall, or whoever else might be new to the Barnes-And-Noble-Latte-Drinking-Magazine-Reading circuit. Also, and this isn't a trucking tip, make sure to buy your Barnes and Noble membership card. It's good for great discounts on merchandise and you even get a discount in the cafe - at $25 a year, it pays for itself every time!

Happy motoring and latte drinking!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Storage In The Storm
Devil Horse In The Louisiana Wetlands
Not Sloppy. No Joe. Just Bob And His Loosemeats Residing In The Ice Cream Capital Of The World.
Playing With Your Money But Not Really SPENDING It
Glamour Puss


all things bradbury said...

good advice on the maps is an excellant tool....i hate to appear like a backwoods hick, but while we're on the subject of barnes & noble visits, i have another question.....when you go in there and spend time reading, do you buy the magazines/books you are reading or do they just allow you to read out of the goodness of their hearts???.....while i occassionally shop at b&n, i've never hung out there like you and eddie do and i was just wondering.....

Pat said...

b&n has those comfy chairs for a reason. I've read the first three chapters of a book without the intention of buying it, but then I'm hooked. Out comes the cash.

They make more money, when they encourage you to read in store. When they make more money, they then need more trucks delivering books. Its a win win!

Have you ever gone into a national park with your truck? That's what I'd want to do.