Wednesday, February 08, 2012

He Might Not Be Able To Move A Rubber Tree Plant, But He Can Certainly Get Transportation In California To Come To A Screeching Halt

Just what makes that little old ant, think he’ll move that rubber tree plant, anyone knows an ant can’t, move a rubber tree plant, but he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes…
~ High Hopes, Frank Sinatra

The bee trip went well - no swarms, no issues, no problems, no nothing - until we got to California, that is. As if California isn't pain in the ass enough with all their rules and regulations - special speed limits for trucks, no idling laws, CARB, kingpin-to-rear axle length restriction - they also have a pretty strict agricultural inspection. This isn't something we'd normally care about because we never haul live plants, livestock or insects.

Well, except for these bees.

We made it through the Arizona agricultural checkpoint just fine - apparently, the only reason they'll pull you over in Arizona is if you're an immigrant or look like an immigrant - they don't care about bees or other insects.

California though, is a different story. As soon as we got to the agricultural station, they asked us to pull over for inspection. They came out with their little beekeeper hats and looked over the load. Ed had to loosen the straps on the load and pull back the netting. Then, since it was dark, they took their flashlights and went to town. They were so intent in their search, you'd think they were looking for someone who hasn't screwed Lindsay Lohan - which of course they couldn't find.

What they did find, were ants. Jackpot! So they issued us a "Notice Of Rejection" which stated, "Bee Colonies (animal) violated the California Food and Agricultural Code, Section 6461.5, Live Pests. Bee Colonies are infested with live ant, and are prohibited entry pending identification. Ant Free Certification is invalid and expired. Insect tentatively identified as "C" rated ant via digital imaging system. Sent to a Destination under a 008."

008? The British Secret Service is involved? Wow - how elusive is this "C" rated ant?

OK, so James Bond and his crew weren't involved, but what this document meant for us was spelled out in their final comment: "Bee colonies can not be offloaded at destination without prior authorization from the County Agricultural Commissioner's Office."

Easier said than done.
When we called the customer to tell him the news, he wasn't very happy. After saying, "You're in, right?" making sure we got into the state, he told us "Don't worry about it, it doesn't mean anything, they do this all the time, you just need to get here and unload." Then he added, "It's raining, it's cold, I have a plane to catch, and I don't have time for this."

Oh, reaaaallly? Well, since the document we signed said if we offloaded the bees without permission, we'd have a misdemeanor on our record, he wasn't getting any bees until that happened. And wow, what a holy bee shit-storm that unleashed.  The county inspector wouldn't be in until eight that morning, it was only six when we talked to him, and this guy was hot to get his bees.

So as usual, I wound up doing not only my job, but someone else's job also. This happens so frequently, I should get paid extra. So at eight, I started dialing.

I called the County Agriculture Commissioner in the first county to get someone to inspect the bees before we unloaded, but midway through the back and forth of the calls, the customer decided he wanted us to unload two hours north of the original location which meant I had to call the next county over get them to come out to inspect the bees.

When I gave them the unload address, they told me that it sounded like I'd be on the county line, but not in their county, in the next county over. I felt like I was playing musical counties. When I called the last County Agriculture Commissioner's office, I ultimately reached someone who knew exactly where I was going and what I needed to do and by the end of the conversation, I knew more about California county lines than I needed to.

After a few more phone calls, we met the guy who was going to unload us and followed him several miles into the middle of a barren field. Two guys swooped in and unloaded the truck, stacking the boxes in a "quarantine area" for inspection. We got permission from the County Agriculture Commissioner to start unloading, saying they'd send someone out to check the bees. We never did see the guy, but permission was all we needed to unload, so that's what we did.

It would have been nice to have had all the paperwork in order to avoid this delay, especially since they do this all the time. In the end, they got their bees, I assume the guy was able to catch his plane, and we didn't get any violations from the state of California. A win for everyone.

Except this guy.
We made our delivery, on time and in perfect condition, and we got the hell out of there. I'm not saying we'll never do bees again, but if we're heading to California, we know what we need to get in and who to call if we have a problem.

And just to be clear, I don't have a problem with the agricultural inspections at all. In fact, I think it's essential that they check for pests that can contaminate crops and cause problems - problems with produce that increase costs for everyone. But who would have thought one little ant could cause such a ruckus?

Oh, the rubber tree plant probably knew, but it was likely being held captive at the agriculture checkpoint.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Business As Usual In America
Teeny Tiny Cows Are So Delicious With A Side Of Teeny Tiny Tortellini
Sleeping Atop Signal Hill
Eddie Reads A Book Friday
Finally! Someone Who Thinks I’m God’s Gift To Man
Pool Shark


Gil said...

Holy crap! Did you and Ed have to unload the hives or did the customer do it?

The Daily Rant said...

Gil - the customer unloaded. Ed was outside with him but I stayed in the truck - there was no way I was getting stung by a bee! :)

june in florida said...

Did you get paid extra for the Florida ants?