Thursday Freight in Chicago

This is a day in the life of someone who is responsible for moving over 15 million dollars of freight yearly.

Thursday Freight in Chicago
A broker's phone showing wear and tear after 9 months
This story is a guest submission by Joe Daniel. While it offers a fresh perspective, please note it's a distinct voice from our usual company content.

Thursday morning, 600am some undisclosed Chicago Neighborhood...

Thursdays are rough, Darren just shuffled into work after being out til 2 a.m. An hour prior was a hurricane of panic and quick thinking. The girl he put in the Uber was in fact NOT his girlfriend of 5 years who has been harassing him for a ring. She was away visiting her parents 2000 miles away.  Rushing her into an Uber, tossing out any clothes he can easily replace, and leaving what he can’t out for his laundry service, hopefully, any remaining stench or presence of his transgressions from the night before will remain undetected.

Darren had pulled into the parking lot located near a grocery store and CTA stop. Quick brokers breakfast to get started and set right the damage caused last night, switching to vodka and white claws for weekday drinking lessened the sting of the hangovers and minimized morning nausea. Half a breakfast sandwich, keybump, 2 Adderall(otherwise known as vitamin A in this industry), and slamming a gas station iced coffee was on today’s menu. This comes typically with a 15-minute ramp-up until the effects are felt.

Walking into the office is always an assault on the senses, UV lights, and someone choosing music that at least a third of the office loathes, today’s choice was Dave Matthews live at Alpine. You’d almost think the uniform of this office was khaki cargo shorts, polo shirts or Cubs Jersey, and bad sandals. Almost every single person is a graduate or at least an attendee of a 2nd tier State school, what they lack in academic pedigree and fluency they make up for with confidence and narrowmindedness.

By 750 the Broker Breakfast begins to take hold, Darren's irises have been reduced to pinholes as his eyes dart back and forth from various points on his 4 monitors to relay information. His call numbers go from 1 every 4 minutes to 2 per minute, conversations are fast, and sales pitches fly. Darren pitches guilt from false loyalty to the trucking companies who are trying to keep their heads above water from the Covid shutdown. A list of arguments is loaded in case anyone beats his rate, be it long-term relationships with the dispatcher, “being a legend of freight”, or how his experience somehow translates to this company being superior to all others.

All of these arguments will go out the window if Darren is the one who finds a lower rate.

This continues until lunchtime at noon. Italian delis have been feeding the logistics industry for years, a 9” cylinder of white bread, processed meat, cheese, and a minimal presence of vegetables will do the trick most days. Still sweating out the hop extract and citric acid of the overpriced white claws Darren will need to change it up. The bodega close by has the cure for what ales him: butter-crusted croissant, three strips of bacon, heavily processed American Cheese, runny eggs, a side of kettle chips, and 2 tall boys of Miller High Life.

Back in the office after 40 minutes, because taking a full, legally obligated, lunch is NOT what winners do, and all hell has broken loose. Darren assigned 12 loads before lunch, 2 have problems, 1 has turned off it’s tracking, and one is 45 minutes for pickup and has a tight window.

Conversations at the moment are not light or even-tempered.  Despite the feedback of every single carrier rep that the tracking software they currently utilize is buggy and unreliable the owners couldn’t bother looking up from reposting MAGA memes and theories or options trading to upgrade their tracking, even if it was in their best interest. This is an industry that obeys gravity so shit is always rolling downhill. No improvements will ever be made because it’s impossible to admit fault once you hit a certain level. And to quote their mantra when employees fall short of their goals "People don't change".

Deals are made quickly, tracking is updated, and frantic replacements are sourced before shippers close. What once was  3 loads with a total of $1250 profit has been renegotiated to a mere $350. When your ass is against the wall and a trucking company knows you have no other option you’re at their mercy.  Since Darren never legitimately discloses how much is really in the load he’s sold the story of each one being a loser to the carrier. Once the chaos starts to settle Darren's nerves are again on edge, a tangible buzzing from the adrenaline has both ruined his appetite and his steadied nerves. 2 hours remain til he can go back to the bar. Debating on how uncomfortable the day remains he has a 5mg Xanax in his desk hidden amongst a package of Pez.  Tick tock tick tock…..more slights dispensed by the carrier side about Darren’s unreliability….tick tock tick tock….two loads he prebooked for tomorrow are now canceled….tick tock tick tock… Darren’s girlfriend came home and found a loose earring and that they’ll talk when he gets home…..the rapid opening of sweat glands courses his entire body, from the small of his back through his wrists, his arms now glistening, his hands now shaking, he opens his drawer looking for the package of Pez.

Prescription drugs at a freight brokerage are like socks in a dryer, they go missing….regularly.

Rather than accuse anyone who took them he knows Morgan has some. Morgan had suffered a nervous breakdown 7 years prior at a publicly traded brokerage, working for 9 weeks straight for overtime after his girlfriend dumped him and moved out leading to a day he hit a wall and punched out his supervisor after his work ethic was questioned.

Anyways….one Xanax is worth $20 today.

The sweats have stopped. Darren quickly texts his former coworker Paul about what to do about the pending infidelity accusations…..” Meet me at the bar in an hour” is his reply.  Rather than confront his own mistakes, there are shots of Jim Beam and Old Style ahead, most likely accompanied by words of wisdom from Andrew Tate, only dumbed down, to help navigate through this situation. Worst case scenario Darren will black out and have an excuse to avoid the topic.

.....This is a day in the life of someone who is responsible for moving over 15 million dollars of freight yearly.

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