My Journey With Prime In Pittston

Topic 17637 | Page 2

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Adam B.'s Comment
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Every truck stop we've been to doesn't have ear plugs. Didn't matter for last night since I slept like a baby.

So yesterday was an adventure. Got up at 6 and hopped on the Pennsylvania turnpike. Snowing a little, some flurries. No big deal, I'm from Wisconsin. Snow starts to really pick up heading west and before you know it I'm in a little snow storm. I think I nearly broke the steering wheel with how tight I was holding it. I'm driving a loaded trailer in the hills and mountains through a snow storm in Pennsylvania. Quite a start for what will be my first real say of driving.

Eventually we switch drivers for a bit and of course it stops snowing. He drives a bit before we switch again and of course it decides to rain. Well at least it's warm out. It becomes clear to me that this is a different animal from driving the familiar roads in truck driving school. I struggled badly with shifting yesterday, trying to shift at 12-1300 rpm instead of the 15-1700 in school. Freeway off ramps i was down right terrible and I sort of wondered why my trainer hasn't kicked me off the truck yet.

I had a small emotional breakdown yesterday at a truckstop, questioning if I still really wanted to do OTR , much less drive a truck. I had to hold back crying. Sounds girly I know but I was disappointed in myself and felt miserable. How am I ever going to do this on my own when I get my own truck?

We press on, I drive through a sliver of West Virginia, a state I've never been to and also through Ohio. Winds really start to pick up. We switch drivers near Cincinnati, which would end my night behind the wheel. My trainer is driving through the heart of Cincinnati during rush hour and comes to a standstill occasionally. I could not imagine driving through this on a manual, especially since I still can't downshift well. This traffic is nothing for what we're about to hit though.

Our delivery is in Lexington and about 50-60 miles away, the freeway comes to a standstill. Apparently a semi tipped over and the police shut the freeway down further up. We went maybe 2 miles in 3 hours. We did eventually get off the freeway and the detour is this winding road where it is pitch black and pouring rain out. We get to the receiver and its this tiny little road. I ran up to the guard shack to check us in. The wait wasn't long and eventually we were unloaded by midnight.

I slept like a baby last night, even without ear plugs. Guess I was super tired. The day was exhausting so I'm not surprised. We got a preplan sending us to California which I'm excited about. Never been to California and I've always wanted to go. Plus the miles are sweet, 2100. Sitting at the shipper now waiting to pick up the trailer for this trip.

Thats it for now. Hopefully today (Wednesday) will be better.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Adam B.'s Comment
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This is going to be a shorter post since while I did the entire day it was relatively boring. Started at 6am and drove to pick up the load in Kentucky. My trainer is still doing the backing to the docks but said I will do the majority of it next week. Backing is my biggest achilles heal, along with everyone else that drives truck. I struggle with getting it into a good position to back. I can use my mirrors til I'm blue in the face but I'll still be in a horrible position to back.

So we get the load and I drive, and drive, and drive. Bit windy out but very warm. We ended the day sonewhere near St Louis. I try to back into a spot at a truck stop and of course I struggle getting into good position. Whatever, I did get it in finally, even with help.

Adam B.'s Comment
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A new way, a new adventure. That's trucking in general.

Today's adventure began at 4am when my trainer started driving. I got woken up by the noise and tried to fall asleep again but it's hard in a moving truck. I did feel a little tired so I was planning on going to sleeper berth again after Springfield. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Prime's terminal here. It's actually right off the freeway.

I tried to sleep again but my body would have nothing of it. I finally took my first shower since hitting the road and let me tell ya, you don't know how good a fresh shower is until you go a few days without one. I felt recharged after that. My trainer trlls me I'll be driving around 2 and that I should take a map before then.

After we get past Tulsa I try to sleep again but I'm not even tired or starting to feel tired so I just lay on the bed in sleeper berth for an hour. After we have lunch and fuel up, I get behind the wheel and start driving. It was a pretty good day for driving for me. I started to try to learn how to float the gears and its something I'll defib needs a bit more practice on. I plow through the rest of Oklahoma while my trainer takes a 4 hour nap, essentially leaving me in control of the truck without guidance should an issue arise. .No issues did arise though.

Texas was a pretty beautiful state to drive through, the pan handle at least. I was driving through it at sunset and came to a windmill farm. You could see everything within miles, I was pretty blown away. I get to armarillo and I admit it was a small challenge getting through it at night. Nothing particularly challenging about armarillo, it's just a city I don't know so I had to be extra cautious. I drove to the New Mexico border and pulled into a truck stop. I ended up stalling the engine twice at a turn. Turns out I was in 5th gear, not 3rd. Oops.

That sums up the day. Not too shabby. I'm looking forward to getting back to the hills of New Mexico and Arizona. I think I may be a bit scared too of them in a semi.

Float The Gears:

An expression used to describe someone who is shifting gears without using the clutch at all. Drivers are taught to "Double Clutch" or press and release the clutch twice for each gear shift. If you're floating gears it means you're simply shifting without using the clutch at all.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Turtle's Comment
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Ya know, my first time driving was right through where you just went. I40 through the panhandle, then on through Amarillo. The windmill farms we're amazing huh? I'd never seen anything like it before. Literally hundreds of windmills. I went through at night, and the clearance lights atop each windmill all blink in unison, creating a visual experience like no other. A "must-see" moment.

Thanks for the updates. Keep em coming and good luck. Be safe!

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Adam B.'s Comment
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Haven't posted an update in a few days so lets fix that.

Arizona is a funny state. It feels like there are only 2 cities (Flagstaff and Phoenix) in the state and the geography is mostly flat until you hit Flagstaff. Then boom, mountains and hills. I've never driven in the mountains before so driving a loaded semi is quite a first experience for driving through them. The jake brake became my best friend. For whatever reason I decided to "ride the brakes" down the first few hills, naturally my trainer wasn't thrilled with me and told me about the stab braking technique I recall learning in school. The brake pedal in this truck is pretty stiff and I admit to being a bit afraid to use it at times as a result. Some of the curves on the mountains looked sort of sharp but actually were not that bad. The scenery, oh my gosh, was so beautiful. I've been in the rocky mountains before so I've seen mountains but being surrounded by mountains again was pretty awesome. Afraid to look down of course and had a death grip on the steering wheel like I did in Pennsylvania.

Eventually I do make it to California, another state I can cross off my list. Never seen an inspection station before. They were inspecting every vehicle that was coming across. Interestingly enough the guard only took a quick glance at the BOL and let me go. I ended up stalling the engine here too, something I have a knack of doing for being in 5th instead of 3rd gear. I'll get shifting down again one day. I always knew California was one of the biggest states but I never realized how big it is east to west. I think I drove well over 100 miles and still did not see much civilization. A heavy fog set in too and I had to take it real slow to avoid possibly hitting a car in front of me. The GPS in the Qualcomm I think also messed up here. I was supposed to end the night in Ludlow and I came to an exit for Ludlow but the GPS said to keep going. I ended up parking at a rest area for the night.

The following day I got to see California in it's glory. We had to go to the San Bernardino area and it was pretty cool to see the mountains in the backdrop, along with Palm Trees. It was also really warm, maybe about 70 degrees and mostly sunny. So this is why everyone lives in Cali eh? Anyway we dropped our load at a drop yard since we made it a day early and grabbed our next load. I had to drive the graveyard shift and it was a bit scary a few times. I was very tired driving through Arizona and New Mexico up to Alburquerque and definitely felt I should not drive. I tried every bit to get some sort of energy, I'm extremely thankful I didn't get into an accident. When I did get to Alburquerque I got a burst of energy and was wide awake again. Maybe it's all the lights? Ended up driving I-25 to a rest area when it got late and the weather started to get bad.

Stuck in northern NM now thanks to this blizzard moving through.

Going off course a bit, if you read my journal so far you'll see how I note my screw ups driving and personally I'm frustrated by them as is my trainer. I'm surprised my trainer has not kicked me off the truck yet and I wonder how I'll ever be on my own. I still can't turn into a parking spot straight, I can't back for a damn and now it looks like my shifting is not so good either. Quite honestly I am worried how I can go on at this rate. My trainer has to constantly babysit me when I have to park and helps me with shifting when I get lost out of gear. I wouldn't call myself a truck driver at this point, I'm more a steering wheel holder.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jodi 's Comment
member avatar

Adam b hang in there. I have only been solo about 8 months and I can relate to you. I had melt downs with my trainer. Thought about quitting a few times. I was a mess. I got through it. They say the first year is the hardest. I agree. Things are so much better now than they were my first few solo months. I wouldn't even stay at truck stops my first few months cause I didn't want to back in on my own. I always looked for rest areas and Walmarts. Now I have gained enough confidence in my skills that truck stops are no problem. Not claiming to be a pro just better than I was. A little trick I did when I was training was when dropping a trailer in a customers drop yard I would look for the hardest spot to put it in. Usually the drop yards don't have a lot of trucks in them and it's a good time to challenge yourself and practice your setup. At least it helped me. As far as shifting I still have days when me and my truck don't agree on things. Stay calm and focused and you will get through it.

Adam B.'s Comment
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Yeah I'm gonna try working through it.

Yesterday wasn't a bad day. We had to shut down for a bit because of a winter storm in New Mexico and Colorado. My trainer doesn't chain, which I agree with. If you have to chain, it's too dangerous to drive anyway. Got some time to do laundry and take a shower and some much needed relaxation time. Even though I wasn't at home, it felt great to just sit down, watch TV and relax.

The storm did pass and we left around 3. We changed drivers near Colorado Springs. Was a bit afraid of driving through the city since Colorado Springs is unknown territory to me but I handled it well. I thought I would be going through Denver too but the GPS had me take what seemed like the longest city bypass, E-470. Was on the thing for 50 miles. I got us to the Walmart D/C where we dropped our load and headed out waiting for a new load to drop. I got a little bit of practice on the Qualcomm , sending out the messages for departing receiver, drop trailer, and p/o trailer. Trainer gave me a quick 2 min lesson on 45 degree backing. Never done 45 degree, was never practiced in school but it doesn't seem that bad. Turn the tractor to the right til tractor is straight then the right til tractor is straight and back in.

New load dropped this morning along with some fresh snow (seriously can't escape this stuff). . Heading to another state I've never been to, New Jersey. I've been on the road for a week now and already been to 12 states.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.
Adam B.'s Comment
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Not much to say today. I didn't drive today and my trainer wants me to do my reset sooo. He did show me how to put load bars in. Other than that, bored in Kansas.

Jodi 's Comment
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I don't understand you not driving. When I was in training I drove every mile unless I was just flat out of drive time and the delivery would be late if we stopped but I think that only happened once. I guess all companies do it different but you need all the drive time you can get to be ready to go solo. Does any body else know if this is common practice.

CIDRAY's Comment
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Not much to say today. I didn't drive today and my trainer wants me to do my reset sooo. He did show me how to put load bars in. Other than that, bored in Kansas.

I'm currently in Pittston. Everything is going exactly as you described. Tomorrow we have live classes. Looking forward to getting started on my journey. Stay safe and keep the posts coming.

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