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Ada/Canyon County (Boise/Nampa/Caldwell area) Idaho Truckers Only: Rate Your Local Companies

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Daniel B.'s Comment
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I served for 17 1/2 years of active duty. I spent 4 1/2 years as an infantryman (11H & 11B), I spent 13 years as a Blackhawk mechanic (15T formerly 67T). 10 of those years on flight status. I am a disabled vet. I have been to 3 deployments. 2 to Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan.

I will break trucking down Barney style with military reference.

Driving truck is an enlisted mans job. Not even NCO level. Purely junior enlisted. It is the job for the privates and the specialists. And being a specialist is as good as it gets. Unlike the military you are not paid a salary. Your benefits are nowhere near as good. Truck driving is the grunt work. Unless you LOVE being in that foxhole covered in mud and blood, this job isn't for you. Life for a trucker is one constant deployment. I am talking OIF 1 initial push deployment. You vehicle is your home and your livelihood. Work is your ethos. Your body is nothing more than a tool to get your job done.

You have to be the type of person that didn't want to get promoted beyond specialist because that involved politics and offices. Trust me, I voluntarily stayed one for 8 years. (7 of those 8 promotable). I loved flying and I loved working. I had no interest in promoting myself out of a job.

You have my vote for best post of 2017.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
The only remaining question is can I mentally, physically and spiritually handle this job?

Patrick said it perfectly:

Unless you LOVE being in that foxhole covered in mud and blood, this job isn't for you.

It comes down to how badly you want to do this. A sizeable percentage of the people who get started in this career get absolutely nowhere with it because once they realize what is being asked of them and what it takes to perform this job at a high level they walk away. They simply aren't into it at that level. They can't find the motivation to work that hard, live under those conditions, and risk their lives all the time.

People here are doubting you right now, not because we don't believe you can handle this job, but because we expect you'll decide you don't want to once you get out there and see how difficult it is. It just doesn't sound like you're geared up for something this intense, something that really requires such a big time commitment in so many ways.

I don't know if the theory has been tested, but most drivers wouldn't be surprised if a monkey could pass the initial CDL exam to get the license. The driving part seems super tough in the very beginning, but people quickly realize that's only one small part of the overall challenge of making a living as a driver, and it's not nearly the most difficult part.

In fact, at the company-sponsored programs nearly half of the people who show up never even manage to get their CDL. And that's the easiest part of the journey! They thought they could do it. They thought they were ready. Turns out they couldn't even get the horse out of the gate. Never wound up getting the license, never drove the truck one mile by themselves, never hauled a single load of freight.

Out of any class they bring in, maybe 5% of the drivers are still with the company driving professionally one year later.

So when you say you're worried about putting in 40 hour weeks and OSHA-compliant companies and a good corporate culture it tells us you're worried about all the wrong things and you're going to get blindsided by the ferocity of the pace of life once you get started with your training. Very long, hard, stressful days right from day one and each step of the process gets more difficult for a while.

Normally when people come here looking to get started in this industry and all they're worried about is if everyone is going to live up to their expectations, the answer is almost universally 'no', this industry will not meet their expectations, and they will not meet the industry's expectations in return either.

The people who make it in this industry are the ones who come with an open mind, their work boots strapped on tight, and highly motivated to make this happen no matter what challenges stand in their way. And even those people often have to be talked off the ledge (figuratively) several times in the early months of their career because it all becomes overwhelming sometimes.

And Brett, just to appease you, I have started to read your online book yesterday

See what I mean? You're begrudgingly going to read the book because we're pestering you about it? You're not motivated right now. You're not eager to learn all you can about this industry and knuckle down and put in the work. We read those kind of statements and we think, "This guy is gonna be around for about two days and he's gonna walk or be sent packing".

If you go into this with anything less than full commitment and determination you're not gonna last a week. And many people don't. And like I said, the beginning is the easy part. Imagine what would have happened with those people if they had actually taken on the hard part of the learning curve, or God forbid actually got out there and had to find it within themselves to turn 3,000 miles a week for months or years at a time?

So it's almost never about whether or not someone is capable of driving a truck. It's not rocket science. Almost anyone can get a license and get the truck rolling down the road. But living this life and taking on the challenges and the demands of this career day in and day out, month after month, year after year, is something only a very small percentage of people who attempt this career will ever do. Just know that going in.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Jonathan Bailey's Comment
member avatar

Please acknowledge that one trucker's work experience might not necessarily be another's same work experience. I have heard of the saying before: "one man's ***** cat, another man's tiger".

Every company has to conform to applicable state, local and federal laws. That is all uniform. Yes. But.....does every company under the sun have the same exact policy and treat their employees exactly the same way? I honestly don't know.

Teamsters members MIGHT have life a LITTLE easier. I don't even know that for sure. It is a rumor. My grandfather was a union Operating Engineer: heavy equipment. He praised his union. Did him well. Did his wife (grandma) well. Never had to draw social security on retirement.

If I MUST eat one bite of greasy truck stop food in a grungy joint, then, no, I 'd say to myself forget all about this business right now once and for all! I value my health much more than any money any job could fetch.

You must consider my PERSONALTY. Truckers must have a certain persona to be a good fit.

I am a very clean and tidy man. No smoking. No drugs. No alcohol. No caffeine. No speed or meth. I don't just wipe out a skillet with a snot rag and reuse it like some hobo. It goes through the automatic dishwasher or is hand washed in hot soapy water before I use it again. I don't use cast iron but Teflon. I am germ-ophopic. In the army on field maneuvers, mess personnel in tents prepared hot meals for us soldiers unless we were issued MRE's which are loaded with fat and calories. The mess sergeant adamantly ordered us troops to wash our hands in hot soapy water kept in 5-gallon containers before each meal at the mess tent so as not to catch any bad bugs. I understand trucking is one long series of long camping trips one week after the other. A driver lives "in the field" most of the time. It might take very clever meal preparation on precious few days off at home to cook at the stove all day long, wash last week's dirty Tupperware, do laundry, check the mail, prepare meals in advance for the next week, the next long road trip. I can envision lots of Tupperware for food storage. Plastic silverware might be as a common sight to a truck-driving man as a canteen is to a cowboy. The more expensive Chinette throw-away paper plates should do: not the cheapies. I don't fancy toting re-washable dishes and plates around in a rig. There can't be too much baggage to weigh a trucker down: 80,000 pounds is quite enough. I need to travel light enough but comfortable enough too. I don't know how the company sleepers are accommodated for living equipment and sanitary provisions to be exact. I don't know how much storage, freezer and refrigerator space is allotted for a driver's food supply for a road trip. Is there a small stove top in a sleeper? I can't imagine there is a dishwasher or even a sink with running water there. A sleeper probably is not even as commodious for living as a pickup truck camper just by judging the outside of them. I don't want to have to stop at Walmart everyday on the road for groceries. I would rather just have everything cooked in advance at home, put in Tupperware, packed in coolers including the hash browns, scrambled eggs and ham, and warmed over in the microwave for any given trip.

You see, its all about logistics and coordination. Wise use of time and resources available. I am a control freak too. How often will a trucker encounter working plumbing, running hot water, electricity, lighting, CLEAN toilets, CLEAN showers, CLEAN shelter for eating and CLEAN provisions for meal preparation on the go? Cowboys on the long trail drive had a cook, a chuck wagon and a campfire to support them on the range. I saw "The Cowboys" with John Wayne. I shave with an electric so that would be convenient for everyday shaving on the roll as I am clean-shaven always. As a solider (light-wheeled vehicle mechanic, 63B) I was supported by my unit's mess section who also took care of the field latrines. I'm sure a trucker can find an outlet to plug in a Norelco somewhere. Do truck stop plazas usually have a barbershop? I am clean cut as well. Taking care of bills and paying rent is easy for me since I do all my personal finances on line. Yes, there is a lot to think about in a transportation job with plenty of travel and little home time. Trucking could possibly even be tougher than my military life was. Soldiers have logistical support and teamwork from other personnel. I repaired their trucks and recovered their stuck vehicles from the mud. Others fixed my dinner and issued me trigger mittens from supply when I lost my work gloves out in the sticks one winter. Truckers in the private sector seem to be lone wolves having to do it all by themselves on the move and manage to MAKE time to somehow make it all click. I don't think a trucker gets the privilege of his own mess cook. What truck stops as a matter of industry should provide to drivers who do it themselves are camps with kitchens, tables and all kitchen facilities. Of course they would rather just sell their fatty cooked foods to clog arteries. I have been inside a T/A truck stop in Boise, ID several times and the cook wore a beard and that grossed me out. I don't even know if modern truck stops offer low-fat sensible meals for health-conscious customers.

I will still read the book like I said. No grudges held. Perhaps, that might put me in a much better position to decide if this COULD possibly be my life. It's too early too judge.

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.
G-Town's Comment
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Jonathan Bailey wrote:

I will still read the book like I said. No grudges held. Perhaps, that might put me in a much better position to decide if this COULD possibly be my life. It's too early too judge.

The above is honestly the only thing you wrote that really matters...not sure if you have come to grips with the reality of this job; it's unlike anything you have ever done, no comparison. Considering our military service (and thank you for that) there are two active members on here (probably others, sorry if I missed anyone) Errol and Patrick. Search on their names (upper left hand corner) to read how they worked through schooling/training and on to professional driving. Both successful.

This too: Truck Driver's Career Guide

Good luck.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Jonathan Bailey wrote:

double-quotes-start.png

I will still read the book like I said. No grudges held. Perhaps, that might put me in a much better position to decide if this COULD possibly be my life. It's too early too judge.

double-quotes-end.png

The above is honestly the only thing you wrote that really matters...not sure if you have come to grips with the reality of this job; it's unlike anything you have ever done, no comparison. Considering our military service (and thank you for that) there are two active members on here (probably others, sorry if I missed anyone) Errol and Patrick. Search on their names (upper left hand corner) to read how they worked through schooling/training and on to professional driving. Both successful.

This too: Truck Driver's Career Guide

Good luck.

Sorry..., meant "your" military service.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
Please acknowledge that one trucker's work experience might not necessarily be another's same work experience. I have heard of the saying before: "one man's ***** cat, another man's tiger".

Jonathan, all we try to do in here is help people make a successful start at a very much misunderstood career. We are passionate about what we do, and we freely give our time to helping people like yourself. Most people who are in here "kicking tires" like you seem to be doing, don't have a clue that about 90% of the new entrants to this career fall short and fail. That is an astronomical failure rate. The statistics for those going straight into local work exceeds that threshhold considerably.

Our efforts are sincere, even though you appear to want to re-buff them almost indignantly. We find it amusing simply because we are thick skinned enough to realize you don't have a clue, and you need some guidance.

We are in no way trying to criticize your choices. In fact they are honorable and worthy. We are honestly trying to help you choose the most reliably effective way of achieving your goals.

Have you considered the very real possibility that as a local driver you may be "slip seating." That is sharing your truck with other drivers who may be slobs. You sound like you really need things to be neat and clean - I enjoy having a nice clean environment myself.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

Here is an idea of a frequent work week for me. I had hometime last weekend btw. I will be out for the next month. I started Monday morning. Pulled out of our drop LOT in Clarksville, TN (where I live) around 0500 CDT. Monday I finished my run to Lawrenceburg, TN. Did a live unload. After that went to Cherokee, AL. Picked up there and drove to Just west of Atlanta. Exit 19 on I-20. Tuesday: Pulled out of the Flying J at 0500 (EDT) for a delivery at 0600 in Lithia Springs, GA. (West side of Atlanta). After a live unload ran to Duluth, GA (NE corner of Atlanta) for a live load. Then back to Cherokee, AL. Drop and hooked then headed to the truckstop 20 mins down the road. Wednesday I drove to Concord, NC. I had a midnight delivery at McLane. I arrived at 1700 EDT. Finally fell asleep around 1930. They came knocking on doors at 2230 EDT. Did the shuffle thru the gate. I am in sleeper berth on my logs. I already accounted for my unload time before I went into the sleeper. I got in a door by 2300. Finished being unloaded around 0300. (I can't sleep during loads and unloads. I've tried several times). Now my 10 hr is up, so off I went. Btw it is now Thursday and I have a full day ahead of me. So I run to Chester, SC drop of my MT. Turn around and bobtail to Lenoir, NC. Grab a preloaded trailer there and begin my run to Green Bay, WI. I stop for the night just north of Lexington, KY on I-75. Btw, this is the second time this week I completely ran my 14hr clock to nothing. The first was at Cherokee. So I get up and going by 0400 EDT. I get to Green Bay for a live unload around 1500 CDT. Finished unloading by 1600. Drove an hour down the road to a truckstop on the way to our terminal in Amherst, WI. I pulled into the truckstop as my 14hr turned zero. I really need to stop pushing my luck. Here I sit. I have 17hrs 43 min left of my 70. 5 loads to do between 0500 tomorrow and 0800 Monday morning. I have already ran 2500 miles this week. I still have this weekend to work, lol.

This is a week in the life of a trucker. Btw, I got 4 showers in this week as well. Monday morning, Tuesday Morning, Wednesday about midday, and this morning.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Jonathan Bailey's Comment
member avatar

Thanks, Patrick, for breaking down your work week.

You mean you get ONE weekend of hometime a month? Is that it? Are you serious?

It sounds like the truck stop "choke n pukes" act like your regular mess hall. I can't see how that schedule can accommodate a do-it-yourself meal cook who would pack his fully-cooked meal supply for an entire outing. They should have semitrailers pulled by some sort of a class-8 RV (motor home ala Winnebago with full-on kitchen ) and not just a tractor with a sleeper box on it.

Your truck must be your girlfriend or wife. I love the look of Kenworth classic hood trucks like W900 but could never be that affectionate toward THAT rig where I would want to spend every day but two days out of a month inside one.

One of my biggest concerns is having to deal with the food issue on the road.

I am still keeping my ears peeled for that local Idaho company on AM radio commercials that claim, "you will never sleep in a sleeper when you drive with us". I have yet to catch their name and check out their site. That "sleeper-less" stuff really excites me!

Patrick, you are probably giving me the WORST-CASE scenario for what a newbie might endure in terms of very LONG road time. But thanks for your down-and-dirty truth of the matter.

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

I do cook. Eating truckstop food is too expensive. I have a 12v Coleman thermo electric cooler. I use a 12v crockpot to cook with. Just fill it up, turn it on, and by the time your are done running for the day you have your meal. I take 1 day at home for every week on the road. So I will get 4 days. Nothing set in stone though. Sometimes it gets cut short. Then my next home time I will get home early. Or I might be ran close to home where I can do a 10hr at home while I am out. I usually will run near the house once a week, so.

Drive Safe and God Speed

Jonathan Bailey's Comment
member avatar

I do cook. Eating truckstop food is too expensive. I have a 12v Coleman thermo electric cooler. I use a 12v crockpot to cook with. Just fill it up, turn it on, and by the time your are done running for the day you have your meal. I take 1 day at home for every week on the road. So I will get 4 days. Nothing set in stone though. Sometimes it gets cut short. Then my next home time I will get home early. Or I might be ran close to home where I can do a 10hr at home while I am out. I usually will run near the house once a week, so.

Drive Safe and God Speed

Ok, Patrick:

There's a slim possibility I could still make this whole damn thing work out. I was scared that you were seeing home only once per month. Your latest revelation inspires a little more confidence in me.

No, sir. I am not a habitual crock pot user. I use a PAM-coated skillet, a saucepan, a table-top gas barbecue, and a microwave mostly. For trucking, and me both, it would most likely pre-made stuff packed in coolers, the fridge and freezer made up for the entire road trip.

No candy, no chips, no junk food for me.

For breakfast, I have a bowl of oatmeal with skim milk and a half of grapefruit. Every other day, I will have 2 scrambled eggs with milk, 2 or 3 deli fried ham slices and sometimes hash browns from a baking potato I shred with my cheese grater. I use Pam spray only.

For lunch I hardly ever eat sandwiches. Bread is largely out of my diet. It is salad mix with a can of chicken one day or two cans of sardines packed in water another day, plain yogurt and a spoonful of mayonnaise. I use steak sauce and lemon juice on my sardine salads.

For dinner it is BBQ chicken breast, rice and frozen vegetable.

For desert it is a smoothie made in a blender with fresh or frozen fruit and skim milk with a dash of vanilla. I might have to pack pre-made smoothies in large bottles for road trips. I also drink spring water from gallon jugs. I drink fruit juice and iced tea fro instant also. I put my 1 quart beverage bottles in the freezer with a third liquid in them so I don't have to deal with ice cubes. Truckers may have to deal with store-bought ice a lot.

For snacks, I eat rolled oats plain.

Yes, Mr. Natural, Ule Gibbons here.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

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