Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Topic 20605 | Page 5

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Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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Great posts Blue Zombie Trucker! Thanks so much for sharing! Nicole

Thanks Nicole!

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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Portland.

I drove in the dark in very very heavy rain last night for about two hours. Believe me out seemed like a lot more. Most of it was mountain highways so a lot of twisting turning highway. It was pretty scary and I don't mind admitting that.

I get frustrated with my mentor but at the end of the day I must admit that I'm learning a *lot* from him, and he's being as patient as he knows how to be, so it's working.

I'm surprised at how different it is to back a rig in The Real World, as compared to doing it in CDL school. No comparison at all.

Waiting on getting a Bill of Lading signed. Waiting seems to be a common theme in trucking. :)

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.

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.
Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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We're in Portland waiting on a load. It's a load from a major comic book based show.

I had never considered the logistics behind how big shows like this move from city to city. I don't know how many 53' trailers they're using on this show, but I've seen about a dozen, and I'm pretty sure there were more than that.

Over the last couple of weeks I've seen glimpses of the back end of our consumer society that I really hadn't given much thought to, before this.

I've seen four "fulfilment centers" that take up entire city blocks and a manufacturing plant far, far larger even yet.

The sheer number of trucks, trailers, and people required to keep the vegetables and cans on store shelves, to keep us entertained, fed, clothed, informed, trendy goes far beyond enormous.

I saw an article a few weeks ago which stated that over ten million American jobs exist in the shipping industries. I now have no trouble believing that figure. I'm going to do more research because now I'm curious about whether that number included indirect and support jobs too.

MONDAY- Salt Lake City. Dropped that load, waiting on the next one. Got a much needed shower at the terminal. Going to nap for a bit.

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.

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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We picked up a load of sugar in Idaho this morning. My mentor told me that this shipper is very particular about the dry van trailer must be very clean inside, as its a food product. I swept the trailer out very well. I was on my hands and knees, prying wood splinters out of the corners with my pocket knife. I thought I had done a pretty good job.

When we got to the sugar mill, their shipping supervisor inspected the trailer very thoroughly with a flashlight. Once finished with his inspection,  he came out and said "You're rejected for being too clean"!

Pretty high praise, I thought.

My mentors response: "They're usually a lot more thorough than that. "

Seriously? Not "well done". Not "good job".

Later, I drove from Boise to Salt Lake City, while he slept. Then we had to get diesel and DEF. He told me to key in for DEF first, so I did. Well, this pump (which he's used hundreds of times over the last eleven years, and which I have NEVER used before), require that you pump the diesel first, so he chewed me out. For doing exactly as he told me to do.

I have contacted my recruiter and my Driver Development Coordinator to begin the process of getting a new mentor.

This sort of crap has been going on since Day One, but I had decided to just take it, get it over with and get on the road.

I am done being treated like an idiot. This mentor is a fantastic truck driver, no doubt about it, but teaching is simply not his forte, and I feel I'm way behind where I should be in my training.

So I'm doing as I was advised by G-Town weeks ago, and owning my training. I just hope I haven't waited too long, hoping it would improve. It only got much much worse.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
G-Town's Comment
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So I'm doing as I was advised by G-Town weeks ago, and owning my training. I just hope I haven't waited too long, hoping it would improve. It only got much much worse.

Have you tried (one final time) confronting him regarding his "ahem", teaching techniques? Make it clear you will no longer tolerate it.

I get it,...my mentor although tough, was fair and he never raised his voice or lost his temper.

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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I was finally able to contact my driver development coordinator on the third day of trying. Once I explained my situation with my mentor, she explained my options and the consequences of exercising those options.

I then asked to be assigned to a new mentor.

After 5 hours or so on the road, we received a message on the QualComm to get me to a terminal , citing personal reasons.

My mentor started digging at me for the reason, and after an hour or so, I finally reminded him that the first story that he shared with me was about an altercation that he got into with a previous student, during which they shared threats of physical violence, and I also pointed out that his displays of anger made me very reluctant to confront him. He agreed that those seemed like good reasons to keep it bottled up.

Anyhow... I then *did* proceed to spend quite a bit of time and effort explaining that I'm not an idiot, but feel I've been treated like one by him. I pointed out that I felt I must be doing very poorly, since he had not once, in almost three weeks, mentioned a single thing I had done correctly.

I pointed out that his cynicism was taking a heavy toll on me.

I was polite but firm and pretty thorough. His response was surprising. He agreed with every single point and didn't argue a single one. He also spent the next 5 hours doing what he should have been doing for the last three weeks: teaching.

Should I have confronted him earlier?

Remember: a student driver is very isolated, and basically 100% dependant on the mentor driver.

I had been trying to reach my driver development coordinator, unsuccessfully, for days. (I had called her number many times, and didn't even get voicemail. The way I finally was able to contact her was by relaying a message through my recruiter. )

My mentor had told me about making threats of physical violence against a previous student,  followed by threats of abandoning that student on the roadside.

Did I handle it perfectly? Maybe not.

Did I handle it in what I considered to be the safest way possible, given the circumstances? I did.

Are people going to play arm chair quarterback and tell me how I should have handled it differently? Yes. They are.

Were they there?

I was.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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As someone who is still about a week away from going out with a mentor, myself, I think you handled it quite admirably. As much as it sucks for you to have to go through that, I (at the very least if not other people) appreciate that the situation was posted here (even if you were just asking for advice) it gives the rest of us a chance to learn from the situation. I think a red flag for me would have been hearing about the threats towards previous students. On a side note, his telling you of this tells us one thing, he didn't threaten you (yet) which is probably his way of complimenting (haha). At the very least, he was pre-threatening to give you warning of what might happen of his possible future threats and what lead up to them. In the end, like others have said on TT, it's your butt on the line and you need to take care of you.

Best Wishes

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.
Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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After a mostly sleepless night in the top bunk in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I realized that I could have handled this situation far better than I did.

Long story short: I have salvaged my relationship with my mentor, and will be completing my training with him.

G-Town's Comment
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You did exactly as suggested; "you now own your training". Your trainer has way more respect for you and so does Swift. Well done.

Good luck.

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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You did exactly as suggested; "you now own your training". Your trainer has way more respect for you and so does Swift. Well done.

Good luck.

Thanks, G-Town. (And thank you for the support and great advice. )

I feel I did the right thing. I feel that I could have done it a lot better, but at the end of the day, my training is on track, my mentor and I are seeing a lot more eye to eye, and moving forward.

I feel bad that I didn't try diplomacy first, but I didn't. I'm not going to make excuses, beat myself up over it, or lose (any more) sleep over it.

I think that my mentor and I are actually becoming friends now, too, so I guess everyone wins this time.

And by the way: my backing is improving. Rapidly. :)

Twilight Zone. Indeed.

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