Local Food Service As A Rookie

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Rob's Comment
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Friday i had a 6am start time. I had shown up at around 430am because that is when the "late" shuttle driver typically gets there with the last 2 trailers, and i was hoping to get an early start due to a winter storm moving through the area. The warehouse was running behind and he wasnt able to leave until about 3am, with a 3 hour drive ahead of him. He pulled in just before 6. It sucked not getting paid to sit around a wait (as i was there before my start time) but i made the decision to go in early, and was not instructed to so it wasnt right to clock in early, or burn up my clock. With the holiday weeks most of our routes get mashed together and we go to stops that the other routes typically run. I got sent out to an area i only ran once, but had 6 stops i had never been to. The snow started coming down pretty good about 2pm but i was able to still do 45 mph. I have always hated delivering to places that require me to go up steps, but the snow/ice makes me hate it even moe. i had 2 places i delivered to that required me to go into very narrow alleyways (thankfully pull through....not back in). The first place i had to deal with telephone poles, trash cans and grease traps. Of course the trash cans had those long arms sticking out and i was fairly close to hitting them with the trailer while avoiding the telephone poles. Because it was a narrow entrance to get into the alley i wasnt able to have my trailer straight prior to reaching those obstacles so i needed to do a small "S" throughout the entire alley. When i got to my next stop a couple blocks away i hadnt ever been to this place. My GPS told me i "arrived" but didnt see it. I had been to the customer we have on the right hand of the street but knew that their place was a "cafe" but i was looking for a pizza joint. I had pulled off to the side of the road and then seen it. It required me to go through the alley as the road i was on was only 2 lanes, and i really try to avoid blocking traffic when possible. I ended up going around the block and seen the other side of the alley and seen it was going to be tight but figured it would save me a minute or 2 than having to go around to the original side. After i started going in i realized i really goofed up. I MADE ONE OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES YOU CAN MAKE WHILE DRIVING A BIG RIG. I GOT IN A HURRY.. It was extremely tight, honestly i'd estimate i had about 6 inches of space between my trailer and the roof/gutters of one of the houses. On the other side i had maybe a foot from a telephone pole. i had taken all the space possible on the street to make it in there. It really made me slow down and think of HOW LUCKY i was i hadnt hit anything. Once i had gotten to where i was parking the truck i sat there for a couple minutes to think about what just happened. In my frustration (and wanting to get home to see my kids as i hadnt spent hardly anytime with them the day prior) I allowed that to affect my decision making. I knew it was going to be tight and despite that i made the poor decision to go for it rather than do the better option and go back to original side where i had more space to get the trailer straight before going through the narrow alley. I left that stop and headed to my last stop, just south of Des Moines. The snow really started to fly again and everything was turning to ice. I had to pull off the highway numerous times to get the ice off my wiper blades as i couldnt see. By the time i arrived at my last stop it was 430PM, i called my wife to tell the kids goodnight for me, as it was gonna take me a half hour to unload (due to the conditions) and its a half hour drive in perfect conditions back to the yard. it took me over an hour to get back to the yard, and i still had 30-45 minutes worth of post-trip and paperwork i needed to complete. I didnt get home until 730pm and the boys go to sleep between 630 and 7 otherwise theyre extremely cranky the next day.

My point of talking about the family life aspect in this update is because it is often believed that local driving is easier on families. It is true that you're home daily/nightly, however is it really quality time you're spending together? It isnt uncommon for me to put in 12-14 hour days. I usually only see my kids for 2 hours or so before they go to bed, my wife and i will spend another hour or so together before im ready for bed. It takes a special type of person to stand behind their spouse, and support them when they choose this as a career whether their local, or OTR. Sometimes my wife wishes i would have just gone OTR because most nights im physically around, but not mentally as i'm so exhausted and just want to sleep. Although i'm making about the same money i was making at the Sysco warehouse in Tampa (but im working 8-10 hours more per week) i enjoy this more as i'm on a 4 day work week, off weekends, and get to be outside and interact with different people.

Continued...

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.

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.

Rob's Comment
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This week i had logged 51 hours, and also got 8 hours holiday pay. I should gross a little over 1500 for the week. It's good money, but i still recommend getting your start, and experience OTR where you'll be faced with less situations that would put your CDL and driving career at risk. As i've said before you can make the same, if not more if you prove yourself to be a reliable, dependable, safe driver. I'm gonna steal a quote that Brett uses quite a bit in the general forum thats something like "You have all the time in the world to make all the money". There definitely are no shortcuts in this industry. SO FAR i have been fortunate i have not had any incidents. To be honest, I feel that i'm extremely lucky that i haven't. What i deal with most days there is plenty that can go wrong. Especially starting in this job with no experience i've had to focus on a million things at once and i have been LUCKY that i have not overlooked something, or hit something. If you're convinced that this is how you want to begin your career, i'm not going to try and stop you, i just want you to know that you will be faced with many challenges. Des Moines really isnt a big city, compared to most. When i ran out to Omaha and Lincoln last week i thought that area was crazy, i couldnt even imagine doing this in chicago, Atlanta, or NYC, Atleast right out of school.

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.

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.

Simon D. (Grandpa)'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Rob

Love these diaries! 👍😀

But they confirm for me that I have little interest in local food delivery as a career! 😜

Hats off to you for the way you handle yourself in a difficult job. A fine example of a really 'professional attitude' methinks.

Keep up the good work and keep on keeping it safe 👍. And please keep writing.... lol

Cheers and best wishes for a great New Year!

Simon

Rob's Comment
member avatar

Hey Rob

Love these diaries! 👍😀

But they confirm for me that I have little interest in local food delivery as a career! 😜

Hats off to you for the way you handle yourself in a difficult job. A fine example of a really 'professional attitude' methinks.

Keep up the good work and keep on keeping it safe 👍. And please keep writing.... lol

Cheers and best wishes for a great New Year!

Simon

In general there isn't too much that changes for me on a daily basis, as for the most part my route, and stops are the same dependant on what day of the week it is. That is a major part of why I don't do daily updates as I feel like I've said almost everything I can about the job, but willing to talk about new experiences I have as they pop up. Personally I like the job, but I also worked in the warehouse of Sysco selecting the orders so I'm no stranger to the physical part. For about the first week my knees were killing me from going up and down the ramp but I've gotten used to it however there are days were I'm just sore from all the lifting. We have cases of meat that way nearly 100 pounds each. You have to figure out what weight you can safely handle hauling in at once to minimize your number of trips inside. Having brakes on my dolly help me keep it under control. In perfect conditions (ramp close to the customers door, no snow/ice, and no steps) I usually don't load any more than 300 to 350 pounds. I'm a chubby guy, 5'9 about 245 lbs. I've actually lost a little weight doing this work but would lose alot more if I stopped drinking so much soda. When I was training I had no problem drinking alot of water because it was warm out, now that its cold out it feels like the water goes right through me and I hate having to stop working so often to find a restroom,so I grab the soda instead. Its definitely a habit I'm working on cutting back on. The perks of doing food service is your getting paid to workout. There also are numerous customers that take care of us. I have several that I deliver to that offer to feed me lunch anytime I deliver, and they also invite me to bring the family in for dinner some time "on the house". There are a couple places I've eaten at before I delivered (filling in for another driver) that I felt extremely disgusted with how "clean" there kitchen was. It really sucks too because the food was outstanding, but the cleanliness of the kitchen disgusted me so much I will not eat there again.

The physical nature of this guy tends to be a young mans game. There are exceptions though. There's a guy in our yard that's over 60, has been doing foodservice for over 40 years. That guys able to keep on schedule, but man you can tell his body has taken a beating. I just turned 28 and the whole reason I looked into trucking is I don't want to end up with major back pain from throwing cases all my life. I signed a 1 year contract for my schooling. I will fulfill my obligation and then sit down with my wife and decide what's best for us going forward. Maybe ill stick with it, maybe ill go else where. For now all I'm focused on is fulfilling my contract and completing my 1st year (and hopefully many more) safely....accident, and incident free

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob's Comment
member avatar

I'd also like to add that dependent on the company (and possibly location of terminal) the pay is different. We're paid hourly, as is US Foods and Sysco. With Sysco they're able to increase their hourly pay for that week with their incentive pay...the faster they unload a stop the more they make that week. Reinhardt foods is paid based on mileage, and cases. I'm not sure how much they make per mile or per case but their drivers seem happy. The beer guys and Pepsi here are paid per day. I believe Pepsi was $200 a day. Paid by the day works out great when your day isn't too heavy and you can knock it out quick, but I'm sure they're getting as much as humanly possible put on them to maximize the amount of work Pepsi is getting out of them for the same amount of money. Lastly the milk guys here (Anderson erikson) and bread guys (Sara lee) are paid on commission. Not sure how that works out for them but the milk guys on their job postings are advertising 50-55k a year. I'm assuming they're responsible for finding new customers instead of having salesmen, which is why they get commission.

All these companies from what I've heard from their drivers operate on a seniority basis, regardless of being union or not. We have only 1 guy that works out of our yard that works Saturday. He has enough seniority to not do it, but its our biggest customer we service in our yard and they take about 150 cases on Saturday. It takes him about an hour and a half (including pretrip/post trip) and he gets paid for 6 hours of OT per union agreement. Most drivers out of the terminal have to work weekends when they start out including going to (in our case) Kansas City, as well as Sioux falls and Minneapolis. They're also required to fill in at other yards (Terre Haute Indiana, Chicago, and Peoria) which they don't find out about until the morning of that they're driving to another yard. That is biggest benefit for me in a domicile is weekends off, and not being expected to fill in for others. We have 5 delivery guys, and 2 shuttle drivers in Des Moines. Thankfully, I have 1 person I have seniority over so I can avoid being sent out of town if it comes down to it.

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.

Simon D. (Grandpa)'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

..... all I'm focused on is fulfilling my contract and completing my 1st year (and hopefully many more) safely....accident, and incident free

A perfect example of the professional attitude that I mentioned...methinks 👍

Nice one! ☺

Han Solo Cup's Comment
member avatar

One of my favorite diaries and examples of being a professional. You state it how you see it and admit to your mistakes; I love it. I can really learn a lot from how you describe the situation, your attitude, reactions, and your takeaways. Keep up the good work! Also love seeing the pictures as that really helped me understand what you were dealing with... and, as Simon said, convinces me I probably have little to no interest in local food delivery. My hat is off to you!

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.
Rob's Comment
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I appreciate the kind words, and happy to hear you guys are enjoying it.

We were off monday due to New year's and enjoyed some family time. Tuesday I was sent out towards Ottumwa.....eventually. I say eventually because I was set to leave at 430am but didn't end up leaving until 1130am! The temp outside was -16 and as a result we had a truck gel up. The guy who took the truck barely made it out of the yard and was set to do the Omaha run before it shut down on him. He was able to limp it back to the yard and I told him he may as well take my truck as the Omaha run is 13-14 hour run if everything goes correctly. Thankfully the guy on call from Ryder (where we lease trucks from) had their on call mechanic/roadside in the lot already dealing with another company who had a truck gel up. He had gotten the fuel filter in truck I eventually took swapped out and added some anti gel into the tank to prevent it from happening again. The shuttle driver didn't end up getting back with my trailer until 10am! He had to run to Cedar Rapids and drop a set of doubles up there and then run back to warehouse for our trailers due to Cedar rapids shuttle driver gelling up. Of course it wouldn't be that easy, he couldn't get the 2 trucks up there started to hook/unhook. I'm not sure if they we're gelled up as well or if it was dead batteries. Just before he got back the truck I was in started beeping at me with a warning saying "fuel filter". I then had to go back inside the shop and ask them to look at it quick. Turns out he didn't put enough anti gel in and they replaced the fuel filter again, and I made damn sure it wasn't going to do it again, by adding an additional bottle of anti gel. I left the yard at 1130 am, 7 hours after I was supposed to. Last week on Tuesday (due to holiday) I pulled in with 5 minutes left in my 14, and I decided I wouldn't start my clock until I was set to take off. I got back to the yard at 1130pm. It was very frustrating having customers complain and give me attitude about something I had no control over. I had to call customers and also ask that they have somebody stay until i arrive so I wouldn't have to take anything back to the yard. I ended up finishing my route 19 hours after I was supposed to have departed.

They ended up needing the guy who is usually off Wednesdays cover my route as I wouldn't have hours available until almost 10am, 5 hours after that route was set to depart. Due to me getting back so late, the shuttle driver didn't get back until 8am Wednesday. I had been instructed on Tuesday to call into work after my 10 hour break was over to be told who I was going to be sent out to help. I ended up being sent to help the guy covering my route. He fortunately was only a mile or so from my house so I ran over there to help him with that stop, then we went to our yard to drop my car off before we took off to Ames. Despite starting 3 hours late we actually finished the day 30 minutes ahead of schedule. It took a lot of hustle but now we're back on schedule for the most part.

Today (Thursday) I was supposed to start at 330 But didn't have any hours available until 4. I did 1 stop as as I write this I'm sitting at a customer waiting for an hour for them to get here. Usually it wouldn't be routed this way but due to the holiday week I was only driver with room on my trailer for it. I can't skip this stop because it's a new customer, and I won't be back in the area until 4pm today. I'm being sent to southern iowa (Osceola) then some back country roads to small towns eventually ending up in Adair before coming back across I-80 to get back to des moines with 3 stops along the way.

Overall its been a irritating week.....but THATS TRUCKING!! On the bright side due to having a late start time Wednesday I was able to go to my son's 2 yr old checkup, and meet his pediatrician, as well as get to spend a couple hours with the boys before i had to head out the door. If you're looking at local driving to get away from the long hours, or have more family time be cautious as you may put in just as many hours. While it's true I'm home every night many times it's hardly 10 hours before needing to be back at the yard.

Don't be fooled by me saying im off every weekend, and only work 4 days a week. We're definitely a minority in that aspect as many of the local guys I've talked to are putting in 60+ hours working 5-6 days a week. This position/hours work for ME. I am not a fan of when I have a 330am start time (usual start time except wednesday) but its either deal with it or not see my boys as I'd get home Just after they go to sleep. I'll deal with waking up early if it means I get to provide for/see my kids.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Rob's Comment
member avatar

Today I ran the same area as last Friday, with a couple different stops added into the mix. I had nearly 700 cases, 17k in the box, put in 14 hours and drove 204 miles. This route took me to small towns that requires me to go through alleyways that weren't designed with fitting a semi in there. It was actually warm today compared to what we have had lately...it was 10 degrees! Despite it being so cold I was still sweating. Heck, I was sweating when it was -5 just because of how fast paced This job is. That's even with me just wearing my work shirt and jeans with long underwear tops and bottoms. That being said I snapped a couple pictures. With my phone it gets to be a pain in the butt having to open multiple tabs to get the links so I'll just make multiple posts.

0211626001515201147.jpg it was a pretty tight fit. I had less than a foot of space on my passenger side from the rail.

Rob's Comment
member avatar

This is how front looked. When I backed in there was another car parked next to trash can.

0209996001515201315.jpg as you can see i didn't have much space to work with.

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