Update (on The Road!)

Topic 21140 | Page 1

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K.R.'s Comment
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It's been a while since I posted, so a brief-ish update. I'm typing this in the sleeper while my trainer gets us started towards Ozark, MO where we deliver tomorrow.

I took some time to myself before the summer, and then a summer job unrelated to trucking in order to get some money saved up. I'd never given up on trucking, but it was pushed back while I regrouped. Along the way, however, I ended up buying a house in Albuquerque, NM. That kind of accelerated my plans a little bit, and then I went back to trucking school in September at Roadmaster in Fontana.

There are good and bad things to be said about any program, but overall, things were pretty great. Being able to have that automatic transmission available made all the difference in my ability to drive, and more importantly, my ability to back. I will say that calling the program three weeks is a little bit misleading, because it took more like five weeks before I had gone to orientation (I ended up going with Werner) and then got a test scheduled and all that. Nailed the pre-trip inspection the first time, skills took a second attempt, road was never the problem in the first place.

Then I took stuff to the DMV and found out that I had some additional written tests to take that they had not made me take when I got my permit back in February. Additionally, of course, California's identification requirements for CDL holders have changed, and needing my social security card, birth certificate, and two forms of proof of residence was a pain and a half. Then came the most fun part of all, waiting for Sacramento to process my DL-170 so that I could get back to work. In the end that waiting took almost all of October and a lot of calling the DMV— pro-tip here, if you're getting bad customer service and you want your problem resolved, just complain loudly on the internet and on Twitter.

Anyway, then I went back and sat in the motel for a few more days, and then two Thursdays ago I was assigned to a trainer and we hit the ground running. Everything has been great so far, although I also got to experience sitting around in a truck stop all day in Hudson, WI waiting for the shop to get our trailer tires fixed because we got a flat overnight (moreover, it was a flat that I missed during my walk-around inspection; my trainer didn't, and then I felt really silly).

Starting to get into the routine of things. Being paid is nice too, of course, and has helped because I'm finding that I need all sorts of winter gear that I just don't have and couldn't buy at home, being from California. We stopped at a Wal-Mart a few days ago and I bought long underwear, which is helping me cope with the sub-freezing temperatures without nearly as much complaining as there was otherwise. I need to buy a few more the next time that we're at Wal-Mart, too. What's the etiquette for how much clothing one should have on on top of long underwear? Is it a terrible fashion faux-pas to put shorts on top of thermal leggings? Eh, either way. I've been very grateful that I'm out on the road with a trainer while we encounter winter weather of the sort that I've never seen let alone driven in before, but I've been handling it rather well. Natural caution serves me well when the roads are occasionally frozen over, I have to say. In ideal conditions I may occasionally still go slower than necessary but I don't overdrive my capabilities.

The other thing that I'm noticing and really the only thing that I'm disliking so far is that there are a lot of places as we go through the upper Midwest where the showers are on the second floor. This is rather bad in my case, since repeated stairs are difficult at the best of times and I try to save the bit of climbing for getting in and out of the truck. It's just something that I guess I'll have to get used to asking, and if the showers are on the second floor making extra certain that I don't have to drive afterwards.

Anyway, things are good. So yeah. And it's looking like I'll be solo by mid-December and then the real fun begins.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Sounds pretty good K.R. Things seem to be moving along nicely for you.

What's up with climbing stairs? You must have really bad knees or something I take it?

Definitely make sure once you go solo that you have plenty of warm clothing and plenty of non-perishable food with you for the winter. You never know what life might throw at you in the winter.

Keep us updated and keep learning all you can!

Big T's Comment
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Welcome back. I'm glad to see you back out here. It's great you were able to find a school and company that better fit your physical requirements.

Good luck out here!

K.R.'s Comment
member avatar

Yeah. Not really really bad but bad enough, and stairs are just the wrong motion that it hurts a lot. I use a crutch to get around and help me walk and for the most part can do pretty much anything but heck I hate stairs, lol. My left knee is worse, which is one of the reasons a manual was out of the question. There are so many companies with automatics now that even having the restriction on my license doesn't bother me.

And yeah, absolutely. The thing has been learning what warm clothing actually is. We're in Bloomington this morning, and it's raining, so that should be fun. Rain at least I have a lot of experience driving in from when I drove city buses. Which when it comes down to it, especially the artic buses aren't that different to drive from a truck.

I tend to eat more stuff I buy from the grocery store than truck stop food in the first place.

Big Scott's Comment
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Every palce I've been to that has showers on the second floor have elevators. You should ask.

K.R.'s Comment
member avatar

Every palce I've been to that has showers on the second floor have elevators. You should ask.

Thanks, I will. Because yeah. Stairs are an additional stress on my knees that I don't need while driving.

K.R.'s Comment
member avatar

Today has been an exercise in playing the waiting game. We started out in MO, went to Ottawa, KS to a Walmart DC where we were supposed to pick up an empty trailer, only to be told that they had no empty for us. From there we went to Kansas City (on the KS side) to a truck stop, waiting to pick up a trailer that is (still is?) inbound to the drop yard (on the MO side).

Preassigned trips got shuffled around some, and then we were supposed to pick up an empty trailer from here and then go to somewhere in Illinois to pick up our next load, but lo and behold there's no empty trailer here either. So now we're waiting for a response to our message asking "please advise".

I'm trying very hard not to be frustrated with this, because for one, I'm still getting paid regardless, since Werner pays students a daily rate. And for two, I know that a lot of trucking is the waiting game in the first place, so getting frustrated now would be a bad precedent to set for my future in this career. Plus, I've had plenty of experience with hurry up and wait while driving buses in the past.

However, we have a requirement of driving hours to log before we can promote to solo, and the biggest thing about hurry up and wait is that I'm definitely not getting any driving in. Oh well. There's always tomorrow.

K.R.'s Comment
member avatar

Welp.

Yesterday we bobtailed in search of an empty trailer to Edwardsville, IL. There was a DC that we got sent to that might have had one— but it didn't.

And so, here we sit, waiting for an empty trailer.

Bobtail:

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

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