2 Years -- There Is Hope For A Lousy Backer!

Topic 21177 | Page 1

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Rainy D.'s Comment
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September marked 2 years of my arrival at Prime. i got my license on 10/30...how appropriate for me, it was mischief night. i got my own truck on Valentine's day.

i was terrified to go solo. My backing sucked. I got so nervous when trucks had to wait for me to get in docks or parking spaces. i spent a ton of.money paying yard dogs and for reserved spots at truck stops the first couple of months.

i soon made notes of the largest truck stops that always had parking, or ones with wide spaces. i also.made lists of truck stops i NEVER wanted to go.to again. i made sure to.get to every customer as early as possible to give me time to find good parking. i drove nights or early morning so i could shut down around noon when spaces were empty.

My first month solo i had an accident I thought would ruin my career. It didn't. My fourth month solo i got a $50 bonus for being the top driver on my dispatchers fleet that month. WHAT??? Do they know i cant back? lol

I went through my own crash course on winter driving, frozen brakes, and tandems refusing to slide. By my 6th month, i felt i had a handle on everything but the backing. At 13 months solo, Prime gave me 2 jackets, one for a year of safe driving, the other for a year of on time delivery. My FM and i got along great, he ran me hard, and life was good. Except for backing. A friend asked me to train her. But I cant Back! My FM was delighted I wanted to train and something crazy happened. When i watched the student back and explained to her, I learned the angles. I also realized I was much much better than I thought I was. Who knew I was my own worst enemy.

In three months I will have 2 years On Time Delivery, and in 4 mos 2 years accident free. I have been named "Best fleet driver of the month" three times, getting $50 each time. My backing is now so good that other drivers have congratulated me on getting into doors more easily than they did.

The way I back is at 45 or even 90 degrees until the tandem tires are even with the imaginary line extending from the parking space line. Then I turn. If I have room, i have on occasion put my tires to the left of the line to ensure I have room.on the right side. If you need to pull up 5 times, do it. Don't get nervous cause the other drivers can't get through you. They just have to wait.

After 2 years, I still love my job, my company, and all of my coworkers on the road and in the terminals. I've gotten information regarding Prime regional and dedicated near home in case I want them in the future. I went from near bankruptcy to paying off $39,000 of debt and putting nearly $10k into my 401k.

I have found a home at my company, and conquered my worst enemy...backing.

I did it. You newbies can too. Don't give up, and remember that not everyone is made for trucking. It's not failing if you decide it isn't for you. it is failing if you don't try and give it your 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.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Dispatcher:

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.

Fm:

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.
PlanB's Comment
member avatar

Thank you for sharing. I started my journey at Prime on 9/25 and I have been very impressed with this company.

I'm finally "starting" to understand how to angle and maneuver the tandems but have a loooooong way to go. Setup is my major hurdle. If I set myself up right the maneuver goes so gratifyingly well. But often I'll lose track of my reference points in the mirrors and my setup is so damn far off I can't figure out how to recover. Just as frustrating is when I think i got it into the dock smoothly, but I'm just slightly crooked or slightly to far to one side. It's infuriating trying to make those small adjustments without overcorrecting, now I'm to far to the opposite side....*facepalm*

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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Great post Rainy!smile.gif

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

I'm sure your story will be a huge benefit to others. I went through very similar circumstances myself, including notes on where to park and starting my day early enough to be finished with my shift while the Truckstop were virtually empty. I'd sit in my truck, eat my dinner and watch everyone backing in during the evening parking rush.. doing that helped me learn how to set up for different situations. I was competent at backing before I began training, but in helping others, I find my backing has improved even more.. especially in weird/odd set up docks.

Steak Eater's Comment
member avatar

I went from near bankruptcy to paying off $39,000 of debt and putting nearly $10k into my 401k.

Rainy, as impressive as the driving skills are that you have acquired, the financial gains you have made are even more impressive. You should be proud of yourself. Having excess cash in the amount of $25k per year (debt pay down and 401k amount) is a HUGE amount of money, and your having used that excess of cash to pay down debt and invest is a very wise move on your part.

I hope you’ve considered increasing the contributions you are making to your 401k. If you increase your 401k contribution to nearly $25k per year over the course of 10 years, with reasonable investment returns, you could easily find yourself with a retirement account valued at over $400,000.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Steak Eater thanks. living on the truck makes a huge difference. even if someone can do it for a short time, it can save thousands per month. My goal is to buy a house in Aruba. maybe a boat. But ill get there lol.

i had the 401k set to 20% for awhile bit dropped it to pay a loan faster. once i pay off another $3000 in bills i can up it again. cant wait! lol

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

Great job. You have been an inspiration to me from the the start. Thank you.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Great post Rainy!

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

Not to sound like everyone else, but... Yeah that's awesome! Lol

I always love hearing how others overcome obstacles. For you, it was backing. For me, it's time management and learning to sit in that seat for long periods of time so I can just get my day over with. Looks like we've both come a long way.

Steak Eater's Comment
member avatar

After the last bills are paid, upping your 401k contribution to 35% would still leave you with more spendable cash than you have had over the last 2 years and put you on a left-lane Express path to that Aruba house.

One suggestion, make sure your 401k contributions are going to a stock fund, preferably an S&P 500 index fund. You will make yourself wealthy by investing, not saving.

You really should be proud of yourself. In a relatively short time you’ve mastered a new profession, drastically improved your financial position, and taken the time to give back to those of us on this site who are looking for insight and advice.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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