Working My Way Back Into The Trucking Industry

by Rhonda

In October 2009 I posted a story called I Want Out Of Trucking As A Driver. The story was written with a lot of emotion, so I'd like to take the time to reflect on that a bit, and discuss the challenges I've faced trying to get back into the trucking industry.

I entered trucking in 2001 and as the years went by, I got more and more frustrated by not reaching my goal of "having my life back as I knew it before". I don't like being forced into anything. I want to be in control of my choices. So as the years went by, I continued with my plan to get out there and prove to everyone that I was in control, not you.

bigrig4.jpg I love to drive, and I always have. That was one of the best things about being behind the wheel. I was in charge, and it didn't matter if anyone got mad because I was driving 60 instead of 65. When I drove over the road , I went to the same places all the time on my dedicated routes. I liked that. But I still wasn't home at the end of the work day. When I was a local driver, I went to the same customers daily or weekly. I liked that also, and really enjoyed being home every day! At the time I did not give very high marks to the employer I worked for, and finally quit. I was not treated as a professional by some of my co-workers, and I once had to call the police on a co-worker who threatened me. There were other incidents, but I won't go into those right now. Yes, I thought about a lawsuit. I did that back in the 90's when my company was bought out and new employer decided that my 14 years of bus driving was not enough for them, but it was enough for the other drivers. My ability to earn a living was taken away from me overnight. So I got an attorney and after two long years, I won! But this time, I didn't want to go the lawsuit route again, so I quit. I turned in a two page resignation letter to the corporate office but they never responded. I don't think its asking too much to be treated with respect at any job you do. I just want to go to work and do my job and be the best I can be at it. Being the only woman at many of my jobs, it made me tough, and trucking makes you even tougher. I can take a lot and shrug it off, but this time, I could not take anymore. There are consequences for everything we do, good or bad. My decision to quit at the time was based on several factors, including:

  • My work environment at the time was not what I had hoped
  • I was trying to start a new life in a new state
  • I was tired of people outside of trucking (Congress & the DOT) making asinine rules and regulations
  • I was tired of explaining to friends that I can't join them once again because trucking is a 24/7 job
  • I was fed up that I couldn't get an office job at a trucking company
  • I was disgusted that I could not survive on my own and that I was living with my mom. She also could not survive on her own, but that's not the point. I am glad I have at least one parent left to enjoy. Together we are making it work till better times come for us. I was on my own for 25 years before moving to this state.
  • I did not like the person I was becoming. I had to get back to the old me. I was a walking time bomb, ready to explode at anytime. I've never been that way. It should not be this tough to start a new life in a new state!! Some of this was also before the recession started.

So it has been 1 1/2 years now since I got out of the driver's seat. I've been at my current job now for almost 9 months and I like it. This has cleared my mind of some of the concerns I had. After almost eight years, mom and I are still living together. We are making it work in this economy and we are not alone. After getting out of the driver's seat and out of the trucking industry, I must admit that I do miss it. Last month a temp agency called me and offered me a job. They said they were going way back in their files to find drivers. Employers are hurting and need those with great driving records. I went to the temp agency and spoke with them. I explained my recent job history, and the fact that I was holding down two jobs because I needed the money to maintain my out-of-state home until I could sell it. I was told not to worry about my job history. My driving record is what mattered. I have had about twelve jobs in seven years since moving to this state - including the two I held at the same time for over a year. Back in Iowa I only had two jobs in twenty five years. I told them I was only interested in weekend work if there are loads to deliver locally. I called them back after giving them some time to check my driving history and employment record. I wanted to come in and take the drug test so I could be ready to work. I spoke with a different person this time who said my job history is terrible and it's going to be difficult getting me on board. To that I replied, "Excuse me for going thru h*ll the past seven years since moving to this state, and excuse me for the economy going into the toilet and employers shutting their doors! Furthermore, when I was a safety director at my former company and I called you guys to get an emergency driver, I was never told anything about their job history. We just want a qualified driver to drive our truck for a few hours. And on top of it all, you guys called me this time and begged me to come in. Now you tell me this??" Well, someday I'll get a call again from them, and from others I'm sure. With the CSA 2010 rules being implemented and the economy in the tank, it has weeded out a lot of drivers and carriers with lousy records. These rules are meant to promote good drivers and companies that think like I do - safety first at all times. My driving record is perfect for tractor trailer - no accidents, and no speeding tickets. Have there been close calls? Yes! Should I have gotten a ticket in a "speed trap" or just for not paying attention to the posted signs sometimes? Yes! But in the end, my record is clean. For now I'll watch the papers for a driving job, wait on the temp agency, and look for office jobs. My employer also has a Transportation Department, which I already had an interview with for an opening. Until then, I'll keep on writing and assisting others, and reading all I can from the trucking magazines and other sources. Soon enough it'll all work out just fine.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Over The Road:

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
by Brett Aquila

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