Profile For Christopher R.

Christopher R.'s Info

  • Location:
    Nashville, TN

  • Driving Status:
    Company Driver In Training

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    1 month, 3 weeks ago

Christopher R.'s Bio

I'm Chris. I'm 27 years old and I'm from around Nashville, TN (Portland if you're familiar with the area). I got my degree in music from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, worked for a few years, started dating a beautiful girl in 2017, and married her during a pandemic. All before deciding that it was time to hit the road and start trucking. Now I'm currently in training with Wilson Logistics and looking forward to going solo and hitting the road with my wife this summer.

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Posted:  2 weeks, 1 day ago

View Topic:

My experience with Wilson Logistics training program

Thanks everyone for the replies! They’ve been helpful. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to see them before the situation escalated. We’ve been driving hard from Savannah, GA to Denver, CO, so I haven’t done much except drive and sleep. But fear not, this story has a much happier ending than the last!

I left off on Tuesday night at the receiver in Savannah after a very frustrating couple of days. We left there later that night and headed north of the city to pick up our next load. It wasn’t pretty and he got really frustrated again, but I did manage to back the trailer into one of the spots, drop, and hook up to the new one. I had a few hours left of drive time, so we drove to a truck stop south of Atlanta and stopped around 6AM Wednesday morning. This is where it really got bad. I tried to back into a spot and once again, as soon as it got bad he told me to get into the passenger seat and did it himself. At that point I decided I was done just taking it on the chin and decided to stand up for myself a bit. I asked him how I was going to learn anything if he just kept doing all of the backs for me and I reminded him that we had agreed on some expectations about my training that he was breaking. Now, I was very frustrated and I’m under no illusions that that frustration came out in my voice, but I tried very hard not to raise my voice and to explain my frustrations as calmly and respectfully as possible. I’m biased, but I think I did an okay job of that. My reward for standing up for myself? He cussed me out. Cool.

It took a while, but I managed to get some sleep. I called my fleet manager after I got up and explained to him what had happened. He agreed that some of my trainer’s conduct was not okay, but wanted to have a chance to speak with him about it before making any rash decisions. I totally understand that! There are always two sides to every story. We’re supposed to schedule a time for both trainer and trainee to talk privately with the fleet manager once a week anyway, so he scheduled that call for later that day. He and my trainer spoke for a long time, then he gave me a call. He said they had spoken about everything that had gone on. He reminded me of a few things that I needed to work on and said that he had told my trainer that he needed to communicate more clearly and congenially, and train more patiently. He said that we were gonna stay at that truck stop another night so we could get back to a day schedule so that we would have time to practice my backing maneuvers in more empty truck stops.

We ended up leaving around 3:30AM on Thursday. Things got better immediately. Leaving the truck stop, he gave me some advice on navigating tight turns that was much clearer than any direction he had given me before. He broke the tension early by just talking about a few things to know about trucking in general, like how different things are policed in different states. We drove 7 hours and 10 minutes without a stop and made it to a truck stop south of Paducah, KY. I confess, it was difficult passing through Nashville and not stopping to see my wife. The homesickness was tough at that point! If I was solo and had been in control of the schedule, I probably would have stopped. We had enough time on the load.

At this point, he had decided that he wanted to run hard the next couple of days so that we could get into Denver a day early and have a full day to work on backing practice. So we refueled and he drove for another few hours. We stopped for the day a few miles west of St. Louis, MO. We did get about an hour of backing practice in at that truck stop. It didn’t go great; I am tending to oversteer a bit and while he was a bit more patient, he still got very frustrated. All in all though, it was a much improved day over those that came before it.

We left again on Friday morning around 2:30am. The plan was for me to run out my 11 hours and then for him to drive the rest of the way into Denver. I drove from just west of St. Louis all the way to the first rest stop over the Colorado border with just one stop for my 30-minute break. It was another pretty good day as far as the interaction between my trainer and I goes. We switched off and he drove the rest of the way into Denver. We made a quick drop and then settled in for a 34-hour reset.

That pretty much brings us current. As I’m writing this now it’s Saturday afternoon the next day after we started the 34-hour reset. He’s still not the best at communicating the plan, so I don’t really know if we are going to have the time we hoped to work on my backing. I didn’t get the impression that he was planning on taking this reset. It is frustrating being at a truck stop for a couple of days and not being able to work on anything, but that’s life. Overall, though, things are better and my training seems to be at least a little more on track. As always, thanks for following along!

- Chris

Posted:  2 weeks, 5 days ago

View Topic:

My experience with Wilson Logistics training program

.... continued from previous post....

There were frustrations before I even started attempting to back the trailer against the dock but I won’t get into all that. I messed up right from the start. We were coming at the dock from the left so I lined up for a 90ish degree back, not thinking about the fact that it was on my blindside. If he had given me two seconds to think about I would have realized my mistake, but two seconds was two seconds too long, apparently. He was immediately asking me what the f**k I was doing (his words) and telling me to make a u-turn at the end of the docking area and line up the other way. I did so and tried to line up where I thought was best. Keep in mind: I have literally never backed a tractor-trailer up anywhere except on the practice pad. My set up was bad, so he told me to fix it then got out to watch me. As I came back there was a stop sign nearby and he said, “if you hit that f*****g stop sign I’m gonna lose it.” Cool, thanks for the confidence boost. I tried to maneuver the trailer as best I could and it wasn’t great. You might think: “that’s fine! It’s literally your first time ever doing this. Try to correct it and keep going!” Not this guy. His response was to tell me to stop and get out of the truck so he could back it in for me. No telling me where I had gone wrong or how to get back on track. Just get out and let me fix it.

So I’m unbelievably frustrated at this point. It’s our first back at a receiver and he’s already broken all of the ground rules that he had set for me. He back the trailer up and gets it straight with the dock and tells me to finish up. I start to go around the back of the truck to look at where I’m going and what I’m backing into. He asks, “what the f**k are you doing?” I tell him I’m taking a look at the dock to see where I’m going, ya know, Get Out And Look. He says, “They’re all exactly the f*****g same. Just back up to it.” At this point, I let some of my frustration out. My response: “I have literally never seen one of these (the dock) before, so I want to get a look at what I’m backing into.” I admit my tone was lacking any respect. At this point I have none for him. I continue to walk around the back of the truck as he curses under his breath. I finish the back, but bump into the dock a little too hard. He tells me to get in the passenger seat and he does it himself. I got another condescending lecture about something that I had absolutely zero experience in for my troubles.

Now we’re just waiting at the receiver. I got out and called my wife (God bless her) and she helped settle me down. I’m a pretty patient guy, but I was so mad. He broke every expectation he had set and showed me zero respect in the process. Now I have to figure out my next move. I want to try to level with him and ask that he honor the terms that he set out in the first place. If that conversation doesn’t go well (and I don’t expect it to) then I think I’ll call the fleet manager and request a new trainer. I can deal with someone being an a**h***. I’m not here to make a new friend, but I do need him to fulfill his end of the bargain and actually train me. If he won’t do that then there’s no point in us being here together.

I hope I’m not coming off as overly-sensitive or like I’m blowing this guy off as he’s trying to teach me. I really think I have reasonably thick skin, and again, I’m a patient guy. I just also want to be in a positive learning environment and I haven’t gotten that so far. I would love to hear y’all’s thoughts on this.

Posted:  2 weeks, 5 days ago

View Topic:

My experience with Wilson Logistics training program

Okay. Time for an update. The ended the last post in Springfield, MO. My trainer and I were about to head out to Georgia. Spoiler alert: it’s been a rough few days. When we left on Sunday we took US65 south out of Springfield, through the Ozarks, and into Arkansas. My trainer drove the whole first day. He wanted me to watch, observe, and prepare myself to drive the rest of the trip. Let me tell you, I am REALLY glad he drove that first stretch! I was definitely not prepared for the steep, narrow, and windy stretch that we were driving through in northern Arkansas. We followed US65 all the way through Arkansas. I forget the exact route that we took, but we dipped briefly into Louisiana before crossing the river into Mississippi. We stopped a little ways over the Mississippi line. My trainer and I chatted some; he seemed friendly enough so far (insert ominous foreshadowing music here). He lived pretty close to where we stopped in Mississippi, so his wife came and picked him up so he could spend the night at home. I had the truck to myself, and I was fairly pleased at this point. The bed isn’t as uncomfortable as I expected and I’ve got a nice little set up with plenty of room to store my things. Best of all, his wife makes him a bunch of food that he stuffs his fridge full of and he said I could have whatever I wanted. I went to sleep that was day 1 on the road.

I didn’t get quite as much sleep as I would have liked, but I was okay. I got a shower at the Love’s and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their shower rooms. My trainer got back around 2pm and we got ready to hit the road. My first day driving wasn’t so bad. I actually thought I did fairly well considering that it was my first time ever driving a giant death machine down the highway (we’re at around 77,000 pounds right now). But I discovered that his method of training is not very constructive. Mostly if he chimed in with some “constructive criticism” it just felt disparaging and condescending. It was almost like he was frustrated that I wasn’t already an expert at it. He lectured me a couple of times about not being scared of the truck after I took something a little too slowly for his liking. Honestly, I’m not scared of the truck. I just acknowledge that it’s a massive and dangerous vehicle and I am very inexperienced. I wanted to take things a little slower at times while I’m still getting a feel for the vehicle. We stopped south of Atlanta around 2:30am and I went to bed frustrated that I was being talked at, for the most part, rather than taught, and feeling like he just didn’t want me here and didn’t really care if I learned well. (Which, for the record, he straight up told me that he didn’t want to be a trainer. It sounded like he got guilted into since Wilson is so short on trainers right now.)

Then day three (today) happened. For context, my trainer and I had spoken already about his expectations for me: 1) I was to do all of the backing with him outside coaching as necessary and making sure I didn’t hit anything. He said I could take as long as I needed as long as I kept trying to fix my mistakes. 2) As long as I could take “constructive criticism” and continued to get better each day, we wouldn’t have a problem. 3) It is okay to mess up as long as I learn from it and don’t keep repeating the same mistakes. 4) If I show him respect, I’ll get respect back. It was all great lip service from him. For brevity’s sake I’ll spare you some of the details, but I felt like I was being disrespected before we even fueled up for the stretch run. He napped a solid portion of the 3 hour drive there (which he definitely is not supposed to do). And then we finally arrived at the shipper/receiver....

... continued on next post....

Posted:  3 weeks ago

View Topic:

My experience with Wilson Logistics training program

.... continued from previous reply....

There was a feeling like we absolutely had to have the maneuvers down in the first week before we left with our trainers, but you have two weeks over the road with a trainer before you come back to test, so some of that pressure was unnecessary. That said, I did get really frustrated when I had trouble on one of the maneuvers (the parallel). But the instructors were super patient and continued to work with us and give us new ways to understand how to do it until it clicks. One of the instructors, Jonnie, repeatedly told us that we would not test until he felt that we were ready to pass, so that's comforting.

At some point in the week, the instructors would take us each to go driving around town. I found this to be the easiest part of the training process. Driving forward comes pretty naturally to me, even with the trailer to think about. Driving backward takes a little more geometrical thought, at least until you get it down by feel, which I have definitely not done yet.

On Friday we learned how to put chains on the tires and learned how to couple the tractor to the trailer before continuing to practice our backing maneuvers. My trainer, Adam, got in town on Friday so I was able to meet him. He seems like he'll be a solid trainer that will do a good job of making sure that I'm prepared for the job. The rest of the day was just practicing backing maneuvers until 3:30, and then we returned to the hotel.

My wife hopped a flight back home on Friday afternoon, so my study-buddy was no longer there when I got back. That was a bummer, for sure, but I'm looking forward to knocking this training out so we can galavant around the country this summer! My trainer had told me that we had a load going to Georgia that would be leaving sometime this weekend. He called on Saturday to inform me that it wasn't ready, but he did pick me up and let me drive around some just so he could get a feel for where I was at. He wanted to work with me on the backing pad, but someone else had already beat us to it. I returned to the hotel for one more night. Sunday morning (this morning) I ate breakfast, got my stuff packed up and ready, and waited for Adam to call. He did around 10am and he came and picked me up from the hotel. We went straight to the Prime facility, and let me tell you, it is capital "I" Impressive! A full gym and basketball court, a restaurant with steak and sushi that (I hear) are reasonably priced and actually pretty good, a lounge with pool and ping-pong tables, a chiropractor, a yoga studio, a clinic, a convenience store, and I'm sure a lot more that I didn't get a chance to see. It also has great Wi-Fi, even out in the parking lot.

The trailer for our load to Georgia needed some repairs, so we won't be leaving until tonight, or maybe even tomorrow. So that brings us to the present! I will try to update this a bit more often so the posts aren't quite so long. If you made it this far, thanks so much for reading and following along. It means a lot!

- Chris

Posted:  3 weeks ago

View Topic:

My experience with Wilson Logistics training program

Thanks, Anne and Rhino. I did manage to get it figured out. I think it was just a connection issue here at the hotel. Now, on to my first week of training.

As I write this it is Sunday, 4/18/21. I began my training on Monday. This might be a long one again because I'm going to try to cram the whole week into one post. Most of what we've done this week is pretty repetitive, though, so it shouldn't be too bad. I got my permit at home (thanks to the High Road training on this site), DOT physical and med card, all of that good stuff. In the week leading up to leaving I was in contact with my recruiter daily and my application processor most days as well. One thing I can definitely say about Wilson is that they are on top of communication with prospective drivers, at least in my experience. On Saturday I picked up my rental car and on Sunday morning my wife and I hit the road for a 7-hour drive from Nashville, TN to Springfield, MO. Yes, I brought my wife with me. It's a free hotel stay, what can I say. We got settled in at the hotel, walked to nearby Wings, Etc. for a solid dinner, and then headed back and hit the pool to relax before my first day (the hotel does have a pool and hot tub, so if you're coming to train for Wilson in Springfield, bring some swim clothes).

Let me start with a quick explanation of Wilson's training process. The first week after you arrive is just training on a closed lot. You then leave with a trainer for two weeks. During these two weeks, you are considered a D-seat driver. D-seats are not technically employees yet, so you don't make any money, which sucks, but you can borrow $200/week that will be repaid $25 at a time once you start making a paycheck. After your 2 weeks of D-seat are up you return to Springfield to take your CDL test. Assuming you pass, you then upgrade to C-seat. Congratulations! You are officially an employee of Wilson Logistics and will begin earning a paycheck. You make $.12/mile or $600/week as a C-seat driver, whichever is more. The mileage pay is based on all miles driven by the truck, so yes, assuming your trainer trusts you, you are operating as a team at this point. You drive C-seat for 10,000 miles before you upgrade again to B-seat. At this point, you start making $.14/mile or $700/week, whichever is higher. Once again, you and your trainer are operating as a team and the mileage pay is based on all miles driven by the truck. You drive as a B-seat for another 20,000 miles. After that 20,000 miles you get rerouted back to Springfield to begin your solo week. At this point you are still a B-seat, but you go out for one week solo just to make sure that you can do the job adequately on your own. They tend to keep solo week drivers in and around Springfield running local routes. My understanding is that, during your solo week you get paid as if you are an A-seat, but I'm not 100% sure about that. After your solo week you are given your own truck and upgraded officially to A-seat. All Wilson company drivers who have completed the training are A-seat drivers. You make $.44/mile plus a mileage bonus of up to $.5/mile. Now on to my experience so far:

The shuttle arrives at 6:45 every weekday morning, so we are at the training facility by 7:00 most days. The first thing you do is sign in and choose what you want for lunch. They get lunch from a local restaurant each day: Culvers, Jersey Mike's, pizza from the Kum & Go, etc. The first day was mostly classroom "training." They gave us the spiel about why Wilson is the greatest company in the world. I will say, they weren't too grandiose or braggadocious about it, so I'm slightly more inclined to believe them. So far I've not been given reason to suspect any different. We talked about what to expect throughout the training program. We signed our 1-year contract (though you have until Wednesday to back out with no consequences). We went over drug and alcohol policies, talked a bit about pre-trip, got a folder full of papers to hold onto for studying and reference, etc.; general first day, orientation type of stuff. At 3:30 we headed back out to board the shuttle and go back to the hotel.

Tuesday through Thursday each followed a similar pattern. We would meet out on the practice pad and go work on our pre-trip until the instructors came out. Once out they would teach us one of the backing maneuvers that we needed to know and we would each get to practice it. The maneuvers that we learned were straight-line back, blind-side and sight side offsets, blind-side and sight side parallels, and a 90° back. Ours was a fairly large class compared to their usual (I think). We started with 8 people, and by Wednesday morning we were down to 7. There were 7-8 of us and only 2-3 trucks running at a time, so there was a lot of standing around waiting for your turn to practice one of the maneuvers. You could use this time to work on your pre-trip, but I usually used it as an opportunity to pick the instructors' brains about what the driver should do next or should have done but didn't. I wanted to know everything there was to know about backing that trailer in. Needless to say, I didn't get close to that, but I think I have a passing understanding of how it moves and how to manipulate the trailer backing up.

.... continued on the next reply....

Posted:  3 weeks, 1 day ago

View Topic:

My experience with Wilson Logistics training program

Hello, everyone. My name is Chris and, as the subject implies, I am in training with Wilson Logistics. It looks like I'm not the only Wilson trainee currently writing one of these, so hopefully it won't get too tedious with so many of us writing. Either way, it will be nice to have this as a sort of journal of my time in training just for myself.

I'll start by telling you a little about myself. I am 27 years old. I grew up (mostly) in Portland, TN. It's about 45 minutes north on I-65 from Nashville. Most of my family still lives in and around that area. At 18 I decided to go to college at Trevecca Nazarene University for music. Yes, music. I managed to complete my degree and, predictably, found it hard to make a living. My plan at the time was to go to grad school, then get my doctorate, and then teach at the university level. I still think I might do that one day, but probably not in music. More likely history at this point (I know, another non-lucrative career field). You might think I regret spending four years and an ungodly amount of money getting a degree that I don't really use, but you'd be wrong. I loved my time there. I met my wife there (though I didn't know she was going to be my wife until a few years after I graduated), I still have a few friends that I am close with from there, and I do still love music. I can't imagine not having the knowledge about music that I have, if for no other reason than that it's a big part of what ties my wife and me together.

Her name is Cassie and she's a singer/songwriter (I know, how very "Nashville" of her) from Colorado Springs, CO. We were great friends in college, but neither of us ever had a desire to take it farther than that. After college, we sang in a choir together and decided to go get a drink after rehearsal one night. A few drinks, some lowered inhibitions, and three-and-a-half years later we were getting married.

The pandemic has been tough on us (though, we and our families have stayed healthy, so a healthy dose of perspective is necessary here). My wife is in grad school overseas in Ireland. It's been her dream since she was young to live there. We've tried twice since our wedding to make it overseas and both times we've been shut down because of COVID. The last time our flight was canceled one week before we were scheduled to fly out. That was in January. I had already quit my job, our lease was up, and we didn't know where to go next. We moved in with my parents (God bless them) while I tried to find a job. We had a bit saved up, so with fewer expenses my wife was able to focus on her schoolwork. The job search dragged on and on with very little success. Then I saw an ad for a trucking job and my mind kind of got away from me. I had thought about trucking before but it was always an "if was single," or "if I didn't have this-or-that job or such-and-such commitment" kind of dream. But this time I just couldn't get it out of my head. When we finally talked about it, my wife was encouraging. She wants me to do something that I'll enjoy and love even if it will be hard and we will miss each other. It helps that the money is more than either of us has ever made, and it really helps that, once I go solo, she will be able to come with me some this summer. I'll skip the boring details from here, but after some research, luck, and trial and error I wound up on my way to train at Wilson Logistics.

The "a little bit about myself" has gone on a bit long now, so I'll let this post just be my extended "about me" section and fill you in on the details of my first week of training in the next one.

Thanks for reading,

- Chris

P.S. - I can't figure out how to change my profile picture. I went to my profile, selected the page to edit it, hit the button to upload a new photo, selected the photo opened the file, but nothing happens after that. If anyone has any suggestions on that, I would appreciate it. The file is a JPEG, if that matters.

Posted:  1 month ago

View Topic:

What type of bag/luggage should I bring for training?

Hey everyone,

I'm really excited to finally say that I am going to start my training with Wilson Logistics on April 12th! I'm going to use all of next week to get ready to start this new chapter and I'm curious: what type of bags do y'all use? Should I bring the biggest bag I can carry? Something with 100 different organizational compartments? Multiple bags for multiple things? What works for you? For context, outside of the necessary clothes that I'll bring with me, I'll be bringing my small laptop, maybe a few books, a coffee travel mug and reusable water bottle, necessary toiletries, and whatever else the company recommends that I bring. Also, I'll spend the first 2-3 months in my trainer's truck, so that will necessarily restrict how much space I have for my own stuff. So let me know what your set-up is! I'm going to be antsy all week while I'm waiting to go and this will give me something to think about.

Thanks

- Chris

Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Choosing between companies/CDL training programs

Hello all,

Thanks mostly to the High Road training program, I passed my knowledge test yesterday! (I still have to get my DOT medical card and "proof of domicile" before I can get my actual permit, but once those are done it's a done deal) Now I have to decide on what company to go with. I'm definitely wanting to go through a paid CDL training program, and I know there are tons of options. The two companies that I've been in contact with the most are TMC and Prime.

So, a few questions: What are your thoughts on those two programs in particular? Any others that you highly recommend? What types of things do you think are most important in deciding on a company/training program? Any other general things I should be considering/thinking about?

Thanks,

-Chris

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

CDL Permit (CLP) test vs. CDL Knowledge test

Old School and Moe, thank you! I'm definitely wanting to go the route of paid CDL training. Right now I've applied to Prime and TMC. I'm really hoping I get hired by TMC. They're my first choice so far. I'll probably also apply to Wilson. If there are any others that you guys really think I should go for, I'll definitely look into them.

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

CDL Permit (CLP) test vs. CDL Knowledge test

Hey, everyone. I'm just now starting down the road to getting my CDL and this site has been really helpful already. I'm hoping y'all can help me out a little more. Each of the CDL training schools that I'm interested in requires me to have my permit before I go. I've tried to look up how intense that test is and how long I should study, but most of what I'm finding is about the CDL Knowledge test, and I'm seeing very little about the CDL permit test.

I spoke with the DMV (in Tennessee) today, and they said that the CDL Knowledge test was the test to get the CDL permit, but my impression from this site has been that the Knowledge Test would be one of the tests required at the end of my training to get the CDL (along with pre-trip and skills tests).

Just hoping someone here can set me straight. I'm really looking forward to getting started with this career, and I want to start out right and not have to retake this test because I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Any advice or encouragement is welcome!

Thanks,

- Chris

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