Rookie Solo Driver
After 8 years in the Marine Corps and 20 years as a Firefighter I figured it was time to do something different. I found retirement to be boring. I’m used to long periods away from home and I don’t like staying in one spot for too long. Being an OTR driver is suited perfectly for me.
Posted: 2 months ago
Hey! So it’s been a minute since I’ve posted here. Just finished my training miles and now have my own truck! It was a very long and trying process with many challenges. I felt it best to stay offline during this because I’m not a believer in taking to social media to *****. So I just kept my head down and pushed through. There are those I was able to call and vent to get all my frustrations out. For that I am thankful. For those currently going through TnT and are struggling, let me share this. It’s gonna be long. You may not be able to see the finish line. You are going to get frustrated and even consider quitting. There will be tons of stress and a less than ideal living situation. But know this- if you quit, you will never be able to tell anyone you completed the challenge. There is a huge sense of accomplishment and pride when you step off that trainers truck and handed your upgrade packet. Don’t deny yourself that feeling.
Posted: 5 months ago
Since I’ve left my CDL training and been on the road getting my training miles I’ve kept in touch with several instructors I’ve met and I gotta say- Damn! The things I hear about some of their students!
Refusing to drive. Yes, there was a student who literally told his instructor he wasn’t going to drive that day. Another student said they weren’t going to be on the pad and would rather “study in their room”. I’ve even heard students argue with their instructor on how to do something as it relates to driving.
The only thing I would say to these students is where do you get the balls? What makes you think you have any say in this? You are there to learn so you better get out there and learn! Raining? Get out there. Cold? Get out there. Homesick? Get out there!
If you’re a current student or are thinking of going to a company sponsored school- I’ve got a simple piece of advice. Be enthusiastic about being there! Do everything! Once your instructor shows you something like connecting a trailer- that is now your job for the rest of the time you’re there. Your job as a student is to learn everything you can. Your instructor should just look at you and say get the truck ready and know that you can do it without them looking over your shoulder.
Learn everything in school and learn even more while doing your training miles because before you know it, and if you last long enough, you’ll be on your own. You will be in your own truck with all the responsibilities and pressures that go along with it. And guess what? There won’t be a trainer looking over your shoulder then!
In short- drop the attitude. You aren’t entitled to anything but effective and proper training. You don’t get to dictate the terms or parameters of the training. Remember, you came to them. Not a single trucking company will cold call someone and beg them to come to their training. In fact hiring has slowed down so much that they aren’t going to beg you to stay and will send you home. Let me repeat that- they WILL send you home. There’s 100 people waiting to get in so you and your attitude won’t be missed.
One more thing- the CDL part of your training is the east part. Once you hit the road for your miles the training wheels come off. Everything is now in real time at full game speed with soooo much more to learn.
Posted: 5 months, 2 weeks ago
The importance of pre-planning!
So I got a story for those who think relying solely on your gps is ok. I’m a week into my TNT training and so far I’ve had two loads that have taken me across the Appalachians. Both times it’s been at night and both times it’s been raining. Also both times the gps will do a recalculation and tell me to take an exit onto a state highway while up in the mountains. Now I’m pretty familiar with these mountains having spent many years riding them on my Harley. Because of that I know what the state highways are like- awesome for bikes, not so much for semi’s. Having that knowledge is what allowed me to tell the gps to pound sand and I stayed on the interstate.
Now imagine someone who didn’t have that knowledge of the area. That $400 piece of technology would have put someone in a bad spot really quick. This is why I feel it is so vitally important to become familiar with the road atlas. A 10 minute check of the route in the atlas can prevent a lot of heartache and potential disaster later on. A gps is great and can be very helpful for so many things, but nothing will ever replace old school map reading.
Along with that, what will happen when you lose signal and the gps goes out? Or how about hitting one of those 5 foot deep pot holes in W. Virginia and your gps bounces to the floor and breaks? To those in training now- become familiar with that atlas. Even if they don’t teach it as part of your training. Take the initiative to learn it on your own. Don’t be the one to believe that all this technology will never let you down. All it takes is that one time the gps leads you off course and something catastrophic happens.
Posted: 5 months, 3 weeks ago
So I’m off and running on TNT. Currently sitting at my 90 just outside of Atlanta waiting to get unloaded. I’ve had two driving shifts so far and they have been pretty eventful to say the least. First day was in the rain, through tiny little towns, and over mountain roads barely wide enough for the truck and nice drop offs on the side. Lane departure alarm screaming at me the whole time. At one point I found myself yelling at the truck “If you weren’t so damn fat you would fit in the lane!” Nothing like body shaming a semi….. Couldn’t drop early so we ended up doing a 34 at a Pilot. Learned that walking laps around the parking area is going to be a great way to get some exercise. Then spent the day watching football. Really can’t complain. Today I started driving and finally got some of those wide open interstates I’ve been hearing so much about. Oh, but wait, can’t make it too easy. Let’s go ahead and throw in construction areas and Atlanta traffic! Lol. But made it to the 90 ok. Been watching some of these drivers back in these spots that I would consider very wide and easy…..yeah, a lot of them had trouble. Makes me feel a little better about my backing. Yet one more thing Kearsey did for me was make me park in the hardest spots during PSD.
Not sure where we are off to after this. I do know we are getting routed to Pittston but unsure of any load between now and then.
Posted: 5 months, 3 weeks ago
I agree with G-Town, driving a manual car has little to do with driving a manual rig. Pretty much anything used in the training programs now are autos. As far as what to consider, take a look at the type of freight each company hauls. It’s no secret that the freight market is getting pretty tight right now. Prime has a large reefer division. People gotta eat, right?
Another thing to look at is what kind of training you’ll be getting. Having just completed the PSD program with Prime, I can only speak to that. I was very happy with the quality and quantity of training I got here. I also like how they treat their drivers. Sure, it’s easy to find any YouTube video from someone complaining about whatever company they work for- but I also know there are SEVERAL videos of people praising Prime for how they operate and treat their drivers.
Talk to drivers and trainers at both places. That’s what I did. It really gives you a better sense of how the company really is.
Posted: 5 months, 3 weeks ago
The word of the day: Trifecta.
Nailed the test. Wasn’t perfect, but I passed. The time I put in definitely paid off. The extra hours on the pad, the extra time spent studying, the attention paid to the instruction given- all of it was worth it when I pulled in after the final phase of the test and the examiner shook my hand and said “congratulations, driver”.
Kearsey is a hell of an instructor and I recommend anyone coming here, or even considering it, to get up with her. Now I will say don’t come here expecting anything to be handed to you. You’re gonna have to want it. But she will match the dedication and work that you put in. You will get all the time you ask for on her truck.
So now I’m in a holding pattern waiting on a TnT trainer. I’ll probably give it a couple days before I head home and wait there. I’d prefer to get picked up here in Springfield simply so I don’t have to fork out airfare, but it is what it is.
Thanks to all here who have followed this diary and the words of encouragement. Thanks to all who have offered advice and wisdom. Special thanks to Kearsey for taking me on. I’ll be sure to send you even more morning sunshine messages!!
I’ll continue this thread through TnT for anyone interested in that. I’m sure that will be a more colorful commentary……
Posted: 5 months, 3 weeks ago
Wait, today was suppose to be serious?? Man, I was out there having a blast! Ready for tomorrow!
Interesting points Chief Brody about these diaries. I’m a rookie, but when I do comment I do consider that other readers might learn something from my comments.
I did check with Kearsey this morning about meeting up today. Decided against it.
Both of her students are testing tomorrow so today was “serious” time on the pad for Etch. Plus she is still sick and I don’t want to catch it!
I’ll check in with her later this week for a possible photo op.
Posted: 5 months, 4 weeks ago
Day 12? Sorry about the delay in the posts. It seems someone (Kearsey) has been sick and someone (Kearsey) felt the need to pass it along to me….. but I’ve been battling through it with only minimal complaining and grouchiness. One thing I do want to mention, I believe I may have misrepresented myself in an earlier post. By no means do I expect perfection from myself, nor do I expect to master something in a short period of time. My concern stems from my injury in Iraq. It takes a little more work for me to get something to commit to memory and when that slips, I get a little nervous. I apologize if I came across as sounding arrogant in my frustration. That certainly isn’t me.
So at any rate, training is chugging along. I feel confident in my skills up to this point. Kearsey has taken training to the next level and now has me doing real world backing and once again down roller coaster road. I should be scheduled to test this week. Then it’s off to the wonderful world of TNT. Getting a little apprehensive about that part. Just gotta keep reminding myself no use in getting stressed over something I can’t control.
***update*** Just got confirmation that I will be testing Wednesday. Time to put up or shut up.
Posted: 6 months ago
Day 8. So today was not a good day. This morning I couldn’t get a pre-trip right at all. That’s usually my thing. If there’s anything I can do- it’s a solid pre trip. Hell, I would mess it up even if I was allowed to read it straight off the sheet. This afternoon I couldn’t do a simple alley dock. Again, a maneuver I can do without any hesitation or difficulty. All day I was just off. And this isn’t me complaining because all was not perfect. That isn’t it at all. But I do try to push myself. Today felt like I let not only myself down, but also my trainer who has invested a lot of time in me even before I got here.
Shake it off. Hitting the rack early tonight. Kearsey doesn’t need me until 2 tomorrow afternoon so I’m considering not going to the pad like I usually do in the mornings. Maybe a morning off will help get my head back in the game. I say that now, but come 0600 I’ll be dressed and ready to hit it. I took it on the chin today. Tomorrow I’ll be back out there swinging.
Posted: 2 months ago
Still alive and kickin!
Yeah, still 50k long miles….