Profile For Etch

Etch's Info

  • Location:
    Havelock, NC

  • Driving Status:
    Company Driver In Training

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    2 months ago

Etch's Bio

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.

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Posted:  22 hours, 58 minutes ago

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And so it begins…..

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:  1 day, 13 hours ago

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And so it begins…..

Day 7. So today Kearsey rewarded all my hard work by taking me on a roller coaster. It went up and down. It had sharp curves. It had leans. She called it a road. I guess by definition it would be since it was paved and did have lines painted on it. In reality it was a path just barely wide enough to walk on. Now before you accuse me of exaggerating- look up Highway 125 in Springfield. For those that have been on it know what I’m talking about.

I’m feeling more confident in my backing. We have graduated from the cones to some real world backing. The techniques learned with the cones are the same. But instead of lines on a pad we now have trailers on either side of the space. Once again, trusting in what has been taught takes the intimidation out of it. For me backing almost has a type of flow. I picture where my trailer needs to go and then I kinda trace out the line it needs to be on to get there. It’s almost like shooting a game of pool. You have to be able to see the line the ball will take when struck at a particular angle. This probably sounds way off the charts.

Pre-trip I have down solid. I’ve been getting brought down to the pad by some in my class to help them with it. I’m thinking about charging a tutoring fee….lol. When I’m not doing that, I’m swinging at every curveball Kearsey throws at me. With each one my confidence builds and I’m more relaxed behind the wheel. So until next time- stay humble. Stay hungry. Be the hardest worker in the room.

Posted:  2 days, 22 hours ago

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And so it begins…..

Day 6. Today was a day off. Decided to hit the pad for a few hours. Some in my class have been having trouble with pre-trip so they wanted me to run through it with them. It helps them and the extra practice certainly isn’t going to hurt me. Hopefully I’ll be able to test soon. I feel like I’m ready. Been trying to follow Kearsey’s instructions to the letter. I’ve got pre-trip down solid and I’m confident in the backing maneuvers. Wouldn’t mind a few more hours of road time, and I’m sure that won’t be a problem to get.

Hitting it early again tomorrow. Trying to soak up all I can and take advantage of my time on the pad. There are some here who do nothing but haul ass back to the hotel the minute their trainer is done with them and they just want to sit around and do nothing. I don’t understand that mentality so I just avoid those types. I’m here to get a job so if that means 12 hours a day on the pad- then I’m out there for 12 hours. I’ve only been here a week and already you can start seeing a separation in the students. You can see those who want this and are willing to put in the work- and then there are the ones who are half stepping through the process. It’s a good thing that I am the one controls how I want to train and not weighted down by the lazy and unmotivated. I’ve got a trainer that will continue to push me. My end of that agreement is that I have to be willing to be trained. If not then I would just be wasting her time.

Gonna be a good day tomorrow. I can already feel it. Stay humble. Stay hungry. Always be the hardest worker in the room.

Posted:  3 days, 23 hours ago

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And so it begins…..

Day 5. So I’ve decided that Kearsey hates me. Got to hit the town and do some driving. Sounds great, right? Just a nice, relaxing cruise around town with no pressures or distractions……..yeah, not so much. No, instead this evil woman has me drive around the mall and every shopping center within a 50 mile area……at lunchtime……on Black Friday. Managed to get through it without killing anyone. Figured I’m just going to drive to my comfort level and not anyone else’s. Ride my ass all you want, it’s not like you’re going to push me out of the way.

Came back to the pad and knocked out some backing drills and some pre-trip. So far I’m picking everything up fairly easily. Hopefully I’ll be able to test soon. Getting kinda anxious to hit the road and start making some money. I’m soaking up all I can here and am really trying to get everything I can out of this experience.

Got a few that came in the same time as me that still don’t have trainers. They been wanting me to work with them on their pre-trip. That’s an area I will say I’m pretty confident in so I’ve been spending a few hours after my training helping them out. Hell, it benefits me as well. The more I go over it with them- the easier it gets for me to rattle it off.

Tomorrows an off day for me but I’ll still be hitting the pad to get some work in. I’m here and have access to it so I may as well take advantage of all the time I have. I’m not feeling as brain sore and decided that I need to take some pressure off myself. Now I can actually enjoy this time I have and have some fun with the training. Stay humble. Stay hungry. Always be the hardest worker in the room.

Posted:  3 days, 23 hours ago

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And so it begins…..

I’ll still be here on Monday.

I enjoyed reading your experiences Etch. I don't know if I'll see you down there, but I will be starting my orientation on Monday. I'm hoping my class size is small as well.

Posted:  5 days, 2 hours ago

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And so it begins…..

Day 4…or is it 5? I don’t remember anymore. At any rate it’s Thanksgiving. Hit the pad early this morning because what the hell else am I going to do? Spent 5 hours pre tripping any truck and trailer that would stop for 5 minutes. Later on when I met up with Kearsey I had her run me through whole thing test-style. Nailed it!! I’m not gonna lie, pretty damn proud of myself. All the hours of studying I put in before I even got here has paid off. It was a great feeling and I allowed myself to enjoy it for a minute.

Spent the rest of the time working on backing. Can’t say if I have one maneuver I like over another- each have their own style. I wouldnt even say one is more difficult that another, either. Each one starts with a perfect set up and then trusting the techniques being taught. Still need to clean it up a bit, but I’m fairly confident in doing each one.

I’m not gonna lie- my brain is getting a little fried. Lot of information got thrown at me this week with little time to absorb it before it was on to the next thing. The pad time has actually been both the most stressful and most satisfying. Kearsey isn’t one to anything just mediocre, which is fine with me. If I didn’t like the way I did a maneuver and wanted to run it again- then we run it again. If I put myself in a position that would cause me to fail a maneuver, we would stop and get out of the truck to break down how it happened and what to do to fix it. It was never stop and start over. So yeah, equal parts of stressful and satisfying.

But no time to dwell on the bad or even the good from today. Tomorrow morning is back to zero and do it again because this is the NFL. Nobody cares how you did yesterday. This is a what have you done today business. Stay humble. Stay hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room.

Posted:  5 days, 13 hours ago

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And so it begins…..

Day 3. Didn’t get a chance to post this last night. Got back to my room around 2230 and didn’t feel like doing much of anything but stuffing my fat face and hitting the rack. So the day started at 0700 with classes. Last class was on the Qualcomm. Lady spent two hours going over HOS and all the different status’s on the QC. She closed the class with telling us that the Qualcomm sucks. Noted.

Finally got to do some pre-trip on an actual rig. First time since I began studying that I could do it on a truck. Learned that the studying actually paid off. Really do need to throw some credit at Kearsey. Her study sheet was amazing and she kept reminding me to pre-trip, pre-trip, pre-trip for the last month or so. I gotta clean the verbiage up a little, but was nailing all the items for the most part.

Got to watch some backing practice with Kearsey.s other students. Before long she threw me in the truck to have me try it. Crash and burn! Lol. While the pre-trip may have boosted my confidence, the first attempt at parallel parking did not! Lol She does have some great reference marks for each backing procedure so as long as you trust those, it becomes a lot easier.

Did get to go out and drive around town a little. Kinda surprised when she suggested it considering her first rule is don’t kill Kearsey. It’s dark, raining, and I’ve got all of 10 minutes of experience in this rig. Sure, let’s go hit the town! What could possibly go wrong? Lol stayed at half speed for a bit while I got used to everything going on and what I needed to watch during turns. Figured people behind me can get as mad as they want, it’s not like they were going to push me out of the way. But after awhile I felt like I was getting the hang of it and was able to at least get up around the speed limit. I did learn one thing pretty quick- the length of the truck and the height you sit are pretty much the ONLY two things this has in common with driving a fire truck! Turning requires even more attention. Lane control is more difficult with subtle trailer swaying that seems very exaggerated in the mirror.

Not gonna beat myself up too hard considering that was day 1 behind the wheel, but I know there is a lot of room for improvement. For anyone reading this that is thinking about or heading to training, I got this one simple piece of advice- trust your trainer! You may not understand why they are having you do a maneuver a particular way. It may even appear at the time that you are heading way off course. Just trust them. It will all begin to make sense. Oh, and for the love of God- don’t argue with your trainer. Got to witness someone doing that a few times yesterday. If you’re wrong, just say you’re wrong and move on. If the trainer says you were wrong then guess what? You were wrong! Doesn’t matter if you don’t think so. Just own it, make corrections, and move on. It’s not like these trainers are plotting for your failure. They have a vested interest in you passing.

So it’s raining now and suppose to continue all day. Let’s see what day 4 will bring! I’m off to the pad. Happy Thanksgiving y’all

Posted:  1 week ago

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And so it begins…..

Day 2 and the theme of the day is Semper Gumby- always flexible. With the shortened week it has caused a lot to get skipped over, condensed, retraced, and then changed all together. Got the final ‘all clear’ from HR this morning so was able to get my badge printed. Didn’t get it then. Said we had to wait until we passed the simulator assessment and that we would get them tomorrow morning. No problem. So that was all for the morning. Rest of the time was to be spent on finishing all our computer classes until 1300. That’s great except I finished mine yesterday. 4 hours of South Park reruns for me! But if my instructor asks- I studied pre-trip for 4 hours. I heard she’s mean and loud…….kinda like a chihuahua (but don’t tell her I said that).

Went back to the sim lab at 1300 and that when plan A suddenly jumped to plan D. Apparently we were to get our badges today and be at the plaza first thing in the morning for more classes. But the remaining classes we were suppose to get here weren’t going to happen due to a variety of reasons. No problem. Did the sim assessment and got my badge. And then I had to sit there while some asked these crazy questions as if they were literally afraid to leave the hotel to venture out into that strange new world. Oh, by the way, we lost 1 student in the morning and then another this afternoon so we are now at 4.

I told the remaining students that I was going to take the 0700 shuttle to the plaza in the morning. One got visibly upset and said it does t take that long to get there. I realize this, but early is on time and on time is late. Besides, do you really have anything better to do?? So we’ll see who shows up in the morning. Again, all I gotta worry about is my narrow butt.

So done with orientation and now it’s on to some actual training. Time to separate the adults from the children. Really looking forward to getting on that pad.

Posted:  1 week ago

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And so it begins…..

So Day 1 is in the books. Started out in the class doing a quick overview of orientation. Had 1 guy that had to get a wake up call in his room from the instructor. Not a good way to start off. Got to get on the simulator in the afternoon. That was pretty fun. Took a little getting used to, though. Started the day with 7 in the class- ended the day with 6. Got a pretty good feeling we’ll lose 2 more before Wednesday.

Because of the holiday they are speeding up orientation. This is good- it means I’ll be able to get on the pad Thursday. I want to see if all the studying I did before getting here has paid off.

The hotel is owned by Prime so everything as far as orientation goes is on site. That makes it nice. It’s an older hotel with really no frills, but who cares? I’m not here for a vacation. If anything, it’s just more motivation to learn faster and pass my CDL so I can get on the road.

Tomorrow will probably be a lot like today- class in the morning and simulator in the afternoon. We are testing out on the simulator tomorrow and if that goes well then we can get to the terminal on Wednesday to get badged. Not sure if we have to wait for everyone to pass, or if they take those who have and the others stay back to retest. Again, doesn’t matter. All I need to worry about is making sure I’m doing what I need to do and be where I need to be.

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

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And so it begins…..

I’m flying there. No way in hell I’m sitting on a bus for 26 hours! Lol

I’ve got my trainer lined up already and it should be smooth sailing. I’m excited and ready to go!

Hey Etch, time is getting close for your trip to Springfield this weekend to start Orientation on Monday morning.

Are you flying, driving or taking the Greyhound?

I’ll be in Springfield for my Orientation to rehire on December 5th. You should be with a trainer by then. If you get a local trainer that lives in Springfield I may run into you. If you get an OTR trainer like I had then you’ll be gone.

Posted:  2 weeks, 4 days ago

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Veterans Day

USMC 0311 97-05

Posted:  3 weeks, 4 days ago

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And so it begins…..

So in 2 weeks I leave for training at Prime! Figure I would start this diary now since between now and then I’ll be on a bear hunt for a week so really I only have 7 days of boredom to deal with before I start.

A little about me- I served 8 years in the Marine Corps infantry and then did 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic. I retired this last February. Didn’t take long to realize retirement is boring and expensive. There’s only so much golf one can play. I have family that are OTR drivers and started talking to them. Didn’t take much to convince me to do this. It’s chaotic, ever-changing, and very nomadic. Right up my alley. I started this journey right here on this website. I did all my research and asked a million questions. I compared different companies and talked to different drivers and trainers. I ended up with 3 different offers to attend their training programs. Went with Prime because it more closely aligned with what I was wanting out of this career. I’m not saying one company is better than the other, nor am I saying that Prime is the best out there. I’m saying Prime was a good fit for what I was looking for. That’s why it’s so important to not only do the research, but to also know what it is you want. Got to be your own advocate. There’s more involved than just holding a steering wheel.

So anyways, get to spend the next few days packing for PSD and TNT. I intentionally chose this time of year to begin training. I wanted to get winter driving experience while also having a trainer in the truck. Being from eastern Carolina, not a whole lot of winter driving happening here. My plan is to roll right from PSD into TNT and getting my 50k miles done. I’m making preparations to not be home for at least 5 months. Now that may change, but better to plan it that way instead of planning on being home in a month.

For those who are also just starting this journey- gobble up all the information you can! I haven’t found an instructor or driver yet that wasn’t willing to answer questions or help me. I would say be careful when it comes to the YouTube videos. While there is some very good and legit information on there, there is also some bad gouge that will give you misconceptions about the job or a particular company. Be leery about the people who post videos trashing their particular company. Remember this- it doesn’t matter one bit what your last job was. If you are going to a company sponsored training program then recognize that you bring nothing to the table and be humble. I don’t say that to demean anyone or discount any past experiences. I’m saying that walking into these places acting like you already know everything isn’t going to get you very far. Let your actions speak for you. Be confident, but also be teachable.

I’ll add to this thread as my training progresses. I’m very excited about this next chapter and can’t wait to get this going. Again, to all those on here that have tolerated my questions- thank you. This forum really is an excellent source of information and I encourage anyone looking to take full advantage of it.

Etch

Posted:  3 weeks, 4 days ago

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What Endorsements Can A CDL Permit attain ?

Yes.

Yes, i mean can you take the test on a bus with just the permit?

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For passenger you can take the written, but you have to test on a bus to get the endorsement on your license.

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You can even do the actual driving parts of the passenger and bus endorsements with a permit?

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I can only speak for North Carolina because I literally just went through this, but you can test out on all endorsements. Some companies may require certain ones like tanker or doubles-triples. DMV may try to give you a little grief. Just tell them that you need them to test. Haz-Mat is probably one you don’t want unless you absolutely need it for a job.

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Posted:  3 weeks, 4 days ago

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What Endorsements Can A CDL Permit attain ?

For passenger you can take the written, but you have to test on a bus to get the endorsement on your license.

You can even do the actual driving parts of the passenger and bus endorsements with a permit?

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I can only speak for North Carolina because I literally just went through this, but you can test out on all endorsements. Some companies may require certain ones like tanker or doubles-triples. DMV may try to give you a little grief. Just tell them that you need them to test. Haz-Mat is probably one you don’t want unless you absolutely need it for a job.

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Posted:  3 weeks, 5 days ago

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What Endorsements Can A CDL Permit attain ?

I can only speak for North Carolina because I literally just went through this, but you can test out on all endorsements. Some companies may require certain ones like tanker or doubles-triples. DMV may try to give you a little grief. Just tell them that you need them to test. Haz-Mat is probably one you don’t want unless you absolutely need it for a job.

Posted:  1 month ago

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Getting My CDL

Hey Derrick, So it wasn’t long ago I was at the same starting point. Best advice- probably shouldn’t put companies on blast right out of the gate. You have to realize that none of these companies need you. They don’t need you, they didn’t need me, and they don’t need the hundreds of people applying every single day. They are in the position of being able to reject anyone on spec. Why? Because they have 100 people just like us lined up right behind us. Next thing is without any sort of driving experience don’t expect to make top dollar starting out. Absolutely everyone on here will tell you the same thing- this is a performance based job. You want more? Then put in the time, the miles, and the dependability to show you rate more.

Gotta be humble. These recruiters aren’t going to beg you to join their company. Honestly, you aren’t bringing anything to the table. I retired after 22 years in the fire service and you know what? I didnt bring anything to the table. Be humble and get your foot in the door. Be humble. Be humble. Be humble. Really can’t stress that enough. Nobody is saying grovel or beg, but recognize you aren’t holding the high hand right now. If this is something you really want to do then go in knowing you’ll take a financial hit, but be determined to make it a short term thing and work to make that top dollar.

Posted:  1 month ago

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Start with my training in a few weeks

I’ll be going to Springfield

Good luck! Any idea on which terminal you are headed to?

Posted:  1 month ago

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Start with my training in a few weeks

So after a month of research, asking questions, talking to various trainers and drivers from a long list of companies, I’ve decided to move forward with Prime. I’m not saying they are the best company out there- but they are the best for what I am looking for. To those that are asking what the best company to go to, this will always be the answer. You have to figure out what it is you want and then find a company that matches that the closest. After a lot of homework I narrowed it down to 3 companies. Had offers from all 3. I had to dig in even deeper to find out what would be the best fit for me. It is exhausting and at times disappointing, but I know I’m making the right choice and because of the work I’ve put in- Prime will be getting a very hardworking, loyal, driver. To those on here that took time to answer my questions- thank you. To those who took the time to put together all the resource material on here- thank you. To those that are either looking for or considering a driving career- DO THE HOMEWORK!! Just because you may know someone who works at a particular company doesn’t necessarily mean you will like it there. You have to figure what you want out of this job and then study the different companies out there. And I mean dig into them. Really scrutinize the information. Don’t just rely on the YouTube videos trashing a place or the word from a disgruntled former driver. Talk to the recruiters. Ask them a million questions. Ask questions on here. It could very well be that by the end of that studying you realize this may not be the job for you. Better to find that out now than wasting your time going through training. Take advantage of all the free information on here. It is current and it is VERY helpful. Oh, and be prepared for these companies to do just as much, if not more, research on you. Prime pulled my driving record and asked about my Texas drivers license. This is a license I haven’t had in like 30 years. I had to call the Texas DMV ( on a scale of 1-10, I do not recommend) and get the license number and expiration date. This license is so old that they don’t even have a record for it anymore. I called my recruiter and she said don’t worry about it, they got the info. What? How the hell did they get it and I couldn’t?? 😆 Just goes to show the resources they have and how deep they will dig on a potential student. But Nov 21 is my start date and I’m pretty excited. Now to spend the next several weeks studying pre-trip!!

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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What happened to the unions?

So I remember when I was a kid my pops drove OTR and regional. I also remember the teamsters being a pretty big deal. This was back when Hoffa Jr was running for teamster president. I’m just curious about what happened. Teamsters don’t seem to be such a big deal anymore. During my 20+ years with the fire dept I was in the Union until I was promoted to supervisor level. I’m not going to say I’m 100% pro-Union. I’ve seen where it has helped as well as where it slowed things way down. In the fire service the Union can be a powerful tool for both firefighters as well as management who often find themselves caught between the crews and political minded city councils and mayors. Pt looking to start a whole debate on it, just curious about where the Union went.

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Questions for recruiters

After a LOT of research and irritating people on here with endless questions, I narrowed down to 5 companies I wanted to talk to. In each one the respective recruiter was very upfront with me in regards to the cost of the school and the length of the initial contract to repay that loan…..and it is essentially a loan. If you feel a particular recruiter wasn’t upfront with you, then there are 50 more out there to talk to. Many of these companies spell it out on their websites when it comes to requirements during and after training. Beyond that, things are constantly changing like Kearsey said. Required miles for TNT, pay while in training and on the road, length of time in class before you actually get on the road, hell the time it takes to even get a trainer to ride with changes. Just gotta stay vigilant and find the company that more close,unaligned with what it is you are looking for and what you want to get out of it. If all you want to do is drive then be prepared to get very limited information from a recruiter. These guys get hundreds of applications a week (info I recently learned) so they are pretty tuned in when it comes to first impressions when talking to an applicant. Write out what it is you want. Research these companies and write a pro/con list if need be. Ask your recruiter specific questions beyond how long do I have to drive? That just comes across as someone who plans on bolting before the ink on their CDL is dry.

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