Profile For Hammer St. James

Hammer St. James's Info

  • Location:
    Cleveland, OH

  • Driving Status:

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    6 years, 7 months ago

Hammer St. James's Bio

Earned my CDL in 1996 and drove for 9 months. Decided to enroll in college and persued a degree in medical lab technology. Worked for eight years in the medical field and now have the itch to go out on the road.

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Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

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Post Trucking Company Orientation: Training Days Begin

I lied... can't deal with this ****. This "mentor" is a thief.. a liar.. and a sociopath.

I'm done with this and with Swift.

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Post Trucking Company Orientation: Training Days Begin

Big thanks to all those that took time from their busy schedules to respond.

In keeping with the name of this site my posts are truth; no fluff, exagerations, or extraneous bs. Reading some of Brett's responses maybe it should be called TruckingHardTruths.com :)

Here's an update.. after 9 days on this truck I finally surpassed 50 hours and achieved "team status". In all honesty, the truck ran like a team from day one.

In reaching this plateau, the mentor usually sleeps 16-18 hours a day. I have burned up my 11 hour clock on more than a few days. I imagine the people in the office got on his case about not allowing me to drive. Trust me, it has nothing to do with my lack of driving skills- without bragging I actually shift this truck more smoothly than my ham fisted gear grinding mentor.. Since I got on this truck three weeks ago I have driven 8000 miles.

In the passed few days though he has been reducing my behind the wheel hours again. Is he trying to prolong my time on his truck again? Does he think he has given please to the office folks enough to return to his wheel hogging behavior? I don't know.

The mentor likes to disrupt my sleep by either yakking on the phone or cranking up the nu metal station on the sirius radio. My sleep deprivation is reaching a point that when I am driving my concentration is affected and I begin to dread my time behind the wheel.

The mentor hasn't been keeping any records of my training and hasn't made an update call in two weeks. He continues to complain about some of the lower mileage runs and takes those for himself.

I finally met the real owner of the truck yesterday. He owns two other trucks on this account and operates one of them himself. He questioned the mentor about his sloppy record keeping. The mentor blamed me. In turn, the owner chastised him.

I'm beginning to feel like cheap labor to this mentor. Also, I feel as if he is trying to prolong my time in his truck. He hasn't taught me much of anything accept using the Qualcomm.

My experience may differ from others and quite possibly may not be the norm. This thread is not created to deter anyone from pursuing a dream of driving a big truck. As it has been said-- "Your mileage may vary".

I'm sticking it out and seeing this through. At most, I have three more weeks to endure. No one said life was easy and this experience is case-in-point.

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

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Reefers

My trainer pulls a reefer for a dedicated retail account. Honestly, I don't find the motor very loud or obnoxious. The pre-loaded trailers are picked up at the distribution center. The temps are set and the only thing to do besides refueling is shutting it off at the last stop. It's pretty easy peasy work: the only manual labor involved entails denoting the temps on the paperwork, opening the back door, and lifting up the bulkhead doors.

The warehouse people unload the trailer pretty fast. The only complaint I have is with the docking areas: it's the same name stores but every dock is different... very few are easy straightbacks. Most are blindsides with obstacles that range from random landscape islands in the most cumbersome places to 16 foot walls to even a tricky blindside into a garage with steel poles on both sides/front to back. Most if not all have no space for pullups either.

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Post Trucking Company Orientation: Training Days Begin

Tonight I start my 7th day straight with this "mentor". I have a whopping 35 hours behind the wheel. He receives calls while we are on the road from the office peeps wondering why I have so little time In. He changes the subject as to why he only gets 400 mile runs with a student. Every one of them reminds him that the shorter trips are for me to run. Remember, he does most of the miles. Anyways, he plays dumb with them and continues to cry about the lack of miles.

It's all about the money....

Anyways, my DM wanted to meet with us about the $200 stolen from me. We met in her office. My "mentor" dominated the conversation. He spoke misinformation and made himself into a saint. The DM and him yucked it up like old buddies. DM gave the situation the short thrift and .... said oh well..

Driving a truck is like riding a bike. My up shifts and down shifts are smooth. My backing is pretty darn good. I wish I could forgo this crap and test out tomorrow.

I think I made a poor decision coming to this company. I don't know if I can stick this out for 4 more weeks..

By the way, he still sleeps all the time, smoking my cigarettes, driving my miles, and now he's eating my food.

Good God, give me strength.

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

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Qualcomm Navigation Error

Oh, the joys of Navigo! The QC habitually errs on the side of stupidity. For example: Today, it has told me that my destination was on the right. . Nope, on the left dear. Send me down the wrong side road to reach the dock. And the coup de grace -- "continue on I480 east" and at the last second change the display showing I77 south .. had to cut over two lanes and barely made the ramp. .. Thanking my chosen diety of worship that no vehicles were in those lanes at that time.

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Post Trucking Company Orientation: Training Days Begin

Oh yeah, he lied to me. He doesn't own the truck. Some other guy does and he just drives for him.

So much bs. ...

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Post Trucking Company Orientation: Training Days Begin

I'm starting to see the mentor's true colors.

The truck is supposed to run solo for the first 50 hours. Well, it's been run as a team since day one. He takes at least half the miles and when he tires due to undiagnosed sleep apnea he sits in the jump seat and passes out within minutes. After 20 minutes he crawls in the sleeper for hours. He wakes up just before we return to the dc and takes over.

He fudges my Qualcomm logs; logging me in the sleeper berth when it should be on duty not driving: screwing me out of money.

Saturday he was whining how broke he is. Then, he leaves the terminal with his buddies and they come back with a ton of food and throw an impromptu cook out. I find out today that he bought the food. Today, I notice $200 missing out of my wallet.

And on top of it all, he smokes all my cigarettes. .

I can't sleep due to his raucous snoring and his farts will peel paint off walls..

I've had it.

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Post Trucking Company Orientation: Training Days Begin

My three day orientation at Swift was packed with alot of information. I mean.. alot.

At the end of the third day only one attendee was sent home (health reasons). Well, not totally true... one guy was sent packing before orientation even began... He missed the shuttle van on the first morning.

I was sent back to a motel; sand a driver code. The nice lady that conducted the sessions promised me to come back the next day for my code. . She did not disappoint.

While waiting to meet my mentor I hung outside the smoking area. Being a new face I hung out with the regulars. Finding out I needed a mentor an intense bidding war ensued among the mentors that were present. I took a liking to one guy that was cool. We shared the same love for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

I went inside the office to meet my developmental driver leader. She told me she had already chosen a mentor for me and that he will arrive in a couple of hours.

I met my mentor later that day. He was a larger version of me; big, bald, and tattooed. I found him down to Earth and easy to get along with.

My mentor isn't a Swift company driver (owner/operator). He drives a Kenworth T 700 with an 8 speed. I never drove a KW nor an 8 speed so it was a thrill to experience something different. Also, unlike the typical Swift castrated 62mph rigs this one runs up to 68mph.

So far, in the first 2 days I've run 700 miles on two runs: New York and Pa. Being on a dedicated major retailer account we pull a reefer and return to the terminal regularly.

Tomorrow, we run to Chicago. The fun continues.

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

U.S. Legal Services?

You missed the key word "immediately". I wasn't given anytime to perform due diligence. When put into a position to pick & choose I tend to balk.

With 62 mph governed trucks I highly doubt getting cited for being in the hammer lane for too long!

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

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U.S. Legal Services?

I'm at orientation at Swift. They showed us a few videos; one offering insurance through US Legal Services. We were forced to decline or accept immediately.

Is this insurance necessary?

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

What's In Your Tool Bag?

Besides vise grips and screwdrivers what tools do you carry with you on the road?

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Looking for Thumbs up

Continued. ..

I further inquired: "In today's trucking world, you wouldn't advize anyone to go it alone even if they paid cash for their rig?".

He looked at me and said, "Are you a good mechanic? You'll be doing all your own repairs. No owner operator could afford to pay someone to fix everything on their truck. The only things that most owner operators don't do themselves are the engines and transmissions. And that costs THOUSANDS to repair".

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

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Looking for Thumbs up

I spent the day with a retired veteran owner/operator turned instructor; a serious no bull manure slinging man. For conversation I asked him to consider lease operating and replied, "absolutely positively NO!".

I then continued asking him if his thoughts were the same for lease purchase. He said, "Yes, no lease anything!". I asked him why. He replied, "If you want to starve go for it. They'll give you just enough miles to make the truck payment. The smart move is to go company driver".

Coming from a VERY knowledgeable man (take my word on it!) I would seriously consider his opinion.

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

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This Gig May Not Be For Everyone

First let me say that I find this site an asset to new drivers and wannabes. Kudos to Brett and his crew for sharing their insight.

Ok, I understand positive reinforcement and guiding with a gentle hand. Mistakes bring doubts and a good coach alleviates those doubts and employs corrective measures to assure success. But, how many mistakes does it take until someone says, "Enough!" and persues another career path?

Today was the last day of the refresher course that I attended. Tons of backing practice followed by some roadwork. Yesterday was my first time behind the wheel of a tractor trailer going down the road 19 years. I had the HMFIC instructor in the cab with me. He scored my run as a 51/55 points. Not too shabby for so much rust. He gave me some pointers on how to improve.

Today, I went out again with two students and probably the most toughest instructor anyone has ever met. This guy watched you like a hawk and ordered your every movement and if you didn't do what he said at that exact moment his corrections were stern. I understand his approach; he wants things done his way and it was the right way.. operating an 18 wheeler is dangerous business.

Soooo, I sat in the converted sleeper with another student while another student that already had 8 hours in the captains chair at the helm. The student driver put the truck in reverse without disengaging the parking brakes. The truck began jumping wildly. The instructor stood outside and flipped out. Soon, the instructor came into the cab and acknowledged that maybe yelling won't get the point across but the student at the wheel has 8 hours of previous in cab instruction and should know better.

We don't even get out of the school parking lot without the driver grinding the gears. We get out onto the road and it's clear that this student doesn't know the shift pattern: can't find the gears and and habitually missing the splitter. I swear to be true that the instructor told this person at least 15 times about the splitter-- 5 to 6, 6 to 5 .. and the worst offense--- and trying to take off from a stop in 8th gear. The instructor, by this time has lost all patience.. lost his cool 10 mis-splits ago. He's at the point where he is tired of constantly reminding the driver what, how, and when to shift. He's tired of telling the driver not to roll back from stops, rolling over curbs, and that darn splitter!

So, here we are, about 20 minutes into the drivers turn, sitting at a red light.. the light turns green... the driver dumps the clutch and stomps on the accelerator. ... the tractor trailer violently rocks forward about 7 times... throwing me up out of my seat into the air back into the seat back up in the air etc etc etc. The instructor has just about dumped a gold baby in his pants. I'm sitting in the sleeper feeling that familiar warm pain in my back from the last motor vehicle wreck I was in. I know I'm going to be laid up in the coming days. D $##&**@!!!! I'm supposed to be at Swift next week... this is all I need!

The instructor chastised the student (and rightfully so!!) but allowed them to continue. More misshifts and more of forgetting about the splitter.

How many times will it take to sink in? I bet never. My back is toast now (I'm on the heating pad as I type this). Finally, the instructor has the student pull over to change drivers. The young guy sitting next to me was up next. He did a pretty good job with only making a few mistakes.

Next, I got my turn. I had a blast and remembered what the HMFIC told me yesterday. On a 55 point scale I earned a 53... better than the 51 from yesterday. I pulled into the school yard and we broke for lunch.

After lunch we went back on the road in the same rotation. First driver making the exact same mistakes over and over and over again. Seriously? How hard is it to remember to put the splitter back down when you stop? It's one switch in one direction! The instructor realizes that this person just cannot grasp this very simple operation.. even after multiple corrections!! The instructor doesn't even get mad anymore and just laughs.

The young guy gets his turn and scores a 50. Then I get my swing and I nailed the run with a perfect 55/55.

My point of this whole rant isn't to brag or gloat but this first student .... wow... unteachable. I admire his tenacity but there are some people that are just not cut out for it..

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

And so it begins

Keep the sticky side down and the shiny side up!

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Algebra & The Offset Manuever

It breaks my heart that you dont think you have used alvebra since the 8th grade. as soon as they showed us the offset manuever i immediatley thought geometry. as an engineering major with math being the hugest art of it. your doing a 12 foot offset. you ut the truck at a 45 degree angle twice with the ca 40 in a cascadia with a cascadia in a coule days i can do,the math and what not then if i can ever get a hod of,a coule,different,trucks i can take fotos and show you how to do,the math actually give a,a couke days and if,i have time ill get the wheel base for all,the trucks and write,out the formua,and show you where to,lug in what for secific foot offsets lol. bjt a cascadia at 4 with a 53 foot trailer the trailer doe,st matter a whole,lot its the wheel,base bjt you have to,cinsider the length of the trailer and be sure you wil not encroach on your neighbor... its a 12 foot offset with 2 45s and it rolls its all math. when you figure your gas mileage its algebra when you che k your bank statement to see if you ha e enough money to,go,to,walmart its algebra when you set your alarm clock its algebra when u say i only need one,cu so i make half a ot of coffee its algebra when you decide to floor it or slam on the brakes at a orange red light its algebra

.............

I'm speechless

..............

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Algebra & The Offset Manuever

After some thought, the equation made sense to me. Sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake, but when it clicks it sticks!

I have been having a blast at the refresher class. I have a relaxed and knowledgeable yard instructor now that explains everything clearly. Yesterday was Lionel Ritchie Sings Real Loud day. I picked up the parallel parking manuever pretty quick. The instructor gave me a couple pointers to tweak it and the trailer darn near goes in the box by itself.

Today is the day I waited for all week: 90 degree alley dock. Whoot!

I'll be honest about one thing. Knowing that I won't be tested on any of the manuevers took alot of stress off me. It's all fun & games!

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

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Algebra & The Offset Manuever

The offset is for when the shipper or receiver says to back in a door and you do and then they say opps back in the door next to you.... You will be surprised at how many times you will need to do a offset

That's what I'm looking for! Thanks!

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

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Algebra & The Offset Manuever

The way the instructor told me to do it for a left hole:

Turn the wheel 1 turn right. Back it until the center cone disappears behind the trailer in the convex mirror. Spin wheel full lock left. Back until tractor and trailer is straight. The center cone should be lined up and then it's almost a straight back.

My point is if the rig isn't in the proper starting position no matter what you do it won't end up in the correct place without some improvisation.

Errol, if you begin a left offset turning the wheel left won't the trailer start moving right?

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Algebra & The Offset Manuever

Remember back in 8th grade while sitting in algebra class thinking, "how could I ever use this in real life?". Some may have even been as bold as me and directed that question at the teacher. To tell the truth; I haven't used algebra since 8th grade.

Yesterday was my first day at the truck driving school for a refresher course. Straight line backing was a piece of cake. The other students in the class never backed a 53 foot trailer before so I did have a leg up on them. I think I spent more time coaching than practicing backing. Anyways, the instructor sent me forward to the next manuever- the offset.

Mind you, I took my cdl test almost 2 decades ago and I don't recall doing this manuever. The instructor rambles an explanation on how to set up and what to look for in the mirrors... he stays with me for one go and then walks away. ..

This is what I learned: set up is the key. You need to begin with the rig absolutely straight with one of the holes in order to end up with the trailer in the right place with the center hole cone. If you don't begin the manuever in the right place the recipe for success will elude you.

Well, during my practice yesterday I fudged up and ended up all discombobulated. I had a heck of a time trying to get back to the proper starting position to try it again. Remember, there's only 180 feet to straighten out a tractor with a 53 foot trailer. Curses!

The school also hosts a heavy equipment course that goes on right behind the 2 holes for the offset. There's no way to go around and pull through one of the holes to begin straight again. Arrrrrrrrr. ..

Anyways, what I'm trying to get at is this... how does the offset manuever relate to real world everyday business?

On a side note: I already have a cdl. As a refresher student I wish they would take me to some real docks to get real practice. I'm not retaking the test.

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