Profile For Older Newbie

Older Newbie's Info

  • Location:
    San Antonio, TX

  • Driving Status:
    Experienced Driver

  • Social Link:
    Older Newbie On The Web

  • Joined Us:
    3 years, 9 months ago

Older Newbie's Bio

I've been in another business, as a business owner successfully, for the last 42 years.

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Posted:  5 days, 17 hours ago

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Why Small Trucking Companies Are Often A Disaster Waiting To Happen - article by Brett Aquila

Yes Rainy... Thanks for the reminder Junkyard Dog... I too hope you are ok. Sorry to hear you were in an accident. Hang in there, Tony

Posted:  5 days, 18 hours ago

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Why Small Trucking Companies Are Often A Disaster Waiting To Happen - article by Brett Aquila

Hey Gang, It's been a while since I've had a chance to respond to a topic but here goes. First Brett I think your article and many of the responses have been insightful and right on the money. The one thing not mentioned, and probably because most new or newer drivers don't get this exposure, are the specialized/ niche companies. Yes, they are oftentimes not huge...20 to 40 trucks...but they also provide services not seen at the mega carriers. It's not in a mega carriers interest to invest in say, heavy haul equipment for example, because the business model they are using doesn't work as well in that world. I'm sure there are big, or huge, or even mega carriers doing that stuff, but most of what I've dealt with from them is traditional 18 wheel commodities. ( Many of the specialized companies are o/o trucks leased on to them ) What I have been doing has been 10 axle to 13 axle heavy haul, with loads in excess of 235,000 lbs and 200 feet long. The company I'm presently with has a small division that supports this while they focus much of their efforts on their primary freight. I have found that "smaller" companies actually can thrive in a "specialized" world, but their requirements for drivers is out of reach for newer drivers. The owner operators I deal with all make money. Let me repeat that... they all make money. But...and here is the catch...they also have 200 to 400 thousand dollars wrapped up in their rigs and they have lots of years of experience. I guess my point is this; owning your own truck to haul everyday normal commodities is a recipe for disaster. One cannot compete against the mega carriers. So, you are right. But, there are a few people out there who are doing very well indeed and yes they own their own truck...they don't haul regular stuff and they offer services and experience that are hard to come by. I got very lucky. Not sure what my end game is going to reveal but I do know that in the niche I'm in...there is a very lucrative future. You all take care, be safe and I look forward to reading more of your articles and forum chats. Tony

Posted:  10 months, 3 weeks ago

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A Commencement Speech For Truck Driving School Graduates - article by Old School

Brett you are so right. It should be compulsory for every driver headed to orientation. I think out of the graduates from our class... near 26 or so, only 3 or 4 are still at it. Out of my orientation I know of only 2 of us that made it past the first year, and both of us have moved on to better opportunities. Old School is really gifted us all with his insight, as have all of you guys here. Keep it up ok. There are days I'm sure for all of us, when a little outside perspective is very very helpful. Thanks again, Tony

Posted:  10 months, 4 weeks ago

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Commencement speach

Ha ha, Nothing mundane about what you're doing Old School. I am probably just one of the drivers with a screw loose or two willing to pull insane lengths. Pulled a 146 foot beam not long ago...total truck length was just under 200 feet and almost 200,000 lbs!. I'm still trying to get my heart rate down lol. Take care...be smart...and we will talk again soon. Tony

Posted:  10 months, 4 weeks ago

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Commencement speach

Oops... Forgive the misspelled title...

Posted:  10 months, 4 weeks ago

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Commencement speach

Hey Old School, Nice job...great speech...AND SO VERY TRUE! It was great to see as I'm sitting at a job site/delivery location with a 125 foot beam chained to my truck and trailer. It made me think about those first few carefree moments of glee having just passed my CDL written and driving tests, wondering what the future held. Moments later, not sure how many actually...the reality of my situation pushed to the forefront of my thoughts..." oh crap...now what?!" Almost 2 years later I can tell you that your speech hit the nail on the head. It's been fun, scary, exciting, humiliating, thrilling and satisfying. Like you, having had my own business I knew the value of hard work and determination, but even knowing that, nothing really prepares you for what this industry is about. My previous career was and is performance based...you were only as good as your last job...period. As you have so eloquently stated, trucking is just like that. No excuses, no laying blame, just get it done. Thanks for your participation on this website. I don't always take the time to acknowledge the contributions of everybody but I can assure you that what is written here has been helpful and absorbed, studied and reviewed, so that I can be the best "driver" that I can be. 2 years in I feel pretty good, but I also know I have lots to learn and will never stop pushing myself and learning...every day. Thanks again, Tony

Posted:  1 year, 2 months ago

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18 months in

Thanks All for the kind words. Yes it has been fun...and scary, challenging, exhilarating and a lot of other adjectives. The thought of pulling a load 3 times longer than a 53 foot trailer can be intimidating to say the least. Strangely though you learn to take it in stride. You slow down, use your brain and think through each move way before you do something. I've got great teachers and mentors around and the team I'm working with has made the transition as painless as possible. We usually work either in pairs or as a group of about 4 to 5 trucks so we try to quite literally keep each other out of the ditch or off telephone poles and signs and other things. As you can imagine turning is ALWAYS interesting! We use steerable trailers, controlled by the driver so the driver behind helps keep you out of trouble. The last truck however in the "convoy" usually has a lot more experience since his extra eyes are the pilot car at the rear and communicating with them is key. I've been at the back a few times now, usually with loads under 140 feet and I can tell you, one feels the pressure of that position big time! The term "city driving" takes on a whole new meaning when you're menuevering 140 to 200 feet through traffic, trying to stay together, and you have cars, motorcycles and other trucks literally zipping around you. It seems your mirrors aren't big enough and your head is moving so fast from mirror to mirror that you feel like a bobble head. We have all joked that we look out to the mirrors as much or more than we look out the front! My first long load; a beam of 140 feet; was into Houston just after the curfew lifted for oversize loads...about 9:30 if I recall. The traffic was insane and I'm sure I must have looked freaked out by the time we got to out job site. Needles to say I survived but the "pucker factor" was way up there. Our lead driver laughed that it took about 5 minutes to get me peeled off the seat when we finally got to our job site. And getting in and out of job sites is often a slow and careful process. One misstep and everything comes to a grinding halt. Ok... enough for now... You all take care and I'll stay in touch.

Posted:  1 year, 2 months ago

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18 months in

Hey Everyone,

I have been a little busy and haven't taken the time to give you an update on my driving career in many months. So here goes.

I took your advice and stayed with my first driving job over a year. Glad I did because it was a huge learning experience from the get go. Hauled dry van and then reefers all over the place in every weather and situation one can imagine. Including a couple of hurricanes and a blizzard or two. The last 10 months I hauled reefers and found it to be challenging and frustrating all at the same time. It's the nature of reefers to sit at docks and wait sometimes for hours and for me that was a frustration but one learns to adjust and get over it so it all worked out.

I spent a lot of off hours reading and following this web site so it wasn't a loss as far as I saw it...I was learning the whole time.

I left that company with a great reputation and have been asked to come back several times so I must have done something right. In fact my fleet manager and I have spoken regularly since my departure and if I wanted I could go back there any time.

Starting this January I made a move I have been very happy with.

I have wanted to get into flat bed for a long time with the end goal doing heavy haul. In fact I was recruited by a major flat bed company and went to orientation for them. In the end though that didn't work for reasons I am to this day not sure of. Turned out to be a blessing however as I immediately landed a heavy haul job making lots more than I thought was possible.

I get the physical work that I love and need; I have to think about my load in ways I never did before; it's an intense challenge...which I love...and best of all...I get to see my family more!

After 3 months doing this I'm in better physical shape, better mental shape, a better driver and I get to do something seriously outrageous! Drive a big rig weighing just about 200,000 pounds and total bumper to bumper lengths of almost 200 feet. In some ways I can't believe I'm doing this and in other ways I feel this is what I was meant to do. Haul insane weight and lengths and do it well.

I'm not an expert; not yet anyway, so don't take my statement of "doing well" as bragging. But I'm doing well and learning all the time and having fun at the same time. My boss/dispatcher loves what I'm doing and how I do it so things are working out well. I was given a Peterbilt they were saving for the "right" driver this month so frankly I'm a happy camper!

I would like to add a thank you to Brett and Old School. You two in particular were a great help to me. Your articles and responses to my queries have been a big help.

In the end, I survived my first 18 months...and I plan on sticking with this. It isn't easy. I'm glad of that. But when the day is done and I look back on it, the sense of accomplishment I have felt and feel right now far exceeds the difficulty... and for that... I'm grateful.

Be safe out there drivers and remember; you may be sitting in that cab by yourself...but you're not alone. We...all of us...have been or are, in the place you are.

Hang in there, it really is worth it.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Backing in CDL school

Back to backing... Question for you GTOWN and Brett and Old School... When you first got started did you find it easier or more difficult to back squarely, meaning lined up just right...when you had lots of room to play with ? For instance; I find it easier to get lined up and parked when I have other trucks or objects around, either at a dock or in a yard. Backing with just lines on the ground seems like it would be easier but I have found that the reference of another truck or trailer really helps my backing. I'm sure it's a matter of practice practice practice but was wondering if it's a common issue. I have to force myself to concentrate differently when I have tons of room and no other objects around Makes me laugh at myself actually. Tony

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

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Backing in CDL school

Brett, It really is about set up isn't it? Bad set up...bad backing...good set up and your chances improve exponentially. I also watch everyone park after I'm done for the day/night. It helps watching others, at least for me anyway, as it allows me a chance to see the difference's in everyone's style and technique. Frankly I sometimes feel as if it should be a part of the schooling...spend a day at the truck stop just watching and learning from others as they deal with real world parking issues. I'm not judging others or critical of others but it really is an eye opener when you see someone roll in with a long wheelbase truck make it look easy after you've seen a day cab struggle with the same spot. Cheer's to all, Tony

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

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Backing in CDL school

Hey Brett, I enjoyed your article about backing for the first time in school. Man are you right. I never felt more like an idiot in my life...well...until I tried to back into a dock for the first time when I got on my own. It seems the humble pie eating doesn't stop for a while and even gets worse when you have experienced drivers all around you laughing their tails off...at you! After a few months on the road it gets easier for sure, less intimidating and frightening; but there will still be those days, at least I've had them, when everything I managed to do right for months just goes right out the window and you feel like an absolute rookie all over again. As you guys have said hundreds of times, the learning process never stops and shouldn't and some of the old pros I've talked to still admit they have bad backing days. They do get fewer and farther between, but eating crow, humble pie or anything similar is always a possibility in this profession. As you said, it's fodder for the crowd so I've learned to suck it up, swallow hard and keep going. The other side of this backing conundrum we all face is that when you get it right, I mean really nail it...there are few feelings that compare. The sense of accomplishment and yes pride I've felt when I've climbed out of the tractor is unmatched. You may not get the cheers from a crowd, or a slap on the back with an "atta boy" from your coach or dad but inside you know you've done it! You can feel the acceptance from the other drivers, and that...well... that makes all those idiot moments worth it. Tony

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

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Drivers Are Losing Money By Taking The Wrong Approach - New Article From TruckingTruth

Another great article Brett filled with inspired advice. I've read it twice now and each time I come away with something new. I'm not sure how I found your Web site originally but every time I read something here by you, Old School, Rainy D. and the rest of your crew I feel fortunate. It's helped me stay focused on the task at hand...learning a seriously complex business and has kept me from getting " wrapped around the axle " so to speak, about things that aren't really important. Thanks again to you all for giving of yourselves to a bunch of rookies. The knowledge and wisdom you all share is priceless! Tony

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

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What parts of the county do you prefer to run?

There is a run I've done a couple of times that I love. Laredo, TX up to the North end of Utah and then to Idaho. For the first day and a half you are completely off the interstate ! From Ft. Srockton to Carlsbad NM is busy with oil field trucks but here have been times I didn't see anyone on the road between Laredo and Ft. Srockton,TX for 20 minutes in the middle of the day. There's lots of great local food along the trip too and if your through there at night you have to do a 30 minute break at one of the many picnic areas...the stars are amazing!

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

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Managing 70 hr clock

It's funny this was asked recently because I just did a 1900 mile run and had to use recap hrs to get it done. I think I started with about 22hrs and what hurt was only getting 2.5 on the second day out. I was good after that but those short hour days are a killer on churning out miles and trip planning. It felt like I spend as much time calculating my potential stops, hours and time zones as I did driving. In the end it was pretty stressful due to the one day of only getting back a couple of hours. I pull a reefer so doing 34''s is pretty normal for me especially when you're waiting for a meat shipper to fill a trailer or get export paperwork done. It is nice as was said having a fresh 70 but I have to say when I can do a couple of long runs back to back and do it recouping hours it feels like I've really done something. Probably just a new guys perspective but it does feel kinda cool to run for 2 or 3 weeks non stop once in a while.

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

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New Article From Old School About Buying Or Leasing A Truck

Brett and Old School,

Thanks for the advice and frankly a little head tuning so to speak. As you both said it's easy to get discouraged and out of sorts, especially when you're by yourself most of the time as I suspect you both understand. I have been pushing pretty hard, holding on a bit too tight and yes, my frustration got the better of me for a time...but in general I'm a pretty easy going guy who's trying to figure it out like the rest of the folks around here. I certainly don't know it all and will be the first, or one of the first to admit it and ask questions. Guess that comes from being humbled once or twice in one's life; and age. And you're both right about big companies. Yes there is a huge safety net that exists when you drive for one of the big companies. What I meant by smaller, just to clarify, is not the company that has 10 or even 100 trucks. I meant perhaps a more specialized carrier....say a company that specializes in flat bedding...which is what I really want to do. By the way, I spoke with my fleet manager today, to get a real perspective on how I was doing, where I needed to improve or make changes. He was in fact very complimentary and is very happy with my productivity...in fact said "keep doing what you're doing...you're doing great!" so... I guess I should step back more often and "look at the big picture" a bit more than I have been. The quarterly miles, pay and productivity is a great idea to see where you really are. So I'm going to do that. Anyway, I've taken a lot of space here and just want to say thanks guys, and keep up the good work. Tony

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

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New Article From Old School About Buying Or Leasing A Truck

Brett, Just read your new article. Great job. If I seemed like one of those terminal rats please forgive me...I'm not and avoid them like the plague for all the reasons you stated. The last thing I want to do is leave the impression with you or Old School, or anyone else for that matter that I'm that kind of driver. I do the grunt work without complaining and have in fact been getting good miles, especially for a new guy, despite my frustrating experiences. Your advice is sound and smart and I will look harder in the mirror to make sure the guy I see is the one I want others to see and know. And for the record, the only time I have been late was out of my control...the trailer wasn't ready and I had to wait for it. I'm trying Brett, and I'm trying to learn every day. Thanks for your advice. Tony

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

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New Article From Old School About Buying Or Leasing A Truck

Oh...sorry...one last thought before I crawl into the sleeper...

My first year of driving is ending in a few short months. And I also know that a year isn't a panacea it's just a time marker. But It means you've stuck it out through one of the hardest most dangerous professions around. In a sense it's a different kind of graduation. One that allows you to walk through doors unavailable before. I look forward to that opportunity and plan to make the best of it. Take care Brett... and Old School. I look forward to meeting you both sometime. Tony

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

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New Article From Old School About Buying Or Leasing A Truck

Thanks Brett, Actually it's frustration with the way a huge company with almost 10000 drivers works...or doesn't work. You see I have done what you've suggested and yes, I would be considered one of their top tier drivers, even though I'm new. I do make those calls to get my load eother loaded on unloaded early, but...and here's the part that is out of my control; the driver doesn't dictate what he or she is dealt . You have to react to what's going on around you and work within the playing field. My frustration is from a lack of follow through by those who control your fate. Getting delivery numbers isn't something new, but if what you're given isn't correct or non existent that's what makes life difficult. It shouldn't be a surprise to them when you ask for or need the information and yet it's a rampant problem that many of the drivers I've spoken with at the company complain about. That's my frustration. This isn't brain surgery and it's not some new aspect to the business!

I am new yes...but I've managed to figure out enough to keep rolling weeks at a time without doing a 34hr reset and yes...I get there on time or ahead of time whenever possible. The only thing that has ever stopped that is the occasional load that has to be reworked because it couldn't be legally pulled. Once again, a curve ball you have to deal with and keep moving.

I've owned a high value business before and made it work in a similar cut throat world...television production... where my investment was nearly 350 grand in gear alone. Fixing an 85grand camera and keeping your production on budget and on time all over the world wasn't a piece of cake or cheap eirher. But you do what is needed and keep moving. Top that off with being your own booking agent. Yes... I get what you're saying.

I'm doing what I can to learn this industry and this forum helps but there are times when being good or smart or friendly or aggressive isn't the whole picture. When you work for people who's livelihoods don't directly get affected by yours, their motivation is different. An hourly paid employee is not motivated the same as the commission employees. Yeah, the company wants to make money and should but we can't kid ourselves into forgetting that the amount of waste, miss management and general lack of motivation at many if not most established big companies is pretty real. When I spoke about the incident where I wound up sitting for hours that had nothing to do with me or my skills...that, was simply dispatch not getting their information right and I got left standing there waiting. Now it's not all been bad. I'm in the midst of back to back runs that are going to net me over 3300 miles this week! And by the time I get through I'll be close to 4000 miles in about 8 days so I can't complain. You yourself have said the first year is the most difficult and I agree. I just think that it's not always about how well we new drivers do our job, it's also about how huge companies with huge driver pools manage to take advantage of and manipulate new drivers. If the livelihood of those in the office really depended on them getting it right as much as our job as drivers does, I suspect there would be a lot less turn over at big carriers and generally happier people all around. Trucks make money when they roll. Drivers make money when they roll. Staff employees at the big companies make money regardless. Add to that the number of drivers they have to manage, which is often hundreds, and it's easy to see how someone would want to be where they are dealing with a fleet manager who only oversees 30 or 40 drivers and I seriously motivated, by a commission or percentage for instance, to keep those drivers rolling.

I'm going to stick this out. I knew going in that this is a tough business and that frankly, only the strong survive. I think I've managed to do pretty well so far and I have hopes that my success will turn into a viable, workable and decent living for me and my family. I guess having been a freelancer for 25 plus years out of 42 in the same industry gives me a perspective that's a little out of the normal company/owner operator debate. Sometimes it's not how good you are, it's who you know, who you smooze, or even how lucky you are... or seeing the break and going for it...being adaptable and smart enough to think on your feet and adjust in the right direction. In the end though, it's also about simply being tenacious. Having the strength of will to get up when you're knocked down, whether by traffic that's holding you up, or information not relayed correctly or frustrations. Being able to keep going and keep learning is key for me. Trying to not repeat mistakes, learning from each day and forging ahead. I will be here tomorrow, and the day after that and the one after that too. I hope to be smarter and I will always keep my options open...whether as a company driver or as an owner operator. Either way, I'm not going to make that decision lightly...or quickly. I know there are good companies out there that would want me. I just have to pay my dues, learn everything I can, do the time and be safe and smart. No big deal right?

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

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New Article From Old School About Buying Or Leasing A Truck

When I said my best friend is making more in 6 months...I meant he is taking home....profit...after taxes...more than I'm making in a year...actually it's probably more than I can make here in a year and a half. Maybe he's unique and blessed but whatever the case may be, it's real.

That's why going the o/o route is aluring and it's hard to not consider it as an option at least.

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

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New Article From Old School About Buying Or Leasing A Truck

Old School and Brett I know that this is "old hat" for you; standing in the truck stop getting beer cans tossed your way...as you said...but the problem many of us face out here is in fact company based. I'll try to explain.

I did the company route and have stuck out almost a year or frankly near starvation. The only place most of us could start with is the big companies and if anyone has the system rigged in their favor it's the big companies.

The promise of making 40 to 50 grand a year...even 35 to 40 is common and yet, it's really tough. How many jobs pay little to nothing when you're stuck waiting to get a load for 34 to 50 hrs? Oh... and why were you stuck sitting there you ask? Because your dispatcher/fleet manager didn't tell you that the load your qualcomm said was going to be ready on say Friday morning between 6am and that afternoon at 6pm, actually wasn't going to happen for another day. The shipper never intended the load to be ready Friday! They intended for the load to be ready Saturday.

So there you sit, waiting, eating...or not...but the wheels aren't rolling and so you make no money! This happens all the time. Or get to a receiver and have to spend 3 hours getting the correct load receiving number from your dispatch/fm and you wind up at the back of a first come first serve line until 6pm again...having started your day at 4am there isn't any time left to do anything. Once again, another wasted day.

As a new driver I knew there were going to be lots of things to learn and I also wasn't kidding myself that big companies didn't get big by giving money away. But what became all too obvious was that they don't care if you sit for hours or days...you aren't costing them enough to be a concern. I have often wondered how they became so successful with the level of incompetence that would have gotten me fired!

What does all this have to do with owner operator discussions you ask? A couple of things.

I do work for one of the major carriers and I barely make enough to feed my family. I have insurance I can't afford to use...the deductible I can't cover. I have vacation I can't afford to take. And I have bills I can barely afford to pay. All while I try to scrape through the first year or two of driving.

Company driver is not a dirty word it just depends on which company. The majors will sell you a great story, show their new trucks and make promises they have no intention of keeping so I can understand why being and o/o is enticing. I have o/o friends who make more in a day than I make in 2 weeks sometimes. And no...that's not a line of bull either. I know how they live and have seen their expenses...and their real bottom line.

I too have owned my own business and was very successful at it. When the business changed I went the company route. There are o/o's who make good money, I know some. And there are others that have failed. I know them too. I suspect the trick is to either find the right company, willing to pay a decent living wage or the right company to lease on to as an o/o.

There seems to be a huge amount of emotion wrapped up in this discussion so far and a lot of challenges and counter challenges. It's certainly been an interesting read. But what I've seen here is the same as everywhere lately...people have dug into their positions and are right no matter what...end of conversation.

I suspect there is money to be made in this business, otherwise it wouldn't be as big as it is. The trick like life, is to find the right niche, learn it and go for it, whether as an o/o or company driver. Me...I would like to find the right company someday soon. My guess is it will be smaller than the big guns who's goal is to extract every drop of energy you have and pay as little as they can get away with...because I have looked at being an owner operator too...and as scary as it may be it still looks better than what I have now.

Which is probably why so many drivers think about it in the first place. Making less than 40 cents a mile for a couple of years is tough because there is no guarantee to get 3000 miles a week. No matter how good you are, someone else's incompetence dictates your paycheck or lack thereof. When you consider what a brokers or leasing dispatcher's motivation is; to keep you moving because that's how they get paid, as opposed to a company dispatcher or fm who's getting a salary whether you move or not, it's not difficult to connect the dots and want to go where the dollars are. And yes...I do understand all that's been said about risks here. Just saying that when the word company gets used perhaps a distinction should be made so that those on the fence can get a better understanding of where you're coming from. As I said, my best friend is making in 6 months...take home after taxes...than I am making at a major carrier.

For me, that's hard to turn my back on.

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