Profile For PPGER

PPGER's Info

  • Location:
    Sun City, AZ

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    3 years, 7 months ago

PPGER's Bio

I'm 57 years old, retired LEO from Wisconsin, now living near Phoenix, AZ. I'm looking to get my CDL and start trucking. Like I said in my intro posting, I've always wanted to try my hand at OTR trucking and NOW seems like a good time in my life to finally pursue the goal.

I have had a pretty varied background: U.S. Air Force (active and reserve), pastor, martial arts instructor, IT professional, chairman of publications for a national martial arts organization, adjunct professor at university, and police officer. Seen a lot, done a lot. No real complaints.

Anyway, we have the empty nest now so there is nothing to hold me back from finally putting my hand to trucking.

This website has been a treasure trove of information and I really thank you all for your great input.

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Posted:  2 years, 9 months ago

View Topic:

I think I'm done

What part of Ontario are they running you to?

Sorry if I wasn't clear. It Ontario, CA. Right there among Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, etc.

Posted:  2 years, 9 months ago

View Topic:

I think I'm done

Thanks for making some calls on my behalf Old School. I specifically asked and my DM at the TIME about it and he flat it told me that he couldn't do anything about compensation. He said I could ask the manager about it but added that I'd have no success...

So far, my new DM is showing real concern and it's much appreciated. A big change from my old one. I'm currently stuck sitting at a shipper for a trailer that was supposed to be ready at 0900 this morning. I got here at 1230 and it isn't ready. They told me two more hours before it'll be ready, so over five hours late. Anyway, I'm sitting here waiting and my DM called to check on me and said they are working it from their end too. He must actually read those Qualcomm messages I send it. Very pleasant change.

And as anyways, thanks Old School and Brett for the sage advice.

Posted:  2 years, 9 months ago

View Topic:

I think I'm done

Sorry for the delay, but here's an update. I never received layover or breakdown pay -- even after mentioning the situation to the terminal manager. I was down for nine days, July 5th - 13th.

I got a call on the 13th that my truck was finally back from the dealer and I had a nice load to Utah scheduled for the morning of the 14th. Later on that same day, I got a call from the terminal manager telling me that he would now be dispatching me for the "forseeable future." Hmm, I wondered. Turns out, my old DM was no longer with Knight.

Anyway, I show up around 0500 on the 14th to get to the shipper at 0800 for the Utah run. I get to my truck and it will not start. Dead. Not even dash lights. Plus, someone stole the spare tire off the back of it!! So, I call trip breakdown. After being on hold for fifty minutes, they told me to wait until the shop opened at 0700 and tell them and they would jump it. Then I had to call dispatch and let them know that there was no way I was going to make that 0800 delivery -- so lost the Utah run. When I was on the phone with my new DM (the terminal manager), I ask him why my old DM was no longer running me. He told me that my old dispatcher was no longer with the company. I asked him if he knew about my situation being down for over a week and how i was told no breakdown pay, etc. He then just said that he promised that I would get some good miles and make some good money the next few days.

Anyway, the shop finally comes out around 0800, jumps the truck and take it to the shop to see why it was dead. I finally get the truck back around 1000 hours. My new DM/TM comes out and talks with me. He tells me that he is looking for some good loads for me. I ended up with a Yuma-Ontario run, then back to Phoenix, then back to Ontario, then back to Phoenix.

My new DM really seems to be wanting to do better by me that my old DM, who I assume was fired. But there are still the same frustrations. I was supposed to have home time Sunday and Monday, but the consignee would not take load early like I was told by DM so I had to stick with the 2030 delivery time on Sunday night... Didn't get to a door until after 2230 and didn't get unloaded until around 0030. So I didn't get home until about 0130 on Monday. I am scheduled to go back out this morning, but still waiting on a preplan to pop up.

The other job stuff is still pending...

Posted:  2 years, 9 months ago

View Topic:

I think I'm done

Well, I've been driving for Knight for eight months now. Like everyone, I've had good days and not so good days, good weeks and not so good weeks. Being away from home has been harder than I expected. I expected to see more of the country, but 80%+ of Knight loads are between Phoenix and SoCal, up and down the 10 and 5 corridors. I told them that I would run all lower 48, but I've rarely gotten out of CA, OR, and WA.

Most of it has been as I expected -- thanks to all the helpful folks on this forum. I have a sense of accomplishment from the job. I expecially like how backing is no longer an issue like it was. I have pulled into some really tight docks the last few weeks and I remember thinking, "Man, I'm glad I wasn't having to do to this a few months ago!"

While I have enjoyed driving, this latest incident is, I'm afraid, the last straw. I cannot decide if I should just say goodbye to trucking or go to another company. Problem is, most other trucking jobs I see advertised want at least a year's experience. And I don't know that things would be different at any other company. I think that the problem of bad information from your DM (who blames it on the market manager or load planner) is the same everywhere (supposed to be drop and hook, but it's a 5 hour live load/unload, etc). Although, other companies with centralized dispatch might be different from Knight which has dispatch out of each terminal. I am debating whether to stay with Knight for a few more months and then look for a job driving local where I'm home most nights or at least every weekend, or whether to just say good bye to trucking.

But anyway, here's what appears to be the last straw with me:

Last Tuesday, July 5th, I dropped my truck off for service. That was supposed to be one day. Supposed to be back on the road Wednesday. Tuesday afternoon my DM tells me that my truck has to go to the dealer and that it should be finished Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. Okay.... What's wrong with it?, I ask. He doesn't know and tells me to call the shop. So I call the shop and after the usual forever on hold time, I get someone on the phone. He tells me that the rear timing cover is leaking. On Thursday, the 7th, I get a text from my DM telling me that my truck is ready and he has set me up with loads for Friday the 8th. Okay, good enough. THEN, shortly thereafter I get a message from him saying that he misread the email from the shop and that my truck will not be back from the dealer until the 13th!! That is nine days!! I ask about breakdown pay. He says that I can't get it because I am at my home terminal. I ask him how he expects me to go without work or a paycheck for over a week?? He says that he understands, but that is the way it is. I ask about a loaner. He says that none are available. I tell him that if I am willing to work and they take my truck out of service and cannot give me a loaner, that I should not be penalized by no pay for nine days. Sorry, is his answer. Then on Friday he tell me that he has found me a loaner... Okay, then I'll go out on Saturday. No wait, he texts back, it's a manual transmission. Can I drive a manual? Yes, I tell him, but Knight's policy is that you have to drive the same transmission that your trainer had and my trainer had an automatic. So, still no truck.

So, here I sit. I have been sitting since last Tuesday, July 5th. I will be sitting until at least Thursday, July 14th. No pay.

Yesterday, I filled out on-line job applications and I have two non-driving job interviews tomorrow. Part of me wants to stick it out four more months at Knight so I can move into another local driving job after I have a year's experience. Part of me wants to quit as soon as I can based on this latest incident with them. The whole thing with them seems so disrespectful of me and my time. If I want more than a couple days off, they tell me that they can't afford to have their truck sit that long and I have to come in and start running loads. But they have no problem with me sitting -- as if I can afford to sit for nine days!

The CPM is good now that I've been there for over six months. But on the other hand, when I think about all of the time that I give them that is uncompensated, it is pretty depressing. I know that trucking is a lifestyle, not just a job, but still. I've had some good paychecks from weeks where I ran a lot of miles. The number looks good until I figure how many hours it took to make it, then it's kind of depressing. Taking a local job paying $11-12 an hour, and being home may be a better option..

Anyway, that's for letting me vent.

Posted:  2 years, 9 months ago

View Topic:

Swifts current idle policy

The Swift recruiter told me that their trucks have bunk coolers. Was that a fib?

Posted:  3 years ago

View Topic:

Food coolers?

I got a Coleman 40 qt about two weeks ago. So far so good. Got tired of buying ice every other day.

Posted:  3 years ago

View Topic:

Knight CDL School Diary

Sorry for the lack of updates. I finally dug out the laptop and decided to try to catch up.

I have about 2500 more miles to go before finishing out my 30K miles under Knight's Squire program. After that, I "graduate" to the regular Knight program and get, I think, a 5 cent per mile raise.

So far, my foray into the trucking industry has been okay. I've had the usual glitches like others have posted about. You know -- discovering that the GPS is not accurate. Driving on a narrow, two-lane highway, hearing the "your destination is .2 miles on the right," from your GPS about the same time as you roll past the shipper's entrance which was before the actual address and having to drive a 12 mile circle to get back to the entrance because there is no way to back up on that two lane! That was fun!

Or arriving to pick up what was supposed to be a preloaded trailer only to find out that it'll be a live load instead, adding hours of unexpected delay to your day.

Or the unplanned detours when the exit you are supposed to take is closed and you have to take a long detour.

Being away from home is harder than I thought. Dispatchers and load planners quite often don't know what they are talking about.

On the other hand, I have been pleasantly surprised by the helpfulness of other drivers. The rude driver who expresses impatience with my backing skills have been rare -- probably less than two times. But I have had many drivers go out of their way to help me get backed into a tight spot at a dock or truck stop.

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

How big of an SD card for dash cam?

I've got the Cobra CDR 840 dash cam too. The max size for the MicroSD card is 32gb, which is what I have. I also recommended adjusting the g-shock settings. Otherwise, normal bumps in the road set the thing off.

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Truck Fleets with automatics transmissions

I believe Knight is transitioning to automatics too. I drove a 2015 International with an automatic and it was terrible. I now have a 2016 Freightliner with an automatic and I love it -- way better than the auto in the International! I also love how it has "descent control mode." Once you start the downgrade, with the cruise turned on, but not set, you turn on your engine brake, then when you are at the speed you want to maintain down the grade, you set the cruise and it will hold that speed down the grade. It modulates the engine brake setting and transmission gear to maintain the speed. I am impressed how well it usually works -- 6% grade at 79500 pounds and it'll hold it. Much less stressful!

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

U-Turn in big rig and.... your fired! ??

Swift has a no u turn and no right turn on red policy

so does Knight...

Posted:  3 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

Doing The Speed Limit .. Or Not?

Yeah, my trainer chided me for doing the speed limit in CA too. He said we weren't making any time and were going to miss our appointment. He was regularly do 62-63 in CA. I eventually upped it up to 58 in CA, but did not feel comfortable going any faster than that.

To me it is not worth the risk to speed. My truck tops out at 63, so in most states I can't speed anyway. In the 55 mph states, I usually set the cruise to 58. I don't like to go more than 3 over.

Posted:  3 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

Knight CDL School Diary

Sorry, haven't been keeping this updated.

Anyway, I've been on my own since December 26th. I have been home about 5 days since them (3 and 2). I am currently at our Denver terminal for the weekend. I just finished a load to Cheyenne WY. Since my son lives in Denver, I asked to spend the weekend here and go back out on Monday. Thankfully, they accomodated me.

Since starting solo driving on Dec. 26th, I have driven about 8500 miles. No complaints at all about Knight. Sometimes, they do want me to take a load that is physically impossible to deliver. That is frustrating. But I tell the dispatcher why I can't take it and they take it off. As a matter of fact, this weekend they wanted to give me a load from Ft Collins, pick up on Friday and deliver to AZ on Saturday. Duh. That's impossible.

I have gotten really burned out of delivering to the LA area. Traffic is a mess. They often want me to pick up a live load from AZ and deliver to Long Beach or the LA area all in the same day. I am not going to take loads like that anymore because there are not enough hours to get it done in one day. If it was drop and hook, it'd be one thing, but live loads just take too long. I recently had one where I had to get live loaded in Surprise AZ. So, go on duty, find a trailer, inspect it, and drive to Surprise -- that's 1.5 hours. Then wait 2 hours to get loaded. Eight hours to get to the consignee in Long Beach. Another three hours to get unloaded and your 14 is up.

I was really glad to get this load to Cheyenne and get out of LA for a change. I lucked out with not having any snow coming up here, but I don't think I'll drive I-70 from Grand Junction to Denver in the dark again -- too much stress for this newbie!

It has certainly been a learning experience. My biggest frustration is the ridiculous wait times to get loaded or unloaded as some places.

I have met some very helpful veteran truckers and I appreciate their advice and helping me out these past few weeks.

Like I said, I have no compliants about Knight. They have treated me very well so far -- I couldn't believe it either when I was assigned a practically new 2016 Freightliner right out of school. Luck of the draw I guess.

Posted:  3 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Ok, there's a Museum for everything

I was delayed to find the Spam museum in South Dakota!

Posted:  3 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Knight CDL School Diary

Sorry for the delay in postings. It has been an intense few weeks. On Tuesday I will have of four weeks of training -- although we spent four days off over thanksgiving. I think I will test for my own truck sometime this week - I think on Friday. I am not worried about the written test, road test, or pre-trip inspection, but backing is still giving me a hard time. It's almost like I have a mental block or something. My trainer has said a couple of times that I'm overthinking it and he is right. I need to let the truck keep rolling so I can see what my steering inputs are doing. But sometimes I'm so paranoid about hitting something something that I get out and look too much and he said that you can't back up a few feet at at time and GOAL that way. He says that I should be backing up on my own by now, and I should, but at every truck stop or dock, he continues to direct me and not really give me a chance to do it on my own. At one of our drop yards, he said that he was not going to tell me what to do, but just make sure I didn't hit anything, and I did okay, so I am hoping that I will be able to do okay when I test out for my own solo truck. But, he sure does make it look easy. I try to remind myself that he's been doing it over 20 years...

I have lost track of how many miles we have put on. Donner Pass was certainly interesting. El Cajon pass. The Grapevine. Twin Falls, Denver, Boise, Patterson, Salt Lake City, El Paso. I was looking at weather.com and it certainly looks like we will get into some snow when we go back out. I am currently at home for a day while the truck is getting once of its 10K services.

Posted:  3 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Knight CDL School Diary

Here's my first week in training:

Tuesday, 11-17: We picked up a load in PHX to El Paso. My trainer drove from Phoenix to Lordington where we stopped for the night.

Wed, 11-18: The next morning I drove to El Paso and we dropped the load of batteries from Auto Zone. Then I drove to St Theresa NM and we picked up a load of cardboard to Salt Lake City. I drove part way to SLT. That day I drove 205 miles, 4:23 hours.

Thu, 11-19: I drove another 477 miles, 8:35 hours, to SLT. My trainer drove the rest of the way. We dropped the trailer at the terminal.

Fri, 11-20: Got a late morning dispatch to Delta, UT to pick up a load of hay to Tipton, CA. Drove 271 miles, 5:06 hours.

Sat, 11-21: Drove 303 miles 5:55 hours to Tipton, CA and dropped the trailer at the terminal.

Sun, 11-22: Drove 245 miles, 5:10 hours to San Bernadino to pick up the cursed load from Amazon. My clock was out so my trainer drove the load on into Phoenix where we dropped it at the terminal.

Mon, 11-23: We picked up a load of cotton in Phoenix to San Bernadino. I drove 372 miles, 7:12 hours.

Tues, 11-24: We picked up a load in Fontana, CA to Henderson, CO. Drove 565 miles, 9:35 hours.

Wed, 11-25: Picked up a load in Henderson, CO back to Fontana, Drove 550 miles.

Thur, 11-26: Picked up a load in Ontario, CA to Phoenix. Drove from Ontario to Phoenix.

I think I've driven just under 3000 miles from Wed - Thurs.

We got back to the Phoenix terminal Thanksgiving afternoon. My trainer stayed there Friday, today, to get the truck into the shop for some new steer tires. We had planned to go back out on Monday morning, but he contacted me this afternoon and told me that the truck will not be ready until Tuesday morning. It should drive a lot better with the new tires! -- hopefully no more shaking on the front end. So at this point, I'm supposed to meet him at the terminal around 10 am Tuesday morning.

It has definitely been a learning experience. I am very happy with my trainer's knowledge and demeanor. Very glad that he has over 20 years experience and not only the six month minimum.

The mountain grades have not been too bad. Of course, without the awesome engine brake on the International it might be a different story. However, my trainer did tell me that I will be required to go down some grades without the engine brake so I know what to do if I get a truck without one or if it goes out on me. The most stressful part so far was getting caught in a snowstorm on I-70 in Utah on Wednesday. I'm used to driving in snow so that didn't bother me, but not being able to see did! The snow was blowing sideways across the highway and that was really cutting visibility down. But then the wiper blades started icing up and not clearing the windshield and then it got really tense. I had to kind of hunch down and look through the lower part of the windshield where it was clear to see. We eased along until we got to a rest area where we were able to knock the ice off the wipers and get the windshield heated up really good with the defroster. Then we could see and drove another hour in the snow until we got to a lower elevation and drove out of it. Of course, the heavy holiday traffic made it all more fun. I am sure glad I had my trainer with me in all that and didn't have to do that all alone my first time.

I'm looking forward to starting up again next Tuesday!

Posted:  3 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Knight CDL School Diary

Amazing that it took so long to get your amazon load... heck I worked for the DC for amazon in the San Antonio area last winter (seasonal employee) and they put me on loading dock a few times to many... work ya real hard too... took maybe 2 hours on avg to fill a trailer... closer to 1 hour on a busy day closer to Christmas. I wouldn't want to unload one though... they told us to stack the boxes tetris style but that only works for the first 15 min of loading... next thing you know you have boxes that don't fit in your tetris pattern or they're all the same size and to do tetris you leave huge gaps making weak spots which is the whole reason for tetris stacking... yeah after about 3 rows down we just started stacking boxes till the trailer was full. sup would come, close it up and lock tag or whatever those tamper seals are called and unhook the trailer so it could go and another would take it's place very shortly after.

gosh i hated that job when they put me on loading dock... any other task they had for me no problem but loading dock i hated.

I wasn't the only one. They had numerous drivers stacked up waiting to live load. The Amazon worker told me that there was a "virtual delay" -- whatever that is. Our appointment was at 1 p.m. I kept checking back. At 7:45 p.m., I was told it'd be ready at 9 p.m. He said it was loaded and all he had to do was verify the load online. I went back at 9 and 9:30, still not ready. Disgusted, I went to the truck and took a nap. I decided they could just come and get me when it was ready. They finally came and knocked on our truck around 10:00 and told me it was ready. We finally got to the window and they signed the load out at 10:30 p.m. -- 9.5 hours after we were scheduled to be loaded. We didn't get out of the lot until about 11 p.m. It was ridiculous. Another driver that had an appointment at 1 p.m. didn't get to back up to the dock until we pulled out around 10:45 p.m.

Posted:  3 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Need sum info drivers

No such thing, so, no.

Posted:  3 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

What did you do before becoming a truck driver?

I have really enjoyed reading this thread. Thanks for starting it Errol.

Okay, here goes:

I joined the Air Force right out of high school. I was a telecommunications center supervisor (Cobra Ball, Burning Star anyone? KG-13?) Got out of the Air Force after 5.5 years. (Followed by about 12 years in the AF Reserves). Went to Bible College in Missouri and got my B.A. Worked as a bi-vocational pastor for about 4 years while earning my living doing sign painting and then IT. After bi-vocational pastoring for about four years, I pastored a church full time in Wisconsin for seven years. For six of those years I also ran a martial arts club in the church basement (LOL - that was upsetting to some of the elders -- I told them it was a method of outreach to the youth of the area, which it was). After pastoring full time for seven years, I got burned out and ended up taking a job as the national chairman of publications (and network administrator) for the American Taekwondo Association in Little Rock for a couple of years.

After that I went back to Wisconsin and was an executive assistant for the Berean Bible Society and an instructor at the Berean Bible Institutute. While there I became a reserve police officer, figuring that would get my desire to be a LEO out of my system. But it only made it worse and I eventually became a full-time police officer for 12 years. During that time I got my Masters in Education and taught criminology and criminal justice courses at Marian University. We had decided to retire to Arizona so we started looking for a retirement home out there. Then my wife got a job offer in Phoenix so I took an early retirement from the PD and moved to AZ. I didn't do anything for about six months out in AZ but then took a part time job as Compliance Inspector for the HOA.

Then I, like so many of you, decided to "go for it" and try something that I've always wanted to do -- drive a big rig.

So for now, I am into week 2 of my on the road training. I have driven about 3,000 miles in eight days. I am blessed to have an excellent instructor. He has been driving over 20 years and really knows his stuff plus we get along well. Knight allows a person to be an instructor with only six months experience -- that is crazy. To me, that is like the blind leading the blind. I am very happy that I did not get someone with such little experience as my instructor.

On Wednesday, I was driving from CO to CA and got caught in a snowstorm on I-70 in Utah. So, I got to have mountain grades AND winter driving AND heavy Thanksgiving holiday traffic ALL AT ONCE! I have driven in snow before (lived in Alaska and Wisconin before) so that didn't bother me, but the almost white-out conditions from the blowing snow and the obstructed windshield from the iced up wipers was pretty stressful. I peeked down through the lower half of the windshield where the wipers actually worked a little and managed to slowly drive to a rest stop where I was able to pull over and clear the wipers and windshield. I was thankful that I didn't have to face that for the first time alone.

Posted:  3 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Knight CDL School Diary

Finally got the Amazon load. My trainer drove it into Phoenix since my clock was up. From Phoenix, picked up a load of cotton to take to Bakersfield. Got diverted to take a high priority load from Ontario, CA to Henderson, CO. So we dropped the cotton load off at the yard and are headed to CO.

Posted:  3 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Knight CDL School Diary

Ugh. Been sitting at the Amazon DC in San Bernardino for over seven hours waiting to get loaded. Now I'm over my 14....

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