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Posted:  5 years, 1 month ago

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My First Day

After I had finished my training (see my previous thread, The Schneider Diaries, a few people wanted to see how I made on in the real world. It was horrible.

My First Day

I didn’t want to get out of bed.

Fear of the unknown can be a paralyzing feeling.

I got up early, washed and dressed, organized my stuff for the twenty-seventh time, and waited to call my DBL*, Martha**.

I met Martha briefly after I had finished my SQT***. She is ex-military in that way that some ex-military are; stiff, terse, direct and to the point. No chit-chat. Our conversation that morning continued along those same lines. My truck was located at the Freightliner shop (bit of a red flag, that, but ok), and she’ll get me dispatched from there.

I knew my first truck would be a piece of work, but wow.


The truck was obviously abandoned by the previous driver. I emptied out almost two and a half Wal-Mart bags of garbage, empty McDonalds drink cups, empty coffee cups, discarded food wrappers. There was a bucket that contained some kind of chicken, but I’m only guessing chicken because that’s what was printed on the side. Seeing the greasy residue inside the bucket, I would say “chicken” is a vague generalization.


The doors of several of the cabinets were held shut by a mix of poorly applied Velcro and duct tape. They tend to pop open randomly while I drive, so I’m weary about putting anything in there.

There was a half empty box of Arm & Hammer baking soda, the rest of the powder leaked, or purposed spilled, over the inside of one of the storage compartments.

The previous driver was a smoker. God bless Simple Green.

There was no current registration or insurance card in the truck. Martha had to fax it over to the Freightliner shop.

The rear side wing was missing.


I made sure to document everything I saw when I first showed up.

I did a complete, point-by-point pre-trip, like I was taking my CDL exam all over again.

After a few hours of cleaning, and waiting, I got the dispatch to my first load. Go to the Schneider drop yard in Vegas, pick up an empty trailer, and then take it to Flagstaff AZ, where I’ll drop it off and pick up a loaded trailer to deliver to another place. Simples. Except it wasn’t.

The thing about Schneider is that most of the Operating Centers and drop yards I’ve visited are just dirt lots. The Vegas yard is no different. As you drive up to the gate, I saw several large pot holes in the dirt. Instead of trying to drive around them, I assumed (yes, I know what “assumed’ means, this is the perfect context) that since other drivers must have driven over them, I could too. I was wrong.

* Driver Business Leader – I’ve talked about how Schneider likes their ridiculous corporate-speak.
**Obviously not her real name.
*** Skills Qualification Test. Dammit, Schneider.

Posted:  5 years, 1 month ago

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The Schneider Diaries

Holy cow CR! I just took a look at your photography. You are an amazing photographer! I absolutely LOVE the cars! Great work and you are gonna have a million opportunities to take some incredible photographs out on the road!

Thanks, I hope so! I've got a lot of ideas about what I want to shoot, but it's just about trying to squeeze in the time, I know it'll be tough if I'm running 14 hour days. We'll see.

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

C R you got to start a new thread! Let us know about your first truck. And all those other first you don't know yet!

I'll definitely keep hanging out and trying to contribute to TT, but probably, for now at least, any regular posting is going to be through my WordPress blog.

The reason why I want to focus a little more on that site is that eventually I want to do more of a combination of writing and photography. I actually have a Bachelor's Degree in Art, and I've been an active photographer for a long time now.

I won't bring my camera on the road with me for at least 2 or 3 months, I need to get my sea legs first. However, when I do start carrying my camera with me, I want to mix them both together, writing and photos. That's the plan, anyway.

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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And we're off!

Bottom line: I love my job! I have questioned whether or not I was going to like this. But now that I'm here really doing it, it's the coolest, most incredible and hardest thing I've ever done in my life!

That's so great to hear. I know exactly where you're coming from. Keep up the great work, and the great posts!

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

Day Fifteen: Skills Qualification Test

I passed.

The worry that I wasn't worried about finally arrived. In fact, like Miley Cyrus, it came in like a wrecking ball. I've never experienced a proper anxiety attack, but I'm pretty sure I was close. Sitting at the table waiting to begin the written part of the test, it was everything I could do to keep from screaming. Or crying. Or both.

After the exam was handed out, I said I needed a drink of water. Got up, went to the restroom, splashed cold water on my face, took a hard look at myself in the mirror, then went back and got to work.

The written portion consisted of completing a trip plan, exactly what we've been learning all week. I was the 2nd person to finish. I half-heartedly checked my math, but it's not calculus. Our classroom teacher checked my work, seemed happy, then passed me on to another instructor for the driving part of the test. He reminded me of Burt Reynolds, so that's what I'll call him.

Burt is one of those drivers who just looks like they were born to drive a truck. His salt and pepper Bandit mustache accentuated the upward curves of his mouth every time his smiled. The very first thing he noticed was how nervous I was. On the walk out to the truck he had to stop, look me straight in my eyes and said, "Relax." And then smiled. It never felt like a rebuke, but just some good ol' honest advice taken from experience.

First, I had to couple the truck to the trailer, then do a full pre-trip, including the complete air-brake test. Schneider calls that test the "pump-down", as in, "Make sure you do a pump-down every morning before you set off." I don't know if that term is specific to Schneider or not.

Burt never hovered over me during any of it, he kept his distance and let me go about my business. He kept himself far enough away to see if I was completing all the tasks necessary without actually looking over my shoulder.

On the drive, before we set out, again he looked me in the eyes and said "Relax." And then smiled. Again.

I mostly did OK on the driving portions. I went out in one of the older trucks, but ironically the clutch felt firmer than the newer ones. The shifter locked into gear with a steadfastness that I haven't been used to. I mentioned it to Burt, and he mumbled something about how just because something is old, that doesn't mean it's not still good. It was tough not to see that he was talking about himself as much as that truck.

My big mistake came as I was coming off the freeway. At the stoplight I had a sweeping left that I turned into way too early. If there was another car on our left side I would have totally taken it out. Jesus, I screwed that up.

Burt hardly said a word. We continued, then I was told to turn left again. I did a textbook left turn, and Burt smiled that gruff smile and said, "See? You redeemed yourself."

There were other hiccups, but nothing that bears mentioning here. Needless to say, I made it back to the yard intact. From there, I did a backing maneuver, uncoupled and suddenly we were done.

Burt handed my paperwork to the classroom instructor, I finished the remaining part of the classroom portion of the exam, and suddenly we were done. With everything.

Looking around, I saw there were still people who had not finished their trip plan.

I was handed my paperwork, given a big smile and handshake, then I was taken over to see my DBL. I'll talk more about that meeting later.

All that anxiety for nothing.

I said I was the 2nd person finished. When I saw my other classmate outside after we had both completed everything, I jokingly said, "What's up, driver?"

That's what trucker's call each other. Driver. It's basically said the same way, too, the first syllable, "dri" is said with an ascending inflection, then the "ver" is said either as a level tone, as if you're going to drop some wisdom on them, or continuing the ascending tone, as if you are wondering what in the hell they think they're doing. Driver.


"What's up, driver?" He laughed. But it's true, I guess. We're no longer students, we're drivers now. Even though it doesn't feel like we are.

I doubt I'll see anyone from our little class again. I exchanged numbers with all my CDL classmates, but I've only heard back from two. As a kid, you are thrown into a shared experience, like a classroom, and you make life long friendships. But somehow we don't make those same connections as adults. What's that Stephen King quote, "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?" Doesn't seem like it.

Well, guess that wraps it up for The Schneider Diaries.

I just want to thank everyone at TruckingTruth for allowing me to share all my experiences, and I'm grateful for all the positive feedback I've received here.

Keep the shiny side up and the tire side down, everyone. This is Code Red NV, signing off.

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

Day Fourteen: Safety Briefing, Trip Planning, Some Corporate Dude, Computer Based Training

The Phoenix Training Center is brand new. Brand new, like, some of the buildings weren't even given the OK by city building inspectors until last week. I haven't mentioned too much about all the complications and disruptions associated with us being the very first class to go through this center, because it's really not specific to Schneider. I've been with several different companies over the years who have moved facilities and it never goes smoothly. I didn't want to give the impression that this was a rocky start, because it's always a rocky start, regardless of the company.

But, it's been a rocky start.

From what I've been able to gleen from different people, Schneider is closing their Fontana Operating Center to build a whole new facility here in Phoenix. There has been a lot of shuffling of personnel, a lot of re-ordering of rank, and probably a lot of back room politics. Again, that wouldn't be anything specific to Schneider. But I believe we got a glimpse into that window today.

A couple of corporate big wigs came an spoke to us today. Hand over heart I couldn't tell you who they were or what their positions in the company was. But I definitely got the impression their presentations were as much about shoring up their authority on the base as it was about the dissemination of information.

First guy was from Texas, so that's what I'll call him. Texas, I think (don't quote me) was a base leader. Or something. Haven't really seen him before. Texas presented the Safety Briefing. This consisted of him saying things like "No drinking. If you are caught drinking in the 8 hours before you start your shift, pack up your belongings, you're fired. Schneider trucks don't do U-turns. If you are caught doing a U-turn, pack up your belongings, you're fired. You can't carry a weapon on your truck. If you are caught carrying a weapon on a Schneider truck, pack up your belongings, you're fired." It went on like this for almost a half hour.

After he left, our regular teacher said, "I've never really seen the Safety Briefing presented that way before". I think it even caught her off guard.

Later on, someone else came in who I know I've never seen before and had even less of a personality than Texas. He talked about per-diem pay, then some corporate-speak about the "value triangle" between customers, associates and the business, and ended explaining to us why Schneider is union free; "We are a pro-associate company, see, therefore we don't see the need for unions."


All this continues to remind me that this isn't just about me finding my footing in a new career. This is me as a cog removing myself from one wheel and volunteering to be put into another, insanely large, wheel. An entirely different wheel, actually.

In trucking, you talk about 10, 12 & 14 hour days like they are nothing. In fact, these are the expectations, rather than the exceptions. Working in an office, if you work one full hour over your normal eight hour day, you are considered a real go-getter. Or, you are working on something big. In trucking, if you only work nine hours from the start of your day to the finish, you are considered a slacker. It's insane. No wonder fatigue is such a big issue with drivers.

The freight must flow, to paraphrase Dune. That's the reason. Store shelves need to be stocked, construction sites need building materials, packages need to get there overnight. Transportation is twenty-four-seven in ways you and I can't even imagine. It's a battle against the clock, and I've signed up to serve on the front lines.

The day ended by watching some mind-numbingly tedious corporate videos. Mostly about HazMat. Some about harassment in the workplace ("If you even look at somebody wrong, or try to be funny in any way, pack up your belongings, you're fired" is what it should have said.) There are many other videos but I would rather repeatedly pound my head against a brick wall than try to remember what they were about.

Tomorrow is the big test. I'm worried that I'm not worried. Hopefully it will be fine. Hopefully.

I'll end with a funny story. Our classroom teacher shared with us an e-mail from the corporate office. It appears they are launching an investigation into which Schneider student ordered alcohol from the hotel's room service and then charged it back to the room. They charged their booze to the frickin' room!

This industry is full of chuckleheads, I kid you not. I wonder if the student will need any help packing up their belongings?

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

I stumbled on to this after searching for "best trucking school" and read it from beginning to end. I love reading about other people's experiences, especially when they give me insight into something I'm interesting in doing myself.

Great read! Thanks for posting.

Wow, thanks! I'm grateful for all the encouragement I get on this board!

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

The Schneider Diaries

Day Thirteen: Driving, Backing, Uncoupling & Coupling, Trip Planning

Back in the saddle again. We spent half of the day back in the trucks, the last practice we'll get before the "final exam" on Thursday. I can't tell you why I haven't been thinking about it, I usually obsess about tests and testing. This upcoming exam just isn't on my radar. Maybe because I'm thinking about other things.


All my upcoming firsts. My first truck. My first load. My first time backing into a really difficult dock. My first long journey. My first screw up. My first time getting lost. My first breakdown. My first emotional breakdown. My first time driving in snow. Ever.

I've never driven in snow. In my life. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I was 19 years old before I saw my first ice scraper. I was carpooling to college with a girl from Colorado. She had an ice scraper lying on her floorboard. I asked what it was. She looked at me like I was from Mars.

I'm not looking forward to driving in any kind of harsh weather. At all.

Obviously there is a huge difference in my driving from when I started here in Phoenix over two weeks ago. Today went like a lazy Sunday jaunt. The trailer was empty, the traffic was light. I'm still missing some downshifts, but most of it is, dare I say, becoming pretty natural.

I am aware of the dangers of being overconfident. Hopefully I won't let "becoming pretty natural" turn into "letting my guard down."

Arkansas is gone, he went back after the first week. I guess they only brought in extra trainers for the Grand Opening. Today I had a guy from the Salt Lake City Operating Center. Salt Lake was a complete opposite from Arkansas. Salt Lake knew how to give simple, clear, concise directions, he had really great insider tips on a few different things. He was laid back in a way that didn't make you feel like he was about to take the afternoon off. I dug Salt Lake, and wish I could have had him my first week.

If wishes were horses.....

I still don't know what's going to happen at the end of the week. Tomorrow is all day in the classroom again, and then the test. If and when we pass that, they will introduce us to our DBL's. More ridiculous Schneider corporate speak. DBL = Driver Business Leader. I mean, honestly.

Once we are passed off to our DBL's, they will let us know what the next step is. Will I be going home for the weekend? Will they give me a new truck right here and tell me to start driving?

I just don't know. Stay tuned.


Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

Code Red, I want you to know I'm following along! Thoroughly enjoy your account of your adventures.

Thank you so much, I appreciate that!

I hope that all this helps other people in some way. Even if it is just giving people a good read, lol

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

Day Twelve: Permit Books, Electronic Logging and Trip Planning

Nothing interesting happened today.

We were in the classroom all day. The syllabus listed was as exciting as it sounds. But it is information we need to know, so we knuckled down and made the best of it.

Last night a bunch of us hung out in the nearly empty hotel dining area swapping road stories, almost like old timers. I knew I was lucky to have Detroit, but I didn't know how bad it was out there. I got really lucky.

I was thinking about how much I missed when I was on the road. And how I didn't really miss it at all.


I used to be a news junkie. Waking up every morning, I would log on to the internet like our parents used to read their morning newspaper. I follow politics like most other people follow sports. On the road, Detroit sometimes listened to the old replays of Howard Stern broadcasts on his satellite radio. And that was about it. Mostly it was turned off because we were talking about driving. And when I hitched a ride back to civilization, I found out the world had continued to turn without me knowing about it.

And I was ok with that.

There's an old hymn that says, "And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." I wonder if that applies to trucking, too.

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

Training Week (Days Seven through Eleven) – Final

In total, I was in the truck for four days. I racked up around 1,980 miles in those days. On Friday, we were supposed to transport a load back to Reno, then I would get a hotel room and get a rental car for the trip back to Phoenix. However, for some unknown reason, Schneider didn’t want to pay the mileage from Reno, only from Salt Lake. And I didn’t want to drive back to SLC on Saturday only to make another drive from SLC to Phoenix in one day, Sunday, my one rest day. My 36 hour reset day. So, after we pulled into the yard Thursday night and did the post trip inspection and TIV*, I said “Goodbye” to Detroit, slept in the truck, packed up my things Friday morning and headed back to base.

Only four days. The Million Dollar Question: Am I ready to go solo? Honest answer. Maybe. I mean, I think four days was a perfect amount of time to be with Detroit, he was truly a fantastic trainer. The problem was his route. I wish I got in more city driving. I was I had more time to practice backing, and not be so rushed at the end of every day because we were struggling to get everything completed before our clocks ran out.

My mother told me if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

Ultimately, I think if I wait until I’m “ready”, then I’ll never get out there. I’m grateful for this experience. I’m grateful for all the wisdom Detroit dropped on me. I know I can do the individual tasks, hopefully I can figure out how to string them all together to make a pick up and delivery.

We’ll see.


*Trailer Integrity Verification – something the Guber’mint cooked up after 9/11 to make sure those sneaky terrorists weren’t trying to hide their dirty bombs underneath our unsuspecting, freedom loving trailers. I kid you not.

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

The Schneider Diaries

Training Week (Days Seven through Eleven) – Part Three

We’re on our last trip, from Sparks, NV back to SLC. I’m on the last upgrade of the last hill before we get to the low horizontals of the Salt Flats. My downshifting has improved over these past few days. Down to 51 mph, shift from 10th to 9th. Done.

We’re heavy, little over 77,000 lbs. Down to 41 mph, shift from 9th to 8th. Grinding, I suddenly can’t find the gear. Grinding again. We’re slowing faster now because we’re heavy. Try 8th one more time. Grinding. Try 7th. Grinding. Nothing is working.

In my head I’m envisioning the truck beginning to roll backwards down this grade and into oncoming traffic because I can’t get it out of neutral. Try anything. Nothing but grinding. Get in a ****ing gear. I try 6th. I’m in. God bless you 6th, you are a beauty. I love 6th gear.

We proceed up the grade even more slowly now, but at least we’re not rolling backwards.

I have a theory about trucking, it’s hours of boredom followed by moments of sheer terror.


I’ve lost 10 lbs since I’ve started this adventure. This week especially, we were running so hard that we barely had time to eat. I grabbed Subway a couple of times when we stopped in Winnemucca, NV. I’ve almost given up soda completely, drinking mostly water instead. On the road, I have chosen bananas and apples over truck stop food.


I’m slowly becoming accustomed to not eating, actually. Maybe I’ll turn into one of those Ascetics from ancient times, who would forsake worldly pleasures to pursue a more spiritual lifestyle. I will be like a trucking monk, the highway will be my desert, my truck my place for meditation.


Detroit said something really interesting, he said he believes there are two types of truckers, those that love to drive, and those that love money. If I can be brutally honest, I think I love driving. If I never make a six digit salary, then I’m ok with that.

I remember one guy in CDL school constantly drone on about how he was going to be a flatbedder because they made a few more pennies per mile. God speed, friend, you do that. Have fun tarping loads in 40 mph winds and rain, standing on top of uneven stacks of lumber or pipes. Knock yourself out, kid, I’ll wave as I drive past in my nice dry, warm truck.

I didn’t change careers to get rich, I changed careers because I was miserable, and a part of me died every morning I sat down at my computer. I’m not saying that I don’t want to work. I’m saying that I don’t want to kill myself chasing big money.

And small money is where I am. Schneider is good, don’t get me wrong, but don’t think I don’t realize I’m getting paid the trucking minimum wage here.

Which is totally fine. For now. It’s called paying your dues. People used to have to do that.


Friendly advice to car drivers from a newbie trucker: GET OFF YOUR ****ING CELL PHONES!

It’s an epidemic out there. I can’t count how many people are driving around looking at their phones when they should be looking at the road.

Oh, and here’s some friendly advice to other truck drivers from a newbie trucker: GET OFF YOUR ****ING CELL PHONES!



61 miles per hour. That’s how fast we were going for most of our trip. Speed limit on I-80 is mostly 75-80 mph. Over the week, I think I passed three vehicles. Big rigs passed me quicker than politicians on their way to a Wall Street fundraiser. Am I ok with being limited to 61 mph on the highway? You bet. I think right now if I was allowed to go any faster I would just kill myself.

61 is fine.

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

The Schneider Diaries

Training Week (Days Seven through Eleven) – Part Two

Monday morning was a rocky start. First, Detroit said he had a doctor’s appointment, so that set back our start time some. His truck was also in the shop that morning, so he needed to transfer his stuff from his truck to the truck we’d be using for the day. Soon after we started the swap, his truck was ready, so we waited for his truck to get out of the shop and onto the yard. In the middle of all this, we had started pre-trip procedures on the loner truck, which we chose to complete.

All of these effected our start time for the day, and through a domino effect had ramifications for the rest of the loads all week. They say time is money, I doubt there’s an industry where that holds more true than trucking.

Detroit runs an almost dedicated route, from Salt Lake City, Utah to Sparks, Nevada. Goes up one day. Comes back the next. Sweet gig, actually.

Eventually we got on the road to our first pick-up, an RC Willey trailer that should have been in Reno the day before. Starting late, Detroit knew we would be finishing late. He hoped to just be able to arrive in Reno, open our trailer doors, back into the dock and go to sleep, hoping that they would just let us do our 10 hour reset on the dock. The problem was that there was a lock on the back of our trailer that nobody seemed to have a key for. Therefore, we couldn’t just back in, we had to wait for the receivers to open (or break) the lock and then we could open the doors and back in.

Everything was going from rocky to downright craggy.

We hit the road. I was driving. Now, consider this for a moment. I first began to drive big trucks, what, less than two months ago? In my CDL school, I drove about an hour or so a day for two weeks. Rounded off, that’s about ten hours of driving time. Total. Here at my Schneider training, I got another 5 hours or so. Maybe. 15 hours total drive time.

Suddenly, I’m driving one leg of a journey that’s almost as long as my cumulative total of driving experience.

Again, Detroit was great. I had missed a few gears in town, he quickly identified what I was doing wrong and gave me some pointers. I also wasn’t looking in my mirrors nearly enough. And not paying attention to signs nearly enough. And my lane control was atrocious. We had a lot to work on for all those upcoming hours.


Interstate 80 Westbound. Flat through the Salt Flats, up and down through the mountains (well, sort of mountains). My training ground of North Las Vegas was complicated with traffic and insane pedestrians, but one thing it didn’t have was steep hills. Phoenix, too, is pretty flat. I can’t imagine approaching the kind of grades I drove on I-80 without any kind of coaching. Again, Detroit was right there with tips on when to apply my engine brakes, when to stab break, and pointing out what other drivers were doing wrong; “See that guy, he’s riding his brakes all the way downhill. Don’t do that.”

The miles, the hours, rolled past. As it got later and later, I could feel fatigue setting in. Not only was I used to driving in one hour intervals, I was also used to going to bed at 9:30 every night to be up and ready by 5:30 in the morning. 11:00 hit and I could feel that drowsy feeling, that forcing your eyelids open feeling. I wanted to push through, make a good impression for my trainer, but I also felt like crashing the truck because I fell asleep would make a bad impression. I confessed that I couldn’t continue driving and he needed to take over. He have me a look that said I probably should have confessed that 30 minutes earlier.

Know your limits. No load is worth your life. Or the lives of others.

After finishing our 10 hour “rest” at the shipper, which wasn’t restful at all, but nevermind, we were back on the road, picked up another trailer and headed back towards Salt Lake.

And that’s how most of the rest of the week went.

I’ll detail some specific instances and impressions in my next post.

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

The Schneider Diaries

Training Week (Days Seven through Eleven) – Part One

The guy from RC Willey pounded on our window at 6:00 AM sharp to let us know it was ok for us to back into the dock. It woke both of us up, but my trainer told me, “Go back to sleep.” I heard him climb into the driver’s seat and back the few feet needed to affix our trailer to their building. After the gentle thud of contact, he turned off the engine and went back to his bunk. I was still in my clothes I had worn the previous day. We had only been asleep for four hours.

This was my introduction to the real world of trucking.

Before I go any further, I need to make something crystal clear, my trainer* was amazing, and any critique I will be sharing will be more focused on the loads we were given during my training week, and maybe even some general critiques of trucking in general. We’ll see.


As I’m writing this, my recollections will also be a little less linear than my previous blog posts. If you want a more traditional, linear telling of the events of this past week, we started on Monday in Salt Lake City, Utah, ended up in Sparks, Nevada early Tuesday morning, drove back to SLC on Tuesday, drove back to Sparks on Wednesday, and drove back to SLC on Thursday. There, how’s that for linear storytelling.

This was a weird week, man, no getting around it. Hopefully writing down some of what happened will help me make sense of it.

First, let me introduce my trainer. He’s a huge fan of the Detroit Tigers, even though he’s originally from the South, so I’m just going to call him Detroit. Detroit decided to become a trainer because he kept meeting newbie Schneider truckers who hadn’t been taught the basics. Or, hadn’t been taught the basics well enough. His story is that after spending a lot of time complaining to other people about the state of training within Schneider, someone confronted him about it and asked, “Well, what are you doing about it?”

Like a sinner during a Sunday sermon, he was convicted.

For the correct procedures on how to do a pre-trip inspection, brake test, and for coupling and uncoupling of the trailer, Schneider has very informative, step-by-step handouts. We’ve been working on these daily for my first week in Phoenix. I was fully expecting to get out to the field and have my trainer say something like, “Let me explain how it’s done in the REAL world.” Instead, Monday morning, pretty much the first thing out of Detroit’s mouth was, “Get your pre-trip instructions, and we’re going to go over everything step-by-step.” I was overjoyed. All week he never once cut corners, never once had me do anything out of bounds, and for the hundreds and hundreds of questions I asked, he had good, clear answers.

I’ve been thinking about this, actually, how blessed I’ve been. On most trucking boards you can hear some horror stories about CDL schools and training programs, where students are given bad information, berated and belittled, or just left to fend for themselves. In my limited contact with those in the transportation industry, I’ve come across people who are knowledgeable and helpful, yes, but more importantly they seem genuinely interested in seeing me succeed. And that is an amazing foundation for any student to build on.

I think that will set the stage nicely for now. I expected this week to be written over multiple posts, and that looks like what is going to happen. It’s late, and I’m tired.


To be continued.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ *Schneider prefers to call their trainers “Training Engineers”, or TE’s for short. I think that is ridiculous corporate-speak and refuse to acknowledge such silly, unnecessary language.

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

The Schneider Diaries

1,836 miles over four days. Not bad for someone whose only been behind the wheel an average of 1 hour a day since he started driving.

I've blocked out some time Saturday night and Sunday for writing, hopefully I'll have a couple of blog posts coming up soon.

As always, everyone, thank you for your support!

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

Quick note from the road:

I've driven almost 900 miles in just two days, and I'll probably break 2,000 miles by end of Friday. Not too shabby for a rookie trucker.

I've also slept in my clothes, barely eaten anything, and I'm constantly covered in dirt and grime. Oh, and my laptop fell from the top of the storage in the truck, right onto the truck floor, but as you can see, it totally survived. This Acer is the best $80.00 I've spent.

G-Town is right, I probably won't get a blog post up until I finish this placement, so hopefully over the weekend. Take care, everyone!

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

Great post Red. sounds like it has been smooth sailing so far. don't forget about us guys wanting to hear about the road training coming up. Best of luck to you and be safe.

Thank you for that, I will try to post as much as I can from the road!

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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The Schneider Diaries

Day Five and Day Six:

Day Five (Saturday), was mostly spent in the classroom. Even more administration paperwork, some testing, and we were shown a video on how to operate the Qualcomm. Oops, I mean the MCP200. It was the single most boring training video ever made. I've spent most of my life doing office work for different corporations, I am a connoisseur of boring corporate videos. Trust me when I say that it was the more boring training video ever made. I don't say that lightly.

We were outside for demonstrations on how to move the tandems and the 5th wheel. Then we went over to play video games. I mean, work on the simulator.

At the very end we were handed even more packets of paperwork, Benefits packets, our fuel card, a booklet about tires and tire repair centers, and the packets for our upcoming week with our trainer, oops, Training Engineer. I actually have had to get a backpack to carry all the paperwork Schneider has unloaded on us these past few days. As I mentioned, my TE had already called me. We chatted for a bit, he wanted to know if I'm a smoker (not any more), what kind of music I like, and let me know we already have our first load lined up. I'll be meeting him Monday morning at the Schneider yard in Salt Lake City.

Saturday dragged on so long, all I wanted to go was to get on the road. Schneider had a hotel in SLC booked for me already, and had rented a car for the drive up. 10+ hours from Phoenix. But, because I'm from Vegas, I planned to just drive home Saturday night, spend the night in my own bed, then head up early Sunday morning.

Only a handful of us are heading out. Three guys are going to California, one all the way up to Stockton. That's a drag. Everyone else is meeting up in and around the Phoenix area.

After being released (finally!) and driven back to the hotel, I rushed to pack everything, caught a cab to the rental place (don't get me started on my adventures of calling a cab), breezed through check-in (thank you National!) and got to my car.

You know those National Rent-A-Car commercials where Patrick Warburton says, "Go ahead, choose any car on the lot"?

Oh yeah.


As I'm driving north on Interstate 17, with the sun setting on my left, watching the bright melding of a thousand desert colors dance over those ancient Arizona mesas, I thought, "What if I just took the safe route and stayed at my old job. Because it was safe. Because it was easy. Because it did provide me and my family with the basics, though not much more."

Looking back, I know the best things in my life have come when I've stepped out and took chances. That may sound like just another self-help cliché, and it might be. Doesn't mean it's not true.

I got home after 10pm. After 5+ hours of driving. I was exhausted. That was when I got another taste of the trucking lifestyle; home time.

Which, for me, meant a quick chat with my wife, made sure everything was still OK at the house, and with her, and then I collapsed into bed.

I woke up early, got a chance to reorganize my stuff, then did some light, quiet work while everyone was sleeping. Soon, everyone was up, I said "Good morning", then "Goodbye." I was back on the road. Home time.

Today was all about Interstate 15 northbound. And me not trying to get a ticket. Maybe I shouldn't confess this, but I have a bit of a lead foot. I only have two tickets on my record, both for exceeding the speed limit. Me driving that Mustang is like an alcoholic owning a liquor store.

It was by the very hand of God that I didn't incur any infraction on this drive. And not for lack of trying either, I counted at least a half dozen vehicles pulled over by Utah troopers.


Just a couple of quick thoughts from the drive. Utah is beautiful. I mean, I knew that, but I was constantly reminded on this day just how beautiful it is.

Second, I forgot how many steep hills and inclines Interstate 15 has. Fun in a car, it's probably a drag in a big rig. We'll see.

Lastly, my trip planning sucks. I thought I was doing great on time, until I remembered that SLC is on Mountain Time, and one hour ahead of Las Vegas. Better that mistake now, I guess.

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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Schneider Orientation - Charlotte, NC

Very cool, it looks like we are almost on the exact same track with Schneider, but I'm doing my orientation in Phoenix.

Keep up the great blog, and the great work

Posted:  5 years, 2 months ago

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Just got "my" truck.

Congrats, and well done!

I can't wait to get my own truck, it'll come soon

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