Comments By Ithel

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  • Ithel
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Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Heading to Dallas for Orientation

Merry Christmas to you, too. Thank you also for your extended diary. It's helped me to keep remembering the big picture. Stay safe.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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TMC CDL Program

Dec. 22nd and 23rd: The 22nd nearly finished me. The morning began great. I got to go out on the road again, this time one-on-one with a retired driver with 2.9 million safe miles under his belt. TMC has 4 or 5 people who ride out with learner's, rotating enough I'll probably have all of them at least once. This time my trailor had a load of concrete barriers. Unlike the previous day I wore sneakers instead of work boots and had a much better feel for the pedals. He asked what I wanted to work on and I said down-shifting. So he had me drive along a straight street with lots of intersections about 7 miles. Then we took some small country roads with rolling hills (hard to come by near Des Moines), followed by about 90 minutes of highway driving. I was out with him 3.5 hours before we returned for 11a.m. lunch.

The afternoon was hands-on load securement, and I very nearly walked out. The guy teaching this is exceptionally knowledgeable about the subject and I was glad to get going on this. Unfortunately, his pedagogy crosses well over the line from merely colorful to domineering and abusive. It is one thing to be foulin an attempt to establish rapport--it is another thing altogether to respond to a students' question on some particular with "Holy ship, batman! You didn't listen, you mother trucking sock pucker, get the sand out of your plussy, stop standing on your drick" etc etc.... while angrily showing how that thing is done. This was not just one out burst but quite literally the entire four hours we were with him. The set-up was actually very helpful: 4 trailors with 7 typical loads on them which we rotated through in groups of 4 untileveryone had taken down and resecured all 7 loads. But his demeanor was so extreme very few questions were raised after the first hour. This rubbed off on students, too, with some verbally berating others in their group. Many students were demoralized by this experience, myself included. I don't know how I managed to keep calm and focused on trying to learn this extremely critical material.

At supper that night I expressed doubt to a couple guys in my class about whether I was cut-out for this job, since I'd made so many mistakes that day. They were very encouraging, and we met together that night for a 2-hour study session.

Saturday morning we were back to finish they load stations we'd not completed the previous day. Hotel breakfast on Saturday isn't served until 6, and our bus left at 6--so no breakfast. We didn't finish the stations until 1:30--a long hard morning of physically challenging work with ears burning and stomachs growling. After a light lunch of packaged subs, we took the 77 question load securement test on computers. I missed one question because of a misclick. The instructor took us to the airport for rental cars, and I drove all night, arriving at home this morning at 5a.m. My family has been beautifully encouraging, and we will have a genuinely sweet Christmas together tomorrow. The day after I'll be driving back to Des Moines. I hope to have pre-trip memorized before I get there.

Happy Christmas all-stay safe out there.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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TMC CDL Program

Dec. 21: My last entry should have said 20th. They said yesterday we'd be driving today. I'd figured this would mean crawling around the parking lot--well I couldn't have been more wrong We did some brief pre-check conversation with the older instructor who will be working with us on that, then we were paired off and assigned to a truck. So the 8 of us went of in 4 trucks with 4 instructors. My instructor drove about 10 minutes and talked about the particulars of shifting. Then the other student took over, driving on 2-lane country roads between Des Moines and Altoona. The instructor had him work up to 8th, backdown to 3rd over and over. Eventually he had my partner park at a truck stop where we took a shortbreak. He asked if I wanted to take over right from there or wait for him to take us back to country roads. My first thought was to wait since it was a very busy lot and I wasn't sure I could even shift. But after the break, I heard myself saying I'd like to just give it a go. So my first moments behind the wheel were in the truck stop. I drove 90 minutes, and he had me drive back to the terminal through city traffic at the end--AND had me back in next to the parked trucks. I got into the spot between the lines but the trailor kicked out a bit near the end, so hot perfectly straight. But he said it was fine for now.

So.... THAT was exciting. The most difficult aspect of the driving itself for me was remembering to get the RPMs back up when downshifting. And I felt like I was starting to downshift in anticipation of stop signs about a quarter mile too soon.

After lunch we had an afternoon of classroom training on load securement. They showed some pretty sobering pictures of securements gone bad. Almost enough to make me wonder if I'm really wanting to take on such a heavy responsibility. But I'm still here.

Then late afternoon half the class went to do simulators and my half went back outside to do straightline backing. For this we were by ourselves in 3 parallel trucks (4th person rotating every 20 minutes or so). The cone path to back down was about 4 truck lengths long. I won't be winning any speed-backing competions but I didnt hit any cones the half dozen times I got to do it. After this we went to the simulator. They have 4 of these in a room. Don't expect these to approximate the real thing, but they do allowTMC to evaluate in a limited way how you deal with unexpected driving scenarios. Will you notice the pickup backing toward the road? Will you slowdown for the kids at the playground? Will you downshift for the steep descent just as it begins to snow? The value of these assessments Seems pretty limited to me for two reasons: first, the simulator controls may look like a truck's but they do not feel like one. Someone who could be an excellent and considerate driver in "real life" might not necessary perform well when looking at fairly splotchy graphics. Second (and this was me), after a minute of every-potential-hazard-will-in-fact-BE-a-hazard will make it so that nothing is unexpected.

Anyway, I get up at 5 again tomorrow so I need to sleep. Oddly, the last 3 mornings I've awakened about 10 minutes before my alarm.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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TMC CDL Program

Dec. 19: From 7 this morning until 6 tonight we were in class. I believe we've now caught up with all the items we signed off on Monday. We spent sometime plotting routes with our atlases. Starting today, from now on we keep paper logs so we can get in the habit of changing status. Because class went late their little cafe was closed, so no supper-- but I still have food in the room fridge.

Tomorrow the bus leaves the hotel at 6....the trainers have shifted the schedule a bit because our class is going to be 3 days shorter than usual....and we're finally getting out to the yard and in a truck. I have a lot more to write but I'm exhausted and have to be up early.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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TMC CDL Program

Dec. 19: Before I get too much further in this journal, I want to remind folks that this is a new situation for me, my emotions are mixed, and I can guarantee they are coloring my experiences. I'm quite sure my in....terpretation of what is going on around me will change as I begin to adjust to the circumstance and gain some distance from the anxiety. I thought about waiting a few weeks after the training to write the journal, but I guess I am hoping that expressing things real-time may be of use to someone else one day. Just please keepin mind that what you're getting here in this journal is subjective

Case in point: Is my instructor any less crude in his expressions today than yesterday? Maybe a touch. But I think I'm seeing someone trying to establish rapport with a bunch of guys who are probably more used to it than I am. So I ignore those bits when I must and laugh when I can.

Today's training was entirely classroom. And we've made good headway on those items we attested to yesterday. I am pleased. We had an excellent session on Hours of Service followed by a rather difficult test. A few questions were not covered in the session but could have been inferred from the discussion. We met a few other personnel and some familiar professionalism came back.

They are sending us home for Christmas, amazingly, on their dime. The downside is they aren't adding the three lost days to the end--it's just compressed.

The 8 of us getting CDL's have begun to call one another by name. - I.still feel overwhelmed-but as of today I am not feeling alone. The instructor even asked me to confirm a tax related question.

They also told us today we would be the last class NOT getting paid during the 3-week orientation period prior to the 5-week trainor period. So futureTMC trainees can look forward to that. They didn't say what that pay would be.

Thanks again for the encouraging words.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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TMC CDL Program

Dec 18: The day began waiting for a bus, 26 guys standing in a hotel entrance. I decided to wait outside. The training facility is a 15 minute ride away. The 8 of us getting CDL training went to a classroom for paperwork. Having spent the first half of my working life in academia and the second half as a selfemployed professional, it was a bit of shock to hear the instructor's initial interactions. For example: "I don't like people from that state. My ex-wife is from there and I hate that *****. " It was an eye-opening half hour--then we boarded the bus to go get physicals.

The physical went well even with 26 guys, very efficient, and a few hours later we were back to the lunch room and then class.

The first computer assignment was about 8 attestations of having received instruction or watched a presentation on a variety of things. None of which had been done. "Just sign them." I asked if we would be receiving these presentations later-"We've been doing this a long time. Just sign them." Well I signed--and I suppose I am trusting they come through. Even when they do, I think bending paperwork on day one gives the wrong impression of the corporate culture's attitude about rules.

We took three computer tests after this. One was a 60 question math test. The instructor seemed a bit more approachable and I felt less out of my element. I'm on the bus now for day 3

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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TMC CDL Program

Dec. 17th: TMC provided rental car arrangements, and I left my wife and daughter at 6am this morning, picked up two guys in St. Louis, and arrived herein Des Moines about 13 hours after departing We lost about an hour driving back to one guy's house for his wallet. Note to self: never be that guy.

One guy I picked up had just finished his five weeks with a trainer and was going to Des Moines to pick up his truck. The other had his CDL through a private school and was going for TMC's orientation. I've got a good 20 years on them but I'm clearly the square one newbie.

Tomorrow is an early start and a long, physically challenging day. We'll be doing a number of strength and agility tests, as well as actual physicals and drug testing. I'm out of shape and vaguely concerned I will be able to adequately perform the necessary tasks.

As I'm laying here about to sleep, pecking away at my phone, thoughts of my wife and daughter are hitting hard. So much depends on this going well. And if it goes well, its going to take significant effort to make sure that deep bond the three of us share isn't weakened.

I feel very much out of my element. What are you doing here, I keep asking. I've got very few other options, is the only answer so far.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Finally giving this a go

Just an update, no need to reply.

The reality of this has really come home to me. I've spent the better part of this week closing my office, packing boxes, moving furniture, shredding thousands of tax returns and cases of documentation, finishing up odd little house projects so my wife won't have to deal with them, and so on. I know closing my business is the right thing to do for many reasons independent of the decision to drive for a living, but I have to tell you it is really tough. Really struggling with feelings of failure, to be honest, as wrong-headed as that is.

Nevertheless, moving on. TMC is having me pick up a rental car in Lexington Sunday, drive to St. Louis to pick up two other people, and drive on to Des Moines. Amazingly, TMC is also sending us home for Christmas, then travelling back the day after. Here's hoping the agility tests go well.

Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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Finally giving this a go

I passed the permit tests today (100% on both combinations and air brakes, the only two I had to take to upgrade from Class B license to Class A permit apparently), thanks to your excellent prep material in High Road, Brett. I'll definitely be poring over the rest before I head to Iowa next week, as you suggested. I do plan to take the hazardous materials test, but that may have to wait a bit as I will be at the school before I can be scheduled.

One of the questions asked me to identify the angle at which glad hands are initially brought together. This was also in the High Road material, but I thought I would mention it actually showed up on a real test. I didn't know I knew the answer and didn't recall that it had been in the study guide, but since 90 degrees is the only one that stood out, apparently I learned it from High Road after all, heh.

In my county of KY (possibly statewide?) this test is administered with circle paper and a scantron. I've seen others mention their computerized tests automatically stop once you hit some minimum correct, but with paper you won't really have an option to skip a question and come back to it later.

I see the wisdom of what you suggest, Old School. Should I mention that I'm scheduled for TMC school when talking to other recruiters?

Thanks again for so generously sharing these study resources and for offering your insights. All this is very much appreciated.

Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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Finally giving this a go

I've been accepted in TMC's apprenticeship program and begin Dec. 18th. I have much to do to prepare---including closing and emptying the office in which I've lived for almost a decade. Because I have an active Class B CDL I only need to take the written test for Combinations and Air Brakes to have the Class A Permit, according to the TMC recruiter. I hope to have that done by this time next week.

My wife and daughter (16) are with me on this decision, but we are all apprehensive in our own way. For my own motivation, I've written a list of my business profit for every year on the back of a business card which I will carry with me. All I can say for these numbers is they show we have taken frugality to a whole new level.

TMC has graciously thrown down a rope. I am determined to climb it.

Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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The B Team is about ready to roll!

Congratulations to you both on passing your CDL tests. But congratulations also for 39 years of the intimate friendship known as marriage.

Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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Finally giving this a go

I came very close to closing my business about a year ago and getting into trucking, but the timing wasn't quite right. Some family circumstances have changed, and I'm ready to do this.

Many thanks to the experienced drivers on this board who have enabled me to think this through as clearly as possible from the outside. I'm not completely at peace, giving up as I am a profitable though unsustainable business, but I'm as close as I have ever been. I've discussed this with some trusted friends as well as my wife and daughter, and I think we're all on the same page now.

I've been talking with Mike, a recruiter at TMC. Their CDL classes are open to people from Kentucky, where I live. I had to submit copies of my tax returns going back to 2012, since I am self-employed. I'm waiting to hear from them now.

As I learn more, I'll post again. For now it's jumping into High Road and learning/relearning a lot of things so I can go to Iowa with my permit.

Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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How do I file a 1099?

You will give this friend a Form 1099 in January 2018. Like W-2 forms from employers, you need to have sent it to him by January 31st. You will fill out and file Form 1096 with the IRS (by February 28th) so that the IRS can match the 1099. Don't forget to include this amount on your own tax filing as a business expense. You can contact the IRS to have them send you a blank version of the Form 1096, unless you use tax software that includes the ability to e-file that form. (Generally, this is a form you can't just print off on blank paper and expect the IRS to accept. The 1096 form looks like this: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1096.pdf If you have your own business I'm sure you already are familiar with a 1099.

No penalties unless for some reason you miss those deadlines.

Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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Hotshot or Class A?

I hesitate to jump in here, as I have mostly lurked this past year and am not a driver, but as a small-business owner who advises other small-business owners at tax time, my advice is that going into business in this new path for you is a very bad idea. Owning a business is far more complicated than most people imagine it to be. Even from the outside I can see trucking has a tremendously steep learning curve that will require your concentration and diligence. Learn how it works and gain some experience before adding the complication of also learning how to run a business. It would be painful enough to find six months in that trucking is not as workable for you as you thought.....how much more painful if you also now had investments you cannot easily recover!

There are better ways to approach this, and this site has many resources to help you decide how to make the most of your opportunities.

My 2 cents.

Posted:  3 years, 6 months ago

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Thinking about Roehl

Given the additional weekly costs listed here for certain situations, I'd assume those are weekly premiums. But call them to make sure. http://www.roehl.jobs/roehljobs/media/sitecontent/Documents/2017-New-Employee-Benefits-Summary-Student-Driver.pdf

Posted:  3 years, 6 months ago

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Dedicated route possibility, for a beginner: how uncommon?

I realize that a smart business person would be able to turn my business into a commodity that could be sold, but I am not that person. The one thing that has allowed me even what success I have had is personal service. When someone calls me for help, it's me they get, not an intern or a seasonal temp. Aside from that, with the liabilities in the tax industry being so outsized compared to the compensation, I would be exceedingly reluctant to turn things over to a helper. I think the process of double-checking someone's work would take me longer, honestly, than simply doing it myself. I realize the tax chains do it differently, for that is where I started before setting out on my own a decade ago. I also have pretty deeply held philosophical objections about earning money off someone else's labor. Again, I realize that is an extreme minority outlook that few would agree with, but it is nevertheless a line I would not willingly cross. That's not necessarily a line that is crossed by a finder's fee, but it does give me pause.

Having said all that, I did finally reach someone at Online Transport today who was able to answer my questions. It is a no-touch situation, 7pm-7am four nights a week, with overtime pay. It can be any night. All that was a plus. But I asked about how long the trips were.... it turns out this is entirely warehouse to factory to warehouse, all within the same little city about five miles from home. So correct me if I'm wrong, but this sort of work would not even count as driving experience if somewhere down the road I applied for a different kind of trucking? That's my understanding from what I've read here on your forums. She also said she was surprised that anyone had proposed that particular driving account to me, as normally 6-month experience was required. She said there was no guarantee it would be available, as they had several other applicants already. Their training is once a month, and I've just missed it for this month. The next training begins Feb. 13th and lasts seven weeks, pushing this out to near the end of March.

Old School, your post was such a relief to me, honestly. The factors in play aren't precisely what you've described, but they come pretty close. The personal stress has never been higher, and if I could have sorted things out more quickly, my decision would be clear. But given the above, I feel I've backed myself into a corner so far as the current tax season is concerned. I'll just do everything I can to take care of my clients one more season then revisit my options in May. The writing is on the wall, as they say. But if I can get through this season, at least I can go into that transition with some cash on-hand.

I can't begin to say how much I have appreciated these thoughtful and genuinely helpful replies. Nothing was out of line, and I thank you very much. I wish I'd found this forum back in August rather than late November.

Posted:  3 years, 6 months ago

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Dedicated route possibility, for a beginner: how uncommon?

I just want to say thanks for all the thoughts you've taken the trouble to share. I tried to get more information today, but it was a different person who didn't know. As I typically begin my season mid-January, the clock has probably wound-down about as far as I dare.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Dedicated route possibility, for a beginner: how uncommon?

I'd been in conversation with a trucking company near me, Online Transport, about a dedicated run, home daily, at Toyota, in Georgetown/Lexington, KY. That position requires 6-months OTR experience. They haul Lexus parts. I was more or less resigned to slog through another tax season (I own a tax prep office) with the intent of pursuing a traditional OTR path in May, when the recruiter I spoke with asked how far I was from another town.... five miles away. "Well, we do have a dedicated route there that might fit, once you get your CDL through our training." Apparently, this is hauling plastics in the KY/TN/IN area, home nightly or near-nightly, paid on an hourly basis. The hourly rate he mentioned would represent an annual compensation roughly double the average annual profit of my business, plus medical benefits.

Being away from my 15yr old daughter and sweet wife weeks at a time has been, easily, the greatest barrier to my thinking about this sharp turn in career choice.

I feel I would be a fool not to take this risk, as I am uncertain the chance would be there in May. Obviously, though, many old and contradictory adages come to mind. Things like, it's always greener on the other side... And, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush... My wife, being a wiser and better woman than I have any right to expect, handed me her Bible today and said to read Proverbs 12. And I came across this: "Better to be a nobody and have a servant than to appear to be a somebody and have no food." I had to laugh, because that's how it feels right now. There's a certain pride in saying I own my business and have lived off my own labors and efforts and client-care for nine years....yet had to top off my credit card to get us through December/January.

I have agonized over this decision. Everything I've ever done in my life I've taken very seriously. I don't commit quickly, but once I do, I stick to it sometimes to a fault. In our family conversations on the matter, my daughter has laughed several times, observing, "And so the pendulum swings..." She and my wife are supportive no matter what I choose. They even gave me a very nice insulated coffee mug for Christmas to take on the road. I felt Monday that opening the office this season was the only intelligent choice. I've invested so much life into it, often way way outside my comfort zone. I genuinely care for my clients, most particularly for the score or so elderly shut-ins I make house-calls to. Everyone knows me as the tax guy, with all the unstated and probably untrue assumptions about my mental acuity. On the other hand, 1500 business-related phone calls a year has really worn this pretty intensely private person out. Monday night, I couldn't sleep, just heart pounding and crazed thoughts all night, to the extent I finally got up at 4 and sent Online the more detailed list of references they had requested. They've now emailed me and want to talk about setting up the training.

So here I am, planning to call either Online tomorrow morning to see how solid that offer is... or my tax software provider to purchase this year's $900 installment.

So my question is this: if I'm planning to take the driving plunge anyway (and thus would have to shut my office down next year for certain), is this an unusual enough opportunity that I'd be wise to jump on it now? Or are these sorts of dedicated, regional/local routes common enough that I am likely to come across another one if I wait? This one wasn't listed on their webpage, for instance.

Thanks again for any insights you might offer. Apologies again for over-sharing. I know at least a few of you have owned a business and might have an idea what's racing around in my head right now. And all of you have made pretty significant career turns to get where you are. So, yeah, give me something to be sleepless over tonight.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Online/Frontier Transport cdl training

According to their website, there is no tuition. http://www.driveforonline.com/jobs/Training/

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Living with an over the road trainer questions

I'd love to hear updates, if you're so inclined.

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