Comments By Larry K.

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  • Larry K.
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Posted:  2 years, 2 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Can I type from the passenger seat while moving?

7/10/17 11:30 Eastern

Since it's been ten days since my last update, let's find out! So we have now crossed the country five times and are about a third of the way on our sixth. In addition we've spent a great deal of time running loads around and throughout the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. My wife and I logged 7008 miles in one seven day stretch and are now two thirds of the way through our required training hours. Incidentally, we're currently on a training salary but had we have been on miles we would have been paid for 7930 miles that week simply because of the way in which the loads fell and were submitted! We expect to be going in for our upgrade testing in about ten days or so and anticpate passing and receiving our own truck without issue.

So what have we been doing the past ten days? Well, aside from laying down a ton of miles, we've enjoyed several trucking perks and are still having one hell of an adventure! We picked up a load of lettuce in Salinas, that put us at a gross weight of around 77,500, and hauled it to just outside Nashville, Tennessee. We then hauled frozen chicken back to Los Angeles. Then it was miscellaneous refrigerated items to Gordonsville, Virginia. That was followed by a couple short runs, one of which was a light load of Amazon products and the other was 44,409 lbs of magazines that were fresh off the press. We're now hauling fiber optic cabling of some sort from Georgia to Salt Lake City, Utah and are, at this very moment, about to cross the border from Illinois into St. Louis, Missouri. We'll be stopping in about fifteen minutes and I'll drive the night away.

We've stopped in Morristown, Tennessee and had a wonderful afternoon and evening with our trainers family in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains. We were able to stop in Huntersville, North Carolina and spend an evening with my wife's parents, who we hadn't seen in three years. Every time the truck stops it seems the folks around us are speaking with a different accent. We've gotten to peek behind the curtain of numerous industries, having seen the inside of massive Amazon distribution centers, huge printing operations, chicken processing facilities and refrigerated distribution centers.

That's all for now, time to drive!

Posted:  2 years, 2 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Things are happening fast now!

6/30/17 4:00 am local

Well, as I have to try and stay awake so as not to mess up my sleep schedule, it seems as good a time as any for an update. We're now sitting in Petaluma, California waiting till 8:00 am for the receiver to unload the frozen chicken we brought them. I'm blown away looking at the times on my own posts and realizing that I was sitting at a rail yard in Atlanta, Ga just 56 hours ago!

So, in that time, we left Atlanta with a load of carpeting that was headed for Salt Lake City. Somewhere outside of New Baden, Illinois we received word that we were going to have to perform a "re-power". We met another team at a truck stop and swapped our trailer full of carpets for their refrigerated trailer full of frozen chicken that was headed for Petaluma, California. Along this route from Atlanta to Petaluma we've: Discovered that Kentucky and southern Illinois are absolutely gorgeous (especially in the early morning hours). My wife dodged storms coming through Nebraska and then, in mid-Nebraska, I took over after dark and drove right through some major thunderstorms between there and Cheyenne, Wyoming. My wife got her first taste of a major downgrade between Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah. Played some slots and took showers in Sparks, Nevada. I took over driving right at sunset in Sparks and started my shift by driving Donner Pass, in the dark and through major construction, for the first time, as everyone slept. (Well, technically the trainer stayed awake as far as the weight station and agricultural check point before saying "You've got this. I trust you" and crashing out himself.)

By 1:00 pm local today we'll have come full circle. After we get this load unloaded we'll run to have the trailer washed/sanitized and then well be picking up a load of Foster Farms in, of all places, Salinas, California! We'll immediately take that load and head back to Tennessee.

It's been one crazy (and exhausting) week!

Posted:  2 years, 2 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Cornelius- Keep in mind my limited experience here, but from what I've seen the experienced drivers and trainers want to get out of the terminals as quickly as absolutely possible. For one thing it's a place you can get stuck for any number of reasons and, of course, if you're chilling at the terminal you're not getting miles and making money. Second, and you'll here this around the forum from the experienced guys, you have what they refer to as the "terminal rats". These are a select few individuals who've been sitting at the terminal for an unordinarily long time without a load and they want to do nothing but spread negativity and complain. So far, from the few we've met, if you talk to these individuals for a few minutes you won't be a danged bit surprised that they aren't at the top of the list with their fleet managers. Meanwhile you'll see seasoned drivers hit the terminal, run around like chickens with their heads cut off for a few hours, and then they're gone again. Our trainer has 18 years driving and 16 with our company. We barely had time to shower and get a load of laundry done before we were heading out on another load!

Posted:  2 years, 2 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

I'm very glad you're enjoying Cornelius!

Needless to say the adventure continues! We grabbed showers at the main terminal, did laundry, dropped off the truck we were delivering, swapped all of our personal stuff over to the trainers regular truck, and developed a deeper understanding as to why drivers hate going into terminals. We then immediately received a load assignment and took off. We are to pick up a trailer in Atlanta, Ga and then grab the load and head for Salt Lake City, Utah. As I'll be driving tonight I went to sleep. I awoke to the truck stopping over and over as my wife and trainer yelled out the window repeatedly attempting to get directions from people. I sat up to find myself in the middle of this MASSIVE rail yard here in Atlanta, Georgia attempting to find our trailer under an absolutely gorgeous sunset. The place is miles long and filled with thousands upon thousands of trailers. As nobody can find the damn thing we are still, at this very moment, driving through rows, upon rows, upon rows of trailers hunting for it as dispatch attempts to obtain more information as to it's actual location.

Posted:  2 years, 2 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Starting To Feel Like Truckers!

6/27/17

We finally got our truck out of the Freightliner dealership in Tucson around 1:00pm last Friday. Turned out to be a simple fix which required a $20 part, $500+ in labor and a total of two days worth of training time. At that time we requested a load and were given one at about 4:30 in the evening. We were dispatched to pick up a trailer in Phoenix and then proceed with it to to a Marshall's distribution center, also in Phoenix, where it would be a "high value" drop-and-hook. Delivery was to be made in Lakeland, Florida. Total drive time of around 44 hours.

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the Marshall's distribution center we discovered that they required a "release number" which did not correspond with any of the numbers provided by dispatch. We ended up parked just outside the distribution center swapping messages back and forth with nighttime dispatch all night as they attempted to find this required number. Long story short we finally got out of there with our load around 10:00am local on Saturday.

The next 44 hours (or so) we're spent driving across the desert in 110˚+ heat most of the way. The trainer has become VERY comfortable with my driving and devotes the majority of his time to my wife while sleeping through portions of my driving time. I've been doing the vast majority of night driving and typically begin my driving around 2:00am. I believe it was my first full night (days & times are really blending together and becoming a blur) in which I was coming into San Antonio, Texas. Had a blast navigating the rolling hills on the way in and a sense of victory after having navigated the interchanges and construction zones on the way through the city.

I checked off two new-to-me states on this run as we reached Alabama and eventually Florida. In Florida I began my shift shortly after reaching I-75 and drove down to Tampa and then took I-4 over to Lakeland to make the delivery. My wife and trainer woke up right as I arrived at the receiver. Shortly before reaching Lakeland we received a subsequent "high security" load which departed from Sarasota and was headed for Georgia. I drove us back to Tampa and proceeded to a truck stop in order to grab some much needed showers. I then drove us down to Sarasota to pick-up the load. My wife took over upon departure as you are not allowed to stop with a high security load until you're 200 miles from the shipper. I have to say that as I was making the deliveries and pick-ups in Florida I just kept contemplating how freaking crazy it was that I was essentially "cruising" Florida with an 18 wheeler. I hit numerous areas of heavy traffic, drove plenty of intercity streets and really nailed down my newly acquired skill of floating gears. (Which I can now do fairly smoothly all the way up or down!)

We spent the night last night at a truck stop in Georgia (another new-to-us state) as we had the delivery scheduled for this morning and had to stop at least 50 miles before the receiver due to it being a high security load. Temperature was a nice 83˚ in beautiful Georgia so we enjoyed a little mellow out of truck time around the truck stop.

We're now on our way to the main terminal in Tennessee (another new-to-us state) to drop this truck off and get our trainers regular truck. Should arrive in about an hour or so. This first couple runs (after the breakdown) have been awesome and we couldn't be happier so far with both the company and especially our trainer. As we were coming through Louisiana, a state my wife loves, and eventually the new-to-us states my wife actually uttered the words "they're gonna pay us to do this". We've learned a massive amount of things in the past few days, undergone a great deal of stress, and have been completely exhausted at times, but overall, I have to say we're having a lot of fun doing it! Hell of an adventure at this point!

Looking forward to seeing corporate and then finding out where our next destination will be!

Posted:  2 years, 2 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

So by this time my wife and I are thinking we are about out of there. Darkness had already fallen and I know that it is I who will be first to drive. We'd been up since about 5:00 in the morning but I was wired at the idea of finally getting to drive and was ready to go. It was then that we find out we'll be waiting 3-4 hours on the paperwork and are told we'd better try and get some sleep.

At about 1:30am we awaken to the truck moving. The trainer had gotten the paperwork and was already headed for the gate. He stopped on the way out so we could all use the bathroom and asked if one of us was ready to drive, to which I quickly volunteered with one request...COFFEE! We checked out and headed to a truck stop down the street for some much needed caffeine and then I took over. Like the truck we took our road test in, this truck has a much tighter shifting pattern than our old Volvo at school but, with a little grinding here and there, I got us out of there and onto the freeway without issue.

With a weight of a little over 66,000 the first thing I noticed was that driving a loaded truck really didn't feel any different from driving the empty truck in school. Within the first hour I was shifting the truck nice and smooth and thoroughly getting a kick out of the whole experience. I got my first experience pulling some hills on I-10 heading for Arizona and quickly got the hang of it. By the hour and a half mark my wife had already gone back to sleep and the trainer was complimenting me on my ability to handle the truck. Needless to say this is nothing like CDL testing! Out here it's your ability to handle the truck safely that counts, not a bunch of nit-picky BS! Shortly thereafter he tells me that, if I'm comfortable, he's gonna grab some shut eye and that all I have to do is say his name and he'll wake up (He wasn't kidding. He jumps up instantly if you so much as say his name or if a message comes across the Qualcomm). He explains the procedures for the weigh station at the Arizona border and proceeds to go to bed. I find myself driving across the desert, thoroughly loving life for another 45 minutes before my wife joins me in the passenger seat. We watch the sunrise while trucking across the desert until finally reaching Phoenix in morning rush hour. By this time I'm thoroughly comfortable with the truck and handled the traffic of Phoenix like a pro, if I do say so myself. I make it to Eloy, Arizona with about 5 minutes left on my clock before my mandatory 30 minute break. As nobody had slept much at this point, my wife was to take over from here.

We get fuel in Eloy and both my wife and I practice a few 45˚ alley docks (we're required to do a certain number throughout our training and they must be at different locations each time). Then my wife takes us out. I stay up for about an hour as the trainer rides shotgun and wait untill I see her driving comfortably, and enjoying herself, before finally deciding to go to sleep. About 20 miles outside of Wilcox, Arizona I awake to my wife saying "What the hell just happened". Like the trainer I instantly wake up the moment something is amiss. The truck had completely died at 65mph and she had to coast to stop along side the freeway. The truck then restarted and we made it another 10 miles before it happened again. We got it started again and made it to the truck stop in Wilcox where our trainer called breakdown.

Needless to say we were told we could not drive the truck and they would be sending another team to get the load. Once the team arrived they'd be sending a tow truck to pick us up and take us to Freightliner in Tucson. As it turned out the other team ran out of hours and didn't make it to us untill 2:00am this morning. The tow truck arrived around 7:00am and, after getting hooked up, we had a nice ride in a pretty sweet Peterbilt back into Tucson. (Did I mention it's about 110˚ outside during all this? Thankfully the truck would idle fine.) So we spent the entire day chilling at Freightliner only to be told that we'd need to get a hotel and they'd get to us in the morning tomorrow.

So here we are. At a hotel and anxious as hell to get back out there. On the bright side we probably missed that storm coming up out of the Gulf but at this point we have no idea what the plan is going to be. Hoping the truck is fixed right away in the morning and we'll get another load from someplace local and continue on towards Tennessee.

Posted:  2 years, 2 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

The Beginning Of Our On-The-Road Training

Your results may vary, but this is how it's going for us...(PS this will be a lengthy post)

So let me begin by saying that thus far this has been nothing like the training horror stories we've read about. We absolutely lucked out with a trainer who not only knows his stuff, but is a genuinely cool guy who is mellow, patient and all smiles. That being said, we haven't gotten off to the best of starts. Read on for the story.

Our trainer arrived at the terminal around noon this past Monday. We were told at that time to get our stuff together, check out of our hotel and take a company van to the terminal (they've been letting us personally drive the company vans). We arrive at the terminal to get the rundown regarding what the plan is going to be. The company has a number of trucks at the terminal in California that need to be transported back to the Tennessee terminal. These are trucks that are 1-2 years old and are being placed out of service (as we understand it they will be traded-in for new trucks). Shortly after arriving at the terminal we are told that we are waiting to be assigned one of these trucks and then will be assigned a load. In the meantime we got to meet our trainer as he was running around like a chicken with his head cut off getting everything squared away. He's a small, soft spoken, Hispanic gentlemen about our age who is literally all smiles. Our immediate impression was that we were gonna get along with this guy no problem.

A few hours later we are assigned our truck. It's a 2016 Freightliner 10spd with about 500k on it. To our eyes it looked brand new but by company standards it's done. Our first task was to get a new mattress in it and load up our stuff. As we were doing so the man who runs the terminal came out and was literally over the top about wanting to make sure we had everything we needed and made sure we knew we could come to him for anything. Seriously, it's crazy how well we're being treated to this point so far!

So after getting settled in we're waiting on a load. Several hours go by and we're told by our trainer that we'd likely be waiting till morning as the shipper he anticipated was closed on Mondays. Sure enough we ended up sleeping in the truck at the terminal that night with our trainer. My wife and I took the bottom bunk, which surprisingly turned out to be fine, and the trainer took the top. As it was in the high 90's just prior to the sun going down we idled all night. Slept fine and it wasn't nearly as awkward as we anticipated.

The next morning we receive our load assignment. We are told we are to pick up a refrigerated load in Colton, California at 8:00pm and will be delivering it to a Walmart in Brundidge, Alabama. My wife and I had pictured bob-tailing directly to Colton and picking up a loaded trailer to head out. As it turned out our trainer told us to grab showers and do any last minute items at noon as we'd be headed out by 1:00. We were excited (and nervous) to get going but honestly had no idea why we'd be leaving at 1:00 when Colton was just 35 or so miles away. My wife and I had been running around town in a rental car and were both pretty nervous about driving an unfamiliar truck through LA traffic on the way out of town. Most importantly my wife did not want to start out driving at night and therefore wanted to be first to drive so my shift would begin after dark. When we were getting ready to leave the trainer gave her the option of either driving out of the terminal or we could start driving when we got out of the city. Obviously she opted to let him take us out. SOOOO glad she did!!!

So it turns out we have to go pick-up a trailer at a location that in itself was a pain to get to in traffic. Upon arriving we discover that they had a little accident with the trailer and had ripped a door completely off it's hinges. Fortunately, they had several trailers and we were able to locate another empty. We inspected the trailer, reported the issue on the first trailer via the Qualcomm and learned how to pre-trip the refrigeration unit. Then we headed out to a Blue Beacon truck wash in downtown LA to have the trailer cleaned and sanitized. On the way there the trainer is laughing and telling us stories as my wife and I are sitting there bug-eyed as we watch him navigate through insane gridlocked traffic and take us to a truck wash located in the worst possible place we could imagine having to take an 18-wheeler. Seriously insane! The road in was lined on both sides with straight trucks leaving an alley down the center barely wide enough to accommodate the truck. You'd have to have really seen it, but it was nuts.

So finally we get the trailer washed out and head for Colton. We arrive at a HUGE refrigerated distribution center along with what looked like every trucker in the country. We first learn how to check through security and discover that this will be a drop-and-hook. We then navigate around the building passed what seemed like thousands of trucks and trailers and find a home for the trailer we brought. Then we go into the warehouse to check in. Upon going inside we find ourselves in what seemed like the worlds biggest freezer. Seriously it was the size of a Boeing plant! Both my wife and I were seriously impressed at seeing what it takes to bring food to the masses. We get our trailer and the trainer and I secure the load and then scale it. -continued-

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

About to embark upon the biggest hurdle

It's hard to believe that, after all the nerve-racking things we've been through, permit testing, medicals, first day driving a semi, all the incredibly stressful and chaotic DMV final testing, all the evaluations necessary to get hired...it was all leading up to today and the beginning of what seems universally considered to be "the hard part". Trainer should be here by noon and we may leave as early as this afternoon (possibly in the morning). Minimum of 5 weeks living in a truck with a complete stranger as he teaches us what this is really all about. Fortunately, we're both intelligent enough to know that, at this point, we know nothing! Our first run will be about 2000 miles to Tennessee. The experienced folks have all assured us that we'll want to quit within the first couple days (not sure that helped). Right now it's an odd mixture of excitement, anticipation and utter dread!

Incidentally, as soon as we received our trainers name I Googled him. A company article came up from 2013 in which he won his state truck driving championship and was sent on to represent the company at the national level. VERY glad to know we'll be with someone experienced who knows what they're doing!

Wish us luck! (No, seriously....wish us luck!)

As they say... "The only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude!"

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Company Orientation Day 4 (Yesterday)

Day four was less of an orientation and rather was centered around one thing. We are now officially hired! The morning was spent simply going over the last minute details of actually being employed with the company. We were issued our company ID numbers, assigned our comdata cards, assigned to a training team, a trainer and a fleet manager.

After that was finished we met with a wellness coach. This is simply an individual contracted with an outside company that assists drivers to stay healthy and meet their personal health goals while on the road. They also assist you in insuring that you'll pass your future DOT physicals. Incidentally, they took my blood pressure again to establish a base-line. As there was nothing riding on this blood pressure test there was no stressing over it and it came out ideal for my age.

DMV Fiasco (Again!!)

I'd love to say this day was nothing but celebration and high-fives for getting hired, unfortunately that was not the case. After orientation was over we headed to the DMV to take our doubles/triples and tanker endorsements. This DMV was packed and we waited a solid twenty minutes just to get to the check-in window. Here in California you must now prove residency and citizenship with multiple documents and, thinking ahead, we brought all of that with us. As we checked in the lady asked for these documents, as well as our CDL's, and looked everything over prior to even giving us a number. She even chuckled that we were on top of things and had clearly been through this before. My wife received the lower of the two numbers and, after about a thirty minute wait, she was called to a window and went to take her tests. Then I was called. My wife received her official license a couple days prior to leaving for orientation, unfortunately, mine did not arrive and therefore I'm still operating with the paper temporary one. Needless to say they would not allow me test until I receive the hard copy, thereby making this trip to the DMV pointless as it's a both-of-us or neither-of-us situation. (It would have been really nice if the lady at check-in had mentioned that as we'd have just left!)

My wife easily passed both her tests and returned to the window. Now at this point this would have been little more than an inconvenience, that is until she was informed that her hazmat had been dropped from her license!! Hazmat is critical for us, so this was not good! They were telling her that she'd have to re-take the hazmat test in order to have it added again. While she very likely would have passed, she hadn't even looked over the information since passing the first time and was absolutely distraught at the concept she may fail. As she was unwilling to even risk the possibility they initially were going to void her application for doubles/tripes and tankers and just drop her back to hazmat only so she could leave having what she came in with. Anyhow, this literally turned into tears being shed (she's been stressed as it is and didn't need this crap at this point). Ultimately they managed to wave the need for her to test and she finally walked out having hazmat, doubles/triples and tankers. Unfortunately, as they wouldn't allow me to test for tankers, it really has no benefit at this point. Upon returning to our company we were told that the DMV was incorrect to begin with and that she never should have been required to re-take hazmat since she passed and received it so recently. Gotta love the DMV!

So we're now just hanging out waiting on our trainer at this point. As he's currently on the other side of the country were waiting on a decision for one of three options. Either he'll drive here and pick us up, he'll fly here and we'll drive a local truck back to the main terminal or we'll fly to the main terminal and meet him. We're good with any of those options and simply waiting.

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Company Orientation Day 3

Not a great deal to report today. We reported for orientation at the same time as yesterday and continued with training videos. Today the videos were focused more upon route planning, safe driving practices and company apps which we will be utilizing. In the afternoon we continued going over how to fill out our paper logbooks and completing them for the days we have "worked" so far. We also spent a great deal of time in just general conversation and I have to say, again, everyone has been fantastic.

As it turns out we will have one more short day of orientation and will likely finish around noon tomorrow. While some individuals were informed they were hired today (primarily those coming in with experience) we were told that they should have our paperwork completed tomorrow morning and that we will receive our employee ID numbers and be officially employees at that time. As we will be training together as a husband/wife team we expect to get our trainer sometime next week. We could be wrong, but we both get the impression that there is a genuine effort being made to insure that they get us a good one. Fingers crossed that we are correct in that!

Do You Vape? We do!

So this is a side note item but something we were initially a bit concerned about. I think others may be as well. My wife and I quit smoking and switched to vaping in late 2009, before hardly anyone even knew what "vaping" was. Neither of us has touched a cigarette since. As such we were concerned that in order to have a trainer tolerant of vaping we'd have to subject ourselves to being with a smoker, which would have been really tough for my wife especially. Turns out that our concerns were completely unfounded. I've been amazed at how many experienced drivers have rolled into the terminal and are vaping rather than smoking. We informed our safety manager today that we do vape and, if we had to, we'd go with an out-of-truck smoker if it was necessary. He responded with a resounding "NO" and told us that as vapers we don't want to be in a truck full of smoke and ashes that would soak into everything we own, or even an out-of-truck smoker for that matter. Very understanding! It makes total sense to me that companies would prefer vaping, after all the same benefits it provides us are major benefits for the company. The vehicles don't stink, you're not burning everything, you don't have ashes and trash everywhere, etc. Anyhow, we're both very pleasantly surprised that this turned out to be a complete non-issue!

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Company Orientation Day 2

As stated in the last post, all the critical stuff was completed yesterday so today was far more relaxed. The morning began by meeting the shuttle at 7:50am for the twenty minute ride to the terminal. Upon arriving we sat down in the classroom, with coffee in hand this time as we couldn't have any yesterday, and began watching videos. After watching a couple hours of videos we watched a few more videos, then they threw in a couple more videos just for good measure! Lol! As far as the content they were more training related today rather than introductory in nature. They ranged from very informative pre-trip procedures to training on how to use the Qualcomm. Our company is primarily a team based, hazmat orientated, company. As such we spent the latter part of the afternoon going over the hazmat related aspects of the companies freight. I should probably mention for those just looking into the trucking industry that "hazmat" is often very innocuous, everyday items, such as batteries or lighters. We've always known that the real training would come after CDL school when we finally got on with a company. Today we spoke in detail regarding the numerous clients we may service with this company and one thing became abundantly clear...we have a LOT to learn in the months ahead aside from simply how to safely maneuver a truck!

A Hazmat Issue To Be Aware Of

So if you've read the entire thread you are aware of the issue we had regarding our school requesting we hold off on our doubles/triples and tanker endorsements. Initially we planned on banging them out anyhow but decided against it as we didn't want to chance any further delays in the testing process. Upon receiving our CDL's I e-mailed our company recruiter and explained that we had our hazmat but did not obtain the other endorsements due to the schools request. She explained that we could do them in the future when, and if, we wished. Well today we discovered that is NOT the case. Our company does not run tankers, however, we must have the tanker endorsement to run hazmat. In fact, if I understood correctly, everyone must have the tanker endorsement to run hazmat after this past April. (Someone experienced may be able to shed more light on that.) Anyhow, guess what we'll be doing Thursday? Yep, back to the DMV to hammer out a couple more endorsement tests. Shouldn't be any big deal, but it sucks.

Company Impression Thus Far

I have to say that so far we are both very pleased with our decision to come to this company. We've been treated well in terms of accommodations and they've been providing all meals. Nearly everyone we've met has been great, from the experienced drivers and fellow students to the terminal personnel. This particular terminal is not the main terminal for the company but it is clean in terms of the drivers lounge, laundry facilities, showers and classrooms. From our inexperienced perspective the equipment all appears new, clean and well maintained. From the end of the day yesterday and throughout today we've seen indications that the job is ours to lose and that we hold value as a husband/wife team with clean backgrounds. It was clear today that some individuals are already experiencing issues regarding background related items. At least one has been sent home and it appears two others may be having issues (We mind our own business but can't help but notice). We, on the other hand, brought a mound of paperwork, just to be on the safe side, and haven't even had to show any of it other than the basics. I'm guessing our background checks made it pretty cut and dry.

Incidentally, we were singled out today and it was pointed out that if we "really want to maximize our income" they "really like" husband/wife teams for their long distance dedicated refrigerated runs. We actually hope to go refrigerated as we've heard numerous times that the freight and miles are more consistent. We also happen to know that this company services a refrigerated client just 14 miles from our home, having numerous trucks there everytime we pass by. We're just not sure about the concept of running a dedicated route yet. We know that's likely where the money is, and we see the benefits of knowing our route like the back of our hands. We also want to see the entire country and gain the trucking experience from doing so though. In addition we have friends running a dedicated route with Schneider and, as the husband in this equation, I'm not sure I want to drop my wife directly into the exhausting situation of running out our clock every week with a 34 hour reset at home. I'm sure we'll learn more as our training progresses and determine what's right for us. In the meantime, and as I said before, it's nice to have options!

I'm sure that eventually someone will ask what company we're with and I'm also aware that some experienced folks may very likely be able to guess. I think that in order to have the freedom to convey our experience as it actually happens it's important that I don't make this a company specific thread and withhold that bit of information.

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

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A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Company Orientation Day 1

What a day! Phew! Not particularly difficult in the "hard work" sense but rather in the very stressful "if we're gonna get sent home, it'll likely happen today" sense. We woke up about 4:00am, after neither of us having slept particularly well, to meet the shuttle at 6:30. We arrived to discover that we had gotten lucky with an exceptionally small orientation class of seven people. The first few hours were filled with watching videos while simultaneously filling out mounds of paperwork. Periodically throughout this we'd be pulled out, one at a time, to perform our physical agility tests, blood pressure tests and drug tests. Paperwork consisted of everything from benefit enrollments to sexual harassment policies. The videos ranged from company introductory videos to comdata videos. Unfortunately, very little from the videos stuck as we were doing paperwork and being pulled out of the room as they were playing. After all the morning activities were completed we had a short, 10 minute, drive test. The final task, performed at the end of the day, was to complete two drives on the simulator.

Physical Agility Test & Blood Pressure

I had watched videos on the physical agility test and really wasn't concerned about it for either of us. As it turned out it was a cake walk. You're taken into the terminal weight room and you begin by having your blood pressure taken. THIS I was worried about simply because I stress and my blood pressure can spike to borderline levels. Turned out it was 120/89, or right about there. They then have you doing ten squats in which you must place your hands together and touch the floor each time. Afterwards they check your heart rate. Then you lift a milk crate filled with 30lbs off a knee high bench and must turn 90˚, squat until it touches the floor, lift it again, turn 90˚ back to the bench and set it down. You repeat this three times and then they take your heart rate again. They then place an additional 20lbs in the crate, for a total of 50lbs, and you repeat the same process. After that they have a diamond plated steel bench designed to simulate the rear of a trailer. You must step up on the lower bar, then kneel up onto the deck, then place one foot flat on the deck in front of you. You then reverse the process to get down and they take your heart rate. You are then taken to a pull bar, which is a bar tied at both ends which attaches to a scale mounted on the wall. You first must pull the bar and I believe the target number was 90lbs. Then you push the bar for 75lbs. (The weight may be backwards there but that's what I believe they said.) They then take your heart rate again. And that's it! All done! (Incidentally my wife and I are in our early forties and are each packing 30 more pounds than we should be. Still not an issue.)

Drug Test

Pee in a cup, then initial it.

Drive Test

To my wife's credit she jumped at the chance to be the first one in the truck. I nervously watched as she drove out and returned about ten minutes later. Passed! A couple guys waiting on trainers told me as she left that it was easy and really just amounted to going around the block. I was however warned that there was one turn where everyone clips a ditch. When my wife returned I went out to meet the examiner (I guess that's what you'd call him but we later discovered he runs the whole show here). As I met my wife she told me she had passed, but warned me that she got dinged for taking the second turn to wide (which I thought was odd). She also informed me that the truck was far different from any we'd driven, the gears were much tighter and the layout was different. I made a mental note and headed out. As I got in the truck it was clear that she was correct. It will be great driving these trucks in the long run but there was zero time to get to know it and it was far different from our old Volvo at school. I approached the second turn (all right turns) and remembered to watch taking it to too wide. Bad advice! I kept it tight and barely, and I mean barely, hung the outside of my tire over the ditch. Needles to say I got another chance and passed just fine. Turns out the issue was that my wife held it in the left lane too long before getting over. That's what she was dinged for, not "taking it to wide". Anyhow, we passed!

Simulator!

This was a trip as we'd never had access to a simulator at our school! There were two drives, the first being a super easy simulator introduction. The second drive is what I'll call the "the roads are packed and EVERYONE is a freaking a@&hole" test!!! It was insane! Over the course of a few simulated miles you have people that won't let you merge, idiots running out into the freeway, a semi on the opposing side of the freeway that crashes and explodes making you think someone hit your truck, an ambulance parked on the shoulder that veers out in front of you to respond to the crashed truck, cars cutting in front of you, people changing tires half in the road, rain, thunder, lightning and ice. It was freaking nuts and felt like we were playing Grand Theft Auto - Trucking Edition!!! My wife scored a 94% and I scored 93%. Both generous scores if you ask me, and yes, she beat me again!

We're not supposed to know if we're hired till Wednesday. That being said, we literally passed everything critical today so, barring something completely unforeseen, it's looking good.

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Pre-Orientation Update

Well, we're here and all checked in at the motel for orientation. Gotta say that at this point we're both just sitting here thinking how weird it is to finally be at this stage. The hotel they put us up in is a perfectly acceptable basic travelers motel. Room is clean & comfortable, a/c works and the internet is free and faster than what were used to on our boat. The whole experience is oddly reminiscent of my being shipped off to New Orleans for the diving industry, except that this time it's me and my wife rather than me and a dozen other guys stressing out over what's going to happen over the next few days. My wife did get a kick out of counting all the female truckers we passed going over the Grapevine on the way here. No less than half a dozen or so counted just on the Grapevine itself.

Our recruiter had told us that, upon arriving at the hotel, the front desk would give us a packet of paperwork to fill out and that we should e-mail her to confirm our check-in. In fact we were told that if we could arrive early we'd be able to get the packet filled out and be one step ahead for orientation. Unfortunately the front desk had no packet for us but instead just a "welcome" letter telling us to meet the shuttle at 6:30am tomorrow and listing what we'd need to bring. I then e-mailed our recruiter from the room, as requested, and immediately received an auto-response stating she'd be out of the office till 6/19. and provided the e-mail of another recruiter who'd assist individuals seeking assistance for orientations beginning 6/12. Apparently she failed to mention to us this past week that she would be gone the week of our orientation. Not to worry, I fully expected the recruiter to drop us like a hot potato the moment we arrived for orientation. Of course, we also don't actually need her for anything at the moment so I'll think positive and just assume that if we need something the other gentleman will handle it.

Anyhow, orientation will last three days and I'll post a "what we did today" in the evenings if time permits. Obviously this is a critical stage so we'll keep our fingers crossed that all goes well and take it one day at a time.

Update to the update....lol

Just prior to hitting the "submit" button the room phone rang, A company representative called us down to meet in the lobby and went over the details of orientation. Nice young lady. So far it seems like they've got it together!

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

First off let me start with a big thank you from both of us for all the congratulatory comments. Much appreciated!

Update - June 6th

As today was supposed to be the day in which we were to depart for tomorrow's orientation, I thought I'd post an update as to the current status. This, again, is simply so that those who wish to embark upon this journey in the future can see how it actually goes down, or at least can potentially go down.

Initially we were supposed to receive our hotel confirmations from our company on Monday of this week however, we were called Saturday mid-day and informed that the Wednesday (6/7) orientation at the California terminal was, unfortunately, full. As such we were given three potential alternatives and were given thirty minutes to discuss them prior to having to call back and confirm. We could leave Sunday morning and attend orientation beginning this Monday, we could wait till the following Monday (6/12) to attend, or the company would immediately book us plane tickets out of San Francisco to fly us directly to the Tennessee terminal for a Wednesday orientation. I was actually rather impressed by that last option. I wasn't even aware companies would be willing to spring for last minute plane tickets as most of the stories I've read involve Greyhound tickets, even over great distances. We've sent the company several documents and, supposedly, they have actually conducted all of our background checks so at this time I'm choosing to believe it's a sign that we are highly desirable as potential employees. (Probably not the case, but it sounds good!)

The first option involved departing less than 24hrs from being notified and posed numerous issues. We had a rental car booked (no desire to ride Greyhound if it can be avoided) and we'd have to reschedule, on the weekend, and for the next day (a Sunday). We also have arrangements secured for our dog to be taken care of while we complete company training and had no ability to positively rearrange that in thirty minutes.

The offer to fly out, while appreciated, involved having to get someone to give us a ride to San Francisco International Airport, which is an hour and a half away, on a Tuesday and during work hours. Again, not something we could positively arrange and confirm within thirty minutes. I'll also be honest in that my wife and I like to have our bases covered. We're aware from the stories of others that orientation is NOT a guarantee of employment and that individuals can be sent home for any one of numerous reasons. Often times we hear that people are left high-and-dry when this occurs and stuck trying to find a way home on their own. If this should happen to one or both of us, we'd rather be in Southern California with a rental car than in Tennessee needing to pay for a return plane ticket to California on a last minute booking!

Ultimately we selected the option of going next Monday. We'll depart Sunday the 11th and begin orientation Monday the 12th. And to think, I was under the impression that all the hurry-up-and-wait stuff wasn't going to start until we began running freight!

Interesting side note:

Upon going into our school to pick up our diplomas the office lady confided in us and told us a story which explains the headaches we experienced with testing at our commercial DMV. I immediately had to come home and Google it for myself. Apparently, and from what the office lady told us, this DMV is still under a major crackdown as it is embroiled in an ongoing investigation due to one of these false CDL's being issued to an individual who got into an accident resulting in multiple fatalities. My wife is absolutely convinced that they had me pegged as being undercover! Lol! (Who knows, but I wouldn't doubt it.)

See for yourself: https://calcoastnews.com/2015/08/salinas-dmv-employee-traded-drivers-licenses-for-bribes/

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

First major hurdle down! CDL's obtained!

My wife's retest was scheduled for 10:15 this morning and, by absolutely pure luck, the owner of the school was able to catch a cancellation and get me into the time slot immediately following hers. We both passed without any issue at all this time and literally did so back-to-back! There were a few interesting tidbits regarding some issues with our truck, both the trucks we had in for testing in fact, but at this point I'm just gonna leave this update with a big "WE PASSED!" and enjoy the rest of this holiday weekend!

We spoke to our company yesterday and, making the assumption we'd both pass today, they scheduled our orientation date. We're gonna take a week to decompress from phase one and square a few personal things away in preparation for being gone. We'll then be leaving on June 6th and will begin our three day company orientation on the 7th. After that we can start tackling the next major hurdle of company training!

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Brett- Thank you, and a special thanks for TruckingTruth as this site has been invaluable. Not to worry, we have absolutely no intentions of giving up and will keep playing this game till we come out on top. I'm sure we have countless challenges ahead however, I'd like to believe that after this we'll be dealing with individuals who have some vested interest in the driver. I know our future company trainers get bonuses if we pass our upgrade and can't imagine companies want to waste time and money by deliberately screwing with people. (I could be completely wrong about that, we'll see.) The problem is the DMV examiners could care less and simply go sit in their cars, in their little shack, or walk across the street to 7-11 and wait a couple hours for the next student if they fail someone quickly. Incidentally, and this may be typical but came as shock to me, our school has been dealing with these examiners for quite some time. Of the five typical examiners we are told that only one has a CDL themselves and has ever driven truck, three have admitted they can't even drive stick! They're simply there to insure you follow their checklist as they interpret it. That blew me away as my examiner for my pilots license had 30 years in the air, many of my instructors and examiners in diving school were ex-navy seals and all had numerous years in the industry. Of course the big issue in all this, and the reason for my venting, is not simply about having to retest but the fact that when they pull some trivial junk like this it can take up to a month for that next opportunity. The vast majority of these students are currently unemployed...so it's a big deal to those of us just looking to get back to work!

Cornelius- Very glad you're enjoying! Hopefully we'll have something beyond the training to share sometime soon.

G-Town- Exactly! It is my understanding that the compressor/governor low pressure cut-in is conducted to insure that the compressor/governor will cut-in properly and before pressure drops to an unsafe level (100psi by the book). That's it as far as I'm aware (and please correct me if I'm wrong). I received a "postponement" rather than a fail because this examiner and I talked in detail and he is absolutely, 100%, well aware that I understand this system...I just didn't perform it the way he wanted me to. As I know that some of the examiners will auto-fail you if you get too close to 100psi, especially this particular one, my wording is designed to absolutely insure there's no chance of that and I've practiced it a thousand times. Specifically I say, "I am now going to perform my compressor and governor cut-in test. My compressor and governor must cut-in at NO LESS THAN 100psi. In this truck I know that my compressor and governor will cut-in at 105 and therefore I am going to depress the service brake until I reach 104". I then depress the brake until I reach 104 and wait the prescribed 7-8 seconds until I see the needle rising and say, "my needle began rising at 104 and therefore I know my compressor and governor are cutting in properly". I can not possibly understand how that can be construed as a failure in any way as I've literally made sure to cover all bases. The compressor/governor are in fact cutting in above 100psi, I've identified where it does cut-in, and I've avoided any possibility of being accused of dropping below 100.

Side note: The owner of the school thinks he can get me into a testing spot a week from this Saturday. He says he'll know by next Tuesday. We'll see, fingers crossed.

Posted:  2 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

So here's the latest...

My wife finally had her first test yesterday and was assigned an examiner we had never seen before. As it turns out this female examiner was filling in from a different DMV location. My wife absolutely loved the lady and was thrilled that this examiner was so willing to be patient with her as she's VERY nervous. She passed her in-cab without issue (we do it PRECISELY the same way as we practice together every day), she then passed her exterior pre-trip scoring a 96 (this examiner actually told her the score she received). She then moved onto skills and performed her straight-line flawlessly and the offset backing equally as flawlessly. At this point she was assigned to do a parallel park to the drivers side. Believe it or not, this is one of my wife's best maneuvers. She had to use a go-around but then pulled it off without a hitch. At this point she's pretty confident she's got this in the bag, probably too confident, as she goes out driving. Upon leaving the yard she drags the trailer over the curb a bit as she's leaving. Several instructors watching say "Ooh! That's an auto-fail" but the examiner tells my wife it's ok and they keep going. As onlookers, we wait to see if she comes back immediately as if she doesn't we know the examiner let her off. Sure enough she does not return. Twenty minutes later she returns but is not coming from the prescribed route and, of course, we all know that's not good. Along the course there is an extremely tight turn out by an airport. The whole point to this part of the course is to insure you do not clip the curb. Unfortunately during my wife's drive there were several police officers and cars parked along this road, making it nearly impossible and she clipped the curb. The examiner told my wife that she recognized the added difficulty but unfortunately could not giver her a second pass on this one. All said and done my wife was thrilled as she made it all the way through to the driving portion and will simply have to repeat that and the in cab. We go into the DMV afterwards and she is assigned a re-test date of this Saturday.

Now for me...

Some prelude here. As my wife was waiting for her examiner the same lady was busy finishing up another guys test. We watched as she set out for the drive with this middle-aged Hispanic man. Upon returning the guy pulls right into the crosswalk to wait for traffic, without even attempting to stop prior to it. He's squarely stopped with the crosswalk bisecting the middle of the truck and waits for 1-2 minutes there for traffic. (See my previous posts but this is well known as being an automatic fail...ALWAYS). Every instructor, three or more, waiting say's "Oh man, auto-fail". Finally the guy comes walking across the street and my instructor asks "So you failed on the last stop?", to which the guy smiles and replies "No, I passed!". WTF???

Now here's the deal guys, I understand that reading something on the net you must assume it's just some shmuck griping. So all I can say is this. I attended the Divers Institute of Technology for an eight month course in commercial diving including numerous certifications. I was class president and graduated second in my class, being beat by the number one guy by 1/10th of a percent. Years ago I took a multi-week automotive finance school and was ranked #1 in my class. I hold a pilots license. I'm not an idiot! I do my homework and I study! In CDL school it is others who ask me for help!

So today I get my test. I simply need to perform in-cab and do the driving. I proceed to perform my in-cab with a known examiner and do so PRECISELY how I passed it before. PRECISELY how my wife did so yesterday and passed. At the end the guy says "would you perform your low pressure cut-in again". Uh, oh! This is the exact examiner who has failed numerous students on the low pressure for taking it slightly below 100 psi (which all claim they did not do). In the truck we are in you have to be dang careful as one depression of the service brake takes you to 106 and the compressor will not kick in, but two will take you to 95 or even 90. He has told numerous students it is not necessary to drop all the way to 100psi if you know it will cut in at 104-105. I gingerly depress the brake to 104 and the needle begins rising EXACTLY as I've passed previously. He tells me I'm saying everything right but that is not how the test should be performed and he expects a full brake depression and if it doesn't cut-in a second full brake depression. This would DEFINITELY drop the pressure below 100psi in this truck! So he doesn't fail me but gives me a "postponement". I go into the DMV for a reschedule and they tell me the SOONEST possible retest date is June 24th!!! These freaking people are bound and determined to put us on welfare and we have a company waiting on us!

One thing is becoming abundantly clear to those of us watching, it is far less about whether or not you know what you're doing and far more of a pre-planned "I'm gonna make this one quick". Perhaps because they don't want their breakfast getting cold, perhaps because of the color of the students skin! (In my observance it appears both are equally as likely on any given day!)

This is getting ludicrous! At this point I'm starting to check the back of my pants to make sure nobody tagged me with a pro-Trump bumper sticker!

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

Could I make money as an owner op with my wife as my co-driver?

Since you guys are on the topic. My wife and I have a decade of running our own company and may consider going O/O at some point. That being said, we've vowed not to even consider leasing or purchasing until we have sufficient industry experience to fully understand what we're getting into. My question is: Is it commonplace for companies to try to pressure new employees into leasing? Is it something where you end up getting punished on miles/loads if you don't eventually lease?

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

No problem Jim.

So no testing for me today as it looks like the afternoon guy is gonna make it for the test. No idea when I'll be testing and, for all I know at this point, I'll just be hanging out watching my wife train until the currently scheduled date of the 24th. Hopefully I can catch a cancellation and get this thing wrapped up.

For those wondering how my wife is doing...

I dropped her off early this morning so she could drive the truck to Salinas for this mornings testing. This is roughly a 50 mile round trip which involves rural roads, intercity areas and freeway. Typically a different route is taken for each direction and usually they get to Salinas early to drive all over the industrial areas. We also had some pretty gusty winds this morning, hitting at around 35mph at some points. Upon returning the instructor said she's doing great and is "out-driving us all".

Posted:  2 years, 4 months ago

View Topic:

A Husband and Wife Trucking Journey

Jim: I'll need to do the in-cab and the drive only. My exterior walk-around and skills are all complete and won't need to be repeated. I'm also told that it will not be necessary to go over gauges or equipment during the in-cab on this next one. Just the basic compressor cut-out, applied pressure, low-pressure light, spring brakes, compressor cut-in, tractor brakes, trailer brakes and service brake tests...then I'll drive.

Incidentally, I'm sitting here right now waiting for a call to see if I'm taking the spot of a guy who may not make his 1:00pm test time today. Aside from that I spent three hours yesterday (two separate attempts) trying to get an earlier test date and they have NOTHING for anybody prior to the 24th! (They were swapping me with a guy on Monday but, while performing the swap, they released the guys test time in the computer and it was immediately booked by someone else!)

Taxman: Thank you for the best wishes. Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for you regarding the clutch issue. I'm not completely void of mechanical knowledge but know little specifically about big-rigs. It was just reported to me that the clutch is functioning better right now and will be replaced completely this coming week. I hope so if I end up testing today as I haven't driven it since the last test!

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