Comments By Blue Zombie Trucker

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Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Sort of a crazy day. There was a problem with the address on a load we were supposed to deliver today so we lost about half a day (or more).

We were supposed to take a load to Denver after the drop this afternoon but had to decline that one due to the scheduling getting all hosed up.

We really are on safety hold now for the tractor needing service, so once again it's all up in the air.

My takeaway from today:

1- Don't take any of it personal. It's not personal. It's just business.

2- Smile and laugh. It helps.

3- Remember that the foul up is ruining the day for all those other people too: the receiver, the driver leader... everyone's day just got ruined, not just your day. Everyone's day just got ruined.

4- Be flexible. Be willing. Be cooperative. It will be appreciated.

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Cattletsburg, KY. We still don't have a b- service nor a windshield replacement solution.

Our drop in Jessup, MD went well. Very tight area for the pickup but it went well.

I drove about 8 hours after the pickup; from Jessup to Cattlettsburg, KY. Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are very pretty. Lots of green rolling hills and mountains. And no forest fires!

It's sort of challenging spending so much time with another person in such a small space. I really don't see how mentors do it, time and again, student after student.

But I'm very thankful that they do.

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Well we ran across Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and to Columbus. I slept through Iowa. Sorry, Iowa. These other states are pretty and green. LOTS of cows and corn.

When we got to the Columbus terminal it was a little weird. One computer showed us in safety shutdown status due to needing a b service (50,000 mile) on the tractor, but another system said no, good to go. We lost an hour or so getting it figured out.

Bottom line: we are headed for Maryland and I'm out of hours! So I get my first 34 hour restart. I'm sure my mentor did this on purpose so I'd have an awesome paycheck next week.

I love this job. There's so much to learn! I'm going to come clean: I thought I was pretty hot **** out of the academy and feigning humility. That lasted about 5 minutes until I watched my mentor do a angle back in traffic like the pro that he is. That was day one before I was even on duty, and it made me realize what a small fish I really am.

Anyhow, he's been very patient. I did my best back last night at a pretty freaking busy truckstop and it went well. A few pullups but no crunching metal or fiberglass and our rig is straight and almost centered in the hole. I'll take it.

And... truckers are awesome people.

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Thought this might put some perspective on your stone bruises...Gone a fowl...turkey for Easter

Just so you know...up to a thousands people read your diary every day...keep up the good work.

Um. Wow! Glad you only got very minor injuries, G-Town!

And yes... you can do everything right, and still, when you least expect it!

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Long haul across Wisconsin. Lots of rain. I think we're near Kasonga (?) It's very green and no smoke from forest fires!

Got a fleet message saying it's snowing in Montana. As in: at home!

I reached a milestone: 50 hours behind the wheel. My mentor says they'll try to push us into super solo status now, meaning we'll have to start really pushing it.

We're not sure what's going to happen with the tractor v-service and windshield replacement. We're going to push for the Columbus terminal tomorrow to try to get them done, but it's likely to cost us a couple days downtime.

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

You'd be surprised by how many people read this stuff.

I'm glad to hear you're enjoying Swift and seem to have gotten lucky on the trainer.. I did too at my company.

Yeah, terminal rats are everywhere lol. Avoid them like the plague and you'll do great. RE: Swift. You could do a heck of a lot worse. That's what an experienced O/O told me about my own company right before I left for Iowa.

I firmly believe every company is exactly what you make of it. Embrace it, work hard and be justly rewarded. Never look back because the grass is seldom greener elsewhere.

Congratulations. Keep us posted on your adventures.

Thanks Susan.

I know Swift trucks are slow, we get passed constantly. But... slow == SAFE.

First windshield casualty already. A sidedump dropped a golf ball size rock south of Havre, MT and it got us just left of center leaving a star the size of a half dollar. Then less than 5 miles on, another one. My mentor tells me this windshield is less than 2 weeks old.

Hot showers again tonight in Bismarck, ND. I never thought a hour shower could feel so wonderful!

A near miss: some clown on a car nearly clipped my left front after passing me. I guess big white Kenworths are hard to see from 15 feet away?

The backing is definitely improving.

Now if I can just remember: Swing Wide It's a Fookin' Trailer!

;) dancing-dog.gif

Stay safe.

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Where's the edit button? LOL!

That's supposed to say a very challenging profession, not position. :-/

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Shelby, MT. Just t-dropped a load headed for Canada and picked up a trailer headed for Maryland, right between Baltimore and DC.

So far I've driven from New Meadows, ID to Salt Lake City to Denver to Billings to Shelby.

It's going really well. My trainer/mentor is very intense. He's an excellent trainer, but it's easy to see how someone with thin skin might take it personally.

I'm here to learn a very challenging position, so my tender little snowflake feelings are stowed safely away. Far far away.

Coming out of CDL school I thought I knew how to drive and back. The ONLY thing I knew was how to pass my state CDL test. Training drivers are a gift from heaven.

Learning this profession is... Awesome. I never thought the driving would be the easy part.

I'm loving this.

dancing-dog.gif

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

My mentor is excellent. We get along very well.

Truck is a 2017 Kenworth T680S automatic transmission. Very nice truck.

We're hauling a heavy load of paper.

Sounds like I'll be driving to Salt Lake City tomorrow. We made it almost to Boise today. Tons of road construction slowed us way down.

It's Most Excellent!

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

I don't know if anyone besides G-Town is reading this but... if any new academy students are reading this, please take heed:

Do Your Homework, starting from studying for your CLP and then just keep on doing your homework.

I just finished Orientation and I *still* have homework! Please do yourselves a favour and Be Proactive About Doing Your Homework!

There's SO much to learn and it doesn't stop when you get your CDL: HOS, Trip Planning, QualComm macros, different tractor familiarizations... on and on.

And yeah: the forum needs an Edit button.

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Well, Swift Transportation has a new driver trainee: ME! Woohoo!

Ahem. Sorry. I'm pretty jazzed.

My mentor is on his way here. He's got a load to drop at a local ammo manufacturing company. I talked with him on the phone and honestly I think we're going to get along just fine. A lot of that confidence comes directly from being prepared by reading a lot on these forums.

Example: I came with one duffle, my sleeping bag, my camelback, and a zipper portfolio for my paperwork. That's it. The other trainee in orientation, (there were only two of us), had to use a luggage cart at the motel this morning. Wow. Good luck with that one.

Anyhow my mentor wanted to make it to the terminal to pick me up tonight, but HOS said nope. He'll be here around ten a.m. He's going to have me drive right away, and we're going to take a heavy load down 95. I'm pretty jazzed about it because that's where my night driving was: I drove back from Winchester at night. He's going to take over for the long downhill near Grangeville, which is fine with me.

He's driving an automatic, which will be a new experience for me and I'm looking forward to it.

This particular mentor is spoken of very highly around this terminal, so I think maybe I got lucky.

I told him that I know that the hard part is coming now, and he said naw, as long as I can get the hang of the QualComm, no problem at all. He said that mostly, he uses about half of the macros, so I'll be studying macros, for sure.

I'm spending the night in a tractor sleeper at the terminal. The local motels are full up due to a rodeo, and also a local paper mill is in its twice yearly maintenance, so a lot of out of town millwrights and such are in town too.

It's pretty funny: everyone around here is all apologetic about me "having " to spend the night in a truck. My response: hey, I signed on to live in a sleeper, please don't apologize for making me live in a sleeper! OMG I'm having a blast!

Anyhow, tomorrow, the rubber hits the road. :-)

dancing-dog.gif

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Downloading so not foreclosing do. Ugh.

Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Thanks G-Town! I'm foreclosing do I can read it in my free time.

It's going a little slow due to system issues but it's going. :) Here we go!

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

**Sumner. Not Summer.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

The second day of orientation at the Swift Lewiston terminal went well. We watched a nice video about Swift Transportation and Jerry Moyes. I realize it was company propaganda, but even so, Jerry Moyes sounds like quite a good guy, and again, the more I learn about Swift, the more I want to be a part of it.

We also learned more about the merge/acquisition with Knight, and I feel safe in saying that most of the rumor mill BS that I've seen posted by "know it alls" is total, unadulterated BS with zero connection to reality.

We had a couple hours of informative, interactive lecture by a safety guy. Good stuff. He talked quite a bit about inspections, the QualComm, Hours of Service, route planning, and just a lot of really helpful info about general life behind the wheel do's and don'ts.

We learned about payroll and benefits. Pretty decent benefits, as far as I'm concerned.

We have to buy a kingpin lock and a very badass trailer lock. Kinda spendy, but good stuff.

I explored the terminal a bit while on break, and even managed to lock myself in the drivers lounge. Ah. Fun times. Anyhow, while exploring the drivers lounge I saw Jonathan, who graduated with our class. He's a really nice guy, whose home terminal is Summer. He was waiting on a ride; he and his first mentor had a falling out.

The last couple of hours of the day was spent on avoiding and dealing with inappropriate behavior and harassment. I was surprised at having this training, but pleasantly so. I thought this sort of training was all in my past, after moving back to Montana after 30 years in Phoenix and 20 years in high tech industries. It's good to know that Swift is proactive about this stuff.

I check out of the motel tomorrow. I'll be heading out with a mentor either tomorrow afternoon, or else spending tomorrow night in a tractor and leaving Saturday. I'm pumped.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Thanks G-Town!

First day of orientation went really well. It was just me and one other applicant.

The more I learn about Swift, the more I believe I am doing the right thing, and with the right company.

The day started with a UA, and, embarrassingly, I couldn't fill the cup. I'm pretty sure I was dehydrated from the bus ride, and then walking all around town yesterday. But anyhow, after 4 cups of water and another hour, no problem. How embarrassing!

We filled out a few forms, watched a few training videos, had a very good Q&A session, which I'm sure was really part of the character profiling.

Swift bought lunch for us today. It was barbeque from a little local place that's been here for something like 14 years. It was delicious!

Our orientation instructor is really nice, and very knowledgeable.

Because Lewiston is a pretty small terminal, there's a good chance I'll have to take the bus Saturday to meet my mentor, but that's fine with me.

It's very exciting. I'm eager for each new step.

dancing-dog.gif

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Forgot to mention: I had even *more* paperwork today! Mostly filling in a small gap in my home address history, then a couple more "sign here to allow us to inquire about your character and work habits from every other person that you've ever been within 50 miles of." Something like that. My eyes weren't working so great from that whole sleep deprivation experiment, so who knows what I signed?

Oh! And another thing I found out today, and I can NOT believe I failed to mention it before, because never pass up an opportunity to blow your own horn, am I right? I just found out that my GPA through CDL school was a 4.0. Now, I realize that's not nearly the earth shattering accomplishment that I'm making it out to be, but I'll take it where I can find it.

Man. I sure hope Swift hires me tomorrow. We can't afford very much more of this "but honey, it's all going to be tax deductible, IF I get hired!" stuff.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

OK, so I learned a couple of things last night. First, long haul busses are not made for sleeping and Second, neither are bus terminal benches.

First bus was a little puddle jumper, maybe 20 seats or so for about 2-1/2 hours to Missoula. There, we had a 2-1/2 hour layover, then a Greyhound to Spokane and a 5-1/2 hour layover. I got maybe a half hour sleep on the bus and maybe 2 or so hours sleep on a bench in the Spokane terminal. Then another 3 hours or so on another big bus to Lewiston.

I got into Lewiston around 8:30 or so. The cab ride to the motel was $6, the low end of what I'd been told to expect. I wasn't really supposed to show up at the motel until 3pm or so, but the staff at Comfort Inn are really nice, and they let me stash my duffle and sleeping bag.

During CDL school, my phone started going haywire. It turns out the battery is shot. We ordered a new one ($7) last week and added expedited delivery ($16), but, alas, Murphy got involved, and my battery is lost in transit.

So, today I walked about 5 miles shopping on USB charge packs. I got lucky at Shopko; they had an 8k mAH pack for $20. It's more than I can really afford until paydays start happening, but it's a must have.

The lady at the motel kept calling Swift for room vouchers every time I came back to the motel lobby to access my gear. I don't want to known as the complainer before I even have a job, and I told her that, and that I was OK with waiting, but she called every time she saw me, so I started hiding out back. They found me around 2:30 and told me I could get my room, so I got a much needed nap.

My roommate hasn't shown up yet. From the name that was mentioned, I believe he was a couple classes ahead of me, but I'm not sure.

It's crazy smoky from the forest fires, all the way from Kalispell to Missoula to Spokane to Lewiston. My eyes and throat are burning, I hope we get rain soon.

I feel eager to get on with orientation and mentor training. I have already decided that unless issues arise with my mentor that are catastrophic, I'll do everything that I can to take it in stride. I want to get through training, get my own rig, and start getting a lot of safe miles behind me. I feel ready.

And again, thanks to Brett, all the moderators, and all the contributors here on TT. What a great resource! :)

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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OTR Trucking is HARD WORK???

I'm a former tech worker, although a different sort, getting into trucking now too. In CDL school I saw people thinking their way was better than the way the guy with 29 years experience was teaching it. I saw guys who apparently had no idea what a work ethic is, and they certainly had no work ethic. I saw guys with such an incredibly slack attitude about safety that I started hoping they'd fail just so I, and my family wouldn't be on the same highways as they'd be on. I saw a lot of get rich quick dreams, and disturbingly, well, paranoid attitudes and I continue seeing those attitudes on forums, even this forum, but a lot less so than on the "other" trucking forums.

All I can really control is how I respond or react to what's going on around me. I'm getting into trucking mostly because I kept finding that whenever I was looking at help wanted ads, half or more were for CDL jobs.

Now, though, I'm finding that I believe this industry and job are for me because it's challenging but rewarding. Yeah, I'll work my tail off. Nothing new there. Will I get a gold star for that? No. I'm not even looking for the supposedly ubiquitous $70K/year driving job, like a lot of the guys in my CDL class were.

I just want a challenging yet rewarding job where my good attitude, hard work and my tendency toward independence will be a good fit.

smile.gif

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

I just shared a link for this thread with my family and then realized... I probably won't be able to update much after this week for a while. I don't have a jetpack right now that's usable. I'm planning to get hooked up with Millenicom, but that's a couple of paychecks in the future.

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