Comments By Paul H.

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  • Paul H.
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  • 5 years, 9 months ago
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Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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The Adventures of Daniel B.

Welcome, Daniel! I'm glad you're happy with Prime. Maybe I'll see you around one of these days.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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CDL transfer to Florida

I need to get my Missouri CDL that I just got transferred back home to Florida. I've heard that you have to do this within 30 days, but I think it depends on the state. I can't find any information on the DMV website or anywhere else to confirm this, and I am going to throw my phone on the ground and let this crazy Wyoming wind blow the pieces away if I have to listen to the hold music and the same message over and over again on the DMV customer service line. Is there anyone from Florida that knows specifically what the time frame is to transfer a CDL to Florida after school, or if there even is a time limit?

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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Looking for CDL school, live in Texas and must be pet friendly when I finish with training.

When I did my research a few months ago, Prime was the only company that has both a school and a pet policy. That's why I chose them. And as it turns out, they pay better than most as well.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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Questions about training....

I didn't wait for them to call me. I called the day after I applied, and they had me assigned to a recruiter, but she was off that day. So I first talked to my recruiter two days after I applied online. I think it took a day or two after I talked to her to be approved. You can start whenever you want. Classes start every Tuesday. I set my date about a month and a half out from when I applied. I even bumped it back another week when it got closer, because I wanted more time to do stuff with my family in Alabama before I left (like going to the Alabama vs. Tennessee game - ROLL TIDE!!!). It's not set in stone until they've bought your bus ticket.

I'm sure you'll do fine in training. As long as your background is fine, and you tell the truth about any part of it that's not fine, then you'll get through training, I'm sure. It's scary, and it's not the easiest thing, but it's not rocket science either. I still have lots to learn, and I'm not fully confident behind the wheel, but I'm getting there. As I said before, I was babied too much in the PSD phase. The TNT phase I'm starting now won't be that way. It's a team driving situation, and I will be doing just as much driving as my trainer. So those jitters are going to be worked out soon, I'm sure.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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Questions about training....

It should take no longer than a month, ideally two to three weeks. We came back to Springfield somewhere between two and three weeks to get some electrical issues fixed, and I was going to test then. But it snowed like crazy and they closed the pad. So we went back out for about another week. We came back to Springfield on Christmas Eve, and I didn't test until two days ago. My instructor's girlfriend lives near here, so he spent more time there than he did working with me. Plus he was sick for two days after the company Christmas party, which I think was more hangover than actual illness. I had three days backing on the pad, in nearly two weeks. Fortunately he was good at teaching backing, so I was able to get pretty good at it in that short amount of time. Long story short, it's been roughly a month and a half since I left home, and I just got my CDL two days ago. Oh, and I forgot to mention I was here for another week after orientation, because my instructor's previous student took forever to test out. So it shouldn't take as long as it did for me, but you never know. And as they say here, Prime isn't a school that also runs a business, it's a business that also runs a school. So running loads and making money takes priority over getting a student back for testing.

Driving the truck gets less scary the more you do it. I'm as comfortable driving on the highway as I am in a car. I'm still nervous on city streets, though. I'd rather drive down a steep mountain than drive in the city. I certainly have more experience doing so, after all the driving we did out west. I've always been a careful and defensive driver, so hopefully that will help me in this career. The travel is pretty awesome. In three weeks, I think I counted eleven states we went to that I'd never been before. I'm into photography, so I try to make a point of taking some pictures every day. I've gotten some good ones.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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Questions about training....

I also replied to you on my thread if you haven't seen that yet, but I'll answer the questions you asked here as well.

No, you don't get the $600 minimum until you pass your CDL exam. Once you finish orientation (the first four days), you get a $200 a week advance (every Friday), which will be paid back at $25 a week once you start getting paid. You're not hired until you get your CDL. And notice I said $600 MINIMUM. You are paid at a rate of 12 cents a mile during training, but are guaranteed at least $600. From what I understand, the miles you run usually get you a good bit more than $600. I'll be able to tell you soon whether this is the case.

Yes, get your CDL permit before you get here. I didn't, because I couldn't afford to get a DOT physical before I left home. You will be behind if you don't have a permit when you get here. I missed out on a lot of training. In my other reply to you, I talked about how nervous I was about backing. If I had come here with a permit, I would have gotten some backing training before I even met my instructor. I was too ridiculously broke to afford $50 or whatever for a physical, even though I knew I should have my permit. It makes me angry thinking about how broke I was. Anyway, get your permit.

Also, your training really shouldn't take four to six months. My trainer says I should be done in the beginning of March. Today is my first day. Well, tomorrow, when we leave the terminal. But I've heard that a lot of trainers keep you on their truck for as long as possible, because you make them a lot of money. Fortunately my trainer is not one of those.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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TRIFECTA! Officially a Prime employee now

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. My laptop has been packed up in my suitcase all day while I waited for my new trainer to pick me up, and I couldn't log in on my phone. Now I'm on his truck, and we're staying at the Prime terminal until six in the morning, when we will leave for North Carolina.

I had no experience before. The biggest thing I ever drove before this was a humvee when I was in the Army in South Korea. Which, over there, is huge compared to their cars! I remember one time after the first snow of the year, when I was starting up the humvee, the transportation NCO was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. He said, "So Paul, where are you from again?"

"Florida."

"So have you ever driven in snow before?"

"Nope."

He then proceeded to double-check his seat belt and probably said a prayer, though he remained silent. It went fine, because I was too scared not to be as careful as possible. We were driving on narrow roads in the mountains, which is scary to drive on even without snow. But it went fine.

Anyway, that's the extent of my experience before Prime. Not even close to the same thing. I was nervous about backing, especially since my instructor didn't let me do any backing at all on the road. I thought I would take forever to learn it, because I had a horrible experience on the simulator during orientation. But after three days of practice on the pad, I got a perfect score on backing on my exam. My road test could have been better, but it wasn't bad. My advice is to insist that you get more city driving when you're on the road with your instructor. Mine babied me too much. I did well overall on my exam, but I would have been more confident had I done more off-highway driving (a monkey can learn to drive on the highway). It's hard to get better at shifting when all you do is drive 65 mph down the highway all day or night (though driving in the mountains or through a major city gets you some shifting practice, even on the highway). I did a little bit of gear grinding on my exam, but my actual exam went better than either of the practice runs I did with my instructor. On the other end of the spectrum, I've heard of instructors that have their students do ALL the driving and backing, no matter what the situation. So you don't know what you'll end up with. My instructor was a great teacher, and a very skilled driver. I think he just gave me too much credit for being able to catch on, and didn't work me as hard as I feel he should have. And I should have asked him to. We didn't do much work on pre-trip, because he said I was book smart so I would have no problem with it. Well, I may be book smart, but I still need to get a hand on things in order to internalize the information. But I did learn pre-trip very well, because I took pictures of everything and studied. I only missed three things on the exam, and I attribute that to nervousness. I know all of it.

I did a LOT of research on companies before deciding on Prime. Truckingtruth.com was my starting point, but every time I found a company on here that interested me, I did further research. Prime initially attracted me for two reasons: They have CDL training, and they allow pets. Those were my two dealbreakers, as I can't afford school and I will not abandon my dog for anything in the world. If I recall correctly, I believe Prime was the only company that satisfied both of those requirements. Fortunately, it turned out that they also pay more to beginners than any other company I've seen. They're a very big company, they have lots of customers and lots of miles. It's a good place to be. I know Roehl has flexible home time options, so if that's your most important criteria then there's nobody better than them. Prime keeps you out for a long time. But that's how the money is made. I'm single, so once I get my dog with me (she's staying with my parents until I get done with training) then going home is just gravy for me. It'll be great to hang out with my friends for a few days and all that, but there will be no one back home that I can't stand to be away from for weeks at a time. I hope to find someone like that, but as my ex-girlfriend made me painfully aware, I am in no financial situation to have a family. That's what this job will change, and not having a family yet and not having rent or a house to pay for means it will be that much easier for me to do this and stack up the money.

So that's my situation. I don't know what yours is, but hopefully what I've said will help you understand what this company has to offer, what the drawbacks are, and how it will or won't work for you.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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TRIFECTA! Officially a Prime employee now

Thanks Howard. I have no intention of leasing. Ever. My PSD instructor is a company driver, and he makes a LOT of money. Being an instructor adds a lot to his paychecks, but even without that he would be doing very well.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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TRIFECTA! Officially a Prime employee now

Thanks Brett and Old School! I really think I will enjoy it. I have so far. I'll enjoy it even more when I have my own truck and nobody's farts to smell but my own!

Time to get started on the logbook and weight portions of the training program. I thought I understood the HOS rules well enough, but I was completely baffled as to how my instructor kept us driving the way he did. I understand that for the week the Qualcomm was down and we were on paper logs he was able to do what he wanted (we got a LOT done that week!), but I don't understand how he did what he did with the electronic log. So hopefully the program here will help me understand how to get the most out of your hours. The sections that prepared me for the permit test were great. It got me 80% ready for the Missouri test (literally; there were exactly ten questions on the test that weren't on this website - the Missouri manual got me the rest of the way there). So thanks for the training and the great forums and articles. I'll definitely keep ya'll posted.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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TRIFECTA! Officially a Prime employee now

So I passed all three parts of my CDL exam in one go, with a perfect score on backing. I got straight line, left offset, and alley dock. Oddly enough, the alley dock was my smoothest one. I had a great instructor who made backing seem somewhat easy. So starting today, I'm finally making money, plus the bonus I get for the trifecta. Unfortunately my CDL photo looks like Vern from Stand By Me. So I'm looking forward to getting it transferred to Florida.

It's been an eventful month out on the road for CDL training. I can't imagine what the next phase of training and my first year will hold. I've seen more snow than I ever have in my life, and come to learn that the worst places to drive in the snow seem to be in the South. I guess up north they prepare for it. In Texas they don't do anything. We sat in a traffic jam a couple of weeks ago coming into Amarillo for 10 hours. 25 miles in 10 hours. We actually got our 10 hour sleep break while sitting in traffic. The road was covered with bumpy ice. And the thing is, they knew the storm was coming! In Missouri, when it snows the roads are cleared by the time I wake up in the morning. I've been working on my photography and have an OTR album going on Facebook. Running reefer I'll probably have less time to take pictures. I'll take the opportunity whenever I can, though. I was on a flatbed for CDL training, but now I'll be training for reefer. So I haven't even towed a reefer trailer yet. I'm ready to get this done, get my truck, and get my dog back with me. I miss her like crazy.

Posted:  5 years, 6 months ago

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Companies that hair test

From the DOT website:

§ 40.85 What drugs do laboratories test for? As a laboratory, you must test for the following five drugs or classes of drugs in a DOT drug test. You must not test “DOT specimens” for any other drugs. (a) Marijuana metabolites. (b) Cocaine metabolites. (c) Amphetamines. (d) Opiate metabolites. (e) Phencyclidine (PCP).

Also, I can tell you that Prime only does a urine test, not hair.

Posted:  5 years, 7 months ago

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Cell Phone Carriers

I'm planning on switching to Verizon as soon as I start getting paid. I've done the research, and they have the best nationwide coverage. Unfortunately, they're also the most expensive. But it'll be worth it to have more dependable coverage, both for phone and internet (I use my phone as a wifi hotspot for my laptop). I currently have T-Mobile, and it's terrible. I couldn't get service the whole time we were in western New York the other day.

Posted:  5 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished orientation at Prime (well, almost)

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't complaining about the simulators. If you have time, you can always go back after you've finished your five (I believe it was five) modules, simulations, scenarios, whatever-you-call-thems, and practice more. I just think that their main purpose in putting you through the minimum five scenarios is to get acquainted with the shifting, and to rattle your nerves. I'm not too concerned with the small amount of time I had on them, because I know this is a great training program and they know what they're doing. I honestly think there's a rhyme and reason to why the simulator instructors did what they did. It was definitely a test of my temper, because they were talking to me like I was stupid, when I asked a very reasonable question while I was driving. But as soon as I was done, they were cool again. I think they're testing your temperament more than anything, because they obviously don't really expect us to know what we're doing yet. I mean, they just taught us how to shift five minutes earlier! Because I spent so much time dealing with trying to get cleared, and because I didn't already have my permit, I didn't get any extra time on the simulators, which is disappointing. But my instructor I'm going on the road with is supposed to be really good. Two-time instructor of the year, if I heard right. So I'll be in good hands.

Posted:  5 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished orientation at Prime (well, almost)

The last time I was in Missouri was for basic training in the Army 17 years ago. I had flashbacks when the Greyhound stopped at Fort Leonard Wood. I’ve been in orientation here at Prime for a week now, and I just got cleared by the skin of my teeth. At the beginning of the day the head of the student training program said that at the end of the day there would be one student left with him that hadn’t cleared yet, as that’s the way it always is. It turned out to be me. I had hernia surgery about three months ago, so they needed a work release from my surgeon in order to give me my DOT medical card. They faxed what they needed to my surgeon on Tuesday, I immediately followed up with the surgeon (who had already sent it back before I even called), yet somehow it took until about 5:30 Friday afternoon to clear me for medical. So even though I passed my permit test on Wednesday, I haven’t yet been able to go to the DMV to pick it up because you have to have the medical card to get your permit. I’ll be getting it in the morning, and I won’t be official and able to go out for my training until Monday, while most people are leaving tonight with their trainers. But that’s okay, because I can use a down weekend to catch up on sleep (my roommate snores loudly and constantly), and I’ve already got an instructor who doesn’t mind waiting until Monday to leave for my CDL training. So it’s been stressful waiting for medical to clear, but all in all it’s been a good week and everything turned out all right. There are annoyances, but it’s how you deal with them that makes all the difference in the world.

The simulators seem to be used more for the purpose of racking your nerves than actually getting better at driving, because the instructors barely instructed except for showing us how to double clutch. They just sat back and let us figure things out, and acted like we were idiots when we messed up. But when it’s all over and your nerves are frazzled and you’re feeling embarrassed for taking 20 minutes to NOT back into a dock while 15 other students are watching while they wait for you to finish, the instructors’ attitudes change and they say “Don’t worry, it’s just practice.”

Since I haven’t gotten my permit yet, I haven’t been able to go on the pad yet and I won’t until Monday. DEFINITELY come here with a permit from your state if you can. I wanted to, because of course everyone here on Truckingtruth.com says you should, and my recruiter said I should, but I didn’t have the money to get a physical before I came here. I knew I would be at a disadvantage, I just had no choice. And it really did set me behind, thanks to the whole surgery thing. On the other hand, my roommate came here with his permit, but it didn’t show in the system. Apparently because he had just gotten it on Saturday. So he took almost as long as I did to clear, since they had to straighten that out.

Any little thing could be an issue here. They are VERY anal about everything, from background checks to job history to medical. If you don’t list a job, they will know – they can see your work history on a computer. I don’t know where they get the information, but they get it. Someone on another post about Prime said that the interview consists of them checking your written application against your online application. Nope, that’s not what they’re doing. They’re checking your written application against work records and criminal records that have nothing to do with the information you’ve given them. If you’ve worked somewhere or broken a law (whether convicted or not) or even had a ticket thrown out, they will know. And if you don’t tell them before they find it on their own, it’s not a good thing.

I’ve tried to give the aspects of my experience that maybe aren’t described in other posts about Prime training, or to expand on things other people have said. Other people have done great jobs of describing minute details of what orientation is like. I don’t want to get into every little thing, like the food and the rooms and stuff like that. If you’re overly concerned about the food you’re going to be eating for one week or the room you’re going to be staying in, you’re not focusing on the right things. I really thought this post would be much more organized, but I haven’t slept well this week so I’m REALLY tired. So you get this rambling account. Sorry. But I’m excited to start this new chapter in my life. I’ve read so much great advice on this site, and I can’t wait to start putting it to use and eventually offering some of my own.

Posted:  5 years, 8 months ago

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Are you forced to drive in bad weather requiring snow chains by companies you work for?

Daniel, that was a GREAT post! Thank you. I saved it to my computer so I won't forget it.

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

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OTR Food solution?

So all these ideas bring up the question: What's the story on washing dishes? Is there a way to do it at truck stops? I'd try to have as little as possible that needs to be washed, but there are going to be some things.

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

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OTR Food solution?

That Pizazz thing reminded me of something my old roommate had, that would be great for the road.

http://www.amazon.com/NuWave-20329-Black-Digital-Nuwave/dp/B00BHW142I/ref=sr_1_12?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1382221910&sr=1-12&keywords=nuwave

He would do everything from a whole pork shoulder to individual cuts of steak in it. It worked fast, and the food always tasted great. And I have high standards. I'm old school, so I didn't usually use it myself, but one time I cooked perfect medium rare NY strips that were frozen solid in that thing. I was amazed. His wasn't this exact model (I just did a quick Google search to find one), but it was the same brand.

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

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OTR Food solution?

Dave, I'm sure you've researched this more than I have considering your needs, but I would be careful with dehydrated soups. In general, they have a lot of sodium, probably more than canned soup. Salt is used to preserve them. But if you've found some good low-sodium dehydrated soups (you did say you've been reading up on it), I'd love to know what they are. I don't have any special dietary needs, but like I said earlier I'd like to make sure I eat somewhat healthy on the road.

One thing I think would be great for you is microwaved vegetables. Microwaving a vegetable in a plastic bag is the same as steaming it, but faster. You retain all the nutrients because you're not cooking it in a liquid, and it's up to you if you want to add salt or any other flavorings. There are bags of frozen veggies that are designed just for this purpose, but I would imagine it's probably cheaper to buy fresh veggies and microwavable sandwich bags and portion them yourself. I don't know microwave cooking times for all vegetables, but broccoli takes about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave and how soft you like your broccoli. I think most veggies will probably take about the same amount of time, provided you cut them into small to medium-sized pieces. The veggies I've personally cooked this way are broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, yellow squash, and bell peppers. Most veggies should work the same way.

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

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OTR Food solution?

Food is one issue that's definitely been on my mind as I prepare for this new career. For both financial and health reasons, I don't want to eat truck stop food all the time. I've been a chef for the last 13 years, so I figure I should be able to come up with some good ideas for how to eat well on the road. Right now I'm thinking a microwave and a George Foreman grill or something similar will be the most important things to have. The grill will obviously be good for meat, and microwaves are great for cooking vegetables and heating canned food. The thing I'm trying to figure out is how to cook a variety of starches without a stove. Potatoes can be done in the microwave, and there are brands of rice that can be cooked in the microwave (though I doubt the quality of microwavable rice is going to be all that good). Of course I could get a rice cooker, but I want to have to wash as little as possible (the grill can just be wiped off and reheated). Since they make microwaveable mac and cheese, I would think that means other pasta should be able to be microwaved. So I'll have to do some experimenting on that.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on road cooking, not having actually done it yet. I want to keep it simple, because I know that with cramped quarters and limited resources I won't do it if it's too much trouble and makes a mess. I love reading other people's methods and ideas. This is something I'll probably write a lot about once I start driving.

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

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Truckers Having a Pit Bull OTR

Yeah, I didn't see anything about breed restrictions with Prime, just the weight limit. I guess a muzzle would be good if we were in a sketchy place and I wanted to make her look scary, like Hannibal Lecter! She's great with other dogs, but I would never let her run around off leash unless it's a dog park (which I've read a lot of truck stops have now). That's terrible what happened with that dog, Starcar. People with dogs like that shouldn't be driving around with them, and definitely shouldn't be letting them run around off leash. Ridiculous.

Thanks for your input, everyone. Every single reply has been a great help!

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