Profile For Solo

Solo's Info

  • Location:
    Des Moines, IA

  • Driving Status:
    In CDL School

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    3 months, 3 weeks ago

Solo's Bio

40, Single, no kids, no bills and ready to go OTR.

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Posted:  21 hours, 24 minutes ago

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Paid cdl training that still uses manual trucks

I'm currently going through TMC's CDL training program and we're driving/testing on their 9-spd's.

That being said, they are trying to go to an all automatic training fleet by February (not sure how expensive that will be for them to complete) as a tool to recruit more drivers that are not interested in learning how to drive a manual truck.

While I'm happy that I won't have the restriction, if all things are an equal come the day they issue me a truck and offer me the choice, I'm taking an automatic.

Posted:  22 hours, 50 minutes ago

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TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Forgot to mention that TMC (and I'm guessing other large companies do it similarly) are the ones conducting the DOT testing for PTI, backing, and road test.

TMC's failure rate is much higher than if you were to go to the Iowa DOT and test yourself.

DOT has asked TMC to lower their standards, but TMC has stated they will not. If they passed too many students, then they would be audited. So I guess they take the higher fail rate route instead.

Posted:  23 hours, 7 minutes ago

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Looking into schools in Texas, hope to start in January 2019

To add to the domicile in one state and work for a company in another:

For all intents and purposes, I'm homeless.

My company offered me a buyout package after 12-years of service, and I took it. Thankfully my last day on the payroll was close to the end of my apartment lease (that I did not renew, so I no longer have rent) and the end of my vehicle lease (that I turned in and no longer have a car or payment).

Since I was effectively homeless, I decided to get an account set-up with a mail forwarding service out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota and after staying in a hotel for 1 night, I became a resident of SD. Before flying back out of SD, I walked across the parking lot of the hotel to the DMV, and took my Commerical Learners Permit test (and endorsements) and walked out with an SD DL + CLP and now I won't have to step foot (to maintain legal residency) for upwards of 10 years (since I'll be able to renew my DL online).

I get the bonus of also not having to pay state income tax and only 4% sales tax.

My company (currently in training with TMC) is based out of Des Moines, IA, but my checks will be based on the fact that my legal residency is out of SD and be taxed accordingly.

Going from paying $22.5k/yr (+ utilities) for an apartment to $0/yr, is a HUGE for me.

Posted:  1 day ago

View Topic:

TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

I forgot to mention a few things in my very first post that may help potential drivers wanting to switch to TMC, or start CDL training with TMC

First - You MUST come to TMC with your Drivers License, Paper Birth Cert., and Commerical Learners Permit AT THE MINIMUM. They will send you back home if you forget any of those.

Secondly - if you can get your TWIC/HAZMAT and Passport prior to starting with TMC, it will help you on your first "Snapshot" (How they determine your points, which then determine your pay % or CPM (whichever method you choose to run). So while you may not run as many miles being a newer driver, you could actually see a %+ bump in pay over a new counterpart simply by coming to training and already having your endorsements and your counterpart not. I got those in addition to my FAST North/South ID, doubles-triples, and tanker, but it appears that none of these will make a difference in pay potential with TMC as it stands now, but at least I have them knocked out should I want to move on later down the road.

Thirdly - Cut your hair (no long hair, no mohawks, etc) and trim your beard prior to arriving orientation. They will ask you on day one in front of everyone to clean yourself up, or go back home (It's on the orientation packet they send you 2 weeks before you arrive). Take out the gauge earrings, etc.

For us, they only did a Split Urine sample, but prior to arriving, they did set the expectation that it would be Urine AND hair...so I'm not sure why we only did urine. Maybe it's dependant upon how big of a group has to go through DOT physical each Monday. So just FYI.

I think I may have missed a big piece in my first postings...the contract (forgive me if this is a repeat)

It's currently $4,000 for 12 months (not mileage specific like Roehl). You get $500 wk (no taxes are taken out) for each week you're in orientation (your first Wednesday they will give you $50 cash for the first Wednesday night wal-mart run, making your first Friday check only $450 (+$50 = $500). I'm NOT sure if during your 5 weeks with a trainer (reports that it can be as short as 2-weeks if you and your trainer feel 2 weeks is all you need (trainers only get $75/wk for training) if it's stays at $500/wk or is increased to $600/wk. What I do know, is that your first 2 weeks in your truck alone after training, you are guaranteed $1,000 each week (total $2,000) + anything you make above that $1k.

What is great about TMC contract is that the amount you owe decreases with time every 3 months. So after 6 months, you decide to leave, you only owe 2k, or if you leave after 9 months, then you only owe 1k.

CDL school pay:

You are allowed to make unlimited stops to CDL schools (so long as they don't interfere with your pick-up/drop-offs for 10-15min to show off your truck and answer a few questions. (we get 2 free blue beacon truck/trailer washes each week, but they will authorize more as they want you to arrive at CDL schools with clean equipment inside/out). If you get CDL student info that may be interested in joining TMC, you can send a macro message, or submit their info via TMC mobile app. Should the driver join TMC and pass 2-week training, and get their own truck after being signed-off, you get 1k bonus + $0.01 CPM for every mile they drive for the first 6 months. No cap on any of the above.

That's all I can think of for now.

I'm about to walk across the parking lot to the terminal and ask somebody in the shop for the keys to a truck so I can continue practicing in-cab PTI.

Posted:  1 day, 19 hours ago

View Topic:

TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Day 13:

7 am: We get an extra hour before being picked up this morning, which seems like an eternity compared to our usual 6am start since last week.

745 am: Arrive at the pad and told to get out to the trucks to get them PTI and warmed up, because we're going driving on the ice and snow

9 am: I'm paired-up again with another driver, while the rest are solo, and we only get 30min each this morning, before heading back to the training pad to swap out w/ the other 5 that stayed to work on backing.

10 am: I just keep doing off-set and parallel for 2 hours. I believe I mentioned that yesterday I was having problems all of a sudden with these two maneuvers and today it strikes again...but this time I'm a bit more assertive in trying to solve the issue. I asked the guy in the next lane/truck over if he wouldn't mind switching with me as I was convinced that I would square-up for each maneuver in his truck and lane...but if he then went to my truck and lane and didn't have problems, then it can only be my own issue. YUP! I nail them 1st time in the new lane, and the other guy is struggling to nail them all of a sudden in the lane he swapped me with.

11 am: Lunch

12 pm: They take us back to the hotel

Tomorrow is our first day off, and while I suspect 1/2 my group of 10 will be watching playoff football, I'm heading over to the terminal and asking for the keys to a truck so I can just practice PTI all day long.

Posted:  2 days, 13 hours ago

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TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Day 12:

Usual Start

630 am: Arrive at training pad and go over in-cab inspection and form A, B, C pre-trip.

7 am: Us week 2 guys have to train the week 1 guys on how to PT a TMC trailer

715 am: Instructor goes over the rear axle components of a TMC trailer and how we have to call out the items we don't have, in addition to the items our trailer does have for DOT exam.

730 am: group gets split in 1/2 and my group stays with the instructor to go over Form A, B, and C (This would be the first time we've done Pre-trip in a formal setting. The most important piece, and the one piece we've spent the least amount of time on.)

9 am: Break

915 am: We swap and now we're back on the backing lot. I'm an absolute **** show. Can only square-up my straight line, and bomb offset and parallel. One guy on workers comp hops in my truck and see's how the truck is set up completely different than the night before. It's so bad, I can only deduce that something slid the 5th wheel, but nothing looks like it's been touched. An actual instructor sees my **** show and is upset of course, and I explain my situation, but he says all of the trucks are the same (objectively not true, but good luck explaining that). So this truck actually gets driven off to have fuel topped off, so they can all be idled over the weekend as we are going to drop below 10 F. Another truck/trailer is pulled into the lane and I hop in and immediately knock out all 3 maneuvers perfectly. The injured driver riding shotgun with me agrees that something was up w/ the other truck and then when the actual instructor comes back over to ask how I did, he hesitates to believe that I did all 3 perfectly because "all of the trucks are the same".

11 am: Lunch

12 pm: We set out for a 4 hour drive. Driver 1 gets 2 hours. I get MAYBE 1 hour. I was pretty upset about this. We were the only drivers that got paired up today, and everyone needs MAXIMUM seat time.

4 pm: It's starting to snow pretty good, so we head back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we should be on the backing pad (10 of us for 2 trucks) the rest of the trucks were parked so they could plow/clear the pad.

Posted:  3 days, 12 hours ago

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TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Day 11

Same start as always.

630 am: Arrive at training pad and go over in-cab inspection and form A, B, C pre-trip.

8 am: Head out with yet another different trainer for a 3-hour trip around Des Moines, and then through downtown Des Moines. Very tight. They are trying to get people tripped up with curbs as those are automatic failures during the DOT road test. Finally was able to get a shot at emergency stops (we did ~4 of them)

11 am: Lunch

12 pm: Out to the backing pad for the next 4 hours

4 pm: They split the group into 2 groups of 5 students and half of us go and practice figure 8's w/ pull through (simulate truck stop parking lots)

6 pm: Back to the backing pad

8 pm: Load onto the bus and head back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we actually start going over pre-trip and Forms A, B, and C. Then we'll be on the backing pad, and then driving for 3-4 hours after lunch around Des Moines. Saturday will be backing and driving all day.

Posted:  3 days, 12 hours ago

View Topic:

TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Thanks Solo for the detailed write up! I was in particular shocked when you said you lost more than 1/3 of your class thru the physical. What are people thinking before they travel all the way to training? Yikes!

Keep up the good work!!

One guy needed a waiver for some medical condition. If they measure your neck and it's greater than 17" and they think you need a CPAP, that will get you sent home for the study, etc. I've learned that one guy snuck in his own **** (likely not his own), but they check the temperature on your urine immediately, and his wasn't warm enough.

Posted:  3 days, 12 hours ago

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TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Solo, a lot of people are reading this stuff. Don't let a lack of responses discourage you from writing these diary entries. We have a ton of people coming in here wanting to know about training with TMC. Your diary will be an excellent piece to link to when we try to help them.

I will stay the course!

Posted:  4 days, 12 hours ago

View Topic:

TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Above should read "Day 9"

Day 10

Same start as always.

630 am: Arrive at training pad and go over in-cab inspection and form A, B, C pre-trip.

8 am: Practice 45 degree backing for 1.5 hours.

930 am: Back to the backing maneuvers pad

11 am: Lunch

12 pm: I set out with a different trainer again (they try to get you with a different trainer each day, so that when test day arrives you are with somebody new...it just happens to be a DOT inspector, but you're used to not having the same person in your truck day-after-day. We drove around for 4 hours where I learned that I can row from 1st to 6th gear without ever touching the break. This teaches me a few things...I can have my foot on the brake at every stop ensuring that when I take off, I won't roll back and the truck has enough TQ to not stall out. Even more important is that I can bring the truck to a stop at a light in 6th gear w/o trying to downshift too quickly and get locked out (automatic failure) or coasting more than 1 length of the truck/trailer (automatic failure).

6 pm: Head back to the hotel

Posted:  5 days, 3 hours ago

View Topic:

TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Day 8:

Same start as always

630 am: Arrive at training pad and go over in-cab inspection and form A, B, C pre-trip.

8 am: I set out with a trainer for 3 hours to drive around Des Moines working on Up/Downshifting, tight turns, slowing for stop signs, running through town with several lights making sure to not run yellow. No right on red, etc etc. My downshifting was MUCH MUCH MUCH better than yesterday, and worlds apart from last week, so that was very motivating.

11 am: Lunch

12 pm: Backing maneuvers until 4 pm

5 pm: Head back to the hotel. Some were made to stay over to continue working on backing and another had to stay tonight drive. Presumably, that group will change again for tomorrow night.

Posted:  6 days, 3 hours ago

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TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Day 8:

7 am: We start pre-trip before being split into 2 groups; 1/2 working on backing while the other 1/2 was out driving around Des Moines. I was on the backing pad for the first part of the day and was nailing the maneuvers out of the gate.

11 am: Lunch

12 pm: The group's flip-flop and I was lucky enough to land the guy "Pre-trip John" who has been driving for over 30-years. Taught CDL school at the local college for 22 years. Used to teach 1-DAY CDL CLASS for 2 people per day for 6 years...and I believe he could do it. The guy is a fantastic teacher. Incredibly patient. I drove in and around Des Moines for 4 hours and stopped at 3 truck stops and parked 4 different times.

4 pm: Return to training pad

5 pm: 4 of us were made to stay late to continue working on backing; 1 guy was made to stay late to do a 3-hour night drive, while the rest were sent home on the 5 pm bus. I was 1 of the 4 held to work on backing (They rotate us each night through this week).

8 pm: We head back to the hotel.

Posted:  1 week ago

View Topic:

TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Today Day 7:

8 am: We arrived at the training pad to complete the rest of the various securement loads (greasy bars, Steel plates, Shotgun Coil, Suicide Coil, Roof Shingles, Palleted coil, and I'm missing another).

12 pm: Lunch

1 pm: Took 75 question Load Securement exam (most earned an A, several a B, and 1 guy a C. Nobody received a D or F.

5 pm: Home

We lost a former NFL player (Steeler) today. He received a call last night from his agent and was offered a coaching job for an NFL team, though I'm not sure which team or as which coach, but I'll be sure to look him up. Nicest stranger I've met in a long time. I'm sure he'll be a-ok.

Tomorrow we start pre-trip and backing maneuvers.

Posted:  1 week, 1 day ago

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TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Day 6:

7:30 am - The bus took an hour to get to us due to getting 5-7" of fresh stuff overnight, so we didn't get to the training pad until 815am

8:15 am - When we arrived, there were 3-4 snow plows and 2 bobcats doing their best to clear the training pad because there was a small group that needed to work on their backing maneuvers, but try as they may, they couldn't keep up with the pace of the snow.

8:30 am - the rest of us continued to work through various securement techniques on pre-loaded trailers. Each increasing in complexity from basic strapping, belly straps, x-straps, x-chains, snap binders, ratchet binders, and so on and so forth

12 pm - We cut for lunch

1 pm - Another trainer arrives to let us know that a Qualcomm message was sent a few hours ago and that it stated that all TMC vehicles needed to be off the road (if they were within the storm). Our trainer decided that we could do 1-2 more securements, and then call it a day. We headed out to the bus to be driven to the shop.

1:15 pm - Our trainer comes out to the bus and decides to make a command decision and call it a day, so we drove over to the shop to collect our belongings and he drove us back to the hotel as the storm had stalled and we were now expected to get double the forecasted snow, and he didn't want to be driving the bus on potentially bad roads, when there wasn't an immediate reason to do so.

2 pm: Hotel where some left for the bar to watch the NFL games, while others stayed to do laundry and study for the load securement test Sunday pm.

Tomorrow (today) we will finish the loads we weren't able to complete yesterday and then take the load securement test this evening.

Tomorrow (actually tomorrow) we begin driving on the pad and going over pre-trip.

Posted:  1 week, 2 days ago

View Topic:

TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

6am: Bus to training pad

7am: Go over pre-trip of a TMC trailer

8am: Some of us were assigned to 1 truck w/ 1 driver trainer, while others were doubled-up with a trainer and we headed out to our assigned trucks. We pre-tripped the truck with the trainer and hopped in. The first thing he asked us for was our log books, permit, and DL.

830am: Trainer takes us off the property and WAY out into the middle of nowhere USA (Saw my first bald eagle in the wild and it was cool as heck) and the other trainee hopped into the driver seat and drove for about an hour practicing tight turns up/down shift, narrow bridges, etc and then drove us to a truck stop. We swapped seats and he went into the berth, and I drove us out of the stop and basically around the same loop (I was smooth as a babies ass on any and all up-shifts from anywhere in the pattern...can't downshift to save my life. I really got down on myself about this) and yes, we did finish by going down SUPER narrow Ankney blvd. Those crosswalk/curbs literally stick out into the right lane. Get back to the pad and straight-line back her in and shut her down.

11am: Lunch (all of their breakfast, lunches, and dinners (while incredibly fattening) have been good. I wouldn't say one of them was "bad" or anything negative.

12p: Load securement for 4 straight hours. We were grouped up with the week 2 guys (we're week 1) and put into teams of 4. There were 2 loads on 4 or 5 trailers inside the shop bay and 2 teams of 4 working an assigned load. We had to break the securement down, and then the instructor worked with each team while the other teams watched, to show us how to then properly secure the loads. Load securement itself can kill you...nevermind the load. #snapbinders (we used them in training, but don't use them in the field. We are issued ratchet binders)

4p: Left for the hotel.

Tomorrow week 1 and week 2 groups will head out from the hotel at 7a for the training pad and will work all of the other loads that we as a team didn't work today until 2:15p.

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

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TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

Day 4:

630a: We go over final benefits

8a: We take 74 question HOS exam

11a: Lunch

12p: We start our securement training

430p: We get split up into 3 groups Sims, Straight Line Backing (Our first time being in the trucks), and Demo of the truck/trailer on the pad

530p: My group moves from Sims to the pad where each of us got to complete the straight line, offset, and parallel parking piece of the exam and it was awesome. Gave me a LOT of confidence to be able to do the maneuvers at night with very little/no light without hitting a cone, and actually start this portion of the training Monday morning with the sun up.

730p: They feed us at the training center.

830p: Back to the hotel.

Today we go out with a trainer and drive on back country roads until lunch, and then load securement the rest of the day.

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

I was considering TMC because I heard a lot of good things about their company. Flat bedding is intriguing and I like challenges. Do you think the extended time, effort and risk is worth doing flatbed? I wonder what experienced drivers feel about flatbed vs dry van? Is it worth the money?Do you like the people in the company that you have met? Does TMC put a lot of emphasis on safety?

I wonder if in the past trucking companies put so much time, money and effort to get truckers out on the road?

double-quotes-start.png

(Forgot to mention on day one that they did Urine only split drug test (no hair)).

Day 3:

6 am: Same start as 1 and 2, but we left the hotel at 6 am instead of 7 am to complete company mandatory videos.

8 am: Learn the 8hr, 11hr, 14hr, 70hr lines of the Qualcomm and go over paper logs (in fact, we have a 74 question exam tomorrow covering logs only).

10 am: We signed our contracts for the 12-month commitment.

11am: Lunch

1230p: Go over the MCP device this company uses

2p: Go over scaling and trip planning

3p: Watch videos involving TMC trucks in preventable and non-preventable accidents by way of watching via front/driver facing cameras. Some of the accidents blew our minds...one driver got out of the seat while driving down the interstate to get his blue tooth off his bunk. Yup...hit a bridge guardrail and then flipped over into the woods...and that was the 2nd accident he had been involved in.

430p: We missed the 4pm bus back to the hotel, and I didn't want to wait until 6pm for the next bus, so I grabbed a lyft.

double-quotes-end.png

As somebody who currently runs 4+ miles every morning and goes to the gym every day, Flatbed was my only option/hope to be able to maintain any type of activity level.

As for TMC...they are 100% about safety. Their securement standards are 150+% of load, instead of 50% per DOT reg.

As for the people being nice...it's not that they aren't nice, but they aren't treating their new hires like best friends, but they aren't being complete *******s to us either. It's my understanding that once you pass DOT CDL test, their treatment of you vastly changes.

All that being said, would I recommend TMC just off my first 4-days, yes I would. Very professional outfit.

Posted:  1 week, 4 days ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

James wrote:

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...and I need a bit more road time to help relax and have less tunnel vision while driving.

double-quotes-end.png

“Relaxed”.

Interesting topic, arguably over-rated. I think by definition we can never truly relax out here. It’s a job that demands 100%, total attentiveness. Over time you will become more comfortable, adequate, and things you must constantly think-about now will become more intuitive, second nature and how you “roll”. But honestly I never am truly relaxed out here. Never.

I call it “the zone”, a state of calm and cognitive awareness necessary to systematically maintain space management and safe operation. It took about 2 years before this took shape and became part of what I do out here. If this doesn’t make sense,...hit me with questions.

So...the tunnel vision? Yup...learn how to focus ahead, not directly in front. And scan left to right, right to left, never more than 5-10 seconds between mirror checks.

You will learn and eventually develop characteristics and skills that define what your “zone” is.

After watching those videos yesterday...especially the one where the driver was exonerated after a vehicle at the last possible second went from a dead stop in the left lane and then 90 degreed right into the front of the rig.

Told the cop that the driver was tailgating.

Thankfully A) he was doing everything he should have been doing (Safe following distance, speeds appropriate for driving conditions, scanning) per the driver facing cam B ) The driver was issued a ticket by the officer on the scene for following too closely despite never being behind the struck vehicle...but because of the forward facing cam, the ticket was dismissed. The 4-wheelers insurance pursued legal action against the driver, but once TMC's legal sent a copy of the dash cam video footage to the legal rep for the 4-wheeler, within 1-hour the lawsuit was dropped.

You literally can't relax out here. No way. You will blow an intersection or careen into a line of stopped cars at an intersection 5-days after you get issued your first company truck.

Posted:  1 week, 4 days ago

View Topic:

Wil-Trans diary

Not the only game in town:

Paid CDL Training Programs

^^^This is correct.

They are recruiters trying to pump you up. Wil-Trans, behind CR England, but before CFI, Rohel, TMC, KLLM, Stevens Transport, all made pre-hire offers to me and I could have started within 30-days if I wanted to with any of them.

I ultimately went w/ TMC.

Not to say Wil-Trans isn't a good option, just don't let them lead you to believe that they are the only team hiring.

Posted:  1 week, 4 days ago

View Topic:

TMC CDL (in-house) training day 1

(Forgot to mention on day one that they did Urine only split drug test (no hair)).

Day 3:

6 am: Same start as 1 and 2, but we left the hotel at 6 am instead of 7 am to complete company mandatory videos.

8 am: Learn the 8hr, 11hr, 14hr, 70hr lines of the Qualcomm and go over paper logs (in fact, we have a 74 question exam tomorrow covering logs only).

10 am: We signed our contracts for the 12-month commitment.

11am: Lunch

1230p: Go over the MCP device this company uses

2p: Go over scaling and trip planning

3p: Watch videos involving TMC trucks in preventable and non-preventable accidents by way of watching via front/driver facing cameras. Some of the accidents blew our minds...one driver got out of the seat while driving down the interstate to get his blue tooth off his bunk. Yup...hit a bridge guardrail and then flipped over into the woods...and that was the 2nd accident he had been involved in.

430p: We missed the 4pm bus back to the hotel, and I didn't want to wait until 6pm for the next bus, so I grabbed a lyft.

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