Profile For Professor X

Professor X's Info

  • Location:
    Columbus, OH

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:
    Professor X On The Web

  • Joined Us:
    4 years, 10 months ago

Professor X's Bio

Former international teacher/instructor/instructional designer, now moving into the trucking industry. Ironically, to pay off the abhorrent student loan debt accrued for a degree that does not command a high enough salary to pay back said loans. Xavier hails from the Phoenix metro area and is looking to go OTR, then possibly Owner/Operator. Starting off with Roehl, he will join their flatbed fleet upon the completion of his Class A CDL and training with Roehl.

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Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Final Recap and Impressions of Roehl and Their Get Your CDL Program

Hrmmm...

Seems I went too far into the nuance of what I experienced, and should have just kept it simple. Especially since some of the audience seems to have really missed my point.

Yes, I signed a contract understanding there would be consequences for early termination. Yes, I plan on honoring the part of leaving early, paying back every penny owed (with a smile on my face). No, I was not under ANY delusion that paying back $7,000 was optional. No, I am not complaining at all about the money I owe, or will owe. However... Yes, I am very upset that a company would leave someone with the equivalent of minimum wage on their final check. Yes, it was a consequence in the verbiage of the contract, and I accept it (begrudgingly). No, I did not remember that part (about the final check), and that is my fault.

As for Roehl as a whole: I have no problems with them. Still don't. I would still highly recommend their program to anyone. Rather, the point of the original post(s) being that they practice taking that large of a portion (would be even more, had I made more that week) is what left me distraught. I am not attempting to give anyone the impression that Roehl is bad. They're not. Their program, as I have mentioned tirelessly through all of my postings, may be difficult, but it is excellent. Were some of the instructors *******s? Yup. Were some of the dispatchers and management rude? Yup. Not changing my opinion there.

For myself, I am in no way looking to make trucking a long-term career (pretty sure I have mentioned this in previous threads, but if not... well, now you know ^,^). I know many come into this business with the opposite in mind. Maybe doing what I did is not the best move for others. However, after going over the details of my new position exhaustively for about 6 weeks, I came to the conclusion that the payoff was far better for me to switch. I have always kept in mind that I would owe Roehl $7,000 (possibly more, due to legal fees).

As an aside, if my posts are enough to derail and affect in any way, "What we are trying to do here", then what you are doing is shaky and fragile, at best. I do not see it that way, and instead, my contributions, I feel, can help others make better decisions for themselves:

Maybe NOT switching companies is a better idea. Maybe there ARE better offers which can work to a driver's favor. Maybe foraging their own path, branching off of the paths others, is what will be their story. Maybe not EVERYONE has the same goal, but can relate to a small minority. Maybe the whole Roehl training experience, as well as staying with the company, is the best thing that will ever happen for someone.

Again, no company - or person, for that matter - is perfect. They have some things they can work on, so do I... and clearly, so do many of those who responded with such ire and disdain to my posts.

It is truly dissuading yet funny to see the snowflakes in here melt from this one post, where I shared my experience; shared my feelings about the process; and left it for others to make their own decision. Had I known this would have lit such a fire under so many behinds in here, I would have been more sensitive (I guess), and really pulled back on the details. What I listed earlier in this response is the gist of the message I tried to convey, but I seemed to have failed some of you with it.

As for attacking my professional background, and educational background. Cool! Doesn't change what I have earned, nor what I have accomplished ^,^ Keep on flaming, if that helps you sleep easy ^,^

Finally, I make no apologies for my disgust towards those who tailgate; those who brake check with 40 tons of rolling death; those who fail to yield right of way; those who fail to use turn signals; those who leave the rest of the public to think that, just because they had a horrible experience with a ****ty trucker, all of us are.

Trucking is supposed to be a profession represented by professionals (at least that's what I hear). Good luck to all, new and old. My decision to switch has been truly rewarding, I enjoy my new position and schedule. I will try to remember to check back in three years on this post... Just in case ^,^

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Flatbed First-timer, from Teaching to Trucking

I want to both respond, and alert. I did make a new thread regarding my departure from Roehl (and the consequences of my actions). I recommend to those looking for a program to read and consider what I did, and if the overall program will work for them.

PackRat - It probably did, but he was off to the side. Not sure if it would have caught his trailer number, but I sure as hell did on my phone ^,^

Matt W. - It was not a concern for me since they were from long before, so I am not too sure what to tell you. I did take time (back then) to get documents from these institutions which has an authority figure confirming my time at the institutions and their recommendations of my work. I would suggest you do the same and save those documents, hard copy and digitally.

Avvatar - Things seem to just fade into the background, really. I reported it... the door and mirror were eventually fixed... nothing was ever spoken about it, again. Don't get me wrong, the follow up had its own adventures (like getting caught in the stupid Polar Vortex during the time I spent on the road trying to get the door fixed, and my heater stopped working), but it was never really spoken of after then. As for my FM, she seemed a bit shocked, asked me how I was, and we just moved on.

TexanTwoStep - Thanks ^,^ However, I am no longer a flatbed driver. I decided I wanted to make things a bit easier on myself, plus get paid significantly more... I made a post mentioning it, but the topic was more about the consequences of me leaving Roehl too soon (before I completed my 120,000 miles obligation).

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Final Recap and Impressions of Roehl and Their Get Your CDL Program

Continuing from first post...

I completed the interview that evening, giving a 9/10 for recommending the program to others. Had I known about this charge and withdraw from my final check, I would not have rated so high.

I must make another point very clear. I did in fact sign a document that clearly stated, "Deduction of Amounts Owed From Wages. By signing this Agreement you agree to allow Roehl to offset and deduct any and all amounts owed by you pursuant to this Agreement from any pay owed by Roehl to provided that any deduction will not contravene state or federal law or reduce your wage to an extent prohibited by any state or federal law."

Yes, I am an English teacher... Yes, this is me copying exactly as it is written... Yes, the grammatical errors and typos drive me crazy (I even hate it when I look back at my previous writings which have errors >,<). I digress...

So, am I obligated to surrender nearly 80% of my final paycheck? According to this, it seems so. However, $800 is a massive cut. It does go towards the $7,000 I will owe, but I was not anticipating this large of a chunk. The rationalization of this by Roehl is that it's the equivalent of minimum wage for a typical work week (244.05). They said that federal law will support them on this.

I am not too sure about that, but I am also not a lawyer... buuuuuut, I am now purchasing Driver Legal through JB Hunt, maybe I can get some advice from them on this matter.

Where does this leave me? Well, it leaves me living in a truck for another two weeks. One of the other reasons why I took this position with JB Hunt was because I get two days off a week. I do not have to be out on the road for 25-35 days (which is something they don't make very clear, but it is what you sign on for with national flatbed division, with Roehl). I was looking forward to renting a place and finally enjoying the occasional downtime, NOT in a truck. Sadly, that will have to continue to wait another 14-21 days (need to get paid, first).

Why do I share all of this so transparently? Why not?... If I can help someone else make a more informed decision on where they receive their training, then all the better. If I can also alert/warn others to the ramifications of their own actions that may not have been made very clear, then all the better. I got burned, on part, from my own doing. Though, I would also lump part of said responsibility on the shoulders of Roehl not taking the time to clearly outline the consequences. They do produce the documents and have you sign and read them, but they do it quickly. My guess is so that you do not try and read things and understand them fully.

Sounds familiar... Sounds just like the very reason I am sitting here waiting to get my next truckload. I thought I knew what I was getting into with student loan debt.

... Nope. No, I did not.

As an aside, the orientation and training with JB Hunt went quickly and smoothly. I am already on-board and ready to take on my next assignment ^,^ And so far, they have treated me more like an adult, here, than what I previously experienced. Here is to hoping that, in a few weeks, I will feel like a human being, again ^,^

Also, this position should feel like a vacation, since I will never had to strap/tarp, and the loads are 90% drop and hook, 10% live load. Zero touch freight. I can finally purchase nice gloves that will last longer than two weeks ^,^

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Final Recap and Impressions of Roehl and Their Get Your CDL Program

This is not a fun post to write, but it is one that will be my final post regarding Roehl. I feel it needs to be shared, since I was shocked at what transpired at the end of my employment with them (as of 3/8/2019). It is related to their Get Your CDL program and my time there, so if you are considering this program, please be sure to consider what I am sharing in this post, too.

Let me start off by saying that the actual program is good and worth the time and effort. It may seem like a steep hill to climb, but it's both a recognized program by a number of other companies, and is one that will take a true beginner (like myself), and develop the skills needed to be a new, yet worthy, Class A driver on the road. Ultimately, it is up to you and your real driving habits to demonstrate that you can be a professional in this industry, but they do provide insight and tutelage that can help you make the leap. I say this because not every person is a good driver (as I have learned in greater detail over these past few months. Some of the other big rig drivers on the road leave me with a poor impression of the overall industry (STOP TAILGATING).

Next, Roehl as a company overall is fairly reputable and attempts to remain as professional as any company out there. That is to go with saying, they also have some issues that need to be hashed out from time to time. You cannot judge an entire company based off of your interactions with one, two, or even three coworkers, you have to take the whole pie and examine the pieces. I had some bumps in the road; some of which I mentioned in the beginning, as the instructors tried to strong-arm me into signing documents that I was no obligated to sign (they cannot force you to give over the permission to use your photo/image in their advertisements. Period.) Also, never sign a document that says you received something you never actually received. Period.

I will never forget when they tried to use the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum (if everyone else believes it, it must be true), that everyone else who came before just signed the documents. Well, that's all fine and good, and that is their problem. However, you now have someone who has actually -read- what is in these documents and does not agree with the verbiage. "You never provided me with these books or information. Why would I sign this?"

Anyways, this would also come back to haunt me, because I was not prepared (financially) for what would happen when I found a much better, higher paying position with another company very recently, and decided it was worth the money to jump ship (before completing my obligation to Roehl).

I want to be very clear, you are not their slave, nor are you bound by blood to complete their 120,000 promised miles; there is a second option, even after signing the contract. I was just unaware of how vicious Roehl would be about it. You will owe them $7,000 for the training received. Was the amount worth the training? I absolutely believe so. They pay you for each week (they claim $500 a week, but it is actually $90/day, with Saturdays being a half day, equaling $50). There was Thanksgiving Day which passed while I was there, and we were short $90 on that paycheck. C'est la vie. You get a hotel room (shared with another student), and they provide lunch. They claim breakfast, too, but it was the hotel's breakfast and it was to be desired... Blegh! Finally, you are trained in a great location that gives you a chance to deal with a number of recurring scenarios when you get started on the road.

Back to what I will owe...

Since I first started driving solo with Roehl, I racked up around 27,000-30,000 miles. That leaves me about 1/4 of the way to being freed from owing $7,000 for my CDL training. I found a position with another company recently that had me wondering if switching would be worth it. This position is no secret, you just had to find it on their website. I will be moving over to Van on a DCS account for JB Hunt. I am going from 0.435/mile to 0.520/mile; over the course of a year, that is a massive difference! On top of which, I get a $10,000 transition bonus! Shazam! There are additional perks and payments that will add up, plus weekly guaranteed pay. All of these things totaled up to a great move for myself, so I decided to take it.

Just the transition bonus, alone, will help cover the costs of the Get Your CDL program... Got my ass covered!

This brings me to what was shocking, and I was hit with last night on my final paycheck from Roehl. I did try to plead with them that this was rather harsh and it places me in a position where I have to continue living in the truck for another two weeks - they showed zero sympathy. Basically, my final paycheck should have amounted to $1,049.65 (for 2,771 miles, plus extras). Instead, I was given just $244.05 (payable Thursday). They took out over $800 from my final paycheck... That felt I was knifed in the back as I was walking away by a malicious and resentful friend. When I left on my final day, everyone was very kind and wished me well. It felt like I was leaving on good terms.

Now, I feel like that was all a ploy. More importantly, they had someone call to conduct an exit interview. The caller was quite persistent that it be completed that day (Monday), which I had no issues with. They just called while I was in orientation with JB Hunt.

To be continued...

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Flatbed First-timer, from Teaching to Trucking

Wow, it has been a while since I have had time to be on here ^,^

Thank you for the replies... I am currently driving across the country (in my car), and will update as to the reason why, hopefully tomorrow night. Also, I will try to touch base with the comments. Sorry for the delay ^,^ I am just super tired; too tired to respond at the moment.

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

View Topic:

Paid cdl training that still uses manual trucks

I attended Roehl's Get Your CDL program. Was paid and we trained on manual transmissions. One of their locations (in GA, I believe) only does automatics. I went in November 2018 to train in Marshfield, WI... Only ever drove stick-shift. Good luck and I hope you find what you're looking for. However, as the others have already mentioned... Nearly all major fleets are switching to automatics.

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

View Topic:

Flatbed First-timer, from Teaching to Trucking

So, it has been nearly two weeks, and so much has happened! I have only been a driver for a little over a month, and I have countless stories to share... I cannot fathom what a 5-year, 10-year, even 20+ -year veteran has seen. People are absolutely crazy on the road! Additionally, so are many of our fellow truck drivers >,<

What I experienced just a few days ago was the one of the most terrifying moments of my life, and I wasn't even behind the wheel when it happened.

While deep asleep, I was suddenly woken up because my room was shaking and rattling, violently. The scream-like sound of metal grinding against metal and plastic, breaking glass... My room, tiny and pitch black, gave me the sense that I had been placed into a death trap with no escape.

Not once in my life did I ever consider what I would do in that kind of situation, until now.

First, I sat up faster than I think I have ever done so in my entire life. I tried to figure out which direction the sound was coming from and backing away (I couldn't see anything at that moment, and thought I was being crushed in a trash compactor. For about 5 seconds, I really thought I was stuck in my truck while it was being demolished). Once I figured out I wasn't being killed, I quickly opened my blackout curtain, pulled aside my window curtains and spotted someone pulling away. I jumped out of my truck, phone in hand, and wearing only my boxers. Bare foot, I ran up to his trailer and grabbed photos as quickly as I could.

This guy... This f**kin' guy... He finally stops, gets out, walks up to me says, "What's wrong?"

You just f**king hit me! That's what's wrong... sheesh! He grinded severe damage to the driver side door and completely ripped my driver side mirror off. Not the best way to be woken up 45 minutes before your alarm >,<

As a flatbed driver, there is something about most of our trailers we never have to be worried about, unlike most van drivers (which he was). That the tail extends out past the axles, and he obviously had not considered enough distance for his turn. Additionally, I can only imagine at the moment that when a trucker hits someone accidentally with a trailer, we may not even realize it, depending on how the collision occurs. That said, I can understand why he might jump out of his truck confused.

However, his braking and slow going away from me made me think he knew he messed up and was trying to see if I would have noticed. Oh... I ABSOLUTELY noticed. I am glad I didn't have a damn heart attack!

I also want to mention that, during this same delivery, I was cut off by a 15-passenger van as it dive-bombed in between me and a school bus while passing me on the right and tailgating the school bus. I am guessing there was maybe a foot or two on either end. Hit my brakes to avoid any impact which I think inadvertently shifted the top tier of my load. I hadn't noticed for maybe 30+ miles! When I did, I immediately pulled over for an emergency stop and got on the phone with my FM.

After some testing and inspecting over the course of the next 90 miles with multiple stops along the way, it never moved again. Not even after getting the s**t scared out of me at the rest stop the next day >,<

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

View Topic:

Flatbed First-timer, from Teaching to Trucking

So, I will try to make this a twice-a-month thing where I come on and talk about my experiences as a first-time trucker (in his early 40's). I never pictured myself being in control of 25-40 tons of rolling death, but here I am. Placed in a situation that may be quite familiar to others just joining the industry; maybe even relatable to those who have been in the trade 5, 10, or even 20 years: I needed a better income.

Before now, I spent the past decade in higher education. I taught at some very notable schools in the US - including Arizona State and Ohio State - as well as spent nearly a year in both Japan and Saudi Arabia, teaching those who want to learn English at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I love teaching... I mean, I truly have a passion for it. It is where my heart is. I even started my career teaching college level phys-ed, then later was inspired to do even more, eventually earning my master's degree in TESOL & Bilingual Education.

But, that degree came at a price... about $84,000. I felt that I could work my way up to a level within higher-ed that would help me pay back the $850 bill that came each month. As each year passed by, the opportunities were there, but the money simply was not. It would take a long tenure to build up a reasonable income (and most schools do not offer tenure to those with master's, especially in my field). Then, if I was lucky, I would be stuck paying my loans on top of everything else just to survive.

I had to find a different solution, and quick. My loan has since ballooned to over $100,000.

After much debate and rationalizing; and, after more than 200 job applications with ZERO job offers... I surrendered myself to the simple fact that trucking may offer a situation that nothing else can: I could live in the truck, eliminating some of life's most exuberant costs. No rent, no electricity, no gas or fuel, no water, and no cable bill. All of which I could funnel into what I need to manage, my student loan debt. I just received my first payday from driving last week, and it was WAY more than anything I ever made teaching a college level semester.

Now, sitting for a 34 at a Denny's in a Flying J in snow covered Ogden, Utah, I am happy I have made the career move. Not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. I have taken the time to make a financial plan to get out of debt in the next 3 years. If I stick to it, and if the trucking industry in kinder to me than higher-ed was, it will be no problem. By kinder, I mean have job opportunities that I can actually apply for and get.

Some readers will remember me from my thread on Roehl Transport's Get Your CDL program review. I bring this up because that is where this all began, and I am still with the company in their OTR flatbed division. Quickly after graduating, I was placed with a trainer and have since completed the internal qualifications and have driven more than 6,000 miles in just over two weeks, solo. By Wednesday, when I drop off this load, I will be around 7,500 miles.

Getting here was an adventure, and it did involve two different trainers. The first of which left me with the impression that he didn't much care to actually teach. Oddly, he directly said that he didn't volunteer to become a trainer, they just asked him and he (supposedly) reluctantly agreed. Either way, he definitely did not have the air about him of being someone who wants to teach or train.

I still learned a great deal from him in those 11 days, but was left with just as many, if not more, questions before we were separated. We shared a fleet manager, and that person didn't want to have any blow-back, so I was dropped off at a nearby terminal and flown home to finish out my training with a local driver in Phoenix, AZ. All in all, I feel I was able to get a strong enough foundation to get the ball rolling; I have a strong feeling that learning will be in the terms of months and years, not days and weeks. I will need to learn so much more while on my own on the open road. And, so far that has been the case.

If I were to give any advice, as a greenhorn, it would be: Never be afraid to speak to other truckers on the road. However, do so with great scrutiny and some speculation. Remember, you are asking someone for their opinion and anecdotal advice. Listen to what a seasoned trucker has to say, compare it with what else you have heard... Mix in your personal experience, and grow!

I will do a follow-up post later this evening (most likely) and share some of the stories I already have from crossing the country almost three times in two-and-a-half weeks, as well as some of the adventures from training, both with the OTR and Local drivers.

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 9 months ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Wow! 3 Weeks, 4 Days Ago...

That was the last time I updated this blog. So much has transpired since then, maybe I should update what has happened ^,^

Currently, I am sitting in my truck. That's right, the truck issued to me by Roehl! I was not expecting everything to move as quickly as it did. However, by making myself available and not turning down any opportunities that came my way, I feel that I made all the right moves and have gotten my career going.

The last thing I spoke about was the classroom session that was indoors all day. The next day (Day 26, the final day), we went to the practice area where we were able to do some mock load securement. There was an old spindle for coiled steel on a flatbed, as well as some other products we ship regularly. I think that they had received those real products from loads that were a bust. Really doesn't matter, we were able to get some faux-authentic practice in. We learned a few different techniques for tossing straps, and we were given challenges to complete the best possible load securement using the required minimum. We also learned about the various tools at our disposal, as well as tools we could invest in for ourselves.

The day ended with a final exam (scored a 90% and finished nearly 30 minutes before anyone else - I am a nerd at heart). Then, it was me racing out the door to check out of the hotel as soon as possible. Not because I wanted to get out of there (... mostly ^,^), but rather, I was trying to beat a storm that was coming in. Thankfully, I got ahead of it - or rather, below it - and rested up in Des Moines before making my way back to Arizona. We were asked by the instructors to get our printed CDL as soon as possible and submit it to Safety. They wanted to get us with a trainer as quickly as possible with the upcoming holiday. Typically, it takes about a week to get setup with a trainer and they tend to give 6-7 days off after the CDL program.

I wasted no time and arrived in the Phoenix area Sunday night. The very next morning, I stood outside the doors to the BMV and patiently waited for them to open. Once they did, I waited my turn (it was NOT busy, which was really strange). I sat down with one of the workers, and about 10 minutes later, walked out with my paper copy of my CDL! The hard plastic version would be sent to me a few days later.

Once I left, I sat in my car and took photos to send to Safety at Roehl. I called shortly after to check to make sure I did it right. Nobody answered, so I left a voicemail...

About 15 minutes later, I get a phone call from Wisconsin...

"Hey, we just received your CDL. We really appreciate that you did this so quickly. You are the first one from your start week to submit it. Could you possibly start your training tomorrow?"

"... Wait, whaaaa? Um, yes! Of course. I was expecting to spend this week just relaxing, but would be happy to get the ball rolling!"

I had setup an AirBNB for the week, but managed to get it cancelled and refunded (kudos to AirBNB ^,^). I pulled everything together and prepped my bags. I visited with some friends, briefly, then arrived Tuesday morning at the Roehl terminal in Phoenix. I met up with my trainer around 11am, after which we hit the highway for my first trip OTR.

Here is the irony... I am doing the exact same delivery (slightly different product) that I did when I was in training ^,^ Guess the shipper and consignee are regular customers ^,^

If there are some of you that have read this who would like to hear about some of my experience with the trainer, please let me know. I will share as much as possible in a different thread (I can't disclose everything, I really like working for Roehl ^,^). Other than that, I hope this accomplishes what I had set out to do nealry 2 months ago. I will check back from time to time to see if any new comments have been left. I will respond to all who have questions and give you the best possible answers I can ^,^

Thank all of you for taking the time to read!

Sincerely, Professor X

(Yes... that will be my CB handle)

Posted:  4 years, 9 months ago

View Topic:

My journey to Roehl

Very nice! I just noticed this thread ^,^

Thanks for the shout-out, I hope my experience helped, and I hope what Aubrey contributes here can be a benefit to many more. I am now a solo driver in the Flatbed division! On my first load cross country right now. Going to do a 34-hour and deliver on Thursday (unless I am told I can drop off early ^,^).

Cheers!

-Professor X

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