Profile For EricTheRed

EricTheRed's Info

  • Location:
    LIVINGSTON, TX

  • Driving Status:
    In CDL School

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    1 month, 1 week ago

EricTheRed's Bio

39 year old nomadic soul preparing for a profound career shift and new journey in the trucking industry.

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Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

My Prime Orientation PSD/TNT Journey (Extremely Detailed)

My PSD phase is almost over. We’ll probably knock out one more load before heading back to Springfield. I’m doing really well on my pre-trip, although I need to get a little tighter on some of it. I really hope to trifecta and that’s my focus right now. I need to get this 30,000 miles of TNT behind me so I can see my family, friends and get my little dog with me on my own truck (I miss her in ways words can’t describe).

With PSD phase coming to a close, my advice to those coming into it is just flip a switch in your head. I’ll be straight here and say it… this is all gonna suck. There is really nothing easy or enjoyable about what I’ve been through since first boarding that bus. BUT, there are a plethora of signs showing me, without a doubt, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The grass is greener. But only for those who can get there. Only for those who have the mental capacity to make it that far.

If you go into it weak minded this probably isn’t going to work. If you going into expecting things to go your way, expecting things to be comfortable or enjoyable, etc… you’re going to have a tough time. It’s hard. Very hard.

I will say this, though. In my time of PSD I’ve driven through Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. I’ve seen wind, rain, snow, ice, sun rises and sunsets. Canyons, grassland, badlands, 13,000 foot peaks and lake valleys. It was 28 degrees one morning and 72 the next. It’s a trip. And you only get to enjoy it if you can power through the challenges that come with it.

Hopefully this gives everyone a different perspective of this process. I didn’t want to just post the schedule. Wanted to try and present a full perspective that could be consumed and understand by all.

I think this gets me caught up. Will come back and update after Springfield and as TNT kicks off.

Good luck out there and stay safe! More updates to follow.

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

My Prime Orientation PSD/TNT Journey (Extremely Detailed)

Eric, thanks for the posts. I'm heading out for school with CRST early in May, in Cedar Rapids. Your experience gives me some idea of what I might be able to expect. My Greyhound leaves at midnight. Good luck to you.

That's awesome! Good luck and have fun with that Greyhound ride!

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

My Prime Orientation PSD/TNT Journey (Extremely Detailed)

Great posts, Eric!good-luck.gif

Thanks! Will try to update as much as possible.

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

My Prime Orientation PSD/TNT Journey (Extremely Detailed)

That said there are some adjustments that I’ve had to make. His smoking for example… he doesn't just smoke. He chain smokes. He’s a two pack a day guy. At least. He does at least have the decency to not smoke in the bed because he knows he would hot box me up here in the top bunk. But even smoking up front it didn’t take long for everything I own to smell like an ash tray. It sucks but whatever. Life goes on.

That said, it means that when I shift to the drivers seat there is ash EVERYWHERE. In the door handle area, all over the floor, all over the steering wheel, in the gauges, on top of the steering wheel, in the cup holders… everywhere. And if it’s windy that ash just blows around all over the truck.

Once we hit the road he wasted no time in throwing me into the deep end. He runs HARD. We’ve now been on the road for 8 days, I think, and we’ve completed a 600 mile run/load, a 1700 mile run and are on a 34 hour reset before dropping off a 2,000 mile run Thursday morning. My third day driving I pounded out 500 miles of my own. Yesterday I knocked down nearly 500 of my own, most of which was two lane going from north of Salt Lake City to just east of Gallup New Mexico. It’s nearly all two lane with twisty climbs and descents, construction zones and constant 45 mile zones while going in and out of indian reservations. Not to mention the most unlevel and wavy road I’ve ever experienced. We generally put in about 13-14 hours a day start to finish. With nothing more than a 30 minute break and occasional pee/cigarette re-supply stops that last no longer than 10 minutes.

I think some trainers help their students with a more gentle adjustment period. Mine did not. We ran hard the first day and until today our mission has been to eat, sleep, drive. Period. No down time. No time to walk around and stretch. No time to clear the mind in a driver’s lounge, etc. It’s literally eat, sleep and drive. He runs like this 24/7 until his HOS service dictate he stops. And he’s done it for some 7 years now. He only goes home maybe once every four months. He’s a f****ing machine. And he expects me to be one right there alongside him.

For the first 5 or so days he would watch my every move like a hawk. Opining on what I did wrong or right, offering tips/pointers, etc. After that he starting spending more time watching his phone while I cracked out the miles. I think he’s generally confident with my understanding of the pedal, the way the truck reacts to what I do, how it climbs and hauls down mountains, the rules of the road, what to watch for, etc. I’ve been backing into spots at truck stops. My turns, both left and right are getting better. But while him taking his eyes off me has been refreshing a bit, it’s also the source of some of my annoyances.

You see, him watching his phone means he’s not really always in tune with the situation around us. Yet, many times a day he’ll come up from his phone and jump on me for something that I just want to be like WTF dude? Like, for example, he’ll look up at the Qualcomm and realize I’m only doing 54, not the 58 or 62 he prefers. He’ll say something like “come on you’re going too slow you need to get it moving so we aren’t wasting time” or something like that. Not even realizing that I’ve got the pedal hammered down and this truck sometimes struggles against slight inclines and wind. There is only so much I can do dude. I will always go the speed limit that I can legally go, and that the governor allows me to go without wasting fuel. I don’t need to be constantly told I need to speed up. If I’m not sped up there is a good and legitimate f***king reason for it.

He also hung me up in Spokane a few days ago. He was looking at his phone when I saw a sign that said “through traffic use left two lanes.” So, naturally, I got in the right left lane. He looked up a minute later and said I was too far to the left of the 5 lane highway and demanded I move a couple lanes to the right. I tried to say the sign directed me to that lane but he wasn’t having it. Sure enough, about a mile later all three of those lanes came to an abrupt end, forcing me to get all jammed up in traffic trying to work my way across packed lanes to get back to one of the two lanes that actually continued on, and that I should have been in all along.

But hey… he’s the captain of this ship. I’m not going to argue. I’m going to learn from him, learn how to do all of this and move on with my new career. So I don’t talk back. Don’t try to be all prideful about it, etc. I just take it all and move on.

Also, he can get very cranky. When he’s in a bad mood I just stay the hell out of his path. If his fuel lane has an out of order DEF pump and he has to circle all the way around and wait for a new lane to open up… hell hath no fury like… well you get the picture. The good news is he cheers back up pretty quickly. I just let him fume and sit quietly.

It’s all a part of the journey. All a part of the test. I wouldn’t say I’m fully adjusted just yet. But at least none of it is any longer a mystery. I know what to expect now. I know what it’s going to be like. And that has helped me push forward.

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

My Prime Orientation PSD/TNT Journey (Extremely Detailed)

It will drain you. It will stress you out. It will make you tired beyond words. But then come Wednesday and Thursday you get to rest and relax while everyone else is scrambling to figure it all out. Well worth the hardcore two day investment for the reward it brings on the third and fourth day.

On Thursday morning a few were booted for drug tests. Some booted for file review. Some couldn’t get through physical, some booted for being late and a lot had quit. We were down to maybe 65 for Thursday morning roll call, and I think down to about 50 for roll call the following day. This was down from around 95 at roll call just four days earlier.

Those who made it got purple badges that would provide access to the main Prime facilities and would begin the process of entering PSD phase.

Did some final classes and such on Thursday, then Friday morning we were rewarded with an epic breakfast at the Millenium building. We got a tour of all facilities, then broke for lunch and told to come back to Plaza to get our first shot at bobtailing a tractor/truck around the practice area that afternoon.

I got back to the Plaza early, got my spot in the classroom and when roll call came a guy yelled at me from the back of the room telling me to stay put when everyone else went out onto the practice pad.

This guy turned out to be my trainer. He wasn’t interested in me going out on the pad. He intended to pull me from class before it even began, thus initiating my PSD phase.

That was it. It was a LONG week, yet everything had happened so fast. I got off that stinking bus on Sunday morning, the 24th of March, and now less than a week later I was about to hit the road with a PSD trainer. I had read about this so many times here on this forum. And to be experiencing it myself was almost surreal. It was here. I was about to learn to drive a truck and see if I could make it as an OTR driver for Prime.

I had endured Orientation. I had made it through the week long interview process. I survived the filter. Orientation was now behind me. PSD ahead.

PSD PHASE - When my trainer introduced himself in the classroom at the Plaza I thought I was getting a bit of a head start on the others. I had read about others taking a week or more to get a trainer and I wasn’t interested in waiting around like that. I also heard non-smokers can sometimes have a tougher time getting trainers. My trainer took me outside and immediately lit up a cigarette. Oh boy… I don’t smoke. I had made that clear in all of my documentation. Yet here was this smoker talking to me and telling me he was putting me on his truck for both PSD and TNT.

When I came to Prime I was convinced I wouldn’t have to be with a smoker. But when push came to shove… my care about it went, pun intended… up in smoke. F**k it I thought. I did smoke for ten years earlier in life and I didn’t want to delay any of this any longer than it needed to be. I know I could have turned him down and waited for another trainer, but again… my mission here is to learn everything I can, become a professional driver and then GTFO there in my own truck making money.

My thinking that I was ahead of the game turned out to not be true. Turns out his truck was going in for repairs the following Monday morning. He was going to put me on the backing pad at 5:00 AM Saturday morning, then have me drive with a trailer for a few hours in and around Springfield at 5:00 AM Sunday.

One good thing about this minor delay is that I needed to do laundry and would be able to keep my room at Campus Inn until Monday. I was also given a new meal card and could now use it at the Grille over at Millenium. MUCH better food. Much better environment. For the most part it was a weekend of rest, laundry and occasional pre-trip reading. Some of my fellow classmates were leaving and hitting the road. I was a little because I just wanted to get this phase going and move on, but truth be told I was grateful for the small break before it began. My roommate was yanked from his slumber at 2:00 AM that Sunday morning with no warning from his trainer and no time for laundry. I know he would have prefered the break I had, and for that reason I was ok with it all.

A LITTLE ABOUT MY TRAINER - I’m not going to name him. And what I say here is not meant to be negative on him. Everyone is going to have their quirks. Just as he has things that drive me nuts… I’m sure I annoy him occasionally too.

Generally speaking, my trainer is a great guy. I really like him in terms of his personality and I think we’ve become friends pretty quickly. He’s financially motivated on the training program and doesn’t pretend otherwise, but I also genuinely think he cares about making his trainees good drivers. He’s an excellent veteran driver who has been with Prime for a long time. He gets good loads and a ton of miles.

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

My Prime Orientation PSD/TNT Journey (Extremely Detailed)

The roommate thing working out was a really big deal. I’m relatively socially introverted. Very introverted, actually. I also try really hard to keep good hygiene practices alive and well at all times, and I don’t want to have to stress about whether or not my personal belongings are going to be messed with.

That Sunday morning before Mike arrived it became very apparent to me this could have gone south in a hurry. I don’t mean to sound negative on any of my fellow classmates. I mean, to each their own. Different strokes for different folks. And for some good hygiene seemed to be an afterthought. Some played loud music from their rooms. Some were outside chain smoking all day. Some were extremely socially active and would spend every extra minute of the day telling stories to anyone who would listen.

No offense folks… but I’m here to learn how to become a professional driver. Not for social hour and treating orientation like a bar without booze. My mission was simple. Learn everything possible, excel as best as I could and GTFO.

Mike’s mission was exactly the same. He was the perfect roommate. And through this mutual understanding we became good friends without ever having to say much. We still text each other daily as PSD is coming to a close for both of us. It really worked out and I’m extremely happy with the way it all went down.

We both laid in bed all day that Sunday with our CDL Prep apps open. We studied, studied, studied more and then studied more. We were down the hall yapping about nonsense. We just studied. All day.

Monday morning arrived and the hardest day of the entire week began to unravel. You read about being shuffled around like cattle but it doesn’t become real enough until you experience it in full force. There were I think 95 students at first roll call. We were broken into four groups, each with a custom schedule based on group assigned. My group was to start at File Review, then move to drug test followed by DOT physical. I purposefully sat at the back of the room so that I could be one of the first out once I knew where I had to go. That strategy was successful.

I was 5th in line at file review and got right through within minutes. Many others who dilly dallied didn’t have the same experience. I immediately bolted to drug testing. While I was maybe 15th or so in line, it took a LONG time. I think I was in that line for an hour and a half. It seemed excruciating. To help pass the time I opened up the CDL Prep app and continued to study.

It should be noted that I went through the entire High Road Training Program on this site before going to Springfield. That was wise, as would be later proven at testing time. Thanks to having gone through the High Road online courses, the CDL Prep app was really just teaching me how to take everything I knew and segment it into the kind of questions the test would give me.

I finally got to the stage of the peeing in a cup, knocked that out then bolted down the hall to the room for weight, eyes, hearing, height, etc. Got through that and pondered breaking for lunch before going through the pain of the rest of the physical segments (Blood pressure, physical review, etc) and opted to just get it over with. That part was about two hours of bizarre musical chairs. Wait 5-10 minutes, then shift one seat over. For two full hours. While listening to some of the silliest nonsensical small talk I’ve ever heard.

Got through all of that and then went to eat. Thanks to getting through it all a bit earlier I had a little time to kill. So I studied more. Then went to my first simulator class. Got through that then went to dinner, then back to room for late shower and more studying.

Next morning arrived with an early class then groups were told to prepare to go test for CDL permit. I wasn't going to wait around. I wanted to be one of the first to test and I was. I think 5th or so to get into line at the DMV. I was a bit stressed but felt I was well prepared. I ended up getting through them all with a 100% on general knowledge, 87% on airbrakes, 100% on tanker and 94% on combination vehicles.

Got my permit and because I tested so early in the day I had some free time to kill. So I spent the afternoon cranking through my CBTs. They say it takes around 5 hours for the CBTs but I don't see how that's possible. I didn't screw around with them and in total it took me closer to 6 and a half for all of it. Maybe I was doing something wrong but to me it seemed like there was well over 5 hours of content there in all of the CBTs.

Anyway got through about half of my CBTs that afternoon. Went to Sim class then finished the CBTs later that night. Wednesday rolled around with various classes and such. Worked my way through them and began to read through pre-trip. I found that because I didn't have any issue with the CDL permit, physical, file review or anything else I began to have free time. Whereas those who weren't as well prepared were still scrambling to get things done. A lot had failed multiple attempts at the permit test, many had issues on file review and there were quite a few still working on CBTs.

If I could give one piece of advise to new students headed to orientation it would be this. Study your brains out, have your paperwork in order and do not mess around with anything on Monday or Tuesday. Get into everything as early as you can, and get everything done the second you can.

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

My Prime Orientation PSD/TNT Journey (Extremely Detailed)

It's Tuesday, April 9th, 2019. For the first time in about 17 days I have time to stop, ponder this journey and put it all into words. I just finished laundry at a Flying J/Pilot. Had an AMAZING shower last night upon arrival. And later this afternoon will do some pre-trip practice. My trainer and I are stuck having to complete a 34 hour reset to get some hours back. It's both refreshing and painful. But I now have time to reflect and do my best to document this journey to date. I don't want to do the "here was my orientation schedule" thing as many others do that and I don't want to sound like a broken record. I want to document this all from as unique a perspective as possible. And due to the character/word limits on each post... this will be a multi-section/post update. I'm currently finishing PSD and will, in a few days, head back to Prime Springfield to test out and enter TNT phase.

First, for the mods of this forum, I had a post about a month or two back about preparing for Jim Palmer training. I can't edit or delete that so if it could be taken down that would be appreciated. I decided at last minute to go with Prime and that's exactly what I did.

OK, let's get started.

ORIENTATION For starters, a tip of the hat is in order for those who complete orientation week and move into actual PSD phase. To say that was a tough week and extraordinary test in mental fortitude would be a gross understatement. I'm 39 years old. I've worked hard all of my life. I've worked extremely long hours across a wide range of industries. I found that while I was about as prepared as I could possibly be, I still wasn't quite prepared.

It all started with that dreaded Greyhound bus ride. Yes, we all went through it. Yes, everyone says it will be bad. But just how bad it would be didn't quite click for me until I actually went through it. I suppose I sort of thought maybe I would luck out and get a half decent experience. Didn't happen. Now unlike some of my classmates I only had to ride two busses and transfer once. The first bus was very misleading and set me up for mental failure on the second. The first bus was nearly empty. It smelled like air freshener, had a friendly driver, was comfortable, all power outlets worked and it had great wifi. It was an incredible ride and I couldn't figure out what everyone was complaining about.

Until I had to transfer in Joplin... that's when s**t got real. The transfer station in Joplin is a crappy little room off to the side of a gas station. Pulled into it at around 9:00 PM or something. It had a bunch of stinky people scattered around with smelly bags opened up, shoes off and sleeping in all corners of the room. It was raining outside so I was forced to sit in this room. I watched multiple drug deals occur, I watched a sex act price be negotiated and then both participants leave the room for approximately 15 minutes before coming back without washing up or anything. I heard conversations about which county jails had the best food... on and on it goes. It was awful.

Then the final bus to Springfield arrived. It was JAM PACKED. In fact, it was oversold by a few seats. I shuffled out and stood in the rain to ensure I got on it. As the seemingly angry driver got off he proclaimed backpacks would have to be held in laps and several ticketed passengers wouldn't get seats. Crap. When a few people got off I left my bag with the driver and bolted onto the bus. I was getting to Springfield. Period. The only seat that wasn't piled with luggage or sideways bodies was a seat at the very back by the bathroom. I took it. And for that roughly hour and 15 minutes I endured a smell that will never leave my mind. It was beyond any putrid foulness I have ever smelled. And it permeated the part of the bus I was on. There was no escaping it.

It was so bad I was afraid my clothes and bag would smell that way for days and weeks. And I was arriving in Springfield at like 00:30 on a Sunday morning. I had no idea what I was about to walk into. For all I knew I was going to have to wake up a stranger in a motel room, introduce myself stinking of raw sewage and climb into a bed in the dark so as to be polite to this new strange roommate.

Arrived at Greyhound in Springfield, shuttle came and got me, checked in and fortunately had no roommate yet. I was able to shower (Room 125) and relax for a few minutes before falling asleep. And I had a day to do some more CDL permit test studying before the Monday morning chaos began.

Some say that Greyhound ride is an intentional test. I think that the "mental test" is just an added bonus for Prime. Upon reflection it's more a logistical benefit for Prime. There are more bus stations than airports, more seats available at better prices and the Springfield bus terminal is a couple minutes from Prime campus. And if someone can deal with the headache of going through it, they have better odds of being able to deal with shippers/receivers, traffic and long lonely drives at 58 MPH.

I made it through the Greyhound stage. But as a short amount of time would tell, that was nothing. It wasn't even the beginning.

At around 09:00 I got up, walked down the street for breakfast and when I got back there was a dude in the room. His name was Mike. We talked a bit. He seemed pretty quiet and kept to himself. He was clean and didn't have a ton of luggage. Didn't smoke (I only vape and only outside) so it was shaping up to be a best case scenario.

On to part 2

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

View Topic:

The Jim Palmer Journey Begins!

Thanks guys really appreciate the welcomes and encouragement. Will provide consistent updates as I have them.

So far nothing to update on really. I had my sort of "student acceptance" type interview on Friday, as mentioned in original post and today should likely have a follow up call from Ty. Had to upload some additional documents over the weekend for him to include in my profile and today they begin knocking out all the background stuff. Hopefully that doesn't take too long or encounter any speed bumps.

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

View Topic:

The Jim Palmer Journey Begins!

Hi all,

Didn't want to be just a lurker here. Want to try and contribute in any way I can to this site because it's been a tremendous help for me so far. That and there may be something others behind me can pull from my journey, just as I have pulled from that of so many others in front of me.

I've read many journals here. Including the epic rundown by Aaron on his experience with Jim Palmer. I've gone through all of the checklists that I can find or think of and I'm a good portion of the way through the high road training program on this site. Now I'm buckling up for the final two weeks of pre-training (final background pieces, driving record check, etc) and once all is through I "should" be on a bus to Montana for training starting on March 25th. Provided everything goes smoothly from here on out.

Of course, as the past couple of weeks has shown anything can happen. I don't want to assume anything and I'm prepared for more potential bumps in the road, so to speak. But I have a squeaky clean record and one speeding ticket under 15 from about 2 and a half years back, so there isn't anything obvious that should mess things up. Then again nothing in life is promised and there is no such thing as constant smooth sailing on this planet of ours.

But let me back up a bit since some of these other journals do a great job of providing some context. About a month ago I decided the trucking industry and the lifestyle that accompanies it would be a great fit for me. I love the open road. I love to drive. I love to be moving. I love to work and I love to travel. Not just any travel, though, I love travelling the roadways of this great country. Heck, I've driven thousands of miles vs taking a flight for business trips in the past just to see the country and not "fly over it."

As an RVer (yes I know, many drivers loath RVs out there on the road... lol) I've spent many a night at truck stops and Walmarts. The concept and lifestyle is not new to me. But the idea of being paid do live it is.

I've been involved in a start up company for the past year and a half and it has killed me (This was also the source of some of the "bumps in the road" for my initial application process). It blew out my savings and I haven't been paid during that time. No income, 70 hour work weeks and the constant traditional daily grind is just not for me any more. I needed to do something drastic and at 39 I know I shouldn't wait much longer before selecting a new career path.

White picket fences and a 9-5 is something I find rather mundane and, in all honesty, a bit revolting. Give me a cabin in the woods and the ability to explore while being faced with new challenges all day and I'm all in. Driving commercially fits my bill. And fits it well.

Once the decision was made my research began. I've driven 22,000 pound vehicles for years now but a two axle RV is no match for a tractor/trailer. Backing up and big manual transmissions are rather intimidating to me, to be frank. I have no idea what to expect. And no idea how well I'll do with it all. I have no CDL and never have had one. So a paid CDL program was going to have to be my entry point.

In all of my research Jim Palmer remained at the top of my list. A friendly pet/rider policy was key, a good reputable company brought great points to the board, good weekly mileage was a must and a seemingly professional operation was critical. Every turn I made in my research kept bringing me back to Jim Palmer. So that's the route I took.

I applied a few weeks back and my recruiter is Ty. Ty called me within 24 hours and we had a fantastic chat. I felt he was and has been shooting straight with me from the beginning. He's told me things I love as well as some things I didn't like to hear. And he told me straight up I wouldn't like to hear them. I appreciated that. He didn't pitch it all as roses and raindows. He was blunt.

Ty was also very helpful through the process. He had to do a little hand holding along the way and I had some hiccups with employment verification that he helped me work through. There was a point where it felt all hope was lost and he kept at it, never giving up and we stayed on track no matter what.

Last Friday Ty and I had the final "pre-student interview" once we got past the employment verification process. A start date of March 25th was selected for Montana and now here I sit half freaked out and half excited out of my mind. I'm still young at 39, but also old enough to be a little anxious about a 40 hour Greyhound bus ride to an unknown place to spend 10 weeks living with unknown people learning an unknown trade.

It's a bit overwhelming. I feel like a wimp for thinking this way but it is what it is. It's overwhelming. Add to that the fact that I have to take a permit test, learn to drive a big rig and then a CDL test and it's... well... you get the picture. A mental circus is underway that's for sure.

But the road in front of me is paved and now I must traverse it. So let the journey begin...

Provided all goes well between now and the bus ride I'll be posting regular updates/journals/comments in this thread so anyone who might care to can follow along. I hope to bring my own unique perspective to it all. I hope to bring in a new angle if it's at all possible. Will try to anyway. I don't want to copy what others have done but then again this story has been told. Albeit through the lens of another's view. -EricTheRed

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