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Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Greetings from Holiday City (a distribution center for Menard’s near Montpelier, Ohio). We’re spending the night here before picking up our load sometime tomorrow morning. There are a couple of good things about moving Menard’s product and a couple of things that are less than ideal. First, our parking location is about 50 yards from a drivers’ check-in building which is complete with a fully equipped mens’ room. Next is Menard’s unloading process/policy — when we arrive at the drop-off store we’ll be swarmed like ant’s on a cookie at a picnic so we’ll be in and out very quickly. The ‘bad’ is that it’s raining again. Next is the fact that we never know what time our load will be ready. It’s pretty much ‘hurry up and wait’. There are no appointments.

Yesterday (Monday) and today was filled with highs and lows. We drove through the rain (again) from Washington Courthouse to our appointment in Bloomington. I was quite pleased with my performance as I was driving, therefore I had an opportunity to work on my backing when I parked our empty trailer in the row of flatbeds at the DC. It was not perfect, but I was in control and I knew what to do and how to do it. I used many GOALs and lots of pull-ups as I carefully positioned the unit right where I wanted it.

I’m becoming familiar with the process for properly securing the load to the full trailer, so Keith and I are cutting down our prep time significantly. I still suck (compared to KT) at throwing straps in a confined area, but I’m improving and I can tell where to properly the 4” straps and where to add 2” straps. My bungee cord work is improving, although I have a tendency to use more bands than may be necessary, but better too many than too few.

This week I’ve been placed in charge of all of our paperwork, so I’m now driving, handling the Qualcomm, and managing the bills of lading for the various loads. Remembering the sequence and the proper time for the various notifications (arrive shipper, depart shipper, arrive consignee, and empty call) is important. We haven’t touched Macros yet, so I’m guessing I’ll learn about those next week. Keith will handle all verbal communication with the Mother Ship throughout out time together.

The drive to Bloomington was anything but uneventful as we passed through Cincinnati shortly before the height of the evening rush hour. We encountered a bit of a traffic jam in Indy as one lane of the WB 74 merge onto I475 was closed due to a jackknifed semi which had slid off the road and was being pulled upright and back to the expressway. ‘Speed for conditions’ would be three words to describe the wreck as the rollover/crash had occurred on an exit ramp. It seems that the entire state of Indiana is under construction as we encountered many, many barrels and cones during our drive down southbound US 69. One plus was that we were unloaded last night so that we were ready to go early this morning...and that’s when I experienced my downfall...when I could not locate my wallet and my license.

On my drive to Xenia on Monday morning I had first driven by our farm in Adams County to pick up and deliver our 16 foot Hobie Catamaran to the Highland County Fairgrounds where it will spend the winter in one of the enclosed buildings. From Hillsboro I drove west up 73 to US 68. I stopped for lunch at a Wendy’s at the intersection of I71 and 68. After paying for my lunch I put my wallet where I always do: in the console of my truck. I failed to remember to put it back in my pocket when we departed for the Lowe’s DC and I didn’t discover my mistake until inventorying my pockets prior to going to bed Last night. As a result, I was unable to drive today when we picked up four huge boulders at a quarry in suburban Bloomington and delivered them to an emergency project on the shores of Lake Michigan in Covert Township, Michigan.

I was absolutely crushed, as this was by far the most unusual and challenging load we’ve encountered to date. In order to get loaded we drove through the mud and muck of Reed’s Quarry, dodging rusted and abandoned equipment and slabs of rock that were nearly the size of our truck. Once the four rocks (combined weight of nearly 45K) had been placed evenly on our trailer we utilized the existing 4” straps as well as chains (again...better too much securement than not enough) before departing for our drive north. Since I did not have my license on me physically, I was in the passenger seat. That sucked on toast.

Our delivery location for the stones was an address on Blue Star Highway. I believe this is a state route, but I know for sure that the speed limit is 55. We were unloaded by a massive bulldozer which had the bucket replaced with forks large enough to handle rock weighing in excess of five tons. The unloading was not without incident as the driver of the giant forklift fumbled (I cannot resist the football reference since this occurred in meat-chicken and my love of all things Buckeye-football related as well our as team’s recent dominance of the 11 from the school up north is well documented) off of our trailer and onto the road. I’ll tip my cap to (a) the engineers who designed and planned the highway and (b) the construction crew who built it since this boulder weighing in excess of 11,000 pounds fell about 60 inches onto the roadway and didn’t leave a mark. Alex, the driver and ‘ball carrier’ hustled around our truck and picked up his fumble.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Week Two is in the books. We moved two more coils, visited a couple of more Lowe’s stores, dropped off treated lumber and shingles in the rain, drove in the dark for the first time, and saw the resulting carnage from a four-truck (at least) wreck.

The wreck was Thursday afternoon eastbound on I70 just west of Zanesville. Fortunately, we were traveling west with our second coil of the week. The front end of a white semi was completely caved in which provided an ominous reminder of the ‘12-15 second following distance’ rule we learned in school at Napier’s....either that, or a case of distracted driving and maybe a little bit of both. When we passed the crash site traffic was already backed up for about two miles. We didn’t have the CB on (in order to avoid any distracted driving by yours truly), so we didn’t hear any of the scuttlebutt about the incident.

The transportation of the steel coils is pretty interesting. Mats, beveled 4X4s, a metal frame, chains, binders, and a coil bag, are all used to insure the securement and the safety of the load. Home Run moves coils from Wheeling Nippon to CorePlus in Springfield. The hills of east central Ohio present a special challenge when pulling a 40K load. I had never given the inclines much thought when driving my pickup truck, but I quickly learned the need for using the proper gear when climbing and descending while pulling all that steel.

One of the many keys to success in our industry is the proper management of sleep. I have read and heard a lot about this aspect of the life and have pledged to myself that I will make time for adequate rest. I can sleep anywhere. I proved that last week as I spent Saturday night at our farm in Adams County, I slept Sunday night at home in the 513, and Monday in the top bunk of Keith’s International ProStar Plus and awoke each day ready to go for the day. Keith likes to keep the temperature inside the truck low enough that we could hang meat, but that didn’t bother me in the least as I have a Kelty sleeping bag rated for 20 degrees.

Reading back, I noticed that I haven’t spent much (any?) time writing about my trainer, Keith T. Shame on me for waiting this long to introduce him, as he has more influence on my development as a professional driver than anyone since I’ll spend at least four weeks and literally thousands of miles with him. He will introduce me to many, many conditions and experiences along the way.

Keith graduated in the early 90’s from nearby East Clinton High School where he played center on the football team that went undefeated his senior year. After working different jobs and at the urging of his wife, he attended a public driving school and joined the staff at Home Run a couple of years ago. He quickly became a ‘go-to guy’ for other drivers, both his junior and senior. We instantly connected due to our connection to high school football (I’m a certified OHSAA referee), our love of everything Buckeye football, and most importantly our ‘never say no’ attitude when it comes to accepting loads or handling situations on the road.

I am very structured individually, both personally and professionally, and that fits well with Keith’s training style. Week One was dedicated to ‘shows’ as he demonstrated and advised the proper methods for securing various loads. When I was finally cleared to drive, he pretty much let me do my own thing unless I asked for help or was on the cusp of committing an unsafe act. Not once did he order me out of the driver’s seat so that we could complete a task or maneuver more quickly, rather he coached me and let me work through my struggles and learn. This week I handled all the driving, both forward and backward, at the shippers, receivers, and in the truck stops. Highways, city streets, and county roads were all mine. My personal gremlin, the hated 90 degree alley dock (a necessity at Wheeling Nippon), was once again attacked (but not vanquished forever) as Keith spotted me while I backed into the factory. Additionally, I was charged with the operation of the QualComm system as we constantly apprised the ‘Mother Ship’ of our arrivals and departures and empty calls and managed our hours of service. Next week I will inherit (?) the responsibility of completing the bills of lading and other mandatory paperwork.

We leave Monday afternoon to pick up another Lowe’s load and will have a night delivery in Bloomington, Indiana. Until then I’ll be making myself useful around the house (translation: being underfoot as I interrupt my wife’s weekend routines).

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

The per diem is a nationwide by the IRS. Most large carriers have this as an option for OTR drivers.

Yeah for us. Properly managed it has many, many uses, I guess.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Haya Cincy; still following~!!

Was that YOU GUYS up on 224 about 11 pm last night? Up by Pepperidge Farms . . . Willard. Saw an HR rig; thought of ya!


Nope...Tuesday night we slept behind the Lowe’s in New Philadelphia. We had sushi at a nice Japanese restaurant next door. Real sushi, not frozen stuff. Wednesday night we were in Zanesville, again at a Lowe’s. This time we had Donato’s delivered. Home Run has a per diem program in place where we get/earn/are given $66 for each day that we are more than 50 miles from our home zip code.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Millis Transfer training diary

TWIC card...get a TWIC card...Like the veterans said, it may come in handy in the future. The document is controlled by HSA/TSA (I think) and like your HazMat endorsement will need to be renewed. I know that when I applied for my TWIC card I reported to the same office as I did for my HazMat background check, so I wonder if you can do both at the same time.

Congrats on becoming a full-blooded (sic) Millis driver.


Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Today was Day 1 in Week 2 of my training and to it I stapled another ‘first’ as it was the first time I drove in the dark when we left Xenia shortly after 6:00 a.m. with the load of treated lumber we picked up in Richmond on Friday. We headed to an 84 Lumber in Columbia Station. It was raining, so I kept an above average following distance and my speed in the low 60’s.

We reached Columbus shortly after the peak of the morning commute and I successfully dodged barrels and barriers as we maintained a course north on I71. It seems like the construction projects in C-bus have been underway since Gilligan was Governor! My shifting still needs work as I do have not yet mastered rpms and speed when downshifting.

After dropping off the wood we headed to Milan to pick up a load of shingles. We traveled through Norwalk which has one of the best nicknames in all of high school sports: the truckers. Urban legend holds that the mothers’ support group for the athletic teams is named the ‘Mother Truckers’. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s a great story to tell.

I had the opportunity to ‘back’ twice today: once when we stopped at the Love’s at Exit 165 on I71. I looked, felt, and acted like an FNG, but I didn’t hit anything. Driving KT’s International ProStar + is just a bit different than maneuvering the International day cabs at school, and a 48’ flatbed is a change from the 40’ dry vans I am accustomed to. The process is still the same, though: don’t try to do anything with the rig until you have your tractor and your trailer straight, and don’t over-steer.

Getting through the intersections (both straight and making turns) while under load will take some practice. I’m still double-clutching (and will be for some time), so I almost feel sorry for anyone behind me.

We had what I called an ‘average’ day today. I have the following scale on which I measure our day’s activity: if we ‘touch’ three loads, that is we deliver one, pick up and deliver and second, and pick up a third load, I call that a good day. If we deliver a load and then pick up and even deliver a second load (but don’t pick up a third), I score our work as an ‘average’ day. If we only handle one load of freight, either delivering what we had picked up the day before, but not securing a second load to our trailer or if we simply pick up and deliver one shipment, then I count that as a ‘poor’ day. My ‘rules’ for judging our day may be tough to follow, but I like having measurable goals.

I know that we can only control what we can; that we have no influence over how quickly we get loaded and unloaded, and that traffic and weather and road conditions are not in our sphere of influence. I’m focusing on what we can control: safety, a top-notch level of customer service, and load management to name three.

Supper tonight was in the Denny’s at the Flying J at the Delaware/Sunbury (sp) exit. After many hours in the truck we just wanted to get out and stretch our legs and watch people. Home Run offers a very nice per diem program, so I’m basically eating for free.

We’re parked for the night, so I’ll experience another ‘first’: sleeping in a truck stop. I’ve heard stories...we’ll see if any of them are true...small sample size, I know. If anything odd or unexpected occurs I’ll be sure to include the details.

Tomorrow we drop off our load of shingles in Columbus, and then drive down to Washington Courthouse for another ‘Heinz 57’ Lowe’s load which we’ll secure and then drive up to New Philadelphia. Our delivery appointment is not until 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, so we’ll be spending the night in another Lowe’s parking lot.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Let’s see if I can ‘put a bow’ on my first week of training, then take a (very short) break here in the 513 so that I’m ready to go on Monday...

We woke up at 5:00 a.m. in order to be ready to got if/when the good folks at Lowe’s were ready, willing and able to unload us at 6. The perfect day would have been an early morning unload in Indy, then the drive to Richmond, Indiana where we would drop our empty trailer and pick up the next load which would (a) be already waiting for us, and (b) under weight. From Richmond we would dock with the mother ship in Xenia and leave our rig in the yard where it would be ready for us on Monday morning for our pre-noon drop-off in Cuyahoga County. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men...

Lowe’s did not begin the unloading process until about 10:30, so we sat around for over four hours (im)patiently waiting as we had a 9:00 a.m. appointment. While we were a little antsy, the fella that was really gonna feel some pain was the O/O that had arrived Thursday night, fully loaded, but had not called for an appointment. Apparently, the same driver had pulled a similar stunt on Tuesday and the receiving staff had taken pity upon him and had squeezed him in between other trucks. It was clear by our conversation with the receiving department that Friday was not Tuesday, and that their compassion and generosity had limits. The O/O was going to sit until well after lunch since he had already been into the store twice complaining about the hold up. I learned a very valuable lesson: call first and understand that we are a service provider and that our customer will unload us as they are able. Showing up without an appointment makes folks sad and they will demonstrate their displeasure in different ways. I can only imagine what the rest of this driver’s day, weekend and even next week will look like since he was ‘delayed’ in Indy.

I drove us back to Xenia from Richmond. We lucked out as we missed the brunt of the rush hour commute through Dayton on I70, I75, and US 35. I was able to keep a steady pace although I was passed by nearly everything on the road due to my cautious approach and the fact that the Home Run trucks are governed at 68 mph. Better safe than sorry.

I was glad to drive in the sun after dealing with Thursday’s rain. The precipitation pushed back the harvest of this year’s soy bean crop as well. All this week as we drove throughout Ohio we watched farmers cutting beans and to a lesser extent, corn. If I had to select a theme song for this week it would absolutely be ‘Harvest Time’ by Luke Bryan. We saw many precision operations in play as multiple combines, like so many giant locusts, cut beans which had been planted in late March or early April. The plants which had taken four to five months to reach maturity and dry were cut, separated from the pods, stored in the bellies of the combines, and then disgorged into the grain hoppers which were then delivered to nearby silos. Frequently we briefly had our visibility reduced by grain dust blowing across the highway. Today was different since the rain had pushed the pause button until the crops could dry. I’m sure that we’ll see the process kick back into action once the beans draw out and the moisture content is reduced to an acceptable level.

My shifting was better today, however I still need to work on slowing the truck to an acceptable speed when downshifting. Also, I need to develop my skill set so that I can make turns through intersections at an acceptable speed without straining the engine or shifting during the process.

I’m tired, so I’ll bring this entry to a close. As I said, I was up at 5:00 a.m. and returned to Xenia around 3:30. From there I drove the hour home to suburban Cincinnati, then showered and shaved before immediately heading 50 minutes north to Middletown to officiate a high school football game. The game was a challenge both mentally and physically. Another 50 minute trip back home wasn’t as difficult since I was still wound up on the remaining Adrenalin from the contest. Now I’m crashing as I need to sleep before working a couple of lower level football games tomorrow morning and afternoon.

I’m out of gear and my brake valves are popped out. I’m not gonna turn on my APU to continue. Gonna take my 34 (plus some). Overall, I’m satisfied with my first week, but I know I have a lot to work on and more importantly I have a plan for improvement.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Today was a day of ‘firsts’...I received a negative drug screen meaning that I was cleared to drive, therefore I took a position in the driver’s seat for the first time with Home Run when I switched places with KT at the rest stop on I71 just south of the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge as we headed down the highway after picking up another Lowe’s load which we are delivering to a location in Indianapolis in the morning.

Today was also the first time I drove a semi in the rain as we encountered light but steady rainfall from Lebanon until we were well into Indiana on I74. I took it slow, paid very careful attention to my following distance, and did my best to anticipate and plan for any unplanned and unexpected maneuvers by other motorists.

My biggest problem while driving was attempting to downshift at too high of a speed and at too high RPM. I’m disappointed in this as that was my issue during my first attempt at passing my road test.

I had my first visit to a truck stop as a professional driver when we stopped at the Love’s location outside of Sidney while returning from Wapak after dropping off our load at the Lowe’s there. Keith advised that this store was new, and it showed. I had never showered at a truck stop before, so he advised as to the process. Since he has unlimited showers and soda refills due to his Platinum status for the month of October, he simply told the attendant that we needed a ‘team’ shower meaning that we needed two shower rooms instead of one. I was given a small piece of paper with the number of the shower room on it, and the five-digit passcode to use in order to access the room. My room number, and then Keith’s, was called almost immediately. The room, at least at this Love’s, was quite large as it was at least double the size of the bathrooms at many upscale hotels. It was outfitted with a sink (of course), a mirror, a GFCI circuit, a bench, pegs on the wall for my clothes, a toilet (complete with two-play paper!), and a large walk-in shower. Soap, shampoo, a towel, a washcloth and a bath mat were also included.

After showering and a breakfast we headed to ‘the mother ship’ in Xenia to check on the results of my drug screen. I was getting antsy to drive, but I understood that it can take time to process the test. We tracked down the Safety Director for HR who checked and gave me the good news that I was cleared to drive. I was quite happy to get this news because I have had limited driving time (less than 20 hours to date).

Also in my list of ‘firsts’ was my first wrong turn while driving when I took I465, the circle highway around Indy, to the south rather than the north. I didn’t panic. I stayed in my lane and continued on. We took I65 north and swapped places someplace near the Keystone Avenue exit ramp. Keith brought us the rest of the way to our destination. We’ll be here until tomorrow morning. We’re scheduled to be unloaded around 9:00 a.m., but we may luck out and get emptied at 6.

We will drive to Richmond, Indiana where we’ll pick up a load of treated lumber. We’ll drop our empty trailer, hook up to the assigned trailer and get weighed on the shipper’s scale. Provided we’re not overweight, we’ll proceed to our terminal, park the rig and head to our respective homes for the weekend as the lumber is scheduled to be delivered to an 84 Lumber store in Columbia Station (Ohio) on Monday morning.

Right now I’m sitting in a BW3’s near the Lowe’s taking advantage of their free wi-fi. Polling results show that my reader count has grown to nearly double digits as my wife and three friends are now enjoying (?) my stream of consciousness. Thank you to each of you.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Editor’s note: I was advised by my mother (she is now a subscriber here and reads all of my entries...shortly, I am sure, she will begin posting) that I was born in St Ann’s Hospital in Columbus. She reports that she was there, and that most of the time I was in the room with her. Further, she states that Mt. Carmel East was not founded until 1972 and I was eight years old at that time.

My apologies for any inconvenience my error may have caused.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Tonight I’m typing from the rear of the Lowe’s in Wapakoneta. We’re parked here for the night as we will deliver bright and early (sort of) at 7:00 a.m. Thankfully, Keith’s International ProStar Plus has curtains for the bunk area because Lowe’s has really bright security lights. He didn’t think I’d sleep very well last night but he was wrong. I woke up once around 2:00 a.m. and then sleep soundly until has alarm went off at 6:00.

We left Strasburg this morning after delivering the vinyl window trim items and headed to Wheeling, West Virginia in order to pick of a 40k pound steel coil from Wheeling Nippon. The drive over was spectacular as we passed Lake Tappon (sp). The mist/fog coming off the water was wicked cool. I had never been inside a steel plant and the operation of the huge cranes was fascinating to me. By shortly after 10 I had seen and assisted a second style of securement as we used lots of chains, beveled 4X4s, rubber mats, a coil tarp, and many, many bungees to secure and protect the shipment.

I’m a big fan of mountains, so the ride through eastern Ohio, western West Virginia, and east central Ohio was fun while we headed to Springfield and CoilPlus for our delivery. We lucked out as we hit Columbus shortly after 2:00 p.m., thereby missing the evening commute. We drove right through town on I70. C-bus has a lot of construction going on, but we had minimal delays. I was amazed when I saw two coyotes (both alive) on the side of the road, about 30 feet from the interstate about five miles west of the I70/I71 merge. It’s incredible how animals can adapt to man.

The coil drop off was much easier than the vinyl delivery and it didn’t take us long to store the equipment and head down SR 41 to Washington Courthouse to a Lowe’s DC where we picked up the trailer that is the cause of our presence here in Wapak. The pick-up process is pretty simple, but is very forward-looking as we performed what was basically a ‘drop-and-hook’ as we parked our empty trailer and left two Home Run tarps and some bungee cords in the parking lot for use by the Lowe’s staff who would load our empty trailer for delivery by another driver. We found the trailer assigned to us and improved the level of securement for the product with more bungees, 2” and 4” straps. We repositioned and re-secured the tarp and headed out.

During our pre-trip of the trailer we discovered a tire that wasn’t quite up to standard, so we stopped by the Home Run terminal so that the after hours mechanics could asses the tire. Jeff, the night chief (I just made that title up) decided to change out the tire. The air-driven impact wrench made short work of the lug nuts and we were back on the road in about 20 minutes.

Home Run has still not received the results of Monday’s drug test, so I haven’t driven any since I got in the truck with Keith on Tuesday morning. On the upside, i haven’t received a call from the lab asking me about any substances for which they are screening as this would require verification from a physician concerning any prescriptions written for me and would further delay my training. Hopefully, the results will come back tomorrow so that I can begin logging some hours. To date I have about 20 hours of seat time counting my school training time and drive time accumulated during my testing.

Our plan is to drop the load here at Lowe’s tomorrow morning and then head south down I75 to the Love’s truck stop about 10 miles away. We’ll eat breakfast and shower, then head back to Washington Courthouse to pick up another load from the Lowe’s DC and head to Indianapolis. I believe our route will take us south on I71 to the outer belt around Cincinnati (I275) then northwest on I74. We’re using this path rather than heading due west on I70 because of all the construction delays. I’m learning that miles mean absolutely nothing when we’re being paid for performance and delivery.

Time for supper and then off to bed.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Reporting live from Strasburg, Ohio I’d like to ask PackRat if he remembers what it felt like when Ezekiel Elliot went 85 yards right through the hear of the south...Buckeye fans, and die hard Tide fans (are there any other kind?) know exactly what I’m typing to our regularly scheduled report...

After meeting Keith at the Home Run terminal in Xenia, we travelled to Monroe to pick up a load from Deceuninck aka ‘Detroit Tech’. The load consisted of 27 racks of some sort of plastic trim which is used in the manufacture of windows. Our appointment was for 1:00 p.m. and we were 10 minutes early, however we waited over an hour before a forklift operator was available to load us. By the time everything was strapped down and tarped it was well after 3:30.

We traveled through Lebanon to 71 north, use 270 to skirt around C-bus and its construction nightmares, and picked up I70. We turned north onto I77 and are now ensconced at the receivers here in beautiful Tuscarawas (I think) County where we will sleep and unload at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow.

I experienced a lot and even managed to retain some of it. I’ve gotta figure out a system for throwing straps over the top of the load for securement purposes. I was woeful with my attempts today, however I believe I’ve developed a system which will include tennis balls and 3/8” wire cable. I’ll report more on that after a bit of engineering back in Cincinnati.

As those of you in this niche know, it’s nearly impossible to include too much securement when attaching a load to the trailer. I’m looking forward to learning the many, many ways to keep stuff where it’s supposed to be. Keith believes that tomorrow we’ll be picking up a coil of steel and moving it to somewhere in Springfield, so that will be another adventure.

I did not drive any today as the results of Monday’s drug screen have not yet been communicated to the mother ship back in Xenia. I know I’ll pass, unless they’re screening for coffee in which case I’ll show as positive. How much would it suck to get left on the side of the road up here in northeastern Ohio?

To date the only item I failed to pack is toilet paper. I know that there was a shortage of it early on during the pandemic, and I know that most (all?) truck stops have an adequate supply, but what about those awkward times in the middle of the night when you’re sleeping at the receiver and you find it necessary to sneak outside and dig a cat hole? TMI, I know...sorry, not sorry, but I’m trying to ‘keep it real’ as Anne said in her first review of my work.

I’m gonna make a sandwich, eat a banana, and crawl into my bunk (the top one, of course since I’m the FNG). Keith doesn’t believe I’ll sleep at all tonight, but I’m betting he’ll be surprised. I can pretty much sleep anywhere and I proved it yesterday when I took a nap sitting upright in a chair in the Urgent Care on downtown Xenia while I waited for my name to be called.

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

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Home Run, Inc.

Home Run moves quickly and I like that.

I had become numb from my experiences at a well-known Fortune 200 corporation where (nearly) every decision at the local level was escalated to Corporate where legal, HR, accounting, and occasionally The Chairman or his designate would ruminate on the idea and then, after countless meetings over even the simplest of inquiries, would deliver an edict on the situation.

At Home Run, I met one-on-one with Kyle Ritchie, the recruiter who had peaked my interest in skateboarding in general and HR in particular with his presentation at Napier. By noon I had been orientated, had meet the dispatch staff, ownership, and, most importantly, Dave, the head mechanic, who, along with his tea, will keep my truck running.

After yet another DOT-mandated drug screen at a nearby clinic I had completed all the non-driving (I think) on-boarding that HR offered. I was issued a hard hat (red, of course, since that’s the HR primary color), an ANSI 107 Type R Class 2 SV2Z Economy Safety Vest (size L), safety glasses, my very first Driver’s Daily Log (thank you, J.J. Keller), the CSA Handbook, several other pamphlets, and, most importantly, a Cargo Securement Handbook for Drivers (again, thank you, J.J. Keller).

I will be training with Keith Taylor. Not the ‘60’s actor who played in Star Trek, Wagon Train, and Land of the Lost, but the driver who, over the next four weeks (give or take), will take this green-as-grass FNG with less than 20 hours of seat time in a semi and forge me into a (very new) driver who will proudly pilot a rig bearing his employer’s name and logo around various states primarily east of the Mississippi.

Keith and I spoke briefly on the phone and he promised to update me as to when and where we will meet tomorrow. True to his word, I received a text shortly after that informed me that I am to meet him at 11:15 in Xenia at the Home Run terminal as we will be heading to Dayton to be loaded and then traveling north to Strasburg, Ohio. For those of you reading along (I know there’s at least two of you: Anne A, and my mother), Strasburg is off I77 in the high school football-rich Mecca of northeastern Ohio. It’s not far from New Philadelphia, the birthplace of one Wayne Woodrow (Woody) Hayes, the coach who set Ohio State football on solid footing. I’m guessing I’m too early in my truck driving career to ask Keith if we can take a side trip to visit his childhood home. I probably shouldn’t use my 10 hour re-set to hail an Uber in order to genuflect at this holy place. I digress...sorry, not sorry.

Here’s a secret: I wasn’t expecting to get sent out this early, so I have been and will, as soon as I hit ‘submit’ continue with my packing for this initial trip. I’ve set the over/under at seven as it relates to ‘things I should have known to pack but didn’t’. I’ll report back Friday (?) night with the results.

I have the requisite basics for a flatbed trainee: steel toed boots from Red Wing, several pairs of leather gloves, very sturdy work pants (I’m a disciple of Duluth Trading Company), t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, my new, favorite distressed ball cap emblazoned with a US flag, many, many pairs of socks, underwear, a three-season jacket, and a pair of Manitowoc moccasins. I’ll throw in a rain jacket just to ensure that we stay dry. If I leave the rain gear at home we’ll end up dealing with enough rain to close roads due to flash floods.

I have a light-weight sleeping bag and a pillow with a beat-up case (The CEO of Beerhawk, Inc would discipline me if I took any of the ‘good’ linen). Everything will be packed into an Eddie Bauer zippered duffle bag and that will be placed into a waterproof dry bag.

My TWIC card arrived last Thursday, and the next day the mail carrier delivered my ‘hard’ Ohio CDL. My laminated DOT physical card is packed as well. I have the laminated Deluxe Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas (2020) by Rand McNally as I’ll be trip planning our route.

Finally, I will pack an oversized container of common sense and next to it I’ll place my 50 lb. bag of Safety. I’ll practice my ‘2:1’ training (listen twice as often as you speak).

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Home Run, Inc.

After reporting my failure to Napier, paying (how I hated that) for a second test date, I drove the 60 miles south along I75 to my home in Cincinnati. I had a long seven day wait until I could return to the site of my defeat. I focused, spent more time at school practicing my driving, and prepared myself mentally. At 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 1, I was again in the lot of the third-party testing facility in Medway. I was determined to succeed. At 9:00 a.m. I put the truck in gear and began another tour of suburban Fairborn as I sought to complete my quest. I was familiar with the route having driven most of it the preceding Wednesday. Construction detours in the area limited the site to a single route, therefore I benefited from the previous week’s fail. This time I paid attention and shifted appropriately. I maintained proper speed and following distance, checked my mirrors frequently, signaled early and often, made sure to keep my left foot off the clutch, and both hands on the wheel. I made all my turns properly and didn’t curb the trailer (another instant fail). After bringing the truck to a stop, setting both brakes, and taking the rig out of gear, I heard the best two worlds this side of ‘I do’ when the evaluator said, “you passed.”

Euphoric, I dialed my wife as soon as I got back to my pick-up truck. The call went straight to voicemail. I hung up and called my mom. She answered and didn’t even complete ‘Hello’ before I interrupted and told her I passed. After the stop at the BMV, I made the short drive across Dayton to apply for a TWIC card, then another drive south on 75. I was in a much better mood this time! With a short detour to the Love’s and another at the Pilot truck stop I joined both loyalty programs. Another call to school to notify them that I had passed and my status went from ‘student’ to FNG.

During my time at school I took full advantage of all the visits from the recruiters for various trucking firms. I had quickly decided that I wanted to be a ‘skateboarder’ because of the pay structure. I really liked the idea of earning a percentage of the fee paid to the truck for the various loads rather than working for cents per mile. I had previously worked as a vendor at Riverfront Stadium and had earned a commission on the items I sold, and the flatbedding payment plan seems to align with that. The way I look at it, the more freight I can move and the better I can manage my clock during the allowable time for me to drive in a week will result in a higher paycheck.

I am a Buckeye. Born in Mt. Carmel East Hospital in Columbus, and raised in the 513 and spending as much time as possible on our family’s farm, Two Walnuts, in suburban Peebles, I love everything about Ohio. My goal was to drive for a company based here. Home Run checks all the boxes that are important to me: Ohio- based, flatbedding, and regional, so that I’m home on a quasi-regular and predicable basis.

I spent the better part of last week watching various videos introducing me to important topics and issues in our industry. Safety, HOS, defensive driving, FMCSA regulations, and introductory greetings from upper management at Home Run were all part of the visual on boarding process.

Next, I downloaded, completed, scanned, and submitted many, many documents so that Home Run could poke, prod, and properly vet me before offering me a position and welcoming me to the family. I consider myself very adept at the ‘meet and greet’ scenario that I will experience tomorrow, but I’m apprehensively confident (is that even a thing?) nonetheless.

I’ll write more when I have something worthy to report. Thanks for reading and for joining me on the path to earning a position as a driver with Home Run, Inc.

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Home Run, Inc.

Tomorrow is the day! I head to Xenia (Ohio) to meet with Leadership of Home Run, Inc. and receive a tour of the headquarters. My report time is 9:00 a.m. sharp, but I plan to be on site at 8:45. I have no idea what the day and the future holds other than what I’ve read in this forum and heard from others.

My journey into a career in trucking began sometime shortly after 1:00 p.m. on March 25, 2020 when I, and hundreds of others, together on a conference call, received a robo-call from the president of our Fortune 200 hospitality conglomerate advising us that as part of a ‘business disruption plan’ we were all furloughed/laid-off/pseudo-unemployed effective April 1 (yes, I see the irony). After inventorying my skill set and learning that regardless of how I marketed myself, my nearly four decades in the industry had me hopelessly ‘type cast’, I began thinking outside the box after a suggestion from a neighboring farmer that I should pursue a CDL as there were many, many grants to be had.

On July 7 at 7:00 a.m. I took a seat in the front row of Classroom 1 of Napier Truck Driver Training, Inc. I was 30 minutes early (you can never, ever get in trouble for being early, right?) and eager to learn. Finally, on Thursday, October 1 I properly, using three points of contact, exited Unit 2015 on beautiful Medway after successfully (on my second attempt) passing the Ohio CDL exam. Ten minutes later I was standing in front of a clerk at a BMV in nearby Fairborn as I completed the final step in earning my license. There was no way I would allow the test administrator to have second thoughts about passing me!

In the preceding 85 days I had experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The classroom learning and the mastery of the ‘pre-trip’ came easily as I’ve always been a good student, but the physical aspects of the maneuverability exercises and actual driving (often) had me disappointed at the results of my efforts. No matter how hard I tried I could not develop to my satisfaction the skills needed. “Perfect practice makes perfect,” is a phrase I have heard many times and a mantra that served as my North Star. If I could not operate the truck with excellence I was not willing to test for a license.

Finally, I believed that I had the game to successfully complete the three components necessary: the ‘pre-trip inspection’, the maneuverability (straight back, offset, and either parallel park driver side, parallel park blind side, or the alley dock), and the road test.

I handled the pre-trip with relative ease. My ‘in cab’ with the air lost test was flawless. I was determined not to miss a single point therefore I was on my hands and knees and on my back under the drive axle as I pointed out each and every item on the checklist and advised the evaluator as to the unacceptable flaws in any of the components.

“You know”, he said, “you really don’t need to get under there to point out all those pieces.”

My response was simple, to the point and from the heart, “I’m sure you’re right, but if being down under here allows me to get one more point and that’s what I need to pass, I’m fine with it. My wife didn’t send me up here to fail, and I’m not gonna let her down!”

Next was the straight back. I gave up one point when I used a second, unneeded ‘pull forward’ after I had backed about 20 feet past the final two cones which marked the end of the exercise. I had used the first ‘pull up’ when I decided to straighten the truck after coming too close to the yellow boundary line on the left side of the test. The second move forward came with a price, and I paid it.

I gave up two points on the offset (left to right) when I cut the driver’s side rear of the trailer too close to a line and went out of bounds. Unphased, I pulled forward, straightened the truck, and backed the truck then length of the aisle without any further problems.

For the final exercise the parallel park driver side exercise had been selected for me. I could not believe my luck as I had practiced that exercise the previous date while prepping at Napier. I had the benefit of using the same model tractor and trailer for practice as was in place for the test so I spent the time using the ‘Ricky Lake smokes lotsa reefer’ pneumonic that had served me so faithfully during my months of prep work. Yes, I used my two permissible ‘GOAL’s, but I didn’t need a single pull-up as I perfectly set the truck up for the backing and after my final right (reefer) the truck was centered perfectly in the box. I had about 18 minutes of the allotted 40 remaining, so I mad two complete circuits around the truck to ensure that I was in the box. Satisfied, I climbed back into the rig, closed the door, put on my seatbelt, and sounded my horn to signal the evaluator that I had completed the test.

I failed the road test. I had no one to blame but myself. I had been coached that Unit 2015 did not shift well if the RPMs were above 1500, but I didn’t pay attention and had the tachometer at about 1900 when I tried to switch from sixth to seventh gear. When I failed to put the truck in gear I panicked and brought the truck to a stop as I didn’t want to coast the vehicle as that would be an automatic fail. Stopping on a state highway had the same result, so my goal of going ‘one and done’ died eight minutes short of completion.

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Fresh out of CDL school. Any recommendations for starter companies?

Renae: Welcome aboard! I’m in a similar position as I recently completed CDL school here in Southwestern Ohio.

In order to answer your question the veterans on here will need to know a little more about what you want to do: do you need to be home every weekend (regional), or are you looking to travel the country (OTR). Are you looking for a strenuous workout on a regular basis? If so, the working in the flatbed niche may be appropriate. Do you want to ‘drop and hook’?

Regardless of the area you wish to pursue, give your first company a chance...spend a significant period of time with them so you can gain the experience (I’m simply quoting others who will share the same/similar advice).

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Boss trying to make me drive unsafe truck

Hey guys, just wanted some advice. I’m currently driving for a small company of 7 trucks, I just gave my two week notice last week and I’m going to a new company at the end of next week. I’m on my last week here and I’m not sure how to finish the week at this point. I’m in a really old truck that’s falling apart and has multiple mechanical issues and most of the gauges don’t work, before this I was in another awful truck that broke down and the owner left me on the side of the highway for 8 hours before he decided he should call a tow truck, he ignored me for hours telling me to try to move the truck even though it kept shutting down while driving and oil was leaking out, it was a huge mess. Anyways I’m just nervous I’m going to get pulled over any day, and get multiple violations for the issues with the truck. I keep telling him if I do it goes on my PSP report and he keeps trying to change the subject and avoid it. I’m not sure what to do at this point. I’m trying to be a man of my word and finish my two weeks, but don’t want to put my ass on the line because he doesn’t maintain his trucks.

I’m probably the wrong one to make an initial reply to your issue as I’m as green as they come, however I’ll pose this rhetorical question to you: how would you feel if an unsafe truck was directly behind your loved ones and was (possibly) endangering their safety as well as that of others? wouldn’t like it at all, so why would you put others in danger while you’re driving a truck that you believe is unsafe?

I remember my training from school: if it isn’t safe, don’t drive it.

I get it (I think); you’re worried about your current company putting negative statements on your DAC, right? I’d take pictures of the truck in its current condition, therefore you have some evidence if/when a future employer asks you about the situation.

I’ll sign off now and wait to read what other, (much more) seasoned posters have to write.

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

8 Hour Rule Change

Be careful with the new rules. We've already had a driver get cited for logs during an inspection.

Idk about everyone else's company, but mine will automatically pause the 14 hour clock on any 2 or 3 hour break. The problem is, with no 7 or 8 hour sleeper berth period, that 2 or 3 hour off duty pause, doesn't count. I've heard other companies the drivers have to check a box saying that 2 or 3 hours will be paired with a sleeper berth period and THEN, it will pause that 14 hour clock.

Be aware of what time you started your 14 hour clock and make sure you don't exceed that, unless you're doing a split break. Your elogs may or may not accurately reflect your remaining time. Also you can be on duty not driving to fulfill that 30 minute break. Personally I like my 30 minute break off duty because I typically use that for lunch or restroom break.

As an FNG, let me see if I have this correct. I know someone, anyone, will square me away if I get it wrong.

Here’s my example: I come on duty at 6:00 a.m. and drive for three hours (since I can drive for a total of 11 (right?) during my 14 hours on duty I would have eight hours left to drive - I think).

I take a three hour break at 9:00 a.m.

I drive three hours from noon until 3:00 p.m. (I’ve now used six hours, but have five left to drive - I think).

I take a seven hour break in the sleeper from 3:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Have I have now pushed back the end of my 14 hour on duty time from 8:00 p.m. until sometime on the other side of midnight (I don’t know when) by coupling the three hour break with the seven hour break?

Since I have five hours remaining in my 14 in which I can drive, can I drive from 10:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. legally?

Thanks to all for indulging a wet-behind-the-ears, green-as-grass, eager to learn and do the right thing rookie.

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

What else do I need?

Made a list, finished your list and now you're looking for more things to put on your list? High speed, low drag.

Get the apps, install them, know how to use them:

OHGO - Be the first to know, before you go. With the OHGO app, drivers get real-time traffic updates, personalized route notifications, can view live traffic cameras and get accurate delay times.

Trucker Path - Information on truck stops, parking, weigh stations.

You've got the loyalty card, now get the loyalty card apps. Pay for fuel inside your truck. Reserve showers or parking spaces. Check your points. Earn coupons and discounts:

Pilot/Flying J


TravelCenters of America (TA/Petro)

Get a good weather app so you know what's coming, and when to shut down.

Thanks, PP! I’m on it. I’ve downloaded every app you suggested except for Love’s (my iPhone 5s is topped out at iOS 12.4, therefore the Love’s app, which requires iOS 13.0 or above won’t fit). For the Love’s app I’ve learned that if I bookmark their web site on my phone and iPad I’ll be able to receive the same benefits albeit a bit slower.

With your statement about ‘high speed, low drag’ can I infer that you’re referencing less wind resistance for the truck which will equate to higher mileage and better fuel economy? If that’s correct, I guess I’m out of luck as I anticipate a role as a company driver, therefore the modifications that can be made to the tractor will be initiated and implemented by my company.

Your profile reports that you’re from Seattle. I spent about 45 days out there three different times in the summer and early fall of 2013 as my previous employer was contracted with the team to supply food and beverage services at CenturyLink Field. Your region of the country is spectacular. If I wasn’t such a died-in-the-wool Buckeye I would strongly consider relocating to the Great Northwest.

Thank you for the additions to my list.

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

What else do I need?

Hay, Cincy ~!

I'm not a driver, but the wife of one here in Ohio, and your list looks good, thus far. Where did you graduate CDL school from? Did you check with Home Run, and verify that they accept that school's accreditation? Home Run tends to be kinda picky, but they ARE a good (mostly) open deck carrier, here in Ohio. (I see them in the scales a lot, so keep that in mind, however!)

What led you to choose them as your starter company, per chance? Just wondering!

Wish you the best; hopefully you will commit to a thread in the 'diaries' section when you get rolling~!

Best of luck;

Anne :)


Thanks for the kind words, Anne. I graduated from Napier Truck Driver Training, Inc in beautiful Hamilton.

I have researched Home Run and have had two face-to-face meetings with Kyle Ritchie, the recruiter for the corporation, when he presented at school. In a word, ‘yes’, they accept the school’s accreditation as KR is an alum of Napier.

I opted for HR for a couple of reasons: (a) they’re Ohio-based (headquartered in Xenia, as you know) and I’m a Buckeye born and bred (it’s 12:43 a.m. and meat-chicken still sucks), therefore I want to work for a company with deep roots in our state, (b) I’m drawn to the flatbed/skateboard side of the industry because I like the ‘pay for performance/commission-based’ structure, and (c) during his presentation KR didn’t spend a lot of time simply trying to sell us/me on HR, rather he shared information about the lifestyle and pluses and minuses about the industry. He didn’t pull any punches and he challenged us, and I really, really liked that.

My goal is ‘regional’ as our family has a 150 acre ‘hobby’ farm/log cabin/family retreat (Two Walnuts) in northern Adams County and I’m the last man standing (literally) in regards to maintaining it, so the home on Friday (sometime before 11:59 p.m.) and out sometime on Sunday plays well with my responsibility of maintaining it. No way I could keep it up if I went OTR and the idea of ‘local’ seems boring to me.

I’m flattered that you believe that anyone would read a diary that I would write, therefore I’ll commit to it once everything lines up, I’m accepted into their orientation program, and I show up at their terminal for Day 1.

To Rob T: you can bet that I’ll continue to read, learn, and ask questions. Every CDL school should share the existence of with its students as this this site is the ‘student union’ of trucker college.

To G-town: Thank you. I enjoy the dancing bananas.

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

What else do I need?

Yesterday I crested the first hill in my quest to become an experienced, qualified and respected professional driver when I successfully completed the ‘road’ portion of the CDL test here in the great state of Ohio.

I’m making sure I have all the boxes checked as I move forward. Here, in no particular order, is the list of accomplishments I have completed:

TWIC card (applied for it yesterday) Visit to the BMV (completed yesterday about 20 minutes after the road test)

Endorsements: HazMat, Doubles, Triples, Combo, Air brakes, Tanker

Loyalty programs: Loves and Pilot Flying J (I still need to apply for TA)

Bookmarked and read topics germane to my situation

Opened dialogue and completed initial online forms for the employer of my choice (Home Run, Inc. In Xenia, Ohio)

What have I left out or forgotten?

Thanks in advance for your responses and assistance.

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