Is It Always This Rough?

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Amiel V.'s Comment
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I just finished my first week with my trainer. He basically made me do everything. I told him that I learn much faster and better by watching someone else do it and then trying to do it myself but all he does is direct me. He insists on running hard and fast all day long and then he goes home to his family (he is local). While I am stuck being alone and depressed in the truck for ten hours. Then he shows up and we do it all over again. I can barely stand on my feet and keep my eyes open. When I am driving he will slip in the sleeper berth and take a nap most of the time. I am only 150 miles from home but I worry about not getting enough sleep if I try to commute. I miss my kids ALOT. So much that sometimes it is hard to sleep at night. I have gotten really close to throwing in the towel but I cannot afford it. I am worried that I am going to break down at some point. Is it always this hard??? Why would anyone want to be in trucking if this is what it is like???

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Errol V.'s Comment
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I just finished my first week with my trainer. He basically made me do everything. I told him that I learn much faster and better by watching someone else do it and then trying to do it myself but all he does is direct me. He insists on running hard and fast all day long and then he goes home to his family (he is local). While I am stuck being alone and depressed in the truck for ten hours. Then he shows up and we do it all over again. I can barely stand on my feet and keep my eyes open. When I am driving he will slip in the sleeper berth and take a nap most of the time. I am only 150 miles from home but I worry about not getting enough sleep if I try to commute. I miss my kids ALOT. So much that sometimes it is hard to sleep at night. I have gotten really close to throwing in the towel but I cannot afford it. I am worried that I am going to break down at some point. Is it always this hard??? Why would anyone want to be in trucking if this is what it is like???

Amiel, I when read your topic ("Is it always this rough?") I immediately thought to my self, "Yes it is!"

There is a tremendous range of quality in road trainers/mentors from Saints to Satan (Hey! what a phrase!). I also understand from my previous life as a school teacher there are different "modes" of learning. Unfortunately your trainer is a firm believer in On the Job Training. Also, your "hard and fast" comment makes me think he is an owner operator. They love the free labor they get from trainees!

Anyway, you have a "phase" in this part of your training, and it will have an end. And then you will be prepared for your own travels in a small can on wheels for your home. In a way it's fortunate you get the sleeper for yourself, parked, overnight. The team driving thing is hard for many people to adjust to. (Be sure you get time for showers, laundry at truck stops! Make some break times at Walmart parking lots for shopping. That might be part of your overnight "deal", though.)

Do not use up 4-6 hours of your off time for a trip home. If you get two days off, great, but not an overnighter. Remember, (I assume this is in your future) as an OTR driver you will be away from home for weeks at a time. This you must get used to unless you manage to get your own local/weekday/short run gig right away. Use your phone to keep up with the family. Skype of Google hangout can get you live video.

Nearly all the readers on Trucking Truth have dealt with the time away, the OTR experience, and most have family they are separated from. Take that towel and stitch it to your belt so you won't accidentally throw it away.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rolling Thunder's Comment
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There it is! That moment when it gets real. I will only add one comment to what Errol V has written: We all love our kids and find a way to make it.

Dennis R. (Greatest Drive's Comment
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Maybe truck drivers would get some respect if more people spent a few weeks in a truck doing otr. You pretty much have a snapshot of the life style. Wait until you get DOT'd...lol

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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I told him that I learn much faster and better by watching someone else do it and then trying to do it myself but all he does is direct me

I'll bet he got a great chuckle out of that when you said it to him.

rofl-3.gif

There are times that watching someone do something first is helpful for sure. But not so much in trucking. You've just gotta get out there and do it.

Yeah trucking is always that hard. And you asked the perfect question:

Why would anyone want to be in trucking if this is what it is like???

Someone just a couple of days ago started a conversation here in the forum and asked Why Are Some Drivers So Miserable?.

All I can do is speak for myself and my own experiences. First of all I live for a challenge. The worst thing you can tell me when I get out of bed in the morning is that I'll have an easy day. I don't want easy. I want to challenge myself. I want to get better at the things I do and get better as a person. I want to learn new things and embark on new adventures.

For me trucking was a grand adventure. Now keep in mind I've never been married and have no children. I started trucking when I was 21 and headed out onto the highways to live like a gypsy. I absolutely loved it, but not because it was easy. I loved it because it was hard!

In my opinion trucking isn't worth doing just for the money. If you're just looking for a job there are much better career paths. Now let me say that there are tons of drivers the get up, go to work, and come home every night like anyone who has an ordinary job and they love it. And God bless em for it. But when I had local jobs over the years where I came home every day I was bored out of my mind. The excitement and adventure of life on the road was gone. Driving a truck locally wasn't any more fun for me than working in a factory or a restaurant.

Now you have children you miss back home and that's probably 95% of what's making this so miserable for you. So hopefully you'll get a local job sometime soon and you'll enjoy trucking a whole lot more.

But I can tell you this - trucking is almost never easy. It doesn't matter what type of trucking job you have there are going to be endless challenges. And you can never let your guard down. Most of the worst wrecks I saw over the years were in ideal conditions - sunny, warm, light traffic - beautiful days. People let their guard down and it bites em. So you have to remain vigilant.

If I were you I wouldn't throw in the towel just yet. If you land a local job, work at it for a few months, and you still hate trucking then I would move on. We normally tell people to stick with their first company for a year before changing jobs but when it comes to people having a family back home I say do what you have to do. Give your current job about three months. If you still can't stand it then start making some calls to local companies and see if you can land something that gets you home to the kids. And ignore the experience required in the job listings. A lot of them will make exceptions.

Hang in there my friend! In the grand scheme of things it's well worth it to go down this trucking path a little ways to see if it might prove to be an excellent career for you. It's always the hardest in the beginning. Give it a few months, look for a local gig, and see where that leads.

Old School's Comment
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Amiel, I find it interesting that you are with a local driver for your training. This seems highly unusual to me, but as for all the things you mention it sounds like a typical driving job. You are putting in long hours, hitting it hard all day long, and you are dead tired at the end of the day. That is all typical for a professional driver.

It is a major adjustment for everyone who is just starting this career, especially for those who are accustomed to punching a clock and working an eight hour day with regular breaks and a lunch hour thrown in there also - I've almost completely forgotten what lunch is!

Even though I started this as a second career after thirty years of running a business I was already accustomed to working long hours, and being away from my family for extended time periods - I realize I had an advantage over some in making the transition. There is no doubt that the first three months of attempting this are the most difficult. Most people are tempted many times over during that time to call it quits, and many do. I would encourage you to hang in there and at least give this experiment a full year's commitment. I assume you started this because you wanted to provide for your family, and I just want to assure you that it will get better. You have the opportunity to make some very decent money in a blue collar field by hanging in there, and if you are training for a local position you will at least get to be home at night.

Are you going to be a local driver? I think it very curious that a company would have you training with a local driver, and then throwing you into an over the road position after you are done with the training. What type of driving job will you have when you complete your training time?

Amiel, the main thing that stood out to me in your post was the fact that your training is not being handled in the way you had expected it to. This is the number one reason for the failure of many a rookie as they make their foray into this career. Their experience is nowhere near what their expectations were. This is something you will have to let go of, you can't convince yourself that you are not being trained properly, or that your trainer is somehow mistreating you while others are being trained in a manner that you thought was acceptable. To be honest with you, there is no set standard for training someone to do this job, each trainer and each company handle the whole process a little differently.

I can sympathize with any newbie to this industry because I myself had an incredibly difficult training experience, but after it was all said and done, I realized that I had learned a lot from this fellow who, seemed to me, to enjoy torturing me. The main thing that your time with the trainer will accomplish is to get you somewhat ready to be handed your own set of keys, and the company feels they can at least take the risk of giving you a try at handling the job without having a really big disaster. All rookies make mistakes, the training is mostly just a buffer of a time period to expose you to some of the daily hazards and difficulties you will face while still having someone there with you to assist you in some small way. I have always maintained that your first year on the job in this career is your training time. If the truth were told, I still feel as though I learn something everyday, and develop my skills with each new challenge.

Amiel, I just got back on the road after seven days at home - it was hard leaving my lovely wife, I seriously did not want to get back behind the wheel. I expressed those sentiments to her and she said "you'll feel like you're back in the saddle once you get a couple of hundred miles away." As usual, she was correct, three or four hours down the road I was eagerly anticipating the 1,850 mile journey my dispatcher had sent my way. I'm gonna say this job is a strange one, and it is only good for a chosen few. I love being out here and getting it done. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes with vanquishing each challenge this life on the road brings to bear upon me. I actually have customers who know me and look forward to seeing me pull up into their yards with goods whose timely delivery is critical to the continual flow of their manufacturing process. For me, this is the most satisfying career I could have ever undertaken, I sometimes sit and wonder "why didn't I start doing this a long time ago?"

I say those things to answer your question "Is it always this rough?" No, it is not "always" - in fact most of the time I cannot imagine myself doing anything more satisfying than being a successful, productive, content American Truck Driver. Let the challenges arise - I can face them down and slay them like foes in a battle! I truly believe this is a job that you will love or hate, and if you can't get past the hate, then it is best to move on to something else, but please, give it at least a year to decide which camp you fall into - it just takes that long to really even begin to understand what it is all about.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Errol V.'s Comment
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Say, Amiel, what company are you with, anyway?

Indy's Comment
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I just finished my first week with my trainer. He basically made me do everything. ...

I had the same experience and at first was troubled by it (wanted to see how he did things first) but, in retrospect, it was for the best. You only have a short time with your trainer and the quickest way to learn is to just get in there and do it under the watchful eye of someone with experience.

When I am driving he will slip in the sleeper berth and take a nap most of the time.

If he's comfy taking a nap while you drive, then you must be doing a good job behind the wheel.

Keep working hard, stay out of trouble and when the time is right, look for a local driving job that will get you home with your family every day.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

Indy's Comment
member avatar

Conway, Saia, and YRC have terminals in Eugene. YRC website says they are hiring drivers (home daily). It says 6 months experience req'd. but I wouldn't let that deter you. I was offered a job at YRC in Indianapolis right out of school (ended up not taking it, but it's a very good driving job). It would be worth the commute if you could get on there.

I'd keep plugging away where you are, but start applying for something that gets you home.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Michael C.'s Comment
member avatar

Conway, Saia, and YRC have terminals in Eugene. YRC website says they are hiring drivers (home daily). It says 6 months experience req'd. but I wouldn't let that deter you. I was offered a job at YRC in Indianapolis right out of school (ended up not taking it, but it's a very good driving job). It would be worth the commute if you could get on there.

I'd keep plugging away where you are, but start applying for something that gets you home.

I worked security for SAIA motor freight a few years ago. Out of the three years I work for them I never saw a driver that hated his job. Almost all of them were in good spirits most of the time.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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