Sometimes The Grass Is Not Greener On The Other SIde .........

Topic 10622 | Page 1

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classA's Comment
member avatar

Surreal is the best descriptive word I can find to describe the past several weeks. In fact, when I reflect upon my life over the past 50 years it can easily be said that good is always in my favor regardless of how it may seem at the moment. A long-time friend of mine said it was as if I'd recently won the lottery of jobs in the trucking industry! If he only knew now what I know.

For those of you who have read my previous posts, you'll remember that I just recently graduated CDL training and went to work with Schneider National. I had driven well over 5,000 miles as both a Solo and Team Driver. Having expected limited earnings my first year it was really no surprise that after working almost 70 hours a week that I ended up making about $1.00 an hour. But as with any job I've ever had, I have been committed to doing the best I can and benefiting as best possible from it. But during home time I began to just consider other employment options available with the potential to earn more money.

Then I saw it ........ an hourly wage driving job! What? Truly, as the job I've recently been working proves, sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side! I have been driving 1,000 miles a week and making $18 an hour! But the requirements to maintain that grass are very demanding.

Originally the job title was "Truck Driver with Hazmat Endorsement". But when I received the new hire paperwork it changed to "Delivery Driver". What? Delivery driver? Ok. Potato chips, bread, cookies, or maybe a case of 2-liter drinks occasionally would not be too bad. You know, rotate out the expired dates, front the shelves, etc. But I was actually going to be delivering batteries and servicing shelves of them. Not personal electronic batteries either. These were full-size auto, tractor, and mobility device batteries that weigh from 8 to 120 lbs. each! But I thought, "Hey, I can do this for $18 an hour! and I won't need a gym membership to stay in shape!" Win-win! I was wrong.

First Day - I went out with a trainer to learn the route. The first day was primarily all driving a tractor-trailer combination of 2014 Freightliner Automatic with sleeper pulling a 42 ft. van trailer and sometimes a straight truck with automatic transmission and lift-gate (depending on the route requirements that week). Once driving hours were spent on the first day, the company actually paid for a hotel room (if in the straight truck)! And they paid for up to $20.00 for one meal a day (either for driving the straight truck or the tractor-trailer)! Nice! Did I mention that there were no electronic logs?

Second Day - This is where reality hit with the Delivery Driver job title. Up at 0600 and out for a full 10 to 12 hour day of deliveries. Some stops were simple using the electric pallet jack to unload an entire pallet at the customer location. Nice! But 10 minutes down the road you might have 1 to 15 batteries to unload (weighing from 8 lbs to 120 lbs each). And sometimes they were in the middle of a pallet layer underneath another layer! What? I have to move all of these to get to that one? Then after 4 or 5 hours "running" from delivery to delivery I am thinking "time for a DOT break and I need it". But surprise - paper logs! I was taught how to simply mark down that 30-minute break and continue beating the batteries until you couldn't deliver any more for the day. Then, just add that 30-minutes to the end of the day! My trainer said, "The break is when you are driving from location to location." What? I was tired!

Third Day - Repeat of second day, but with more road driving (more break time ......) in between the stops. I was told that if I hurried through these stops though that I could maybe get home for the night in order to do local deliveries the next day in my area. What? I was tired!

Fourth Day - Repeat of second and third day. Again, I was tired!

But then off for 3 days!

After making it through the first week I learned they needed someone to run the other route with the tractor-trailer the next week. It was more driving time, I had purchased a GPS, and understood the basics, so I volunteered. More batteries, more paper logs, with no hotels for sleeping and additional delivery issues with the tractor-trailer combination lift-gate in some tight Montana towns. After considering the options that week I decided to continue with the first route (with paid hotel rooms).

Being in need of the money (and I was making some good money) I continued this Delivery Driver job for 5 weeks. Then I simply realized that I am a no-touch freight kind of guy and admitted it. Thankfully I left the job on good terms.

Now back to needing money and of course, work.

Ok. People being people, I understand that someone reading this is thinking, "you should have stayed with Schneider" or "you should have realize" or such and such. Thank you for not saying it please. I get it.

For those of you just beginning your careers as a driver, take to heart what all of the veterans here say about staying with the first driving job at least a year. That would have probably been the better option for me originally. In fact, I think I'll go back to Schneider! I'll keep you posted on what happens. Thanks to everyone for the support, encouragement, and insight into this truly difficult industry for beginners.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

Dm:

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.
Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

Yeah, I'm definitely the no touch freight kinda gal myself. One of my classmates was talking flatbedding with TMC when were finished with school, but I guess he finally saw the light lol and is now planning to go with the same small company and regional runs that I am. The other day at lunch he admitted he was lured to flatbedding by the additional money, but finally realized he didn't want to be tarping and tying down loads in nasty or winter weather. I can imagine how much work delivery drivers do. My hat is off to anyone who can tackle delivery jobs or flatbedding.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Dm:

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Sue D. relates:

The other day at lunch [my classmate] admitted he was lured to flatbedding by the additional money, but finally realized he didn't want to be tarping and tying down loads in nasty or winter weather.

It is funny when people hear "more money" and get really interested. Problem is, in this business, "more money" = "more work to do"! Sure, if you can handle the "more work" part, you are welcome to more money - you earned it!

Dm:

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.
Pick/Grin's Comment
member avatar

An older guy tried explaining why I was wrong in not going straight into flatbed. His one deal-breaker was the extra money.

Everybody likes a certain aspect of their type of freight. Yeah, I could very easily get into flatbedding, but I don't see it as worth it. Others beg to differ, but that's their opinion.

Trucker B's Comment
member avatar

Flat bedding appeals to me as I would like to eventually get into heavy hauling. The extra work is part of the journey. I say that now though in the comfort of my home!

Dave H.'s Comment
member avatar

I was taught how to simply mark down that 30-minute break and continue beating the batteries until you couldn't deliver any more for the day. Then, just add that 30-minutes to the end of the day! My trainer said, "The break is when you are driving from location to location." What? I was tired!

You were taught wrong. Some guys do that to maximize time but you better be careful with that. If you get audited, there are ways DOT has to find out if you did that. And if you did...it's all on you. Stop and take a legitimate 30 minute break. Don't log a break unless you are actually taking one, and if you are driving, you better be logged as such.

If you cant make a decent wage doing that, you either have the wrong job or are living beyond your means.

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.

Pat M.'s Comment
member avatar

In an audit, they don't call around and verify where you were and when. They look at the log and see if it is possible to get all that done in the time noted. They also look to see if you took your breaks at the correct times etc. Yeah they are thorough but not as bad as people make it out to be. Kinda like the tests you took to get your license. You made it harder than it really was.

Dave D. (Armyman)'s Comment
member avatar

That is why sometimes I flag loading/unloading as 15 minutes, and others as 30 minutes. That way, when there is an audit, they can say that, yes this guy isn't just flagging his logs.

When I was on e-logs, I would do the same thing.

Dave

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