4 Years In, And I Love My Job!!!

Topic 13147 | Page 1

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Ahmalia's Comment
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Hi, people!! 4 years ago I joined TT as I started researching this career change. I did the CDL training course here, which helped me immensely!! Today, I am still driving for Swift, and I love it!!

After I finished my training and went solo, the first 6 months were really hard. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. People started calling me Murphy, as in Murphy's Law. I'll tell the story of my first week solo on another thread.

Anyway, after 6 months of OTR , I was transferred to the Great Lakes Regional fleet, where I pretty much ran between Chicago and Detroit. That was much better because would take a Costco load from Chicago to somewhere near Detroit, and then the next day pick up a GMC load to take back.

Knowing where I was going every day, where my parking options were, and being familiar with the roads made the job a lot less stressful. After a year of that, my driver leader/dispatcher contacted me about a new fleet for Coca-Cola, and asked it I wanted it. I said, hell yeah!! I live in Topeka, KS, about 3 miles from Coke here. I pick up two loads a day in Kansas City and bring them back, then bobtail home. It's Monday through Friday, weekends off, and salaried at $850 a week. Heck, some days I'll only have 1 load, 5 hr work day!!

Seems like I have a pretty sweet deal here.

My point is, many many MANY times in the first year I was ready to quit, but I'm glad I stuck with it. Once I put in the time, and established myself as a safe driver who was always on time and never refused loads, I earned the promotion.

Of course, there is no guarantee this fleet is permanent, but after two years on this fleet, I know that if Swift ever loses the contract, Coca-Cola will hire me immediately.

So my advice to new drivers is that the money and sweet loads may not be there right away, but if you stay dedicated to being the best driver you can be, be reliable, safe, and professional, the opportunities are out there for you!!

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.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

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.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jetguy's Comment
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Once I put in the time, and established myself as a safe driver who was always on time and never refused loads, I earned the promotion.

Great post and good advice! Looking forward to your next post about your first week.

Code Red NV's Comment
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Thank you for this, it's great to read stories like yours.

Old School's Comment
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Hello Ahmalia, and welcome back. I can't tell you how glad we are to hear from you!

So many new people come in and out of here wanting to become professional truck drivers, and most of them drop off of the radar as soon as they are running solo. Occasionally there's a few of them that I will sometimes wonder about. You are one of the one's that I'll think of every now and then, and wonder how you're doing, or if your still driving a truck. I am so pleased to see that through all your trials you came out on top.

Congratulations on that "sweet" job you've got, and please hang out here every now and then - you've got so much to offer to the people who come in here looking for advice.

Rick S.'s Comment
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Thanks for checking in. Glad all is going well for you.

With all the negative posts that end up here - nice to see someone positive.

For all the "bad press" that Swift gets - also nice to see someone that started there, and is still there 4 years later.

Rick

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Really good post Ahmalia. Reading your first year trials and tribulations brought a smile to my face, glad you prevailed. I too started with Swift and stayed with them, no reason to make a change. Like Rick said, it's nice to see something positive about them. You only hear from the drivers they let go or they "did wrong".

Safe travels.

Jordan S.'s Comment
member avatar

Glad to hear something positive. All I hear is bad news and how trucking is terrible from other truckers I meet in person. I don't think it's all that bad. I also meet very upbeat truckers that make me smile. They make me excited about trucking.

Ahmalia's Comment
member avatar

Thanks, glad to be back!! I personally have had no problems with Swift, they treat me very well. Think I've heard about every Swift joke out there. Had a driver bite my head off once, and after he vented, he apologized, saying he was having a bad day. I told him, "You think you got it bad? I'm blonde, female, and drive for Swift!! I have you beat before I even roll out of the bunk." He said, yeah, good point, and we had a good laugh. I think a positive attitude and a sense of humor are vital in this industry. Worry about the things you can control, and forget about the things you can't.

Jolie R.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Ahmalia, I too run on a dedicated Coca Cola account but for Marten Transport. I agree it is a sweet deal as I haul 2 loads if syrup a day and go to the same consignee each time. I like the relationships I have been able to build with the shipper and consignee and while what I do wouldn't appeal to many , it works for me. Nice to meet you! P.S. I am blonde too! :-)

Consignee:

The customer the freight is being delivered to. Also referred to as "the receiver". The shipper is the customer that is shipping the goods, the consignee is the customer receiving the goods.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Ahmalia's Comment
member avatar

Hi Jolie!! I agree, the relationship I have with the Coke people is awesome. For example, if any pallets tip during transport, it is my responsibility to restack them. Being short (5'3), that can be difficult, because a full pallet ends up taller than me. Trying to lift a shell of 8 2 liters above my head can be rough. But they are always willing to help me out. What region do you run in?

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