The Schneider Diaries

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Code Red NV's Comment
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Hello, Trucking Truth!

You might remember me from my previous blog Do It Like Sonny Pruitt, a day to day romp through my experiences in CDL school.

Well, that was well received enough for me to start thinking I should do another diary of my time with my very first company.

I leave for Phoenix tomorrow to start my three weeks of training. I decided to go with Schneider, The Big Orange. Previously known from my blog as Big Blue Trucking. Get it, because blue is the complimentary color of orange. They sit opposite on the color wheel. Anyone else interested in color theory? No? Fine, whatever.

Training involves one week in the classroom, one week out driving with a trainer, then one more week in the classroom, ending with final testing. If I pass all that, then somewhere around the middle of April I will be handed the keys to my very own truck. All of this has happened so fast.

What's that old REO Speedwagon song, Roll With The Changes? "So if you're tired of the same old story, turn some pages..." Perfect description for my life right now.

Schneider calls their trainers “Training Engineers”. I’m not even joking. Early in my life, I had several jobs as a File Clerk. On my resume, I always changed that job title to Records Distribution Coordinator. That’s what Training Engineer feels like, like someone paid a marketing firm to conduct some focus groups on how people feel about the word “trainer”. Probably the same firm who got us to change from “used cars” to “pre-owned.”

Three weeks in Phoenix. One full day to get there. I’m going to be on a Greyhound bus almost 10 hours tomorrow, what would normally be a 4 or 5 hour drive. I could fly from Vegas to London in that kind of time.

Full confession, I haven’t even packed yet. I have spent this last week ticking off boxes on the Schneider packing checklist they e-mailed to me, acquiring things like a flashlight, work gloves, and the like. I bought an old Acer laptop off craigslist for $80.00 and have spent a disproportionate amount of time this week installing photography software and making sure that will be up to the task for when I start taking my camera on the road. I won’t be taking my camera to training, however, I’m sure I’ll be too busy learning. And sleeping. And hopefully writing.

And missing my family. I guess this is where it starts, the separation. My wife put on a brave face for most of the lead up, but only just recently confessed how much she will miss me. I had also mentioned in my previous blog that my wife lost her father recently. Now I’m going to be on the road for weeks at a time. Our son is in the Marines and our daughter will be studying overseas after her graduation in June. We will be empty nesters soon, and I think being separated from each other as well is going to amplify that to a distressing degree.

My God, our kids were just in diapers. Only last month, it seems like.

All of this has happened so fast.

Roll with the changes.

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.
Jodi 's Comment
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Congratulations to you. Only 3 weeks of training and only 1 of actual driving seems pretty short. The company I went with has me with trainer for 8 weeks. I thought that was a long time but honestly after doing the first 5 weeks I understand why so lengthy now. There is a lot to learn. I am with you on the hole wife thing. It sucks leaving mine behind but I know as soon as I'm in my own truck she will be going with me from time to time. Good luck to you and happy Easter.

Rick S.'s Comment
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Congratulations to you. Only 3 weeks of training and only 1 of actual driving seems pretty short. The company I went with has me with trainer for 8 weeks. I thought that was a long time but honestly after doing the first 5 weeks I understand why so lengthy now. There is a lot to learn. I am with you on the hole wife thing. It sucks leaving mine behind but I know as soon as I'm in my own truck she will be going with me from time to time. Good luck to you and happy Easter.

I believe that Schnieder takes "recent graduates" - and doesn't actually do the "get your CDL here" type training in-house.

A new entrant to the industry, would probably be much better off with a lot more miles with a "finishing trainer" - but every company has their way of doing things.

Rick

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.
Jodi 's Comment
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Yes they do. I almost went with them but they don't allow pets and that's a deal breaker for me. Not right away but after I get comfortable on my own my dog will definitely be going with me.

ChickieMonster's Comment
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Can't wait to read this! "Do it like Sonny Pruitt" was entertaining and very well written.

As far as your wife, have y'all considered her riding along with you? Obviously if she has a career this won't be possible, but even going with you for a week or two will give her a great experience and allow her to get a good idea of what exactly you do each and every day.

Keep up the great work Red! Best of luck to you!

Jodi 's Comment
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My wife is lucky to have a really good job with more vacation time than she knows what to do with so she will be going with me a week at a time here and there.

Code Red NV's Comment
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Can't wait to read this! "Do it like Sonny Pruitt" was entertaining and very well written.

As far as your wife, have y'all considered her riding along with you?

Thank you so much for that! As far as my wife, she is actually disabled. She can get around ok on her own, but she'll never drive stick, or anything like a big rig.

After 6 months, Schneider allows passengers, so I plan on taking her for some short hops if possible, but I don't think we'll ever be able to be on the road together. Unless I become an O/O and can outfit a truck my way, but that's many years off right now. I just got to get through this first year and then see what happens.

ChickieMonster's Comment
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double-quotes-start.png

Can't wait to read this! "Do it like Sonny Pruitt" was entertaining and very well written.

As far as your wife, have y'all considered her riding along with you?

double-quotes-end.png

Thank you so much for that! As far as my wife, she is actually disabled. She can get around ok on her own, but she'll never drive stick, or anything like a big rig.

After 6 months, Schneider allows passengers, so I plan on taking her for some short hops if possible, but I don't think we'll ever be able to be on the road together. Unless I become an O/O and can outfit a truck my way, but that's many years off right now. I just got to get through this first year and then see what happens.

My husband is disabled as well and won't be able to drive either. He is going to come along with me full-time and help out with things like navigation, trip planning, laundry, and all the other good stuff so I can get as much time behind the wheel as possible. I went to a very small and laid back school so he was actually able to tag along and learn things like trip planning and basic pretrip so that was really cool. We love to travel and hang out together so this lifestyle is going to work out great for us. Wr rent a small cabin and our landlords are former drivers so they are super cool about working with us on our living situation. It might be something for you and your wife to consider. If not going with you full time then going for a couple weeks at a time and return home to take care of whatever obligations may be there.

G-Town's Comment
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Something to consider once you gain some solo experience. Like many of the larger companies, Schneider has many options to chose from that can help with the home time. Assuming all goes well with your training and after several months of solo running, you might want to inquire about a dedicated account assignment. Typically dedicated accounts will get you home on a more regular basis, many will have you home every weekend. It's also possible if you live within an easy commute of your "Pumpkin Patch", that Schneider could put you in a local run.

Something to consider as you progress through this process.

Good luck and safe travels.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Code Red NV's Comment
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note: I was supposed to post this yesterday, but I forgot my login info. So, this is yesterday's post, I'll post today's post in a few hours _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Check-in Day (or Thoughts From A Very Long Bus Ride)

I rode a Greyhound bus to Phoenix today. For 8 hours. On the bus was a sick guy who had absolutely no business being on public transportation. If the Zombie Apocalypse breaks out in Phoenix in the next few days, I’m not Patient Zero but I’ll have a pretty good idea who it was.

Saying goodbye to my wife at 6:00 AM was not easy, I’m not going to lie. On the one hand, this will mark the longest time we’ve been apart for a while now. We have become that old married couple that fit each other like a pair of comfy, well worn slippers.

On the other hand, that’s probably reason enough to do this. We have lived our lives trying to avoid staying in a rut, and this is the change we probably both needed. Also, it’s not like I’ve been abandoned on the moon. I’m in Phoenix. It’s, like, five hours away.

Or at least it would if you don’t take Greyhound.

And, lastly, this is the job. Driving Over The Road means being away from home for long stretches of time. “Truckin’…..it’s a lifestyle….” I’ve heard that from several different people. And they all say it the same, too. It’s a phrase you say as you exhale a long, weary breath, like you are preparing your listener to receive some Yoda level wisdom you know their Luke Skywalker minds just can’t wrap their heads around.

I brought all the necessary items for a long bus journey, a book, my MP3 player, my phone and all it’s games, but I ended up just staring out the window for most of the trip.

I was watching the trucks drive past. So many trucks on I-40. All the names I’ve come to recognize; Swift, C.R. England, Werner, CRST, ABF hauling doubles , Fed-Ex hauling doubles. Lots of tankers, flatbeds, intermodal loads. And all the companies I didn’t recognize, Owner/Operators or small local companies just trying to get by. There is so much variety in the business, I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of the opportunities.

I was also thinking to about how different this highway looks from the mean, gritty and congested streets of North Las Vegas, where I just was. So many different problems. 6% downhill grade, how would I handle that. Strong crosswinds, how would I handle those? I saw trucks stopped on the side of the road with their hoods up. That will be me, someday. How will I handle that.

One of the reasons I chose Schneider was that their training program was only 3 weeks long, as compared to being with a trainer 6 or 8 weeks, or longer. Now, I’m not sure.

Or, maybe, that is the point. Maybe they know that you’ll never be able to cover all the problems that will crop up on the road. Not in 6-8 weeks, not ever. Best to just give you a good grounding, and set you out to learn for yourself.

Well, we’ll find out tomorrow what’s in store. Goodnight, everyone.

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.

Intermodal:

Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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