A Week In The Life Of A Flatbed Driver

Topic 1846 | Page 4

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PJ's Comment
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Old school you have done an awesome job writing this thread. It is a snapshot of the real life a lot of folks are wondering about, me included. The photo's are priceless. Thank you sir for taking the time to do this. As you guys/gals know and are trying to teach the rest of us hopefully it will attract good people that fit the model, and more importantly convince folks this is not for to move on to another career path before they get into it for a very short time to find out it isn't for them. Many of the disgruntled (not all of course) didn't have this type of knowledge and found out it wasn't for them. Not good for the person, company they were with, or the industry. thank-you.gif

Brett Aquila's Comment
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I'll probably end this thread there and try to get back in the mode of responding to the many new questions that keep popping up in the forum. I've been kind of MIA while working on this little documentary, and the forums been hopping. Sorry Brett, I've noticed you've been working overtime this week, but you've sure been giving some good advice!

Hey I'm thrilled to death that you're taking the time to document life on the road like this. I'm enjoying reading along with it and as you can see by the reactions people are absolutely loving it! So just do your thing and don't give it a second thought.

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Old School's Comment
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Day 10

We get into our destination and everything goes smoothly getting our load of paper rolls delivered. There's quite a few other drivers and trucks from my company there getting unloaded and I stop and chat with a few of them. I enjoy getting to meet the other drivers and can quickly recognize which ones get it and which ones don't. One was a "super trucker" complaining to me how slow one of the other drivers was about getting his load ready to be unloaded, another was quiet and unassuming. I went over to meet the fellow that "super trucker" was griping about, and found out that he was only on his third solo delivery. I talked with him a few moments to encourage him and see if there was any thing I could help him with. He was really almost finished and rolling his last few straps up, but saw my daughter using my strap roller and wanted to know where I got it - apparently he was unaware there was such a thing.

There is a camaraderie among flat-bedders that I enjoy - it's not what it used to be years ago, but there is still some evidence of it remaining, and it's one of the reasons I was drawn to flat-bedding. As I close out this final addition to this thread I'll return to this thought and share with you some of the reasons I chose to be a flat-bedder.

Do you remember when you were a kid how exciting it was to get to tear the paper off those Christmas presents? And if you got a really large present it made it that much more thrilling? Well as a flat-bedder you sometimes get to start your day doing just that. I'm saying all this because my friend Daniel B. kind of made a joke the other day in reference to flat-bedders having to wrap up their freight like it was a big old Christmas present. Well anything that has to be wrapped also has to be unwrapped. Now I realize that only a fellow flat-bedder understands my sentiments about this job, but I really do enjoy what I do and take a great deal of pride in how it's done. Very few dry van haulers, or refrigerated drivers understand this, and of course that's why they don't want to have anything to do with it, and there's nothing wrong with that. There's a popular song out now that says something like "ever since the beginning, to keep the world spinning it takes all kinds of kinds."

Here's a few photos of me unwrapping a very large "present".

flat-bedder taking tarp off tank loaded on flatbedflat-bedder taking tarp off tank loaded on flatbedflat-bedder taking tarp off tank loaded on flatbed

Of course after you get finished tearing those presents open, you've got to clean up the area and put the wrapping paper away, it's just part of the job.

flat-bedder taking tarp off tank loaded on flatbed

The flat-bedder usually gets to tell the loaders how he wants his trailer loaded. Things like where the load is centered, and how it should be stacked, or which pieces need to be loaded first are all things that the driver responsible for the load gets to have his say about. Not many dry van or refrigerated loads have that privilege - no you usually just have to take what you get. Of course we have to wait for live loads while the other guys may get quite a few drop and hooks. Each of the different forms of freight have their positives and negatives, but it's funny how in this business one person sees something as a positive while another sees the very same thing as a negative. It's a diverse industry with a diverse group of people comprising a very large group of people that are professional drivers.

Remember when I told you I requested my DM to try and get me to Texas so that I could get my daughter home? Well, he came through! Just as we got our paper rolls unloaded in Bridgeport Alabama my qualcomm received a message telling us to deadhead over to a Nucor Steel plant in Tuscaloosa Alabama to pick up a load of 8' x 55' steel plates bound for Fort Worth Texas. It isn't always that easy, but this time he really came through for me in a pinch. We do each other favors. That's the way a driver keeps up a good relationship with his DM. I go out of my way for him when he needs me to, and he will do the same for me because he knows that I am willing to help him when needed. If you don't cultivate this type of relationship with your DM you are only hurting yourself and making your job more difficult.

Our route took us through a scenic area on the outskirts of the smoky mountains which made this last leg of our journey together very rewarding in it's own way. My daughter snapped photos along the way of the scenery that she found interesting.

scenery view from truckers cab of an old low steel bridgescenery view from truckers cab of a large lake in the mountainsscenery view from truckers cab of an open winding mountain roadscenery view from truckers cab of a pond and trees in the mountains

Okay, in order to complete this I will have to continue on another page.

Deadhead:

To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Old School's Comment
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Day 10 continued

I'm gonna finish this by sharing with you why I chose to be flat-bedder.

It's kind of a long history of my situations and circumstances in life, but as many of you know I am retired from one industry in which I was, for a long time, self-employed in the electrical sign business. With the economy being as it has been for the past eight or so years I simply needed to do something else at this point in my life. I had dealt with truck drivers in my business all through the years and always found the flat-bed drivers to be the friendliest, most courteous, and most helpful drivers we ever had to deal with. This is not a jab at the other drivers, it's just the way it was. I still remember a very nice Conway driver we had bringing and delivering stuff in a dry van for us, but he was an exception to the rule. Also I've always enjoyed physical work outdoors with my hands. Even though I was the boss, I was a very "hands on" manager. If my employees needed to training or certification in their jobs I always made sure I met those same qualifications. Consequently I am a Certified welder, certified crane operator, and a licensed master electrician.

I also owned big trucks of my own for my business. We had crane trucks, and other various large pieces of equipment to enable ourselves to meet the needs of our customers. I was already familiar with load securement practices because we hauled large signs and pipes around on our own flat-bed straight trucks or trailers. My familiarity with the drivers and the practices of the flat-bed business made it an easy transition for me to go in that direction, and my love of working with my hands and being outdoors all had an influence on this decision.

I enjoy the daily variations in this job. Some days I'm outdoors, other days I'm just driving, some days I get a little of both. Some days it's not always fun, but it is always challenging. For me that is what makes life and working enjoyable. I need to be challenged each day, I want to try my best and accomplish something each day. Flat-bedding allows me to overcome obstacles every day, and I find that type of job to be personally rewarding. I may just sound like a nut to some of you, but that doesn't bother me. I know who I am, and I enjoy this type of work. I'm not going to get rich doing this and I know that, but if I don't have a challenge in my daily work I will be bored and unsatisfied. Being satisfied at the end of the day that I did my best to help American industries and citizens get the things they needed to keep producing and being innovative is a reward that cannot be measured.

I'm an American truck driver who happens to enjoy being a flat-bedder, and because of that I can sleep very well at night.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Richard O.'s Comment
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Thanks for the journal. This has been a very informative look at what the trucking life is really like.

PJ's Comment
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Very nicely put Sir!!!!!! Amazing how ones perspective changes throughout life.....The youngsters here will too understand it some day!!!!!!Great job Old School....

Daniel B.'s Comment
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Haha, Old School, I hope I didn't offend you when I made that joke!

Old School's Comment
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Haha, Old School, I hope I didn't offend you when I made that joke!

Daniel, you'll have to work a lot harder than that to offend me! On the contrary, you provided me a very nice segway to end my thread with. I was wanting to incorporate the photos of untarping and my thoughts about why I chose flat-bedding into the closing, and the Christmas present illustration just seemed to fit with the explanation of why I love what I do. You helped me express the very thoughts I was wanting to convey.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar
double-quotes-start.png

Haha, Old School, I hope I didn't offend you when I made that joke!

double-quotes-end.png

Daniel, you'll have to work a lot harder than that to offend me! On the contrary, you provided me a very nice segway to end my thread with. I was wanting to incorporate the photos of untarping and my thoughts about why I chose flat-bedding into the closing, and the Christmas present illustration just seemed to fit with the explanation of why I love what I do. You helped me express the very thoughts I was wanting to convey.

Haha! Nice. I hope your daughter enjoyed the vacation.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Steven N. (aka Wilson)'s Comment
member avatar

This was so informative! Thanks, Old School. I especially liked the part where you spoke with 'Super Driver' just to find out that the guy he was griping about was delivering his third solo load. Of course, the entire thread was fantastic!

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