Am I Nuts? Beginning Truck Driving At 57!

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Papa Jim's Comment
member avatar

Like many in the good ol USA, I find myself unemployed and looking for employment. Who can miss all the ads for truck driving? It seems to be a wide open field for sure.

My back ground is ministry and military, I have served as a missionary (Eastern NC and Eastern VA), an Associate Pastor and Pastor. With so many young men with Masters degrees looking for churches to serve, and myself only having a BS, it has been difficult to find a place to serve, so I guess, God is sending me in a different direction.

So, I contacted the local Community College and they don't have an opening until March, I chose a Private CDL program to begin on December 2. I had already gotten my CDL B, so I have a headstart anyway.

I headed down to the school, signed the papers, went and got my DOT Medical (didn't need one with my CDL B for school bus), drivers record and paid my deposit, then I came home and went online.

That is when I began to wonder, what am I getting into? My first forum reading was from a husband/wife team with the dispatcher from hell. Boy, did that get me thinking. I was wondering if I better see about a refund from the school. But I kept reading more forums.

Now don't think me naive, I know this will require work, study, family separation, and much more that I have no idea what to antipate yet, but will learn. I also know that people posting will always have different opinions about companies, training, rule and regs, so I will continue to be positive, honest and truthful in how I view training, hiring, company training and every thing else.

I look forward to your replies and thoughts.

Until then...

Jim

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.

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.

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.
Danny S.'s Comment
member avatar

Jim, welcome to trucking truth, you have found a website that is truly honest and balanced on the lifestyle of trucking. I am same age as you I was a pastor and I also drive a,school bus. It was a tough decision for me but I come to learn that I was cut out to drive a truck it is really something I have wanted to done since I was a kid. I've been in school for six weekends got two more to go I test on 12/19 and then I'm set to leave on January 6 to go to H O Wolding to start my driving career. We are not too old, we are mature and from what I have found most companies like people our age especially with good driving records and good backgrounds. The biggest question I had to ask myself was am I willing to take on this type of a lifestyle, once I settle that question the rest was just a matter of choices about such things as schools, companies to work for which companies best fit me and what I am looking for. If I can do this you can do it; there are going to be good days and bad ones but you will make it. Just decide if this is the lifestyle you want, I didn't say a job it is a lifestyle, then do your research and make your decisions. These websites that have theses horror stories, I'm sure they happen but I wouldn't say they are the norm, that's why this website is great because you will get the truth about truck driving the good with the challenges.

Papa Jim's Comment
member avatar

Danny, Thanks for the info. From your information, my only concern at this time is getting hired. I am on hold with a company how while typing. I understand the lifestyle issue compared to a job. I am looking forward to training and learning more.

As to the thoughts about wanting to drive since I was a kid, me too. When I was 15/16, I worked at a gas station and would fuel up the trucks we got coming into and out of Albany, GA. Long time ago, diesel was $.19 a gallon. I always wanted to climb up in the trucks, but never did.

JanaBanana's Comment
member avatar

Hi Jim,

I just graduated from driving school. I found out right away that you have to wade through a lot of bull to get to the real story of each company. When I read reviews on line I try to keep in mind that at least half of them are written by drivers who have a chip on their shoulder after being fired or quitting for not making enough money. Every company and job has a downside, every new driver has to pay their dues, but I believe you'll be rewarded for hard work and less complaining.

The best advice I can give you is some I received from a driver friend. Go to a fairly busy truck stop and hang out near the fueling stations. When you see a driver from a company that you are researching, go say hello and ask him if he likes his company. Wait until they have the nozzle in the tank because that's when they'll have time to chat. If you decide to apply to that company, ask the driver if they have a recruiting bonus and offer to drop his name in the hat when you apply.

And, are you nuts for starting over at 57? I say no. I myself am a lady of a certain age... :)

Danny S.'s Comment
member avatar

Jim, You will have no problem getting a job I still have two weeks of school left and I already have five prehire letters and at least three more potential ones. These companies want you as much as you want the job and if you meet their minimum qualifications they will give you an opportunity.

Prehire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Papa Jim's Comment
member avatar

JanaBanana, thanks for the info.

Danny, sounds good. looking to hear from some soon. I have applied to two so far.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

James, the biggest fallacy in trucking in my opinion is the "good company versus bad company" thing. It's almost entirely baloney.

Trucking is performance-based and every company in America has plenty of freight for their good drivers. And as long as you show them you're safe & reliable they'll keep you moving and do their best to take care of you. There are always going to be bad apples to deal with from time to time, but good drivers are extremely hard to come by so companies will do their best to take care of the good ones they have.

When I read "reviews" of companies I never think of it as a reflection upon the company itself. I see it as a reflection upon the person giving the review. I worked for an assortment of companies over a 15 year period and I never once felt I was working for a bad company. I was safe, reliable, and willing to run as hard as anyone out there. I knew how to get the job done day in and day out. And although I came across a few dispatchers and middle-managers from time to time who were lousy people or lousy at what they did, I never found myself in a situation where I couldn't get things to work out well in the end.

The happiness and success you find in trucking will depend upon how well you are suited to the lifestyle, your work ethic, your reliability, and your ability to get along well with people. Those are a lot of pieces to put together and quite honestly most people don't have what it takes to complete the puzzle. If you do, you'll find yourself miles ahead of the group. And while the others are sitting around in forums bashing their former companies you'll be out there rolling down the highway, enjoying your life, making money, and wishing you had the time to do things like sit around in trucking forums - but you won't.

smile.gif

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.
Papa Jim's Comment
member avatar

Brett, sounds like a good plan. Looking forward to getting started.

Papa Jim's Comment
member avatar

Well, things look good. I went online and filled out a job app today and got my first pre-hire letter. So, I stoked to say the least. And I have not even started class yet.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Excellent! Keep applying for pre-hires. Get as many as you can. That way when graduation time comes you'll be all lined up and ready to go. Besides, some of those can fall through. They're not guarantees. They basically say that you qualify to work there and they would be willing to hire you when you're available to work but their hiring policies could change in the meantime. We've seen that happen a number of times.

Plus it's a great idea to speak with recruiters from various companies because they'll give you some great ideas for policies or features that other companies may not have. So you might think one company is your dream job until you find out that another company is offering something even better. So don't be shy about getting applications out there and making phone calls to recruiters. In the end the choices and information are going to help you.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Pre-hires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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