Local Food Service As A Rookie

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Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

It's has been by far the most terrible week for me. The workload I've been given is crazy. I can't recall the exact numbers but Monday was 18 stops 750 cases 18k, Tuesday was 20 stops 700 cases 18k, Wednesday (by far the worst day) was 23 stops 798 cases just under 20k. Today (thursday) 750 cases 19k 12 stops. Wasn't a whole lot that was different Monday and Tuesday just bigger orders for my customers. Wednesday was a disaster. For the last week when I have the big BBQ joint on the schedule it shows me set to arrive at 359am, and also depart at 359 am. The problem with that is they order atleast 150 cases every day. That gives me bad start as I'm already an hour behind after my 1st stop due to scheduling. I've addressed it with numerous office staff and it hasn't been resolved but after the day I had it should be fixed immediately. Monday and Tuesday i also had BBQ but I busted my tail all day and finished 20 minutes And 45 minutes ahead of schedule respectively even after starting an hour behind. Wednesday I didn't finish my route. This was the first, and hopefully only time it happens. The problem with Wednesday is our sales team in Des Moines is doing a great job, in fact, they're doing too good of a job. We've picked up so many new customers and transportation doesn't want to add another truck on Wednesday despite us having a driver off, as well as a shuttle guy off tuesday night as we're only running 2 routes on Wednesday. I take pride in my work and do what it takes to get the job done and keep the customer as satisfied as possible. Wednesday was scheduled for 13 hours before you take into account the BBQ joint had same scheduling issues ive been dealing with, and 3 other stops (of the 23) don't give enough time, which has also been addressed. 1 of the places has a small parking lot and they want a delivery during lunch as they open for lunch then go home until 430pm. I'm forced to park on the side street then walk maybe half a block to their door. They order 100 cases and due to the distance from truck to their door, as well as what they order (50 pound bag of onions, and 50 pound bags of flour) I'm only safely taking in 6 cases each trip. Usually they order 10 onions, 10 flour. It's takes me an hour (busting my tail) and I'm only scheduled to be there for 35 minutes. Long stort short i sent 3 stops back on the truck. It caused alot of issues for salesmen but after 14.5 hours I was physically done . I sent my supervisor a text explaining the situation, that it wasn't safe for me to continue. Temp was high 70s, extremely humid and I went through 2 gallons of water. I wasnt going to risk running out of hours (obviously was using my extension) and need to be "rescued " by the shuttle driver. I also informed him the stops remaining were 1 downtown that requires me to block 1 lane (of 2) to deliver 45 cases at 530pm. I told him it's not safe, and I'm not going to receive a parking ticket for poor planning on their part. Cops don't really hassle me for parking, but I am sure blocking traffic like that during rush hour would be different as everyone tries to leave downtown. The other 2 stops are at opposite ends of a small strip mall not too far from our yard. Problem with those stops are 1 had told me previously they won't accept a delivery after 5pm, and this isn't a typical strip mall. It's a pretty crowded lot and with it being dinner time (530pm) it's full making it nearly impossible to safely get in and out. He obviously wasn't pleased with what I was telling him and told me I needed to finish my route. Having pushed myself so far all week to this point had me extremely irritable, I pushed myself so far because i take pride in my work and didnt want the boss to look bad by being behind schedule even though the schedule wasn't realistic. I told my supervisor this is why we need another Wednesday truck. He tried telling me we don't have enough drivers and I told him figure it out because if they keep pushing me as hard as they did it's only a matter of time before I end up hurt and they're stuck needing to cover another route. I got the feeling he was implying that I took it easy all day and intentionally didn't get everything off. I told him look at my other days this week and see I was actually ahead despite the 1 hour "late" to start my day. Also told him that he or our manager should come ride with me next Wednesday. They can unload the day on their own (both use to deliver 10+ years each), I'll drive them to each stop and show them where product goes so we're on an even playing field. He obviously changed the subject. However all the salesmen in Des Moines are having a meeting tomorrow with the VP of sales, and the VP of operations who are making the 3 hour drive out here in the morning. This meeting was organized today after 3 customers didn't get their product. They were able to get the stuff I didn't deliver on 1 of the other trucks and given priority so the 3 were unloaded by 7am.

Even though Thursday was almost as much cases and weight as Wednesday due to having 11 stops less everything came off much easier. I ended up leaving my last stop at my 12th hour, 30 minutes ahead of schedule. One reason this week is so heavy is Cinco De Mayo. We have a ton of Mexican restaurants and they're anticipating being very busy . Next week apparently will also be a killer week due to mothers day. I've worked 4 days so far and have 52 hours in.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Simon D. (Grandpa)'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Rob 👍

I am still loving these diaries!! But man; just reading them wears me out....I think I need a nap!! lol

Kudos to you. Keep up the great work!

Cheers,

Simon

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you Simon, the job has definitely gotten more difficult as the temperature and humidity has risen. I would rather be out there delivering groceries in 20 degree weather than the 80s with humidity we've been having. I don't like that usually at my first stop in already sweating pretty heavy and it just gets worse from there. The upside is that with the reefer running in the trailer I close the curtains in the trailer and it feels amazing. Closing them not only keeps the food at a safe temperature to prevent spoiling but keeps me nice and cool as the reefer in cooler section is set at 38 and it gets no warmer than about 43 while unloading. The only downside is that condensation forms fairly quickly and I actually had a somewhat close call falling out of the trailer Thursday. The curtains aren't completely sealed because there's a small gap to allow me to walk through them while still being able to see where my ramp is so I don't misjudge where it is and walk off the back end. I was doing everything I'm supposed to but as I got to the back of the trailer with a 300+ pound load I slipped and thankfully regained my balance before reaching the ramp. Even though I bought a pair of boots that run me $150 (company reimbursed me) no slipproof shoes are perfect. Going into Friday I was pretty excited, I figured I'd get done early because my truck is already so full on a normal Friday they couldn't fit more on, and I don't have any Mexican restaurants (cinco de mayo weekend) that I had to worry about ordering alot more. Man, I sure was wrong! They ended up putting all my pallets sideways to fit a couple extra, which prevented me from using a handjack at my 2nd stop to avoid using the side door the rest of the day. Its a manual jack so its a pain the butt to use where they have the pallets sideways. They managed to find a way to fit 800 cases on it, and an additional 4 stops. On Fridays I have the BBQ place that orders atleast 3 full pallets of meat which each pallet is like 25 cases. They took a total of 240 cases which was roughly half my space, and just under half the weight due to all the meat they took. It turned out to be about 800 cases, 19k weight, logged 66 miles and put in 13 hours. The reason i had the extra 4 stops was the driver who usually do them had 4 Mexican places that all ordered twice as much on Friday so he didn't have the space on his truck. If I didn't have those stops I would have been done unloading by my 8th hour. I left my usual last stop on Fridays just before I had to take my lunch, then went a couple blocks to a convenience store to buy a Gatorade and take my lunch. At my 8th hour i had only driven 28 miles, with only 1 hour being logged as "Driving". I would have ended the day with roughly 48 miles driven.

I could have been done on Friday in as little as 11 1/2 hours but the guy who used to work for us that went back to US Foods happened to be driving home and drove past my truck and stopped to talk for a bit. I had just finished unloading my last stop and was starting to clean my trailer (stack pallets, throw any trash away) so I talked to him for what turned out to be about an hour. I was going to sit in the yard for that hour anyways because I hadn't taken any of my 20 minute breaks all week due to the long hours and not wanting to push my start time back as all week I was starting just after my 10 hour break was up every day. He was showing me a bunch of pictures on how they load their trailers, and his manifests and it definitely looks alot easier. He was more or less trying to recruit me to come work at US Foods. Downside of that is we're actually paying like $3 an hour more than US Foods. The biggest difference between PFG and US Foods (in my market) is the accounts we service. US Foods has big enough customers, mainly Dairy Queen, that order enough product they're able to get to their frozen from the back end after 1 or 2 stops typically because of how it's loaded as well as amount their first stop takes. Using the side door and stairs adds so much unnecessary time because I'm grabbing a box, setting it on top of steps or edge of trailer, climbing down and grabbing it again to stack it on my wheeler. Depending on the size of the boxes sometimes you can only get 10 cases at a time before having to climb down.It isn't efficient at all in my opinion. He told me hes delivering nearly the same weight and cases (or more) and in 5 days only putting in 52 hours as opposed to my usual week of 63 or so. They also try to avoid scheduling them more than 10 hours a day, where I'm being scheduled sometimes as much as 13 and a half. I can't blame The company, it's cheaper to run a driver as much as possible because the overtime cost is cheaper than the cost involved in getting another truck sent out and still paying another driver. The shuttle driver was also late a half hour on Friday but I was still running about an hour ahead. On my Thursday route i have a stop that usually order 50 frozen boxes of frozen pizza dough. Because of the time it takes to take it out the side door I usually downstack my dry pallet that on a normal week has about 50 cases and I separate it into what stop it is so that I can take the frozen out the back end. This stop is about 130 cases every week and I end up finishing it 15 minutes ahead of schedule by doing it that way. Continued .......

Manifest:

Bill of Lading

An accurate record of everything being shipped on a truck, often times used as a checklist during unloading.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

If my math is correct I ended up finishing my week with about 3800 cases delivered, weighing around 95,000 pounds all physically unloaded on my 2 wheeler down the ramp. I also finished around 67 hours which is going to make my gross pay about $1975 for the week. As ive said before the pay is great but you earn every penny of it. I didn't take many pictures this week because I didn't have much time to spare, but here are a few to show what I dealt with all week. I was loaded to far to the tail nearly everyday that I had to pull my ramp put halfway to create a platform so I had somewhere to downstack. Also, when I opened the doors up to look at my load before leaving the yard in the morning the rollup door was getting caught on the cases. They literally crammed as much as they could in there.

0948445001525612740.jpg

This is what my freezer section looked like on Friday.

0313173001525612884.jpg I had to stand on the top of my steps with my back to the edge (big no no) because that's the only way i could do it. Thankfully most of the left half of the cases came off at my first stop but the other half was for stops ranging from 2 through 9. It's frustrating when you have no where to place product so I ended up separating stops 2 thru 5, then just started piling the rest up to deal with later. Not efficient but I had no other options unfortunately.

Unfortunately from what I've been told next week will be very similar due to mothers day.

Also something not exactly related to foodservice but worth mentioning. There is a road I take nearly every day that has a low bridge, 13'5. There was an OTR driver that thought he could make it under and stopped short of it, I'm assuming to get a better look. I'm able to take that road no problem because our trailers are only 13'0, where the standard for trailers is 13'6. Despite taking it nearly daily I still slow a little and throw my 4 ways on. I make it no problem. I'm hoping that the driver who was sitting there didn't think that just because I made it he'd be ok as well. I mention that just as a warning that just because someone else made it doesn't mean you will. If you have any doubt creep up to it and take a better look, or just find an alternate 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.

Army 's Comment
member avatar

Rob

Great post's. In reading your blog's, I am impressed with the amount of product you have physically moved.

Best safe Chris

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Retired army, It honestly surprised me when I added up the weight for the week and seen such a high number. I knew it was a heavy week but just seeing it like that is definitely a holy crap moment. My goal with this diary is to not only show the physical side but help somebody considering doing this work to get an understanding on the hours and frustrations involved. I've seen it several times while a member here somebody is contemplating doing it to lose weight (which has started for me), and also because they want to be home more. They figure they enjoy lifting weights at the gym so it's no problem but what they fail to see is you're lifting and wheeling this heavy weight for 12-14+ hours a day. It takes a toll on the body and that's why I've said this is a young man's game and I don't see myself Making it into a career. The money I'm making right now is allowing my wife to stay home to raise our 2 (soon to be 3) young children so I'm willing to do whatever it takes to allow her to do that. It also allows us to do fun stuff every weekend. For instance, couple weeks ago spur of the moment while eating breakfast we decided to take a weekend vacation out to Omaha, about a 2 hour drive. I unfortunately don't see my kids much during the week, and don't really have quality time with my wife so we make up for it on the weekends. Most weekends I just want to sit and relax after having put in 60+ hours in 5 days but I don't want to look back when the kids grow up and regret not doing stuff. Sure it wears me down but to me it's worth it. I've told my wife I'm hoping to be able to rough out doing deliveries until the kids start school in 5 years or so and then look for something else after she starts working again. Alot can happen in that time but that's what I'm aiming for. Eventually my goal is to get to something where its no touch, possibly linehaul or shuttling trailers where I'm at now. Only downside about our shuttle drivers is although they make the same hourly rate they're not getting the same amount of hours thus making less money. One of our drivers is working 4 days, putting In 34 hours but due to union contract he's guaranteed 40 because he works the days he's scheduled, allowing him to gross $980. The other shuttle driver has seniority over him so he gets most of our backhaul and puts in 52 hours in 5 days, grossing $1400. Sure I make more money but I also deal with alot more work ....unfortunately there really is no "perfect" job

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Haven't posted recently as nothing has really changed. I am getting more confident in my backing every day but still opt to walk the few extra steps to play it safe if I know it's going to be super tight.

Last week the sales managers redid all our routing to satisfy customers as much as possible, especially as we picked up a ton more business and need to integrate them in while keeping them happy and not upsetting our existing customers. Unfortunately some customers are accustomed to me being there at a certain time so when I'm showing up 2 hours later they're quite upset. I explain to them that the sales team decided to redo all the routing and if they're not satisfied contact their salesman as I am given my route and expected to run it as directed. Most have been understanding after I explain that thankfully. With re-routing I am now set to get to a couple places (different days) just before lunch time, say 1045 and leave by 1059am. Adds additional pressure to me because if I am running behind I'll be there during lunch and upset the customer, or I'll have to skip it then have to work around those cases (1 of which is about 100 cases) plus I'll have to backtrack to that location after lunch putting me even farther behind schedule. With it being warmer out (mid 70s past couple weeks with an occasional 80 mixed in) I've really pushed myself hard in the morning to try and have a majority done by the time it starts to really warm up. It also really sucks when it decides to rain. I'm stuck wearing my wet clothes the rest of the day and just feel so gross, not to mention the raise in humidity after its done and the sun comes back out. Last Wednesday was a typical Wednesday, If I remember correctly it was 25 stops, 750 cases, 19k weight and I'd put in nearly 15 hours. I had a new customer on my truck, 20 miles out of Des Moines, that is actually only a block a way from my 2nd stop on Thursdays which has me there and done by 6am. That upset me that they would do that as my Wednesday is already terrible and it seems like a complete waste of company resources, especially considering they only ordered 13 cases for about $500. I showed up to this customer around 7am and nobody was there. I called salesman and out no answer, tried knocking on their door again and still no answer. I waited outside 10 minutes before knocking again and ultimately leaving. I text my supervisor informing her I was leaving as I don't have the hours available on a Wednesday to sit. I'm required to have it in "high gear " all day, and if I don't then ill run out of hours before I can finish my route. I ended up getting texts from the salesman of that account, understandably ticked off as its their first delivery and not the first impression he wanted them to have . I told him I tried to reach him to no success, and that if he has an issue call my manager because I don't have time for his crap. This salesman even went as far as demanding that I go back and deliver that stop NOW, and even told me to "screw someone else over". I ignored those messages as I was busy and I felt it best to let it go before the situation escalated further. I later text him telling him never text me again (we use personal phones, aren't provided a company phone), and to follow proper protocol for communicating with me which is going through my bosses who in turn inform me. It's obviously more efficient and productive for us to communicate with them directly but I won't be disrespected like that when I did as I was supposed to. My manager had called me to hear my side of it and was able to see that I indeed was at the customer location using the GPS on the truck to see where its at. There happened to be a driver from the terminal in Des Moines delivering a last minute urgent delivery from a temp controlled cargo van. He had gotten 50 miles outside of town when he got a call to turn around and come get that stop and take it in the van.

Thursday I had to pick up a backhaul at the same place as a couple weeks ago. I was scheduled to be done at 3, giving me 1 hour to get to the backhaul as they close at 4. I had to sit and wait an hour and a half at my 3rd stop. I didn't end up finishing my route until 330 and ended up getting to the backhaul at 415. I had called earlier in the day and because we're there nearly every week they said they'd keep someone so I could pick up. It only took me 15 minutes from the time I pulled onto their property until I pulled out of the door loaded .(sorry OTR drivers, I don't know what it feels like to sit in a dock all day) Friday I ended up having 650 cases, 19k weight and 14 stops. I finished my route 2 hours ahead of schedule and actually had everything off before I took my 30 minute break. My last stop was 29 minutes from the yard, and I had 31 minutes to get there before I needed to take break. This was all highway so I decided to just stay put it and take lunch then go back to the yard. Had it been more city driving I may have been more tempted to try it as I'd have more places I could safely sit for 30 minutes, NOT the side of a busy highway. It's a good thing I did it that way because I would have ran out of hours on the off ramp from I80/I35. It's close enough I could have creeped into the lot and not triggered it back to driving but I don't want to give myself bad habits. Continued.....

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

While I was taking lunch my manager text me asking to go help out another driver who had a long day. I told him I would, however that driver is over an hour out of Des Moines. By the time I'd get to where he is and account for drive time to get myself back (I already used my 16 hour exception Wednesday) I'd only be able to be there helping him an hour and a half. He suggested I drive my personal vehicle up there while still clocked in, as well as being paid 87 CPM and I told him no. I explained with the hours I've been putting in i busted my tail to get done early to take my kids to the park and enjoy the day with them. I told him possibly in the future as its not my intention to screw anyone over and I know there will come a day I need a hand whether I'm just having a bad day or had a vehicle breakdown.

Monday of this week wasn't any different than normal.

Tuesday (today) my route was changed a bit. I used to have stops back in Des Moines After getting sent east of town to Newton iowa. They added part of another route out that way to me and had the other driver do my stops back in Des Moines . These stops are easier than what I had previously, and it helped that I've been there before. My 2nd stop that was different than normal required me to bump a loading dock that was a pain. When I delivered there previously (6ish months ago, newly solo) they only ordered 15 cases so I didn't attempt the dock and because the stairs were so steep I unstacked my wheeler and placed everything on the dock then walked upstairs and restacked onto my wheeler. Today they ordered 50 bags of flour, each weighing 50 pounds. They have a manual pallet jack available so bumping that dock was my only option, especially with all that flour. Due to the weight I asked a couple of the guys working to give me a hand pulling the pallet out (2500 pounds) to help avoid injury. It took me about 5 G.O.A.L. to be on the safeside but I finally got it in. This is this space I had to work with.

0797011001526432597.jpg

After I got it in...i was worried about that telephone pole while backing because of the building on the Other side of me

0511752001526432681.jpg

The worst part about this back? Well not only is it blindside but you also have the building so close.

0409048001526432766.jpg It's hard to see but other people have hit the building, rain gutter, and the poles. I don't know what company has hit them but it's easy to see why. When I drove by later I seen someone in a 53' backed to the dock. The most important thing is I got into the dock safely without hitting anything.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I was looking over the pictures in the phone and I thought something may be worth clarifying . In those last pics of me bumping that dock, when I took the pictures I was docked. The dock is on the corner of the building, with the gravel area being the entrance into the facility. I think it's foolish they'd have it setup the way they do but that entire area is old, built in the early 1900s when trailers of this size (or even a 53') were unheard of.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Rob I gotta tell yah; you are one tough Dude. My old body aches just reading your posts.

I do enjoy the stories. Thanks again for taking the time to share.

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