Local Food Service As A Rookie

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Simon D. (Grandpa)'s Comment
member avatar

Rob, as far as I'm concerned you are Super Man! I used to think I was a hard working dude. That was before I started reading your diary. You are "the man."

I'll second that!! πŸ‘πŸ˜œ

I drove 729 miles between noon and midnight yesterday and felt great! As soon as I read your, (excellent as ever) diary, I had an undeniable need to lay down and sleep! πŸ˜‚

Truly inspirational and a fine example of a great 'work ethic' for all of us newbies, wannabes and old farts alike, to aspire to! πŸ˜€

Love it.

Cheers,

Simon

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I definitely agree with Simon and OS.

Rob's diary has definitely elevated my respect for the food delivery drivers. To the point I've actually told some of the I appreciate what they do for those of us who enjoy eating.

Thanks Rob!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm glad I've portrayed what this job entails to hopefully give someone considering this an honest view of what it's all about both good and bad. I had thought about only doing a diary during my training but felt documenting my journey through my first year will show the ups and downs much more. This job is much more difficult when your on your own as opposed to having someone with you.

Thursday I was once again scheduled to sit for 3 hours. I got ahold of my manager and seriously told him I'm ok with sitting for 3 hours, just let me know the night before so I can grab my fishing pole! Then I also teased him about spending the time looking for a new job and that I could take the truck to job interviews during those 3 hours and they wouldn't even know. He says it's fixed so it won't happen again. I don't mind sitting, but what I have a problem with is it makes me look like I'm playing around all day. I take pride in my job and getting done ahead of schedule. When I'm stuck waiting it makes me look bad, especially when I'm 3 hours behind! All my other stops don't get there til the same time so I can't just skip over them.

For instance of it being harder when alone this was my truck today

0680785001528501989.jpg i was loaded clear to the tail. Once again I had to pull my ramp out halfway and use it as a platform to downstack my cooler pallet. After I got the cooler downstacked I figured I could use my ramp. WRONG! When they loaded my trailer they had put the dry pallet over too far so I had to continue using the ramp as a platform to downstack my dry pallet as well. Had I had someone with me I would've been able to unload faster as I wouldn't be climbing down after every 8-12 cases (depending on size) to wheel that load in. You can also see that they put canned goods, which was 37 pounds each on top of the "Assoluti" noodles despite the noodle boxes not being able to support extra weight. I had to be careful when downstacking because it could've tipped over at any time since they stacked it like crap. I was downstacking from the side to prevent going with the product if it would tip. There were about 15 cases on that pallet that were for my 2nd stop so I had placed them where my cooler pallet was to get the dry pallet picked up, then I put the remaining dry cases back where they originally were but on the floor. This allowed me to finish unloading the cooler and utilize my ramp making it faster. BBQ ordered 227 cases today.

I had 20 stops, 780 cases, 19,600 pounds. I ended up putting in 13 hours. They had added 7 stops on me that I don't usually have on Fridays because they know I'll get it done. I had another surprise visit from a manager from Sysco today that was driving by. They're very desperate for drivers. He kept talking about the kind of money I could make, earlier start time, etc. He told me health insurance starts after 60 days which made me tell him I won't be interested until atleast October. With my wife being pregnant i need to keep my insurance for all her prenatal care. The most frustrating part of the day was my routing being terrible. I had to skip over my 3rd, 5th and 6th stops because they routed way before the customer gets there. I had hardly any space. This was taken at my 4th stop. There wasn't really much organization because I didn't have the space to do so. i definitely wasted a bit of time by handling the cases multiple times.

0553385001528503335.jpg

Oh well, knocked the day out in 13 hours. Still ended up having about 60 hours for the week even though Wednesday I was done pretty early.

Today I had gotten into it with a shift manager for jimmy johns, One of Syscos customers. I was delivering a place that Sysco also does, across from a Jimmy johns. In my market Sysco services all the subways and Jimmy Johns. Well this shift manager had seen a truck go by so he walked over all worked up only to see it was PFG. He then decided to talk trash about the Sysco driver, how he's supposedly 4 hours behind and he's worthless. I know the Sysco driver and I can assure you he isn't lazy by any means. I tried explaining to Jimmy johns that Sysco is short drivers, and warehouse (warehouse is offering $1500 sign on bonus), causing their loads to start later, and that they're doing the best they can. not to mention it was mid 80s with high humidity by 10am when this conversation occured. The guy told me he doesn't give a F and it isn't his problem. This guy was maybe 20 years old and real full of himself because he had the title of "shift manager ". I told him if he thinks this jobs so easy why doesn't he do it. He told me he knows what hard work is, and again, brought up he's shift manager at Jimmy johns. I told him all that means is he's "head sandwich maker", then I told him get a man's job, it's a woman's job to make a sandwich. He called me a few names and stormed off. Now I honestly do not feel that way but it drives me absolutely nuts that customers feel they can treat drivers like crap when most times the problem isn't the drivers fault. Most customers also don't understand we cant move at the same speed all day like we can when its 50 degrees out. Our risk of Injury is alot higher when it's this hot out as it's much easier to cramp up or strain muscles

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Today (wednesday) is irritating. I started my day at 330am with 18 stops, 15k weight. I wasn't really pushing myself hard but managed to stay on schedule for the most part. Being efficient by organizing future stops while searching for my current stop will help minimize wasted time. I'm currently typing this update while I wait to get into a customer. I arrived here at 115pm and can't get in until 330pm. I contacted the salesperson so she could contact the customer to come in, instead she gave me a number to call. I called and the customer got upset with me so whatever, I'm stuck sitting for 2 hours. I'm paid hourly so it isn't hurting my pocket but it's still frustrating. Thankfully I have only 1 other stop for 20 cases or so. I could skip this stop and knock out the other one but I'm already here and the other stop is pretty close to the yard. I'm actually waiting at the place i talked about being a new stop and it being real tight from the street view of Google maps. This is how my truck is sitting

0074538001528917516.jpg0410420001528917545.jpg0594279001528917580.jpg

To get positioned I had pulled straight in and got close (but not too close due to tail swing) and turned sharp to the left. I had to then back up and go forward, wiggling my way around 3 different times to get the front end facing the street. I then waited for a break in traffic to pull onto street and then back the trailer just outside their door as they have concrete I'd have to "jump". Had i not pulled onto street and positioned it like this my back end would have been near the railing and Cause me to walk farther. I felt doing it this way was my best option based on traffic in the area. Doing this required me to be cautious of the tail swing when trying to get out to straighten up, be careful not to snap my air lines, and keep an eye on how close my trailer was to the cab of the truck to avoid damage. The most difficult about this was how the blue rail actually goes diagonal, and also the awning above their door.

I've been doing alot of thinking lately and I feel that I'm going to end up doing something else after my 1 year is up. I've found myself having a bad attitude towards my job and I don't like being that way. I've addressed my concerns about some things but nothings changed. Many of the things i addressed in my discission with my manager and VP of operations have changed back to the way they were. My biggest problem with the way things are done here is constantly being routed somewhere before they open, or being routed there during lunch when that customer isn't ok with it. On our manifest it shows us what time we're scheduled to arrive and depart, as well as when the customer "time window" is (their hours for delivery). What's the point of listing it if they don't pay attention to that when routing. I don't mind sitting around getting paid to play on my phone, but what ends up happening is it makes me look bad when a customer calls asking when they are getting their delivery and the salesman pulls it up and says "your scheduled for 10am" but I end up rolling in at 1pm because I had to wait due to poor routing. I take pride in my job and hate that other people not doing their job right is causing me to look bad. don't mind this work, I'm just getting fed up with certain people in management. I am going to continue doing my job to the best of my ability while I'm employed here, and in the meantime work on getting my hazmat , tanker, doubles/triples to open up more doors.

I'm not trying to be overly dramatic or a diva. I am just trying to show some struggles of things you may not think about normally. All the other food guys in town are amazed that I'm frequently scheduled to sit somewhere as much as I do, as they don't have to deal with it. With Sysco they tell customers like this that make us wait that this is the time we have a driver in the area, either be there, give us a key or we won't deliver to you . One thing about PFG in my market, especially being a domicile yard, is that the sales team has been told never tell a customer no. Sure it causes a headache for us but the customers are happy and we end up getting more business. We don't have the luxury that Sysco does of being a huge company that people are willing to spend more $$ for the same product just for the name. I've got just a hair over 2 months remaining before I could make any move without having to pay $4000 for my school. I wouldn't want to make a move right now anyways due to not having that 1 year of experience quite yet. It's been difficult to not focus on why I'm upset while I'm driving but I know if I'm not completely focused on driving safely an accident is more likely to happen.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Manifest:

Bill of Lading

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

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.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Han Solo Cup's Comment
member avatar

You are a saint among drivers, Rob. Tbh, I had probably close to absolutely no respect for local food delivery drivers until your blog. It has completely changed how I view this job and given me a new respect for you guys. Man, that is one hard a$$ job and I really appreciate you guys doing this just so I can eat at some of my favorite restaurants. I had no idea your days could be so brutally long.

Keep up the good work and good on you for pursuing those endorsements and waiting for your first year to be up.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Hans, this job definitely isnt for everyone. Many times, like you said, people underestimate the work involved so people can enjoy that juicy steak. Before i began working in the warehouse at Sysco i didnt have the slightest clue how much work was involved in getting food to the restraunt. When i worked the warehouse it wasnt uncommon to pick 2400 cases in a 8 hour shift, or 3000+ if we worked 10 hours or more. There is no reason to ever drive unsafe, but the fast pace involved in this job and the driver wanting to get home early its easier to see why many food guys arent the most considerate drivers. Most that ive met are also could be described as "grumpy". I've mentioned before that many guys are only doing this work because of the money that can be made while still being home daily. Its rare to find a food guy that says they enjoy the work. We may make some dang good money but we earn every penny of it. Typical week for me lately at my current pay rate is around 60 hours, GROSS pay of $1750.

Today (thursday) was a pleasant surprise. I had received a text last night after i left work to start at 530am instead of 430am like usual. Apparently me telling my manager last week if i was scheduled to sit for a couple hours i was gonna make a pitstop and do some fishing on the clock while waiting was all that needed to happen. I ended up being routed at the place ive had to sit at 856 and they get there at 9, so no fishing for me :( hahaha. I had a stop that ive delivered to a few times moved onto me to kill some time before i could get in to normal stops. They ordered 140 cases, in which i was given an hour to unload. I ended up finishing my last stop at 8 1/2 hours into my day. I had planned on getting entire truck unloaded before taking lunch because i was running 2 hours ahead but my 11th (of 12) stop offered to feed me lunch for getting there earlier than normal. I had gotten a chicken quesadilla with mexican rice and refried beans. YUM! I took advantage of being done early and spent some time with the kids. For the day i had 12 stops, 14k weight, 580 cases and after i made it back to the yard and did all my paperwork and post trip I'd put in about 10 hours. Not bad considering i was routed to leave my last stop at my 10th hour.

Today i also had to deal with a ton of rain. When i was in the yard before starting my day the new guy (been with us about 3 weeks) needed help getting logged into scanner and peoplenet. The guy riding with him was more clueless than he was so i was standing outside and it started pouring. Well, i was already wet no reason to quit helping. It took about 10 minutes to get him all setup. I received a phone call from the shuttle driver a few minutes ago (730pm) asking if i had new guys number to find out when he'd be back. Unfortunately i dont have the number so he has to sit around and wait which will put the 2 routes hes bringing tonight behind schedule as theyre set to start at 4am. Luckily mine wont be one of them as the other shuttle brings mine for a 330am start. When i receiced the phone call it would've put new guy into using his 16 hour rule as he started at 530am when i did. One of the other drivers also had to use his 16 today because hes so slow and inefficient. It also doesnt help that this morning he sat at a stop for over an hour because of lightning. The lightning was just cloud to cloud. I understand his reasoning but unless lightning is striking nearby ill be out there busting my tail. I was out there unloading in the pouring rain, business as usual. It was actually nice because the storms this morning kept temp in mid 60s, by the time it warmed up (86 for the high) i was already done.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Not a whole lot has been happening worth posting. My days have been the same as usual. Earlier this week i had a close call. I was travelling on a 1 way street and had a green light so i continued on. Well the problem with that is traffic getting off of I-235 (goes through downtown des Moines, runs approx. 15 miles from where I-35 and I-80 meet/split). They have a stop light as well which was obviously red. Well as ya know making a left turn on red is legal from a one way to a one way. There was a car that did not stop at the stop light and made a left almost directly on the side of me. There were 3 lanes, i was in the middle. The only way i avoided this accident was by being aware of what was happening on all sides if my vehicle. I had been keeping an eye on my right side mirror (always leave yourself an out) and because there was nobody even close in that lane i moved over. Im not lying when i say she was within a foot of hitting my truck. I havent posted about it until now because ive been thinking about this potential incident and what i could have done differently. Looking back at it i should've slowed down and possibly moved over 1 more lane to the right when i seen how fast she was coming despite having a red light. This is an example of how quickly things can change. I was on a city street doing 35 mph, limited traffic and a great day out. This is why it's stressed so much to be completely focused on driving when you're behind the wheel. I hardly ever have the radio on when im in town. I use a Bluetooth headset to listen to tunes while im unloading. When im out on the open highway is another story though. I actually tripped the drive cam (road conditions) and probably gave someone a good laugh. I was totally into "Hotel California". I mean really, i dont give a crap if that song was released 23 years before i was born, you cant disrespect a song like that by not getting in to it!

Today (thursday) started out rough. A fill in driver took off with my route. He was scheduled for 330am, i was scheduled for 430am. For some reason he took mine despite having our names on the clipboards. Oh well, jokes on him my day ended up being easier! I started an hour late from the time that load was dispatched, however i finished an hour ahead (would've been 2 hours ahead had i started at time it was dispatched for) i had 17 stops, 14k weight and 650 cases. I had 15 of my stops off at my 8th hour. I had a bit of a drive to my final stop (45 minutes each way), after all my paperwork was done I'd put in 12 hours. The other driver was still out despite starting an hour before me as he had 18 stops, 18k weight and 750 cases. I knew where all but 2 of my stops were, in which i did google maps to get an overhead view prior to arriving to get a feel for the layout. What i dislike most about the route i ran is delivering to the Federal Building downtown. Its very tight getting in and even in a single axle tractor with a 28' trailer you need to turn from the 3rd lane (of 4 on this 1 way street) in order to make it in. I was thankful that i was there at 715 this morning instead of 830am like i was when i was training. Its a hassle delivering because my trailer is taking up 2 lanes as security walks around my truck with their mirrors and asks me the usual questions (guns, knives, bombs). Somebody meets me outside while i unload and then i am required to go inside with them while they send every case through the X Ray machine. Thankfully it was only 35 cases today so it only added a few minutes. They had a big roll off dumpster sitting just right that it would've been difficult making it into the dock so i decided to not even attempt it due to how tight it was. I wasnt exactly in the mood to hit the federal agents vehicles. With a place like that, even if i was having a crap day i cant let it show. Security is extremely strict there (rightfully so) and I'd probably be watched more carefully. Best to just let any negative energy go before going to a place like that.

The weathers been crazy lately. Last week was in the 90s most of the week, this week its in 70s but pretty rainy. The rain is a nuisance but the groceries arent going to deliver themselves. I choose not to wear a rain jacket because then i end up getting too warm. One of the fill in drivers last week refused to deliver for over an hour because he claimed lightning was in the area. Well it was in the distance, atleast 15 miles away. He said he felt unsafe so nobody could say anything about it. The only time i wont deliver is if lightning is striking close by. In that case I'd sit in the truck and wait it out, and inform my supervisor whats going on. It hasnt happened yet but im sure it eventually will. Even though we are given a huge workload safety still comes first. PFG would rather us not complete the job than end up being hurt, or killed because of unsafe working conditions or hazards. I can guarantee any reputable companies are the same way. Continued....

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.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I posted this in a different thread, however a couple weeks ago we received a message from our safety director. At the time we were at i believe 70 days or so injury free. The record is 91 days injury free i believe. Im not sure if we're still going or if we had an injury. My terminal has been around atleast 35 years, but im not sure when they started tracking safety record. That just goes to show you how prevalent injuries are in this line of work. We also were told there were several incidents in parking lots hitting parked cars. There was also an incident where a driver was following GPS in Kansas City (we service all Church's Chicken in this region) and ended up in a residential neighborhood. His journey resulted in knocking over a power pole as well as sending 3 live wires onto the ground.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Squirrellyguns's Comment
member avatar

Again a big β€œHats Off” to you Rob for doing what you do. It definitely is a rough job with all the in town driving you do and the manual labor that goes with all that mental strain and long hours. Keep up that positive attitude though as that will eventually lead you to bigger and better things!

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Long update coming: Brace yourself.....

I have been driving for over 10 months now. In 2 weeks ill reach my 1 year with PFG, however 2 weeks was spent riding along before i attended school, then another month of school. I obtained my CDL Aug. 18th and began training august 21st. I got myself into quite the predicament today which im glad i hadnt faced earlier in my short career as it likely would've ended very differently. More on that later....

Last month i had made a comment about a new driver that came to work for us from Pepsi. He told me he worked for Pepsi for 10 months, in which he had quit 3 times! He told me that they didnt treat him right. Pepsi had gotten him his CDL, however in his previous endeavors he had a 28' trailer with a pickup that didnt require a CDL. So although hes only had his CDL 10 months he backs like hes been doing it 20 years. This guy had previously owned his own business and doesnt quite understand that hes no longer the boss. This guy has ridden with 6 different guys and has gotten into an altercation with 4 of them to the point they refuse to work with the guy. The problem comes where he thinks he knows everything and wants to boss the other driver around despite them having been with the company over 3 years. He also talks trash about how everyone is slow and give him a couple weeks and he'll beat us back to the yard daily. On monday he ended up riding with me and we had a good day. I had no problems with him and it was nice having a helping hand. Going with me was a last minute thing as he was supposed to be with a different driver but the other driver told him he isnt getting in his truck and that he better call dispatch to let them know. I had a backhaul to pick up so i suggested he go with me so he can learn the process at that facility, as well as the paperwork on our end. We have 3 different place we get backhauls from biweekly, and the shuttle guys have a different 3 they pick up on the way back to the terminal. I also mentioned that he hasnt seen the stops i have and come "bidding season" im taking easier routes because they only guy above me doesn't want them and new guy likely will be stuck with my routes (if hes still here). We got done hour and a half early but waited at backhaul for 2 hours. I didnt have any issues with the guy, but im also pretty easy to get along with. Hes been with us for a month so he has a basic understanding of what he's doing he just needs more time doing it which ever way he deems to be his preferred work method. To help him be more independent i had told him the way it was going to work was every stop ill start on freezer and he can do dry. After i finish freezer ill start cooler and if he finishes dry then help me knock out rest of cooler. It worked out great because it allowed him to do both parts instead of only stacking/scanning or running product in, which is how the other drivers handled working with him. I feel having him only doing part of it isnt going to help him succeed when his training is over. While we were waiting at the backhaul i asked him how Pepsi mistreated him. He told me that he got screwed out of his easy route and given a route that paid less. The route he was on had several stores he bumped the dock and pulled a full pallet off. Pepsi paid so much per piece. He was paid 5 cents per case of soda, and 50 cents for every BIB (Beverage In Box, which is the syrup for fountain drinks). Obviously dropping a full pallet you're making more money for less time and effort than if you're going to 10 stores and only delivering a few cases by wheeling them in. One thing he didnt understand is thats how most of these jobs are. We're union so we bid routes every 6 months, and even the companies that arent union handle it this way to reward their longer tenured employees by giving them the choice of routes. I told him my plans of snatching the route hes primarily training on when bidding season comes. He didnt seem too enthused with that idea but it is what it is. Wednesday he was sent out on his own. Sounds like he was a disaster. My supervisor never came out to sign off on him but he ran solo twice this week. Wednesday he was scheduled to be done at 230pm. I knew he wouldnt be back by then, however i didnt expect him to finish 6.5 hours late! He didnt clock out to go home until 9pm!! I was actually surprised i didnt receive a phone call from the office asking me to go help since i knocked my route out 2 hours ahead. I left my last stop at 115pm when I was scheduled to leave there at 327pm. I have a stop that we have a key for but the customer prefers we deliver during lunch as they have staff there to put it away right away . I showed up and began unloading as i always do, however i haven't been to this stop for about a month as its been on the other truck. The owner ended up flipping out on me because he claims i was bending/breaking his door. The door into their kitchen has a typical glass door which i prop open, then a metal gate that allows fresh air in without needing to worry about bugs/pests getting in. The layout of this place is terrible, cooler is just inside door, but the metal door can only be opened halfway because they keep their frozen in a chest freezer behind the door .

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.

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.

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.

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