Local Food Service As A Rookie

Topic 20873 | Page 8

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Han Solo Cup's Comment
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Your diary continues to be one of my favorites. Good luck, keep learning, and stay safe.

G-Town's Comment
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Your diary continues to be one of my favorites. Good luck, keep learning, and stay safe.

I concur with Han's point; very well done and informative Rob. I can appreciate the effort in posting consistent info on the forum; free time is a precious commodity in our line of work.

Thanks.

Rob T.'s Comment
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I am glad to hear you guys are enjoying it. My intent is to give a realistic look at what this work entails, and provide some "day to day" examples of the learning curve I've faced as well as demonstrate that just because your local doesn't mean your necessarily working any less hours than an OTR driver.

Today I ran the Thursday route ive been running which made me happy. I like how it just feels more laid back, customers are super easy to get along with and they have the mindset of their delivery gets there when it gets there. We have a few customers that are always calling their salesman, who in turn calls us asking what time we'll be there, even if I'm only 5 minutes later than previous week! It was a relatively heavy day.... 12 stops, 18k in the box, 609 cases, 111 miles. My pallets were loaded clear to the tail with little room for me to stand. I had to pull my ramp out halfway, then climb on the DOT Bumper, then onto my ramp just to get my 2 wheeler into the trailer!

0464469001518138580.jpg

I had put it on top of the cooler pallet because the blanket over the pallet helps maintain its temperature and protect it from the cold, and figured may as well use it to protect the product from the nasty salt/sand mix that got on the wheels from the yard. Nice thing with my first stop is that they have a loading dock, and took 89 cases, 55 of which were refrigerated. The remaining 10 cases of cooler on That pallet were for my 2nd stop so I moved them out of the Way, strapped empty pallet to the side and then stacked all my cases for stop 2 on the tail so I could just grab them from the ground as i felt it would be safer as i still didn't have too much room to stand, and since they were only getting 15 cases It made sense to do that. Doing it that way also helped me avoid using the ramp. My 3rd stop was the place i go to frequently that i talked about in a previous post that requires a 90 off the street, fit between vehicles and the building. I ended up waiting for 1 1/2 hours for the customer to show up so while waiting I stacked all my frozen up so that when he did arrive I could just grab it out of the trailer and go. Since I was here during daylight I snapped a couple pics to give a better idea of how much space you have.

0344693001518140190.jpg0048039001518140237.jpg Occasionally there is another vehicle parked beside the other one in the 2nd picture, immediately to the right of my truck, even with the edge of the building. I was happy to get it in first try, and then just had to make adjustments to get trailer farther away from building on my right so my freezer door could swing open. I didn't even go up on the curb getting it in! I had another somewhat close call today. Some roads still aren't the greatest due to the snow we got on Monday, and then it snowed overnight just enough to cause the roads to ice up. I wasn't driving defensively enough, and there was a vehicle that's bumper was even with mine, to my left. Vehicle in front of them put on the brakes as they were going to turn , and vehicle next me to began to slide and get rather close to me. That made me realize I wasn't paying enough attention and didn't leave myself an "out". I immediately slowed down to create some distance between us. The only other "exciting " thing that happened today was going to a stop I've been to numerous times but it isn't a regular place I go to. Here is Google maps view of layout, and my path of travel

0327871001518143347.jpg Red X marks where I stopped at. Typically when I've gone there there aren't any vehicles along the wall in front of me so I am able to just go around the grass area. Pretty easy delivery. EXCEPT TODAY! there were a ton of cars back there, and there was no way I would be able to make the turn to get out. I wasn't too happy about it but I had no choice. I had to do 2 different 90 degree backs to get out while ensuring I wasn't going to hit any vehicles, or the dumpsters.

0227031001518143755.jpg The building in the middle blocked the hidden cars on the other side so I had pulled straight in, then had to back out after I delivered.

One thing I haven't touched enough on is trailer safety. Before actually getting out there and doing it I never thought about how dangerous it really is. The back end of the trailer is usually slippery whether it's from condensation in the summer time due to temperature difference, or snow/rain getting inside by either landing inside trailer, or being tracked up on my shoes. The back end is kept at 40 degrees in the winter time but the outside air temp is so low that the liquid on back end turns into a nice sheet of ice, and then melts when I go to next stop (doors closed, temp can heat up to 40) just to repeat. Our trailers do have extra ridges on the back,see below, to try to and help but when it comes to that much liquid not much can be done but to take it slow.

0705975001518144243.jpg

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.

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.

Rob T.'s Comment
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I just got thinking, in roughly 12 weeks of being out on my own, I'd give a conservative estimate of having 14k I have to unload every day. I typically only work 4 days a week so I do 56k a week, meaning I've unloaded over 670k lbs in product over the last 12 weeks. This job is so fast paced, and so physically grueling that I don't wear a jacket when I'm working. I wear jeans, long underwear top and bottoms, PFG shirt, baseball cap and thin work gloves. I'm still sweating even though the temperature is well below freezing. I was even sweating when it was -5! Granted, I'm overweight but still shouldn't be sweating in that cold of weather. Tomorrow I've got to drive an hour north to my first stop. Supposed to pick up 5 to 6 inches of snow overnight thru noon, so hopefully I35 will be ok. I'll update again tomorrow!

Rob T.'s Comment
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Forgot to ask....WHOSE READY TO START LUMPING GROCERIES!? LOL

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rob T.'s Comment
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Whew! I really lucked out today. The meteorologists had predicted about 5 inches of snow with the heavier amounts to the north. Des moines only seen a dusting, and where my first stop was probably only 2 inches fell. Go 20 miles north of there and they got 10 inches. I still had to go slower than I'd have preferred to because wind was blowing snow all over the road and making it icy. As the day went on the brine that DOT was applying to the surface started working and roads were dry. Today was filled with frustration. I wasn't too happy having to zig zag and bounce back and forth for the first half of the day because some customers are picky about what time they have their order. I also ended up sitting and waiting at one of my stops for an hour. I sat there because my paperwork said I needed to collect a check for a past due amount and do not drop the current order until I have the past due amount. The guy working was trying to get a hold of the owner but was getting no response, so after an hour i sent a supervisor a text explaining the situation in case they got a complaint that I skipped them, and I left. I had no idea how the roads were out east (Marshalltown IA) and I didn't want to run out of hours. Ended up getting a text from my supervisor telling me to deliver the skipped stop on my way back to Ames as the problem was taken care of. I hate needing to skip a stop because I'm handling those cases multiple times and they're just in my way. I only had 11 stops, 8k weight, 278 miles. Was scheduled 10 hours but due to that delay, as was as a couple others it turned into 14 hours.

Here is a stop in a small town that I needed to use the alley to deliver to.

0701523001518220466.jpg

I had to pay attention to the poles that are protecting electrical boxes, while also making sure I wasn't going to hit parts of their ventilation that stuck out the side of the building. It's funny how when I first started driving i hated being in Des Moines, i couldn't wait to get on a route that has me in the smaller towns. Now I want to go back. The small towns I go to (especially those that I deliver through an alley) have REALLY tight turns, and close quarter manuevering.

One of the most difficult aspects of this job is dealing with the customers. Most of the customers we have are great, very friendly and appreciate what we do for them. However, there are some that want to complain about everything. Then we have those who refuse to salt their delivery area. Such as this.....

0697692001518220703.jpg . I can't really say anything about it, instead I am supposed to throw salt down that we carry in the cab, and allow it to work before delivering. Really ****es me off that they won't do it to make it just a little safer for me.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Despite working only 3 days this week, I still got about 40 hours. Next week I'll be working 5 days, and will likely post an update on Monday and Wednesday as I'm unsure what those routes consist of.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Splitter's Comment
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Dang Rob! If you keep going like this, you will be skinnier than an anorexic model! I'm out of breath just reading your last page!! Very impressive work ethic & driving skills, to say the least!!

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Dang Rob! If you keep going like this, you will be skinnier than an anorexic model! I'm out of breath just reading your last page!! Very impressive work ethic & driving skills, to say the least!!

My biggest problem is I eat like crap. Unfortunately I drink way too much pop/soda, and grabbing the not so healthy foods if I grab lunch from the gas station. I burn enough calories working to not gain weight but with the long days I come home, shower, eat dinner then go to bed shortly after spending time with my wife and kids. Its not healthy going to sleep so soon after eating, and if i hadnt eaten all day i end up overeating at dinner. Today i packed veggies for lunch which i was proud of myself for. I dont have access to microwave like many OTR guys do so I haven't been packing a lunch very often, if i do eat it's usually grabbing a slice of pizza (GREASY, but so delicious!) From Casey's general store (convenience store). Usually I'll log my 30 minute lunch in customers parking lot but sometimes it isn't possible. I tend to start around 330am, meaning I have to take lunch before 1130am. I always try to wait until 7.5 hours into my shift to log lunch in case I have to use my 16 hour exception. I can't sit in customers lots during lunch cuz they need the parking and caseys tend to have enough space I can easily, and safely get in and out of.

Kind of off topic, but I've talked to some guys that work for caseys delivering and Its something I will be looking into more once my year is up. Casey's run their own distribution, and delivery just north of Des Moines in Ankeny IA. Casey's has built their convenience stores to allow their drivers to deliver as easily as possible, many times pulling straight through so side door of trailer lines up with door for the store. They use a roller system where the driver sends product down the roller, and store staff unloads it. It would be easier on the body not needing to wheel it down a ramp and the cases tend to weigh a lot less. Only thing I've heard that I dislike about that position is I'd be in a hotel (company paid) on layovers multiple times a week as they have routes that go all over the Midwest, and into Oklahoma and Texas and Its all based on seniority. They pay 4 dollars more an hr than what PFG top pay is under our current contract but who knows. 6 months is a long time, a lot could change.

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.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Dang Rob! If you keep going like this, you will be skinnier than an anorexic model! I'm out of breath just reading your last page!! Very impressive work ethic & driving skills, to say the least!!

Regarding the driving skills...there definitely is a very steep learning curve. Dealing with these tight spaces there is very little room for error. Biggest suggestion I can give is take your time, and G.O.A.L. as many times as needed. With food service I'm not required to get the trailer/ramp right outside the back door but I prefer it. If I didn't feel confident pulling in that alleyway I could have parked on the street and walked it the extra steps, but it would have added probably 10 minutes to unload time. Instead I used that time to take it slow and steady, keeping an eye on all my mirrors, and save myself struggling to push a 2 wheeler loaded with 300+ pounds through the snow.

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