My Return To Trucking

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Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar

Oh boy, this is going to be long. I may have to make 2 or 3 initial posts, bare with me. Haha!

So Background: I want to keep my diary short for those that read it, however, I have to start when I was about 10-14 years old, because that is how far back trucking has been in my life. I'm 35 now, but I will keep the younger years short and sweet.

As a kid, I can remember the rides I took with my father in his old international cab over. Keep in mind he and my step mother had done OTR together for quite some time before I ever rode with him. By this time he was working for a company out of Chicago called Pamken, they had an account with Brach's candy.

Anyway he made a couple of company switches that I can remember. He was at Pamken for a LONG time, but they closed their doors I think in 1998 or 1999, not sure. Those have been some of my most fond memories of trucking that I remember. I would go in with him to work, back then he had to load his own freight with a forklift at the Pamken warehouse, then drive the freight to it's new home, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. I never got to take a ride out west or down south with him, although he had already seen those sites. If there were damaged freight, I'd get to keep it. What kid didn't want candy to take home? I would take packages to school and sell them to classmates. I was a business man, before I was out of middle school. Hahahahaha!!!!!!

He wasn't a perfect father as he had issues with alcohol, he did some dumb crap to say the least, but I never got beaten. All I can remember as a kid was one instance where he had gotten drunk and started flapping his jaw on the CB to another driver. That "other" driver showed up to beat my fathers a**, until he noticed I was in the passengers seat, and immediately went into conflict resolution mode. I don't know the guys name, or even what he looked like, but thank you so much for doing the right thing. I can only imagine what could have happened if he hadn't seen me in the truck. We were parked at a truck stop, that is one thing my father would never do, drive a big rig when he drank. He might stop get drunk, be stupid on the radio, then go to bed, but he never drank and drove a CMV. That isn't an excuse for him, but there are small things that I think about like that which could have made things very different in my life.

Once I was in high school, about 16-17 years old I didn't ride with him as much, I kind of resented him for his disease and avoided him. He worked for Aldi's, and a few other local companies back and forth for many years. I still saw him regularly, but again always resented him. I was young, sheltered by my mother, and just didn't understand. He worked with my cousin a couple of times when my cousin tried to start his own trucking company called In-Am Express. Those didn't last long though.

Other than that, my father had 1 other close call with death that I can remember, due to his drinking, but they weren't in a big truck, thank God. He was in a severe accident, and wrapped his personal Pickup truck around a tree, no one else around, no injuries, not even on him. He knew he messed up, and sat and waited for the cops to show up, and took his punishment.

In 2001, at 18 I joined the United States Army Infantry, and deployed to the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 with the 101st Airborne Division, Air Assault. I was in Bravo Company 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment. After the war and our return is when I found out about my fathers pickup accident as well as many other things.

This is where it all kind of came together for me as a man, human, etc...My father had quit his job as a trucker for the entire year I was deployed. My step mother said he was glued to the TV, and slept on the couch, most days. My father also served, but was booted for?....You guessed it...Alcoholism. The military and a very rough childhood for my father is what taught him the rest of what I need to explain.

During our visit, again after I returned from Iraq, I reflected on my childhood with him and the last things I remember as a kid was that my father was probably the cleanest trucker, or person for that matter, you could meet. His home was always well kept, his truck was always washed, and inside swept and clean. As a kid I just thought that was how we are suppose to live, but I learned in that moment how much my father loved trucking, and regretted having his alcohol issues. I remember every time I was at his house when he was home we would hand wash the truck, top to bottom, he would get a sturdy ladder out and climb all the way up on the top of the truck just to make sure it looked spectacular as well as the rest of the truck. He would have his bed made nicely, even on the road, the dashes were always shiny, floors clean, and everything neatly put in a storage compartment. In the escape doors or whatever you call them under the bunk, he kept his tools separate from cleaning supplies he kept with him.

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.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar

Part 2: Background continued:

I could go on and on about how clean the man was, and how much pride he took in his job/career/life, but I still didn't understand the alcoholism, and learned again during that visit, that it was a disease that he has struggled with since he was a teenager. It was at that point that Pandora's box opened for me, LOL. My father loved me more than you can imagine. So much so that through his mistakes, and shortcomings he was always focused on how he wanted to see me grow up. To be a clean man, to think for myself, to make right decisions, and not have regrets.

Well, in a weird way, he accomplished his goals. His mistakes scared me so much that I vowed to never drink a drip of any kind of alcohol, EVER. That lasted until I turned 21 and got drunk the first time and realized I wasn't my father, that it wasn't a disease that passed down to me. I knew I could control it.

I still don't drink, if at all. If I do it is with good friends, in a safe environment, having a good time. Other than that it has never been real interesting or appealing to drink alcohol to me.

As for everything else, he accomplished those goals also, with a tiny bit of help from Uncle Sam. LOL. I was a very clean, neat, orderly, and organized person. I was decisive, and did not regret much at all.

My father has been sober since 2011-2012, so going on 6-7 years now. I asked him recently why he had never suggested I be a truck driver. He said he never showed me everything, he just wanted me to be happy, and be with him which made him happy. I said, "Like What?" He told me that he did his best to hide my eyes from the not so pleasant side of trucking, the truckers that are slobs, the shippers/receivers who had no respect, the company antics they pulled with him, etc... I said, well I'm about to see it now, any advice. His answer was "Nope, you're an adult now. You've seen far worse in a war than I ever saw in trucking. The only thing I will say is take it in stride, and don't let things get to you".

Probably the best advice I ever got from him.

I ended up serving another 9-10 years in the military, total of 11 years and 7 months. A short break down of that - Army Reserve Combat Engineer from 2004-2007, back active duty Infantry from 2007-2010 with another deployment to Iraq during that time, and ended in the Indiana National Guard as a Military Police Traffic Investigator and Section Leader. From 2004-2010 I was married, no kids, still no kids.

I had some troubles transitioning, but in 2012 I ended up going to college in Florida at Full Sail University and received my Bachelors of Science in Recording Arts, and finished up with a Dual focused Masters of Science in Business and Entertainment Business. I started a record label but soon realized that as much as I loved music, I still wasn't complete, or happy. So in 2015 I left and came back home to Indiana to help care for my, at the time, 72 year old disabled mother.

With all that said, in August of 2016 I talked to my father, step mother, and cousin about trucking. My father was wary of me doing it, but he was just being protective. He hasn't seen how the industry has changed. He does still work, he operates a forklift loading and unloading trucks. I guess some area of logistics was where he was meant to be.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar

The Here and Now:

I got my CDL in September of 2016, and started with Schneider, officially, on October 12th, 2016. I made it through all the training, which was amazing to say the least, props to Schneider. When I was out on my own, I made it just over a month, so from November - December, before I left.

Why did I leave? I had a decision to make. I was a 12 year military veteran, and after a recent VA Claim I had filed, and appointments attended I was sitting at 90% disability rating. Good right, yeah, but was then advised that I could qualify for what is called Individual Unemployability. I thought about it, and determined that maybe some time of focusing on my health would be a good move. You can't work while on IU, or at least you can't make over 12k a year. So I left.

It's been a year and a few months now, and I found some cool things to occupy my time, but I would say 8-10 months of that year I spent regretting that I left trucking. I have since been working on my health, and keeping my medical certificate updated so I can keep my CDL. I remember back to the fact that I never wanted to regret anything, just like my father had taught me.

Finally about 3 weeks ago, I just exploded into resentment of the decision I made, and decided to work on going back to work.

The VA can remove the IU and I will just keep my 90% rating, my health is in order, not perfect, but in order and will continue to be worked on. I'm in a position where I need to go back to it. It is in my blood; my father drove for 25 years, my step mother for 10-15, my cousin is still driving and he has already driven for 20+ years. I used to ride with them all, everywhere, and when I was in my own truck I loved it.

If I'm going to sit around not doing much, being bored, not being productive, then I'm going back to work. I can be bored in a sleeper and at least I still know that I will be working.

I know I earned those benefits and that Johnny Taxpayer pays for it. I am very grateful for that, but I am able bodied, and just find my morals being ripped away by accepting a handout from the government. I just can't do that. Now, if or when I can't climb into a truck or function in whatever way I will gladly accept the income, but not as I stand now.

I've been around the site for 3 weeks, and paid no attention to the fact we had a place for a diary. Hahaha!!!! I've been so focused on getting things back on track with this lifestyle and career choice, that I didn't even pay attention.

I'm currently taking my time to redo the process, kind of. Doing more research on companies, the industry as a whole, future possibilities to bookmark, and more.

I have looked at a ton of companies and have narrowed my list down to 30 companies. Out of those there are about 5-10 that potentially look to make my short list.

I'll keep updating as I go.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I look forward to following along. Remember, just because people aren't commenting doesn't mean you're going unheard.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar
I look forward to following along. Remember, just because people aren't commenting doesn't mean you're going unheard.

Stay tuned, and no worries Rob. Sometimes I feel maybe I'm being a bit too intrusive with my constant activity/posting. I'm sure that will slow way down once I'm back in a truck working, but for some reason I just feel like people need to hear/read what is true to the industry. So many people not showing confidence in themselves, maybe I can contribute to changing that.

To be honest I don't know why I spoke mostly about my father here, but he is my biggest fan; maybe that is why, but also to show everyone that we all have a past whether it be good, bad, or ugly.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Dan H.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for your service brother! I did 8 years as artillery, was in basic during the battle of falujah. I'm now accepted into TMC and will start Monday the 5th. Good luck to you!

Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar

Update!!

A quick recap: I have my CDL A, and worked for Schneider for only a month before leaving for my own personal reasons in 2016. Schneider is still a great company and I encourage anyone to go work for them if they fit your needs. I have since been out of trucking for the last 1.5 years, and have just recently renewed my Medical Certification in order to keep my CDL. It was a close call, but I got it done. I started researching online and basically over analyzed everything. So, after a swift talking to by some great people on this site I decided I just need to start making calls instead of over analyzing things. I got a WAKE-UP CALL, real quick like. LOL.

I want to share in as much detail as I can "MY" experience and this particular process so anyone that comes after me knows exactly what happens if you only stay with a company for a month or 2. I will warn you, DO NOT DO THAT!!! Stay as long as you can possibly handle, preferably a year, then move on if you feel you need to. You do not want to be in my situation, it is a hardcore struggle, I promise.

So I started at 8 am CST sharp making calls. Below I will list every company that I called and what they told me.

The "We Cannot Help You's" AT ALL:

Need 3 years verifiable work history

Prime Inc.

KLLM

Knight

Not enough OTR Experience

Roehl

CFI

Crete/Shaffer

H.O. Wolding

Halvor Lines

No Consideration at all

A.D. Transport

XPO Logistics

Arnold Transport

Henderson

Britton

National Carriers

SRT (Southern Refrigerated Trucking)

Veriha

Navajo

Roadrunner

Then this happened, and thank goodness it did.

I decided after that may turn downs I would start with the companies really low on my list, and this is what happened:

Transport America - The recruiter straight up told me that I will only find a few companies that will take me. I won't name the companies but they were the companies on the bottom of my list. This company wouldn't even take me without 3 months OTR experience. It blew me away. I couldn't give up though I still had about 6-10 companies left to call and wasn't giving up.

Companies Willing to Help me

All of these companies had an open hand to me so long as I understood that I would have to go through a lengthy training, which I'm not against. They all, with the exception of U.S. Xpress, pay very well, if not right where I want to be, $0.35 - 0.40 CPM.

PTL (Paschall Trucking Lines)

Titan Transfer

Werner

May Trucking Company

Jim Palmer

U.S. Xpress

Swift

Schneider

That is it, folks. Out of 26-30 companies, only 7 and/or a rehire is all I have to choose from, no one else can help me. WOW!! The learning experience was REAL!!! I will never do that again, and I don't suggest any other rookies do it either.

With the exception of U.S. Xpress, Schneider, and Swift, I'll be applying to all of these 7 -8 companies. Jim Palmer is super competitive, but I'd still be happy if I don't get in with them.

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.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Not trying to protract your decision making process. Very happy for you; getting things done. Great job.

Swift...why the "pass" on them? Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, just curious, because your bottom 3 on the last list? Would be my top 3, plus JP. All 3 combined have more opportunities than you can shake a stick at.

One word of caution on Werner...run if they insist on Dollar General or other Dollar "type" Account...you don't need that.

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.

Jason K.'s Comment
member avatar

Oh, it's no problem to ask G-Town. They (Swift) will allow pets, but not over 50 lbs. If they would work with me then I'd still have them in the running. I kept them on my list because I still like them and thought they might have some wiggle room, but I didn't ask yet.

Werner didn't say anything about their dedicated, however, U.S. Express offered Walmart dedicated out of Auburn Indiana. US Xpress pays the lowest though. They are truly on the bottom of the list at the moment.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Too bad about Swift.

Regarding USX Walmart Dedicated... Keep something in mind, Walmart Dedicated is NOT paid OTR CPM , add 20% to the base number, also stop pay and expect about 1800-2000 per week. I'd look closer at this...

For instance Swift OTR CPM is 36, Swift Walmart Dedicated ;not surge) starts at .47, plus $15 stop pay after first. Most of my loads are a minimum of 3 stops, as many as 6.

Search on my name with Walmart Dedicated to read more.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

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