Driving Mr. Banks

Topic 22071 | Page 2

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millionmiler24's Comment
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MillionMiler wrote:

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Right there is why I love this forum so much. G-Town, Thanks so much for allowing Banks to ride with ya so he can learn from one of the best this industry has to offer. Banks, I hope you realize what a lucky guy you are to get to do this. G-Town is a honest to God living legend in this industry. Pay attention to everything he has to offer you in terms of teaching you about driving a truck. Also remember: Watch your wagon at all times

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I appreciate that... Legend? Probably not, just someone paying it forward, trying to help a guy out. I enjoyed the day, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I love to pay it forward also. Plus my mission in life is helpin others. That is why I am so proud to be a Lead Driver at CRST and also a member on this forum. 😁

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Banks describes his experience:

The first thing I learned was APUs are awesome and when slip seating carry Lysol because those trucks can be grossly dirty lol. After going around the parking lot to find his trailer G-Town took me into the Swift office to meet all the Swifties. Great bunch of people. It put Swift in a whole new light for me because I don't look it as a huge trucking company anymore. I look it as if it's solely composed of the people in that office. People that will help you when you need it and keep you company while you're waiting on a load. It made such an impact that I plan on contacting Swift in the near future.

Just one clarification here; Swift trucks (company trucks) do not have APUs. I was showing Banks how effective the bunk heater is at keeping the truck warm. I had started the heater before I went around to the visitor lot (in my car) to pick him up and return to the yard. Temp was low 20s, by the time we got back to the truck it was, 72’ inside. It works off of a separate unit; not connected to the engine and only needing battery power for the fan.

Banks really nailed this observation, “Swift doesn’t suck”. Yes the folks at 7030; the Dedicated Drivers, driver leaders and planners are a great bunch of people. That entire group of people really “got game”, and they “bring-it” each and every day! We keep trying to emphasize this concept to Newbies entering the forum proclaiming they don’t want to be just a number and/or do not want to become lost in the size of the mega carriers. Trust me when I say this (and Banks witnessed it first hand), to be successful in any of these companies, there is a very sepcific group of people who are there to support the drivers. It’s our job to communicate, build that team relationship, be safe in everything we do, and the rest will take care of itself.

Banks continues:

While driving to his first stop I paid attention to how he maneuvered the truck. How far out he went when he turned and the directions of the steering wheel while backing up. Once we arrived the receiver was pretty quick to get us unloaded, but ran into some trouble with a double stacked pallet. G-town jumped in to break down the top pallet so that it could be pulled out. Once we left I asked if I could drive. He said no lol. He explained that since the dock workers get paid hourly they don't care to stand there all day trying to pull out one pallet. He doesn't get paid hourly so his goal is get out as quickly as possible. If that means helping them unload, so be it.

So there is definitely a method to my madness here…and it has several layers that probably weren’t obvious (I should have explained this better to Banks); I help the unloader out because I am a “professional” first and foremost, but I also know they will remember the gesture. They are more likely to hustle for me to get me moving on quickly if I do not hesitate to help them. Overall I believe it’s the right thing to do, but does have it’s benefits. Friday’s truck had a little different twist that I knew going in, I would need the help of the unloader at the first Norristown stop to balance the load upon completion of unloading. 7 pallets (about 12,000 lbs.) for the second and last stop, were all loaded on one side of the trailer. I looked for every opportunity to help the unloader because when all of his pallets were out I needed him to rearrange the imbalance created by the loaders at the DC. Part of every trip plan for me is to review the load map to determine if anything exceptional exists so I can prepare in advance. Usually it’s the reefer loads that require extra scrutiny…because I ALWAYS review the load map, I wasn’t surprised by this anomaly in a dry “REMIX” load.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APUs:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

G-Town's Comment
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Brett points out:

Banks, keep one thing in mind. A guy like G-Town is going to make that job look 1,000 times easier than it is. He handles a ton of little details without having to think about them anymore. He knows the job inside and out. He's been out there doing this at a high level for years. He's a real pro. In the beginning when you're a rookie things won't go nearly that well!

Thanks for the vote of confidence Brett,…I’d like to believe that’s the case, God only knows how hard I worked getting to this point. Gotta love it, right? He** Yeah!

There is an irony to your point.

Friday’s assigned trip that Banks accompanied me is the exact same 2-stop route, both Norristown PA stores that I was assigned my very first day on the account. Totally true. I vividly recall how much I struggled that first day, especially backing into the Germantown Pike store (first stop on Friday), took me at least 30 minutes. The second store although a much larger dock area with ample space for setting up to back, can be a real maze if you make a wrong turn when exiting. Somehow I ended up in the front of the parking lot, had to move shopping carts to eventually free myself from the unfriendly confines of that lot. This is the honest truth, by the time I made it back to the DC that first day (with less than 2 hours on the clock) I was mentally and physically exhausted, questioning the wisdom of throwing myself into this account. I made a ton of mistakes that day, fortunately I didn’t hit anything or completely lose my cool…although losing hours of time correcting preventable mistakes. Fast forward to over five years later and this run is comparatively one of the easier ones coming out of our DC. Our clock was at 4 hours when we returned Friday night. Big difference.

So to Brett’s point…I totally agree. But the good news? With focus, determination and a willingness to own your mistakes, learn from them and adjust, it’s possible to overcome the learning curve of the first year. I hope to take Banks out one last time before he makes his employment decision; but this time I promise a reefer load with more stops. Then he'll see me sweat!

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
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With focus, determination and a willingness to own your mistakes, learn from them and adjust, it’s possible to overcome the learning curve of the first year.

That's the key right there - Surviving That First Year Of Your Trucking Career!

I always feel there are a ton of people who either quit their first job or quit trucking altogether during that first year because they think it's always going to be that tough. To be honest, it's never going to be easy but it will never be as tough as that first year, especially those first six months. Good gravy that is a tough time for everyone.

I've always believed that one of the reasons the large carriers that hire new drivers get blasted so much in online reviews is because so many new drivers blame their company for the hardships they endure in the beginning. They're so new they don't realize that the majority of their problems are either problems they're creating for themselves or they're just a normal part of trucking no matter what company you work for. Unfortunately they don't stay the course long enough to figure that out.

You have to stay the course that first year. See it through and then decide if trucking is right for you.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Banks's Comment
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I don't think I'd be able to do G-Towns job better than him just like I don't think I can do old schools job better or any other vet on the road. I know that takes time. I expect my first year to be horrible and this web site and the articles on it have played a huge part in my mental preparedness. I'm expecting it to be the worst year of my life and I've had some tough years lol. My logic is that it can't be any worse than I've imagined it to be. A year without hitting anything would be a success in my eyes.

G-Town explained the hardships he endured, how he prepared for Swift academy and how his dedicated run made him a better driver. He also took the time out to explain the reasoning behind so of his actions. I don't exit here because of this and I'm turning here because of that. I always try to learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others. That's a key part to anything I do. I don't expect to get different results from similar actions. G-Town didn't turn out of a parking spot because he's tried it before and it was extremely difficult and he cut it closer than necessary. It would be foolish of me to think I'd ever have a different result. Even with 10 years experience the outcome wouldn't change because of cracking the whip and restricted turning space.

Dedicated Run:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

G-Town's Comment
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Mr. Banks (my new wing-man) wrote:

I expect my first year to be horrible and this web site and the articles on it have played a huge part in my mental preparedness. I'm expecting it to be the worst year of my life

Geez Banks, I hope that is NOT the case. Although it will be challenging, and at times incredibly unforgiving, how well you prepare will significantly reduce the likelihood of horror. Your head is definitely in the game already...half the battle.

My first year wasn't horrible. It was really tough, and I did have my share of very rough spots; I could write a book (should?)

It took me approximately 6 months; first 3 OTR , last 3 Walmart before it all began to click.

I think family dynamics will be one of your greatest challenges. When I got into this? My children were grown, made it far less difficult. Not going to kid you, that will be difficult.

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.

Banks's Comment
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I hit report by mistake... Not sure how to fix that, sorry. Building it up to be the worst year ever is part of my logic. I figure it can't possibly be as bad as I'm expecting so all in all it won't be that bad, if that makes sense. If it is, I'm ready for it. If it's not, that's great lol.

Family dynamics will be my biggest hurdle. That's why I'm taking this time to make sure everything at home is good before I leave. I want my phone calls homes to be smooth. A quick how's everything and the occasional what are you wearing rofl-3.gif I want to be focused on the task on hand and not make mistakes that I normally wouldn't. Initially, I was conflicted on whether or not I wanted to go through company sponsored training or come out of pocket. I've decided company sponsored would be a better fit. Money had nothing to do with this decision. I like the security of having a job lined up once I'm licensed. If I did get licensed on my own I'd have to undergo training anyway. Company sponsored training is a company taking an interest in my future. The training isn't just getting a CDL , it's teaching you how to be a company driver and letting you know what's expected of you. I also like that it's expedited without cutting corners. The dos and don'ts are drilled in so they're not forgotten and become routine. Lastly, it'll be my first test of being away from home for an extended period of time.

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.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

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