A “funny” Thing Happened On My Way To Kansas City

Topic 22443 | Page 1

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Dead Money's Comment
member avatar

After 4 weeks of phase 1 training, with a trainer who in my opinion didn’t give much training other than drive straight forward. I was assigned to a truck as 2nd seat. The 1st seat is 5 months into his 9 month contract. 9 month because of his military background. So I struggle with backing because of the lack of training and I guess this annoys the 1st seat. Two weeks into this adventure he explodes over something amazingly insignificant.

We are parked at a rest stop east of St. Louis on I-64. There was a Amber light out on the passenger side of the trailer that I noticed the day before. So to start my pre-trip inspection I turned on the 4 ways, and looked in the right side mirror. Before I had a chance to get out of the truck 1st seat informs me I can’t see the light on the right side because that side doesn’t have the skirt. My response was, no, I can’t see the light because the light has a flush mount cover, not a dome shape cover.

He proceeds to rant about how I shouldn’t question a 1st seat, and after all, I clearly didn’t know how to back up the truck. He then listed everything he felt like I had done wrong during the 2 weeks. Clearly he had been keeping score.

At that point I simply said, ok we are done. I called the driver manager weekend fill in guy and told him, I was getting off the truck. His interest was only in getting the load to its destination. Since the 1st seat had just finished his shift, he was out of hours until midnight, while I had enough hours to complete the delivery that shift. I gave the DM an option, I’ll deliver the load if he informs the 1st seat to remain silent until the load is delivered, and I have left the truck.

After 3 hours of waiting for a response, I gathered up my belongings, and exited the truck and went into the rest stop. I ended up calling Uber to get me to the St Louis airport, where I rented a car and drove back home in Atlanta.

On Monday I contacted the regular DM and to my surprise, I was not fired, and even more of a surprise, I was assigned to a truck as 1st seat with another driver who had 2 weeks of experience.

Right out of the gate we were assigned loads from Georgia to Florida, Florida to Washington, Washington to California, California to Florida, and finally Florida back to Georgia for pre-scheduled home time.

Since the new guy had even less experience backing than I did, I tried to schedule unloading to happen on my shift, and daytime shift change parking to happen on his shift.

The result is, I got a lot more practice backing up the truck, and have been able to make the connection between what I see in the mirrors, to what I need the steering wheel to do to achieve the desired results.

At this point, I simply look in the drivers mirror, and steer the tandems to the desired position in the box. Experience now tells me what problems I can solve while backing, and which requires a pull up to solve.

So here I am, 8 weeks into this adventure with a partner 4 weeks into his, and we are getting the job done.

Now I just need to get comfortable enough to really sleep while he is driving.

The funniest part is how different we are in every possible way.

I’m a California “kid”, while he’s 100% New York City, my background is in software development, he’s learning how to use notepad on his iPhone. Etc, etc.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Driver Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Army 's Comment
member avatar

Dead Money

Interesting read. I am glad it worked out with you so far. I look forward to more of your posts.

Best of luck Retired (Almost)

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for posting this Dead Money!

It points out so many things concerning the problems associated with team driving and training. Most new drivers don't really get the training they think they should, and it is an often held fallacy to think that team driving will provide you with the additional training one thinks they need.

Personally, I think you got very lucky in not losing your job, so I can't really recommend others follow your example of the way you got off the truck. Congratulations anyway, and I'm extremely glad it worked out like it did. You did the best thing you could being that it was the weekend.

Several things were notable in your post, and I just wanted to comment on a few of them.

Team driving has it's issues, as you found out rather quickly. It's easy to imagine ourselves in a successful team relationship as hopeful greenhorns eager to start this career. Reality rears it's head once we get into it and realize most truck drivers are better left to themselves.

Training isn't always what we expect. You blamed your lack of training on your poor backing skills. The reality is that all of us looked like drunk clowns when backing our rigs at the beginning of our careers. To be adept at backing a big rig takes a lot of practice, and that only comes by getting out here and making a fool of ourselves repeatedly until we get it. There are no formulas and no set rules for backing a rig. There are thousands of variables each time we have to go backwards, and the human mind has got to be overly exposed to all these scenarios until it starts to make the connections that will enable you to be proficient at this.

Getting through that first year as a truck driver is just tough. You sound like you are committed to making this happen, and that is what it takes. GOOD FOR YOU! That is what I like to see in new drivers, simply because that is what it takes. Commitment is way underrated when starting this career, and that is the downfall of so many rookie drivers.

Lastly, I think it a great mistake to go into this thinking that Team Driving will provide you with additional training. I see this theory floated about in here among the newbies, and I think it very counterproductive to rely on that. Experience is the greatest teacher you'll ever find in this career, and that comes to solo drivers the same way it comes to team drivers. You get behind the wheel, and you make up your mind that your success depends on your efforts. There's no shortcuts in trucking. Brett likes to say "There's no faking it in Trucking." It's a simple saying that really is profound.

I commend you on your accomplishments, and encourage others to take note of how you're committing yourself to this. Carry on Brother, and keep fighting the good fight. You may have made a few mistakes, but we all have. Keeping yourself moving forward is key to success out here.

Jeremy C.'s Comment
member avatar

Very enlightening and full of reality checks for us newbies just trying to get started.

I’m a California “kid”, while he’s 100% New York City, my background is in software development, he’s learning how to use notepad on his iPhone. Etc, etc.

From one geek to another...

Java Update

0010899001525270867.jpg

Dave Reid's Comment
member avatar

I agree with Old School that you were fortunate to retain your job....so I want to second the sentiment that others should not follow the example of leaving the truck over a dispute with a team member (or anyone else). I am guessing that maybe they have had previous issues with your former co-driver - that could have helped your cause...but we sure never want to do anything remotely close to abandoning a load.

That said, I am very glad that things have improved for you and wish you all the best of success in your new career.

After 4 weeks of phase 1 training, with a trainer who in my opinion didn’t give much training other than drive straight forward. I was assigned to a truck as 2nd seat. The 1st seat is 5 months into his 9 month contract. 9 month because of his military background. So I struggle with backing because of the lack of training and I guess this annoys the 1st seat. Two weeks into this adventure he explodes over something amazingly insignificant.

We are parked at a rest stop east of St. Louis on I-64. There was a Amber light out on the passenger side of the trailer that I noticed the day before. So to start my pre-trip inspection I turned on the 4 ways, and looked in the right side mirror. Before I had a chance to get out of the truck 1st seat informs me I can’t see the light on the right side because that side doesn’t have the skirt. My response was, no, I can’t see the light because the light has a flush mount cover, not a dome shape cover.

He proceeds to rant about how I shouldn’t question a 1st seat, and after all, I clearly didn’t know how to back up the truck. He then listed everything he felt like I had done wrong during the 2 weeks. Clearly he had been keeping score.

At that point I simply said, ok we are done. I called the driver manager weekend fill in guy and told him, I was getting off the truck. His interest was only in getting the load to its destination. Since the 1st seat had just finished his shift, he was out of hours until midnight, while I had enough hours to complete the delivery that shift. I gave the DM an option, I’ll deliver the load if he informs the 1st seat to remain silent until the load is delivered, and I have left the truck.

After 3 hours of waiting for a response, I gathered up my belongings, and exited the truck and went into the rest stop. I ended up calling Uber to get me to the St Louis airport, where I rented a car and drove back home in Atlanta.

On Monday I contacted the regular DM and to my surprise, I was not fired, and even more of a surprise, I was assigned to a truck as 1st seat with another driver who had 2 weeks of experience.

Right out of the gate we were assigned loads from Georgia to Florida, Florida to Washington, Washington to California, California to Florida, and finally Florida back to Georgia for pre-scheduled home time.

Since the new guy had even less experience backing than I did, I tried to schedule unloading to happen on my shift, and daytime shift change parking to happen on his shift.

The result is, I got a lot more practice backing up the truck, and have been able to make the connection between what I see in the mirrors, to what I need the steering wheel to do to achieve the desired results.

At this point, I simply look in the drivers mirror, and steer the tandems to the desired position in the box. Experience now tells me what problems I can solve while backing, and which requires a pull up to solve.

So here I am, 8 weeks into this adventure with a partner 4 weeks into his, and we are getting the job done.

Now I just need to get comfortable enough to really sleep while he is driving.

The funniest part is how different we are in every possible way.

I’m a California “kid”, while he’s 100% New York City, my background is in software development, he’s learning how to use notepad on his iPhone. Etc, etc.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Driver Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Yeah, as you would expect I completely agree with the guys. That was totally the wrong move and quite immature to be honest. Fortunately for you they showed some grace. They're more graceful than I am, I have to admit. That's not a second chance I would have given.

You know why?

Because people who are piloting an 80,000 pound death machine surrounded by SUV's full of innocent children need to be in control of their emotions. They need to make rational decisions. They need to think long term. They need to know when to let things go.

If you have such a fragile ego that you react like that to some simple criticism, 100% of which was probably correct, then what's going to happen in the coming years when you're piloting that death machine and people cut you off, give you the finger, or talk down to you because you're a truck driver?

Are you going to teach them who's boss?

Are you going to show them you won't be disrespected?

Are you going to quit?

And what about commitment, like Old School mentioned? Are you really committed to being successful in trucking? Obviously not. You don't walk away from something you're committed to, especially over something so petty.

Heck man, I grew up playing football and coaches used to yell at us in front of our friends and families and our entire home town when we made a mistake. I was 8 years old when I started playing football. I didn't cry and run home. I didn't quit. I took the criticism like a man, even though I was a little boy, and I learned from it. I grew from it. It built character. It built a better football player.

I truly am happy that you were given a second chance. I want to see people succeed in this industry. I just hope you realize that you made a huge mistake but got really lucky. You won't get that lucky very often. I hope you'll take the time to think over that situation and realize it's going to take a lot more character than that to survive in this industry.

You have it in you to make it in this industry. We all do. Yet 95% of the people fail before their first year is up. Do you want to be in that 95% or do you want to be one of the elite that makes a career out of this?

Toughness of mind and strong character are things I put an extremely high value on so I hope you understand where I'm coming from.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
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