To Do It Or Not To Do It?

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ENRIQUE A.'s Comment
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Well guys Enrique here. First off a Big Big Thanks to Brett! For the site and for everyone and anyone whos contributed to it. A lot of knowledge and information and experience here.

Due to a (past recent relationship) i was planning on moving to florida with my girlfriend and was planning on obtaining my CDL by whatever means necessary. That move wont be happening now and I plan to stay in Texas. With that being said i stumbled upon this site, and now im more convinced that i want to do this.

But heres my dilemma:

I currently work for the Railroad which i make a very good living doing and have amazing benefits. Upon talking to my family recently and opening up about wanting to hang up my railroad gloves and put on trucking gloves i was pretty much told everything that was bad about trucking (or my families misconception about the industry) even though no one has ever done it or have been a part of that life. It discouraged me so much that i thought, oh hell ill just keep doing the railroad stuff. But I HATE MY JOB, other than the financial security and amazing benefits I HATE IT. Im currently saving up while I Plan what route to take to get my CDL. My Family Discouraged me and told me ho much nonsense it made, But I want to do this.

Has anyone had a similar thing happen? Thanks Everyone!

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.
Steve L.'s Comment
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We may not be able to choose our family. But we CAN choose our future. And often times, those with the best intentions forget they’re not the ones who have to live with their suggestions.

However, how long have you worked in railroad? What’s the motivation for trucking? If you’ve been in railroad a long time and would be giving up a lot and your motivation is just traveling, can you achieve satisfaction by using your great benefits (I.e. vacation time and pay) and planning trips around the country/world?

Moderators here will offer great links to help. But yes, this happens to lots of us. In the end YOU have to live with your decisions. And, if by family, you mean people other than a wife and children, I’d ask them to provide reasons, not uninformed speculation.

I hope this helps.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Has anyone had a similar thing happen? Thanks Everyone!

Welcome Enrique.

I think the majority of us got started in trucking because we either couldn't find employment in a previous career or hated that previous career. Your story is very common. I just bumped up a long running conversation we have that you'll enjoy:

What Did You Do Before Becoming A Truck Driver?

I know many times over the years we've had people say they wished they had started in trucking long before they did. Some are making less money than they used to, some are making more, but they're all so much happier than they used to be.

Then again, the majority of people who take a shot at this career don't last very long because it's incredibly challenging and the lifestyle doesn't suit many people. If it does suit you, you'll absolutely love it because there's nothing like it. If it doesn't, you probably won't be around for long.

So there's really no right or wrong answer for your situation, only what's right for you, and that you won't really know until you try it.

For me personally, trucking was the Great American Adventure! But I'm an adventurer at heart, so I absolutely loved it from day one. I knew I would love it, and in fact the time I spent in truck driving school was agonizing because I wanted to get out there and do it so badly. I was dying for my opportunity, and it turned out to be everything I had hoped and more.

I know a lot of others will chime in with their feelings about it because so many of them were in your shoes. You'll enjoy hearing their perspectives.

I think the one thing we can all universally agree on is that it makes no difference what anyone else thinks because it's your life, and they're not you. Only you know what's best for you, what will be fulfilling for you. Everyone is blessed with their own opportunity to live the way they want to live, and often times what fulfills us is quite the opposite of what others might think.

I could have literally been a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist. I was blessed with the brains to do it. But it doesn't matter that much what's in your brain. What matters is what's in your heart, and in my heart I needed adventure. I wanted to travel. I wanted to explore. I wanted to challenge myself in ways that seemed exciting to me. I wouldn't have been happy in an office environment, or a hospital, or a laboratory and I knew that. Heck, I even got accepted into the Coast Guard Academy which would have made me an officer, a 2nd Lieutenant with my own crew at 21 years old. I turned it down. It just didn't sound like what I wanted to do.

I'm thrilled I chose trucking as my first career, but that's because it was the adventure I was looking for. Most people that leave trucking quickly do so because they either can't stand being away from home for long or they're not cut out for such a challenging lifestyle.

I have a tattoo with a quote from the movie Braveheart: "Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it." That courage is something a lot of people don't have. That courage doesn't mean having the courage to jump out of airplanes or bungee jump or anything crazy like that. It means having the courage to do what you know is right for you, even if no one else agrees with you or believes in you.

I'm not trying to encourage you to become a truck driver. I'm only trying to encourage you to follow the path you feel is best for you. It may not be trucking, or trucking may just lead to an even better path down the road. But I have had jobs that I hated, and I didn't stick around for long at all. We're blessed with a million choices. I always believed that whatever path I chose I'd eventually find my way, even if I didn't know where it would lead.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Enrique, we do have a few things that can help out. Sure, "trucking" has a bad reputation, that reputation rides on stories and such going back decades. But it ain't necessarily so. Check these out:

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

The Truck Driver's Career Guide

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

Matthew N.'s Comment
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Everyday I love and hate truck driving. Before you up and quit, talk to more drivers. Hear the truth about the lifestyle. It has so many different pros and cons.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Everyday I love and hate truck driving. Before you up and quit, talk to more drivers. Hear the truth about the lifestyle. It has so many different pros and cons.

Yeah, but just be prepared to hear a lot of complaining because unfortunately that seems to be what most drivers do best.

Personally, I'm not necessarily a fan of this approach because there are a ton of truck drivers out there who really don't get how trucking works or they simply don't belong in this industry because this isn't the right career choice for them. So you're going to hear a huge number of complaints from a lot of people and I think that would scare away potential drivers unnecessarily.

I would recommend talking to people who really love this career and thrive at it. They can give you all of the reasons they love it, and all of the toughest aspects of the job so you can decide if trucking is right for you. But you really don't want to get career advice from someone who doesn't like their career or doesn't thrive at it.

Here is a podcast I did on this topic:

Episode 19: You're Getting Career Advice From The Wrong People

I'm telling you now, if you just go to a random truck stop and ask a bunch of random drivers what they think about trucking you're going to hear more crybabying than you would in the newborn nursery at a hospital. You're asking for a miserable day if you take that approach.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
ENRIQUE A.'s Comment
member avatar

Well Everyone I appreciate your advice and input and Brett i read your entire book in 2 days. Wow what a book it was! Amazing job. Ive come to the conclusion that no amount of money of benefits (to me at least) is worth the pain of you hating your job and the miserable feeling it gives you. So im going to straighten some things out financially before giving it a shot. I applied to TMC and i was pre hired. I have a tentative start date of 01/07/2019. All i need to do is study my butt off get my permit and my DOT physical. Is flatbedding a good option for a newer driver?

Thanks for the responses everyone.

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.

Pre Hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Brett i read your entire book in 2 days. Wow what a book it was! Amazing job.

Awesome! Glad you liked it.

Ive come to the conclusion that no amount of money of benefits (to me at least) is worth the pain of you hating your job and the miserable feeling it gives you

I've always felt the same way. I've always believed I could find a way to make money and enjoy myself at the same time. I'm just not going to spend a significant portion of my time on Earth doing something that makes me miserable.

Errol V.'s Comment
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Enrique is ready to hit the books:

All i need to do is study my butt off get my permit and my DOT physical. Is flatbedding a good option for a newer driver?

Yes, there are many things you probably don't know about yet (slack adjusters, off tracking, 34 hour reset, etc.). For a while I taught a class to help new Swift students get the permit. The class is 4, 8-hour days. You can get all this done at home, for free. Follow this Trucking Truth link:

High Road CDL Training Program

BTW, there's a ton more study material here. Click on the three bar menu at the top left, scan down the list to the ones with CDL Training, and enjoy.

As for skateboard pulling, use the search bar right under that menu link, look for "flatbed or van".

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.

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.

Daniel (Turtle)'s Comment
member avatar

I am a different type of trucker..

I think it all depends on how you view your job and what is important to you.. I personally fell in love with trucks as a small boy.. We traveled and as I sat in the back seat with my brothers I would count trucks going down the highway.. I romanticized about traveling cross country, seeing the sites, and meeting interesting people.. I knew this was what I wanted to do.. I knew this would make me happy.. After Highschool I worked in a factory, as a QA leader and walked the floor telling people what to do.. I had great benefits, good pay, and the job was not hard.. But I still would go into the shipping and receiving area and Romanticize about where that driver was from and what he might have seen..

At 21 I went straight to a school, learned to drive.. Met my ex-wife on the road.. Had a kid.. And have seen and drove everywhere I can think of.. I now spend a few days in the office as a recruiter, and I still drive truck locally and regional.. And only cause of my teen son that I have custody of.. I am not enjoying office, and will be going fully back to driving locally, and regionally.. I miss OTR.. But in my 20+ years of being in this industry I have personally loved every bit of it.. HOWEVER>>

90% of all trucking companies I have worked for have not had decent Health, Dental, Vision, or 401k/retirements plans.. They cost the driver out the nose for them.. Main reason is the industry has the mentality that drivers are a dime a dozen and has a high turnover rate of employment.. Drivers come and go.. This is starting to change some, but it is still really bad.. Not many companies have drivers retire from there company of 20+ years of driving.. This is why companies like Factories and Rail, have really, really good Benefits..

I was the first in my family to become a trucker.. My Older Brother who went to College and got a degree, saw the money I was making, and he became a trucker.. His son become a trucker.. My sister married a trucker.. We have become a trucker family, and we all work for different companies and such.. Pay has been going up, cause rates are going up.. The industry is growing and there is a huge shortage of good drivers.. Is trucking all unicorns and rainbows? Absolutely not.. I have just as many horror stories as I do funny good ones.. The Good and the bad times.. And I tell people all the time you have to take the good with the bad in every job.. I would assume that would be the same in your Rail job.. I suggest you take what you know or think you know about Trucking and write down pro vs cons.. And do the same with your current rail job.. Then see which one looks better on paper.. This career is not for everyone.. And I say that to not turn you away.. But I would not suggest anyone leaving a good career path they are currently in to become a truck driver.. Taking care of yourself and your family is the main reason everyone works.. I do not know you, but if you have wife and kids, remember that your decisions effect them also..

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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