A Bizarre Conversation With A New Driver

Topic 26441 | Page 1

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Old School's Comment
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Several weeks ago I happened to meet a new driver on this dedicated account I serve. We just happened to be in one of our drop-lots at the same time. I almost posted about the conversation then, but decided against it. I'm not even sure why. Maybe I just had other things on my mind. Somedays I'm almost overloaded.

Something else developed since the initial conversation. I think it's fitting now to tell about it, and take a lesson from it. This new driver is only new in the sense that they are new to this account. They came here with plenty of flatbed experience.

In the conversation ND = new driver, and OS = Old School.

ND... Hey driver, how long you been on this account?

OS... Five years.

ND... Well, I see. Five years? Really?

OS... Yes, that's right - five years. I don't believe I've ever met you. How long have you been here?

ND... Oh, I just got hired on. I've been here maybe two weeks.

OS... Great to meet you! You're gonna like it here. It will take you a little while to get the hang of things, but once you get settled in you'll find you can make some serious money on this gig. By the way, I'm the guy they gave you a phone number for at orientation. If you have any questions you can always call me night or day, and I'll do my best to help you.

ND... Oh okay. I remember them telling me about a driver I could call. So, that's you?

OS... Yes, that's me.

ND... Well, I'm already having a little trouble with this job. I mean, this ain't no real flatbed job like I'm used to. There's some things I think need to be changed up.

OS... What's the problem? I can probably help you.

ND... Well, in flatbed we are supposed to be able to tell the loaders how we want our trailer loaded. I don't like picking up these pre-loaded trailers. I've already refused two loads because they were dangerous. Look man, you're a lot older than me. Aren't you afraid to climb up on some of these loads?

OS... I'm not even sure what you're talking about. I've never even so much as broken a finger nail on this account, and there's safety netting hooked to every trailer. You can't fall and hurt yourself. They've got so many safety precautions in place that they're more a hindrance than a help at times.

ND... Well, I'm talking about how there's sometimes a gap between the ends of the bundles. Man, if I were to fall into one of those gaps I could get cut up from those sharp edges of the metal. The gap is sometimes small enough that I'd get ripped to shreds from both bundles as I fell through that opening.

OS... Well, it sounds to me like that gap you're describing is very typical, and can easily be stepped across. This is flatbed work - it has some things about it that we have to be careful with.

ND... Look, I just think us drivers have to stick together to bring about the changes we need. If we just all stick together we could make them let us tell them how we want our trailer loaded.

OS... You don't see the beauty of this arrangement?

ND... No man, can you explain what's good about this?

OS... We don't suffer through wait times on this account. I make some great money here. Part of the reason is simply because we don't have to deal with live loads. I finish a load, and they typically have a pre-loaded trailer waiting on me somewhere. That keeps you moving. That's the beauty of this account.

ND... Yeah, well if you get shredded up by the sharp edges of these extrusions you ain't gonna be in no mood for driving. I can't believe you guys put up with this stuff. Man, I've been complaining ever since my first load here. I need some of y'all to back me up. If we stick together they'll do what we demand.

OS... Like I said, I've never broke a finger nail doing this. Look, I've got money to make - I've got to run. You've got my number. Call me if I can help you.

A few weeks later I happened to be on the phone with our operations manager. I told him I had met ND, and explained I tried to help them a little. I also inquired about how they were developing. His answer was, "Not so good. What a pain that driver was! They kept refusing their loads. SAPA told us we had to get them off the account. They refused to deal with the driver anymore." He also mentioned one of our other top drivers had a similar encounter with ND. The other driver apparently upset ND by telling them, "Look man, you're the FNG on this job. You don't come into a new job dictating how things should be done. You need to learn the ropes first, prove you've got what it takes to handle yourself out here, and then maybe somebody will hear what you've got to say." Haha! I was much more subtle with my comments, but neither one of us had much effect on ND. He's gone - got fired during his first month on the job.

Folks in trucking you need to listen and learn. After you've proven yourself you might be able to address some problems or issues with the people who've been doing this for years. Your ability to get this job done gives weight to your concerns. When you have no track record you have no audience. Build yourself a reputation before you build your own problems and issues. ND got fired because he was convinced he knew more than everybody else.

Please... don't be that guy.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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

Marc Lee's Comment
member avatar

Great story and well told.

GONG!

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PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Great story and well told.

GONG!

shocked.png

Exactly! Can't reinvent the wheel in the first month on the job. Figure it out first....

Great post, Old School!

Big T's Comment
member avatar

I had a student like that recently. Wanted to tell me everything that was wrong with the industry and how we are paid blah blah blah. It never ends well for those kinds of drivers.

Of course it involved the famous "if us drivers got together the companies would have to listen."

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

I'm going through the famous book "The 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People." He spends a lot of time talking about proactive vs reactive people.

Reactive people are the terminal rat types - they incessantly complain, blame, and criticize. In their minds, forces outside themselves control their fate and they see themselves as a victim of circumstances or of others. They claim they would be happy and successful if the people and circumstances around them were different.

Proactive people take 100% responsibility for their behaviors and the outcome of their endeavors. They feel they control their own destiny, and their happiness and success will depend on their own performance and actions.

Proactive people are far happier and more successful than reactive people. Most of us sit firmly in one camp or the other, especially those of us who are getting up there in years because this view is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You've had plenty of proof that what you believe is true, whichever side you are on.

If you believe your performance will dictate the outcome, you will do whatever is necessary to perform your best and make good things happen. You will work continuously at self-improvement to become skillful at your task, and your approach will help build strong relationships with others like you. You focus on the things you can control and make improvements in those areas. This approach often leads to success and reinforces your belief that you have control over your destiny.

If you believe your fate is out of your control, and that your performance is not the limiting factor in your success then you will not bother making great efforts to achieve your goals. You will not focus on self-improvement. Your lack of effort and personal development leads to poor performance. You do not achieve a high level of skill at the task. Your attitude toward others and your environment is poor so you do not develop strong relationships with important people. Instead, you alienate those who could help you the most. You focus on things outside of your control and believe you won't be successful unless those things change, which they rarely do. This approach often leads to failure. You determine that your failure is due to the shortcomings of others or the poor environment. Your unwillingness to take personal responsibility for these failures prevents you from understanding why you failed, so you never learn the important lessons needed for self-improvement. It also further reinforces your belief that you have no control over your destiny, leading to an endless cycle of failures.

The takeaway is simple but profound; take 100% responsibility for the outcome of your endeavors and focus on the things you can control.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Another one of his habits speaks directly to the story Old School just told us - "Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood"

How often do we see newcomers to the trucking industry act like know-it-alls? Far too often. How many students think they know how training should be done? They don't know how to drive a truck, but somehow they know how to train drivers properly. It's rather absurd.

Here we have an experienced driver, but a driver who was new to this account. He did not understand the environment before insisting things be done his way.

Talk less, listen more, especially when you're new.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

This is a fascinating thread. OS vs ND. Old School is going to win that conversation every time. As to Brett's point about what it takes to be successful, knowing when it's time to learn and when it's time to teach is critical. Old School offered New Driver a golden opportunity to learn but New Driver was too obtuse to seize the moment. Learning new things, adding to our knowledge base at every opportunity is crucial to success. Studies have shown that people who continue learning new things have a much better chance of avoiding dementia in their later years. This discussion forum is "continuing education" for those who want to keep learning useful new things about truck driving, truck maintenance and the trucking industry in general. One of the things I truly enjoyed about the time I spent driving were podcasts. Once I discovered podcasts on my Pandora app, I passed the time learning all sorts of beneficial, useful and interesting things. And I got paid CPM while I listened and learned. When my brain got tired, I could switch to music for a change of pace. My humble advice is to learn how to learn. Recognize opportunities to add to your knowledge base, your skill set. Don't let pride stand in your way. Ask questions, pick the brains of more experienced drivers. Make friends. Make more money. Enjoy the learning opportunities that you can create for yourself.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Garth M.'s Comment
member avatar

I know this ND was a bit of a complainer but not everyone is comfortable climbing on their loads. I’ve come across a few flatbed drivers who were like that. I had a moment when I was about to complain on how my step deck trailer was loaded with well casing but it was the first load I had hauled with a step deck and another of our drivers had just loaded his the same and not said anything, as well the loaders in this yard seamed pretty anal about safety. Since the other driver had been with the company longer than me I went with the load but made sure to use plenty of straps. When loading pipe on step decks they place a couple stands at the middle and back of the trailer to level the load but in the case of these 2 loads the center stand wasn’t touching the pipe. Off I went checking my straps religiously for the next 6 hrs. About a mile from my drop creeping along the main street of some little town in the dark I went over a pothole going up an incline when I heard and felt a bang. The welds on the rear stand broke, the cantilever broke 4 straps at the front and the load dropped onto the center stand. I re secured it in place and crept to my drop to unload in the morning. When I called the boss he said we’d talk about it when I got back which never happened till I brought it up the day I gave my notice about 4 weeks later. On the trip back I was to drop the stakes off at the shipper for another step deck to use, as soon as I did that trailer was shunted off and a few minutes later the loaders asked me to come see them. They pointed out one of the stands was damaged on that trailer as well so I suggested they refuse to load it, a manager came over and they had a bit of a safety meeting and followed my advice. Those trailers were quite old but not as old as the drivers who were pulling them had been driving, I’m starting my 3rd year so I don’t want to be that guy. Just saying. PS. That shipper no longer accepts step decks.

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.
Stevo Reno's Comment
member avatar

Reading that story O.S., I was waiting to hear the guy had "fell" between the gaps, just to prove his point ! Maybe he might have down the road given more time OTJ lol

Garth M.'s Comment
member avatar

So I was going to refuse anymore of those loads but I wouldn’t have waited till I got to the shipper. I had planned to tell the boss at our meeting which never took place, partly because I was on the road and couldn’t get by the office and partly because he didn’t seem to think it was that important I guess. That’s partly why he’s my ex boss.

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.
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