Walmart Private Fleet

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Turtle's Comment
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10/29 0700hrs Day 2

The morning started with the same rousing "Walk of Cheer" through all trainers and associates before settling into our seats. Cody, the training manager, began with a simple question: "Ok so who thought yesterday would be easier?"

Nearly every hand went up.

"Who went back to the hotel last night and studied?"

Same

"I hope so, because today will be even tougher."

With that, we launched into the same routine as yesterday. Half of us went upstairs for PowerPoints, and the rest continued with Round 2 of skills tests.

After being shown yesterday how they want the pretrip, today should be a breeze. However, they took note of which truck I inspected yesterday, and brought me to a different truck today. They gave me the same spiel about this truck being out of service, and they wanted me to point out everything I found wrong. There were in fact several items that wouldn't pass inspection, and I think I nailed them all. There's definitely some extra pressure in knowing I have to find the faults. Additionally, testing on a different truck each day ensures that I bring my A-game.

As I mentioned before, my own inspection is a little more detailed than what is expected here, but not by much. Also, they don't require you to use the strict verbiage like "Properly mounted & secure, Not cracked, bent or broken", etc. You simply have to point to the part and explain what you're looking for. I still find it hard to NOT use the exact verbiage that I'm so accustomed to, so I just roll with it anyway.

As I finished my in-cab inspection, I was about to climb out of the truck and complete the last step of the Walmart pre-trip: having the examiner assist me with checking the lights, when he called me over and said"

"Ok, explain the process for sliding your tandems."

Wha??

That came from out of left field, totally unexpected. It could have tripped me up had I not just went over this a couple days ago. You see, I'm a flatbedder with practically no experience at sliding tandems. I work with fixed-position spread axles, or a 2-position front axle. That isn't saying that I don't know how to slide tandems , just that I've never actually done it myself, or had to explain the process.

After a split-second "deer in the headlights" moment, I recovered and explained the easy procedure. Satisfied, he told me to carry on.

Feeling proud of myself, I proclaimed that I was done with my pretrip.

and completely forgot about that light check...

Afterward, when I asked him how I did, he said the only thing I missed was that light check. I let him trip me up and break my concentration. By design or not, I took that as a valuable lesson. Maintain your focus, whether in a test, or real-world situation.

The backing station was unchanged for day 2. As with any backing situation, the setup is key. Without it you will struggle. Nail the setup, and you'll be in position for a somewhat easy sight-side back into the hole. Before you put that truck in reverse, shut it off and GOAL, walking into and around the hole looking for nails or debris. Plan your attack, and finish by doing a complete 360 walk around the entire truck. Once you start backing, if all goes well you'll get yourself lined up at the entrance to the hole. GOAL again before the rear of your trailer enters the space between the other two trailers. 360 the truck/trailer again. Pull up if you need to. There are no limits to the amount of pull-ups or GOALS you can take. Yes, there is a "reasonable" time limit, but you can easily do this maneuver within 7-10 minutes with pullups and GOALS. Besides checking to see if you can back a trailer, they are also checking to see if you can do it safely. DO NOT get ballsy or lazy and assume you can make it, because there is precious little room for error. If you do this correctly, there is enough room to have yourself practically lined up and able to see down both sides of your trailer BEFORE pushing it into the hole. If you try to pivot that trailer after it's in the hole already, you will hit the blind side trailer. Don't be that driver.

Not to toot my own horn, but backing has always been a very strong skill for me. Even still I took two GOALS and two pullups, setting the brakes at 6 minutes.

The day 2 road test has me very nervous. My gear-shifting performance yesterday was dismal. Of all things, I can't let this be the skill that takes me out.

Today's course ran us through the "city" route. Increased traffic, tighter turns, more lights, signs, and pedestrians. However, there is nothing on this route that an experienced driver can't handle. In fact, the course I took my students on for the CDL exam in PA was a tad tougher than this, in the way of tighter turns. On the flip side, this course was much longer, taking roughly 45 minutes. The biggest thing you have to watch for are obvious: speed limits, traffic lights, following distance, etc. Normal stuff.

Avoiding downshifting wherever possible, I tried to hide my weakness. The examiner was on me though, and wasn't having it, asking me to downshift more when slowing to a stop. I begrudgingly admitted that I had very little experience in a manual. To his credit and my delight, he really helped me by calmly pointing out what I was doing wrong, and offering suggestions on how to improve. If that weren't enough, he even let me practice in areas where I normally wouldn't downshift, as long as traffic permitted.

Cont...

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

...cont.

That short little practice session, along with his coaching, did so much to smooth my shifting and boost my confidence.

After I got us back to the yard, he told me that more and more drivers are coming to Walmart with "mostly automatic" experience, and that I shouldn't let that bother me. I did just fine. Whew.

Day 2 complete, and I still haven't been called into the safety office. We've seen many who were, and that's supposedly a sign that they're on the shortlist to be cut.

Back to the hotel for an early supper and Facetime with my little bug.

Tomorrow: Gameday

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.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar
how is the hometime? Are you close enough to the DC to make it home nearly every night?

I won't have a firm handle on my schedule until I complete the onboarding process, and that could be another 2 weeks.

In my particular DC, there are a few schedule options available. I'll likely opt for the 5 on / 2 off, guaranteeing me at least two full days (not just a 34) at home every week. Busy seasons may push me into 5 1/2 day weeks.

When I make it back to the DC during my work week, I'll probably go home for the night. Likewise if I park at a Walmart near home. It's still just a little too early to know for sure.

How long is the training process to learn the Walmart way of doing things as an experienced driver?

Another tough question to answer. I've only just made it past the entry requirements. The real adjustment is yet to come. I'll certainly try to enlighten as I go.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar
We actually have to look for problems, check the oil, see if the lug nuts are tight, pull the pushrod, thump the tires, etc. I love it.

I have printed and began studying Daniel B's pre-trip. I had thought about how on the exam you most likely will not have a truck or trailer that has any defects so you are just "going through the motions" so to speak to show that you actually know what you are doing. I had also thought when you are out on the road, that you would actually look for problems instead of concentrating on saying PMS, CBB, and ABC.

I have two questions:

First, for hub and axle seals, it says "filled to manufacturer's specifications." In looking at the pictures, I don't see a site glass or other way to check it other than removing it. How do you check the fluid level in hub and axle seals? And if its low, how do you fill it?

Second, for the rims, the actual regulations state:

ยง393.205 Wheels. (a) Wheels and rims shall not be cracked or broken.

(b) Stud or bolt holes on the wheels shall shall not be elongated (out of round).

(c) Nuts or bolts shall not be missing or loose.

Shouldn't you also say "not out of round?"

Thanks.

BTW, is great to hear about your new journey. It really shows the level of professionalism for top tier drivers.

Rob.

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

Rob D made these PTI inquiries...

I had also thought when you are out on the road, that you would actually look for problems instead of concentrating on saying PMS, CBB, and ABC.

This is totally true except possibly once or no more than twice in road training.

How do you check the fluid level in hub and axle seals? And if its low, how do you fill it?

For the drive seals, you can't check the level on most trucks. And filling them...never known that to be a requirement for a company driver. The tell-tale signs of seal leakage on both trailer hubs and tractor drives is very obvious. Oil will be splattered on the inside of the wheel and probably behind it. fouling the brake pads. And usually the seal just blows...it's not subtle, very messy.

The reference to a wheel being; "Not Out of Round". You can't really check if the wheel is totally true/round. And if you could, there would be tolerances. Curbing can cause a rim to bend, many times "breaking" the tire.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

10/30 0700hrs Day 3

It's gameday. The final round. Today is our day to shine. The first day was just to see what we brought to the table. The second day gave us a chance to hone our skills, or correct a bad habit. Today is the "make or break" test for all the marbles. Either show them you have what it takes, or be sent home.

Side note: Even if you fail, Walmart won't send you packing immediately. They'll allow you to stay on through the week and fly home as scheduled. Just making it to Bentonville in itself is something to be proud of, and they will treat you with respect to the end.

On to the tests:

Pretrip- Once again I tested on a different truck than on the first two days, and once again had to find the faults on this 'out of service truck. Missing mudflap here, busted light there, etc.

I ran through the whole thing and confidently declared myself completed with the pre-trip. As we were walking away literally 1 minute later, I remembered the dadgum permit book that I forgot to check.

"Is it too late to mention the permit book?"

"Yup"

"Dang! Well, how did I do otherwise?"

"I can't tell you that. You'll find out tomorrow."

Pfft...

Backing- Still the exact same maneuver as the first two days. Honestly, if at this point you're still having major difficulty with this maneuver, you probably shouldn't be here.

GOAL, use your pullups, and don't hit anything. It's that simple.

She slipped in the hole nice and easy for me, somewhere in the ballpark of 5 minutes with GOALS and pullups.

Road test- The rural route. Once again, this route takes roughly 45 minutes, through some beautiful back roads. Upgrades, downgrades, curvy, narrow, sometimes residential, often downright questionable.

The examiner is chatting the whole way. To some this may be distracting. But I found it quite comforting actually, as we seemed to hit it off through some great conversation. This kept my mind settled and off of my nerves.

Lane control is critical on this route, especially in the curves. Trailer off-tracking will either put your tires in the weeds and ruts, or extend them into the opposite lane. Pay special attention to this.

Only once did I hiccup on a downshift, but recovered in a second with barely a noticeable grind. I was floating them gears almost like a pro, up and down. I know this isn't a big deal to some of you guys, but to me it was a huge moment of triumph in a very pivotal challenge.

Arriving back at the yard, all I got was a:

"Ok, just hang out till everyone else completes their tests, and we'll get you guys back to the hotel"

"So how did I do?"

"I can't tell you that. You'll find out tomorrow.

wtf-2.gif

They'll compile the notes and scores from all 9 tests you took and make their decision."

10/31 0700 Day 4

There were noticeably fewer candidates getting off the shuttles from the hotels. Those of us there were penned up behind the building again before being led inside. We walked in to music, banners, back-slapping, hand-shaking, shouts of congratulations, and fist-bumps all around.

Once things settle down, and we were in our seats, we heard the words:

Welcome Walmart drivers!

Obviously we already kinda knew we'd made it, but hearing those words really drove it home. This wasn't just another job interview. This was a leap of faith, a rite of passage, and a shared experience that brought all of us in that room closer.

I'll spare you the rest of the happy dance, but suffice it to say the rest of the day was spent in good spirits. A bunch of us met up for dinner & drinks later on, and oh was it deserved. It was a perfect night for celebration, and celebrate we did!

Fri 11/1 0900hrs.

Breakfast and lots of coffee at the Waffle House before the shuttle ride to the airport. We're flying home for the weekend, and beginning the next phase of training at our respective DCs Monday morning.

This was an emotionally taxing week, one filled with fear, anxiety, anticipation, hope, and humility.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bird-one's Comment
member avatar

I'll tell ya my 1st experience with seal leakage Rob.

I was probably in my 6th month of driving. Every single day was still a huge learning curve. I pulled into the yard of the customer I'm dedicated too. 1st half is concrete 2nd is a very bumpy gravel lot. It had rained the night before. Pulled into the gravel lot, backed my reefer in. As I got out, I noticed an odd pattern on my left outer steer tire. Looked at it and thought to myself "huh" the water left weird marks all over the tire. Well the "water" was oil. Really showed my inexperience on that one. My guess is I hit one of the dips in the gravel lot and blew the seal. I didn't see anything dripping when I was looking at it.

About 180 miles later I was close to 20 miles from the yard. I'm noticing I hear my brakes squeaking, and I'm getting whiffs of burning oil, and the steering wheel is feeling off when I'm braking. Traffic came to bumper to bumper and a driver next to me, which didn't have a cb, flagged me to roll my window down to tell me oil was leaking out. I immediately pulled over and the oil had a steady drip to it coming straight out. At this point I was about 10 miles from the yard so I limped back.

So part of my PTI routine is grabbing my flashlight, and checking both the out tire and that light will come in handy for the inner tires. Check the steers when your hood is popped. If you were to drive with a seal leak, and end up completely losing all oil. I believe the tire will lock up. Not sure on that one though.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Marc Lee's Comment
member avatar

10/30 0700hrs Day 3

It's gameday. The final round. Today is our day to shine. The first day was just to see what we brought to the table. The second day gave us a chance to hone our skills, or correct a bad habit. Today is the "make or break" test for all the marbles. Either show them you have what it takes, or be sent home.

Side note: Even if you fail, Walmart won't send you packing immediately. They'll allow you to stay on through the week and fly home as scheduled. Just making it to Bentonville in itself is something to be proud of, and they will treat you with respect to the end.

On to the tests:

Pretrip- Once again I tested on a different truck than on the first two days, and once again had to find the faults on this 'out of service truck. Missing mudflap here, busted light there, etc.

I ran through the whole thing and confidently declared myself completed with the pre-trip. As we were walking away literally 1 minute later, I remembered the dadgum permit book that I forgot to check.

"Is it too late to mention the permit book?"

"Yup"

"Dang! Well, how did I do otherwise?"

"I can't tell you that. You'll find out tomorrow."

Pfft...

Backing- Still the exact same maneuver as the first two days. Honestly, if at this point you're still having major difficulty with this maneuver, you probably shouldn't be here.

GOAL, use your pullups, and don't hit anything. It's that simple.

She slipped in the hole nice and easy for me, somewhere in the ballpark of 5 minutes with GOALS and pullups.

Road test- The rural route. Once again, this route takes roughly 45 minutes, through some beautiful back roads. Upgrades, downgrades, curvy, narrow, sometimes residential, often downright questionable.

The examiner is chatting the whole way. To some this may be distracting. But I found it quite comforting actually, as we seemed to hit it off through some great conversation. This kept my mind settled and off of my nerves.

Lane control is critical on this route, especially in the curves. Trailer off-tracking will either put your tires in the weeds and ruts, or extend them into the opposite lane. Pay special attention to this.

Only once did I hiccup on a downshift, but recovered in a second with barely a noticeable grind. I was floating them gears almost like a pro, up and down. I know this isn't a big deal to some of you guys, but to me it was a huge moment of triumph in a very pivotal challenge.

Arriving back at the yard, all I got was a:

"Ok, just hang out till everyone else completes their tests, and we'll get you guys back to the hotel"

"So how did I do?"

"I can't tell you that. You'll find out tomorrow.

wtf-2.gif

They'll compile the notes and scores from all 9 tests you took and make their decision."

10/31 0700 Day 4

There were noticeably fewer candidates getting off the shuttles from the hotels. Those of us there were penned up behind the building again before being led inside. We walked in to music, banners, back-slapping, hand-shaking, shouts of congratulations, and fist-bumps all around.

Once things settle down, and we were in our seats, we heard the words:

Welcome Walmart drivers!

Obviously we already kinda knew we'd made it, but hearing those words really drove it home. This wasn't just another job interview. This was a leap of faith, a rite of passage, and a shared experience that brought all of us in that room closer.

I'll spare you the rest of the happy dance, but suffice it to say the rest of the day was spent in good spirits. A bunch of us met up for dinner & drinks later on, and oh was it deserved. It was a perfect night for celebration, and celebrate we did!

Fri 11/1 0900hrs.

Breakfast and lots of coffee at the Waffle House before the shuttle ride to the airport. We're flying home for the weekend, and beginning the next phase of training at our respective DCs Monday morning.

This was an emotionally taxing week, one filled with fear, anxiety, anticipation, hope, and humility.

Congratulations Walmart Driver!

dancing-banana.gifdancing-dog.gifdancing.gif

Floating gears is HUGE to me. Been wanting to learn (done a few - some accidentally, a few on purpose) but hoping to wind up in an AMT.

Floating Gears:

An expression used to describe someone who is shifting gears without using the clutch at all. Drivers are taught to "Double Clutch" or press and release the clutch twice for each gear shift. If you're floating gears it means you're simply shifting without using the clutch at all.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Anne A. (G13MomCat)'s Comment
member avatar

Turtle, I had to sign in just to tell you . MAD PROPS and MAJOR kudos.... from my husband and myself. (He's been a driver for many years....)

I read him your diary (he has an aversion to reading, LoL...) and we are just ASTOUNDED at how thorough and precise the training and hiring process is (screening, per se?) Y'all are THE elite fleet, IMHO. G'Town, as well. I'm enamored, TBH.

ps: I asked Tom about looking into WMPF because he definitely has the requirements met, yet after reading the comprehensiveness of your diary and their orientation; he said, "yep, nope....tell your forum friend congratulations from me....."

Wishing you the best, Rich. Just WOW. Harvard Grad of Trucking for sure~!!!

good-luck.gif

Jay G.'s Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum, Walmart driver!!! lol

dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif

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