Prime Flatbed; Springfield, Missouri; Spring 2020

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Rob D.'s Comment
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June 12, 2020: Deliver to Lowes, Harlingen, Texas; pick up air conditioners in Laredo, Texas going to Phoenix, AZ and Laramie, WY.

I take over during the night and get us to the Lowe’s. I plan to let my trainer sleep because, even though we have slowed down, our schedule has been pretty grueling.

When I start pulling tarps, my trainer wakes up and helps me take the tarps and straps off. We wait to get unloaded and then we’re off about 9:00. Waiting for our next load, which we are picking up in Laredo, Texas.

Now Harlingen, Texas is pretty much northern Mexico. I’m driving along US 83, which is so close to Mexico they should have signs that say “stay in our lane to avoid entering Mexico.” So we stop at several immigration checkpoints. These checkpoints are rather militant looking, with some caged area similar to what you see in the media. They have several signs about how it’s a federal crime to smuggle immigrants. And some of them are specifically addressed to CDL holders. When we stop at these checkpoints, it’s obvious there are no Mexican on our empty flatbed, but the border agents want to see every occupant of the vehicle.

We get to Laredo, which one of my mentors, The Accumulator (say it in your head like Ahnuld), says is a huge freight hub and has more trucks than cars. He wasn’t lying. I took a picture of the CFI terminal just for him.

We get to the Prime drop yard and we already know we’re dropping our trailer to pick up another step deck. Damn. The Prime Laredo drop yard has a check in carport, which I go through for trailer inspection. After that, I pull up to drop our trailer. I intentionally pick a spot that has trailers on both sides to get some practice. Get my set up right and back it in no problem. In fact, the parking spaces back up to dock doors, I add the extra challenge of bumping the dock, which I did LIKE A BOSS. Perfect alignment on the dock. Now, I’m not getting ****y it just feels good to challenge myself and then execute as I had intended.

We chain down our air conditioning units. I chain one with a excess-less method. Essentially, I run the chains in a “A” frame pattern and run the hooks up from the rub rail to as close to the anchor point on the air conditioning unit to take out as much slack as possible. Then I connect a ratchet binder between the chains on the deck and pull it together. To my trainer’s credit, he did not dismiss it outright, but rather sent a picture to Prime’s securement guru, who said it was not acceptable. The reasons he gave made no sense. But we changed it to the “accepted” method.

Side note on accepted methods. A theme on this forum is that former military do well in this profession. I think that one of the reasons is that, just like in the military, if they tell you to eat your soup with a fork, that’s what you do. Now my method wasn’t acceptable, my trainer had me secure chains where the anchor points on the rub rail were both on the same side. As a result the two sides of the chain are not pulling AGAINST, each other but rather both the same way. And Surprise, Surprise (Gomer Pyle voice there), they came loose by the first load check. In addition, the regulations require securement against forward movement of 80% of the weight of the load. I’ll bet 90% of industrial steel loads don’t meet this requirement.

We get it secured. Now its pretty hot in Laredo, Texas. But as I discussed with my mentor, the heat doesn’t bother me all that much. I head out. I turn the wrong way in the yard and have to do a u-turn. I know I said I wouldn’t do any more u-turn, but u-turns in the yard don’t count. I’ve got about an hour and a half left on my clock and I find a Pilot 75 miles away.

Now this time, I don’t let the time crunch rush me. We go through several small towns where the speed limit drops down to 35 or 45 mph for a little stretch and then back up to 70 mph. So once I get the notice on the Garmin, I turn off the cruise and started coasting. My speed with reduce naturally to the speed limit, maybe with a little jake break, and then I step on the pedal to get back up to speed as I leave the town. Made it to the Pilot just fine.

We switch over and I crawl into the sleeper after a little while decompressing.


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.


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.


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.

Rob D.'s Comment
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Side note on the challenges of TNT. Turtle had made a comment about the schedule for TNT training that he considered one of the tasks of a trainer is to “keep the trainee fresh.” While there have been a few instances where my trainer has commented about me “getting some sleep” It’s been mostly lip service. I have had several 30 plus hour days. If we come off a 34, we both have slept during the night and we’re up at 7 a.m We deliver on my trainer’s clock and wait for our new load. Then maybe deadhead maybe 100 or 200 miles. Load and secure that load. My trainer will drive until his clock runs out. I try to sleep, but being that I slept all night, I mostly nap at best. And often my trainer has only 4 hours left before I take over. So, I take over at 2100. I drive through the night, until like today, we get to Lowes. So for all practical purposes, I have been up for 24 hours at this point. We unstrap, unload then wait for the next load. We are on my trainer’s clock at this point. So we get our next load assignment at about 10:00 a.m. But we are often going to fuel or to Walmart in between. So we don’t really get on the road until about noon. We deadhead maybe another 2 hours. It’s not really worth trying to get in the sleeper. We get to our next load at 1400. Depending on the load, 1 to 2 hours to secure it. So now its 1600 and I’m going to need to take over again about 2100.


To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.



Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Rob D.'s Comment
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June 13, 2020: Finish drive to Phoenix, AZ; Love’s for our 34.

I take over about 6:00 in Van Horn, Texas. My trainer had some time left on his clock, but he said that he couldn’t stay awake. This grueling schedule is getting to him as well. I tell him I feel fresh enough. We’ve only got 484 miles to get to Phoenix and we’ve got plenty of time to still get our 34. So no rush.

We’re driving West on I-10 and we come up on a city that I don’t see any signs to tell me its name. On the east side there are several strip clubs that are oddly next to more respectable businesses. The next thing I notice about this city is that it has some nice “highway art.” The bridge structures are painted nice with appealing colors and graphics. I also see some white “spire like” art above one of the bridges. I finally see a sign for UTEP, and realize I’m in El Paso, So the Marty Robbins song starts playing in my head.

I continue driving until time for a 30 minute break. I pick a Pilot using the “up ahead” feature of the Garmin. But while I’m driving, I see a sign for the Hat Creek “Travel Center,” which turns out to be another one of “Rob’s adventures in smaller truck stops.” You have to drive on a frontage road in a somewhat busy area to get there. The “travel center” is even smaller than the Exxon from the other night. There are like four fuel islands and about 6 parking spaces behind the fuel islands. There is a spot open, but it’s so close to the fuel island that I have to pull all the way through the fuel island and almost to the street to get my trailer mostly straightened out. I’m pretty much lined up on the spot, but to back into it, I have to back through the fuel island, which means I have little room to maneuver on either side, which inhibits overcompensating. I get it in the parking spot without hitting anything.

We go inside the “Travel Center” and there’s a sign that says they are understaffed so the clerk is covering this store and the foodmart next door. So we head over to the foodmart, which has a pretty dim selection. But they have Chester’s Chicken with the breakfast menu. The chicken and egg sandwich looks good so I order that. “Oh, he doesn’t come in until 11:00.” So I get some water and go out to the truck where I make a sandwich.

After my break is over, I’m ready to head out, but there is a line of trucks waiting for the fuel island. I go up to the truck first in line and explain that I’m just going to pull into the fuel island to wash my windows and leave. His response “que?.” I say, “Si, uno momento por favor y vamos.” He says “salid?” I say “si.” So we’re all good. I wash the windows with the shredded sponge and wavy squeegee and we’re on our way again.

I stop again once we get into Arizona, at the Texas Canyon Rest Area. See the pictures in the photo album linked again below.

I get us to the Love’s near Phoenix at about 18:00. We make a quick run to Walmart, then settle in for our 34.

Later than night, the carnival pulls into town:


I know its not the best picture and you can’t see the rear of the trailer, which COMPLETELY covered with the same bright LED lights you see in the picture. In the picture he is backing in after he had pulled by me. The rear of the cab is what caught my attention. I was looking down in the cab and all of sudden thought I was Richard Dryfess in close encounters. I’m like what the hell, did a spaceship just land in the Love’s parking lot?

Before I called it a night, I got my trainers GPS started downloading updates. He bought the same Garmin I bought.

Forgot the link to my photo album:

The photo of the flatbed in front of us is at the Hat Creek "Travel Center." It's hard to see but it appears to be folder sheets of copper.


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.


Driving While Intoxicated

Rob D.'s Comment
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Rob, you're obviously a "thinker." I like the comments you made on backing. Getting set up properly is the foundational thing that helps you execute any backing maneuver. Remember, there's nothing wrong with needing to do a pull-up. Oftentimes it's part of my plan or strategy to get my truck parked with limited parameters or space. Using that slight Jack-knifed position can help you get yourself lined up for a simple straight back after you started from an angled position.

I've listened to new drivers who are almost ashamed that they needed to do a "pull-up" to get parked. There's no reason for that. It's one more technique that helps you get the job done. It takes years to become really efficient at backing. You're doing a great job. Keep up the practice and don't get complacent about doing a G.O.A.L.

Old School, I agree that a pull-up should be used as another tool in your toolbox. And I have been more with my backs, which reminds me of another thought that I had intended to share. While my current trainer had me get out and G.O.A.L. the night that I backed into the Love's with very few parking spots, up to that point, he, as well as my other trainer seemed to consider a G.O.A.L as an admission of defeat in backing.

When I would get to the point in a back where I wanted to G.O.A.L., as I was getting out of the truck they would say "what are you doing?" As soon as I started to explain I want look and evaluate the situation, they would say "no, you just need to do X (turn this way or that way)." So I would get back in the truck and follow their directions. As I have shared, much of my training has been frustrating because, I have wanted to either do things the correct way or simply figure it out for myself, so that I am learning to do it on my own. As a result, I am developing in my mind things that I plan to do once I upgrade. But, for the time being, I'm eating my soup with a fork. Thus, the Andy Dufresne, persona.

I plan to do a lot more once I'm left to my own devices, in addition to many other things that top tier drivers do.

Also, as an aside on my "bad trainer." I think that this has been a big learning experience for him. I will share my thoughts in more detail in another post.


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.
Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

Finally got some time to update my diary, because I am writing this sitting on the deck at my house after having been sent home yesterday. So this will be the last diary entry for a while until the next chapter in my trucking career.

June 14, 2020: The Rest of 34; Another Prime flatbedder

The rest of a lazy day at the Loves in Phoenix. Got off the truck and walked to the outlet mall nearby. Sat in some of the outdoor seating they had there. Next door to the outlet mall was Pecos Park, where I sat at a picnic table. It was hot there, 106 degrees, but the heat doesn’t bother me like it does others.. In fact, I kinda like the heat.

Went back to the truck to try to get the Garmin updates done. No luck. While I’m sitting there, I see another Prime flatbed truck roll by. I get out and follow it to where it stops to tell the driver about some secret parking spots I found on my walk. To my surprise, it’s a female driver. She had pulled head in to a spot at a corner and was concerned about the truck at the other corner not having enough room. She ended up turning the truck around and we talked a little about how long she’d been driving (one year), what she did before (bartender and aspiring actress), and what led her to trucking (adventure). She wanted to get a shower so I said goodbye and headed back to the truck. Nothing more eventful for the day.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

June 15, 2020: Delivery Tempe AZ.

We head out to the delivery address. They are not open when we get there, so we go to the Target across the street to wait. About 8:00 my trainer talks to the maintenance guy who says the office staff doesn’t get there until about 9:00 a.m. When they get there, we find out that we are not supposed to deliver to the address on our load assignment. Rather there is another address 13 miles away We get there and it’s not even the receiver’s business address. Rather it’s a crane rental company. After some back and forth with the receiver contact and some finger pointing, they offload the two big air conditioning units. I take over driving at about 2 p.m., headed to Laramie, Wyoming.

For my 30 minute break, I stopped in Kayenta, AZ where they have a Navajo Shadehouse Museum. It’s right next to the Burger King, with truck parking behind. Fortunately, this lot does not have big mudholes. I pull in, hustle to the door because I need to pee, only to pull against a locked door. “I’m tired of this bull****,” I say out loud, although no one can hear me. As I walk back to the truck, a thin asian guy in a Schneider truck says “go to the window man.” “I’ve got to ****,” I respond. “The wide open nature” he says as he waves his across the parking lot. I take his advice.

I make my sandwich and sit down at the picnic tables in the Navajo Shadehouse Museum. After 30 minutes, I’m on my way again..

US 163 North of Arizona, goes through Monument Valley, Utah. I’m driving through at sunset and the scenery is just gorgeous. See the pictures in my photo album.

You will also see three videos in my photo album that I saved from the Garmin. The Garmin continuously records video and saves the video in the event of a critical event. But you can also save video manually by using the voice command. And when you tell it to save the video, it saves 3 minutes of video, starting 1 minutes and 30 seconds BEFORE the point where you tell it to save the video. The first video is scenery. The last video is the sunset. The middle video is an 8% descent.

As I had mentioned before, the notorious grades are not a problem if you keep it in the right gear and use the jake brake. I recorded this video of the 8% descent because it is on a narrow road, no shoulder, and the first significant curve drops off into a ravine probably about 100 feet below. The second curve, which you are warned about several times, is a 25 mph, 90 degree turn. If you don’t slow down for this turn, there’s no runaway ramp to save your ass. Rather, just beyond the turn is a solid rock wall about 50 feet high. So you blow this turn at 50 and you’re dead. Not maybe dead; absolutely dead. And the turn was so tight, that I had to swing wide so that my trailer could clear the bridge. I slowed down to 12 mph for this curve. Watch until after the curve and you can see the San Juan River.

A little movie trivia, that I just learned by looking up the location on Google maps. This stretch is where Forrest Gump stops running. And now that I think of it, I remember some people standing in the middle of the road taking pictures.

I drive until about 0200 the next day.

Photo Album:


Driving While Intoxicated

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

June 16, 2020: Laramie, Wyoming.

My trainer lets me sleep while he unloads. I wake up about 8:30 but lay in bed, assuming that we were unloaded, but waiting for our next load. I look at the load assignment. It’s going to Springfield. That’s odd, I think to myself. I also hear my trainer calling rental car places asking for one-way rental prices from Springfield to St. Louis. About 9:30, I come out from the sleeper and say “I see we’re going to Springfield.” “Yep.” And he doesn’t say much more. We’re picking up our next load in Colorado.

On the way to the receiver, the Garmin is trying to take us the round about way. We end up following the Qualcomm GPS and as we get close, we realize why the Garmin is trying to take us the long way round. There’s a 5 ton bridge the Garmin was trying to avoid. After a couple of u-turns, we get to the right spot.

We pick 15 pallets of landscaping rock. We strap it and head out. My trainer tells me that he is going to drive on personal conveyance so that I will be able to get us there on my clock.

I take over about 19:00 to drive us through the night with just over 600 miles to go.


Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.


Operating While Intoxicated

Rob D.'s Comment
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June 17, 2020; Deliver in Springfield; Terminal Day.

Our 90 is a nursery just south of Springfield. It’s pretty tight quarters, but I’m able to manage. The last pallet of rocks had a hole in the bottom and rocks came pouring out as the forklift raised it.

After we unload, my trainer tells me to head to the terminal while he explains that I’m being sent home. That he has already reserved a rental car for me to drive back home to St. Louis. Back at the terminal, I start packing up my stuff while they change some tires on the trailer.

We drop the trailer and bobtail to Enterprise Rent A Car. I load my stuff in the rental car, and say goodbye to my trainer. I drive off, headed to St. Louis for 5 DAYS HOME TIME.

Did you really think I got fired?

My trainer had asked me to get some spirits as a father’s day gift for his fleet manager , which I pick up at Walmart and deliver to the fleet manager in the flatbed dispatch section.

On the way there, my trainer calls to ask me to help him secure a load of Bobcats that he was taking on his way to his home time in Alabama. I help him secure the Bobcats and then head out to St. Louis.

Once I get on the road, I’m pretty tired so I stop for a nap at a rest area. I also eat my lunch meat sandwich that I had made to use up the rest of the lunch meat.

I finish the drive to St. Louis.

At this point, I’ve got over 28,000 miles toward my 50,000. So, I’m more than halfway there.

I’m looking forward to this time off. I will also have another break over the 4th of July holiday. After that, I’ll be on the home stretch.

So this diary will continue after next Monday when my trainer picks me up.


"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.


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.

Fleet 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.


Driving While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
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Enjoy that time off - you've earned it!

Rob T.'s Comment
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Don't scare us like that! Making us think you got sent home. Shame on you smile.gif

Enjoy that time at home

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