Prime Flatbed; Springfield, Missouri; Spring 2020

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Turtle's Comment
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Jokes...He's got jokes.

Not funny ones, but jokes.


Rob D.'s Comment
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My home time continued through Tuesday, so I took the opportunity to get another Harley ride. Then after I got home, I got the bike set for two up and took my wife for a ride and picnic dinner. One major concern I had about pursuing trucking was that it would ruin traveling for me. I have always loved to take road trips either in the car, or preferably on the Harley. I thought that might change when I drove for a living. Nope, I got in three good rides while at home.

Rob D.'s Comment
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June 24, 2020: Lumber load to Menards; Popeye’s adventure.

My wife, begrudgingly, took me to the Love’s in St. Charles to meet up with my trainer at 0600. I loaded up my stuff, logged into the truck, and we’re off to Valley, Nebraska to deliver to the Menard’s DC there. My trainer crawled into the sleeper so I had a lot of quiet time to myself. While I really enjoyed my home time, it felt good to be behind the wheel of the Freightliner traveling again to multi-state destinations.

I had a little bit of a dilemma, because we had 440 miles to our delivery. Do I try to push it and get there on my 8 hour clock or do I stop for a 30 minute break. After discussing the dilemma with the fastest tortoise in the east, I decided to follow his advice and go for it. I stopped only once, at a rest stop that had parking right next to the vault toilet. I make it to the Menards with about 8 minutes left on my 8 hour clock. I went off duty even before I pulled to the guard shack and then kept it under 5 mph throughout my time there.

The guard had told me to drive between the scales and line up behind the other flatbeds to get unloaded. While waiting behind the line of flatbeds, a Menards driver pulls up next to me and says “you got a load of treat?” “Huh?” He tells me to get out of the line, follow the railroad tracks around where they will unload me. As I follow the railroad tracks and see the sign that says “treated receiving” I understand what he said. Because the load is tarped, I really don’t know what we have. My trainer is sleeping.

So when I see the sign that says “treated receiving” I’m not sure if the receiving is on this side or the other side of the railroad tracks. I got a 50/50 chance, so I pick the other side. Wrong. I pull up to a dead end; there is train on the tracks that blocks me front just crossing back over.

Now my other mentor told me there’s lots of space to maneuver at the Menard’s DCs and he was right. So backing up and getting back across the tracks was not a major problem.

I follow the piles of lumber around to where I see another Prime flatbed just finish unloading. I pull up next to him far enough to realize that he will need to back up to get out. So I back up and get my truck and trailer out of his way as much as possible. After he backs up and leaves, we pull into the same spot. Untarp, unstrap, and unload. You have to stay in the truck while the forklift is unloading you.

By the time the forklift takes the last pallet on the trailer we have another load to pick up in Iowa. Now the only way to back out of this loading area is a blind-side back into a dock. There’s a lot of space to the dock. So I get my set up and then start to back, trying to hug the passenger side of the trailer against the bollard. As I look in my mirror, I realize I’m not even close. I reset my set up two more times before I finally get the trailer headed in the right direction. It’s not as close as I planned, but it works. So I pull around to the guard house and go in the “trucker’s entrance” to use the restroom.

Our next load is a pre-loaded trailer, self-serve so we can pick it up anytime. My trainer says there’s a Popeye’s about 3 miles away and asks if I want to go there. Sure. So I plug the address in Google maps on my phone. You can see where this is going. When I take the exit off the interstate , Laurel and Hardy’s routine pops into my head. “Now this is a fine mess you’ve gotten us into.” It’s an older residential area with street layouts not designed for trucks. So to make the right turn where the GPS is telling me, I have to pull all the way into the opposite lane. As I pull up to start my turn, a white Chevy work truck starts to turn right into the lane that I’ve taken. I can see the “maybe not” look on his face as he begins the turn only to see a large truck in his lane. I make the turn, but have to cheat over into the oncoming lane after the turn for my trailer to make the turn. The next left is the same situation, only no traffic this time. After a couple more turns and another “well, maybe not” from a car that was kind enough to back up so I could use the rest of the block to cheat over, we made it to a parking lot next to Popeye’s. After we ate (my trainer bought), the truck GPS took us back basically the same way. More using ALL the street to make the turns and missing a fire hydrant by about a foot, but we make it back to the interstate, back where we belong.

I’ve got about two hours left on my clock, and having pushed my luck once, I try it again. I find a rest area with parking, pull in and set the brakes so I can take myself off the drive line, and prepare to hand over to my trainer.

As I’m sitting there, I begin to think that if I were solo, my day would be over. I drove 440 miles, delivered a load, and then got as far as I could on the rest of my clock. And it’s about 2045. So I savor the thought of what it will be like when I go solo. My other mentor, the Precipitator, told me before I started TNT that running solo would be more like PSD rather than TNT.

My little day dream is over when my trainer comes back to the truck and starts driving the rest of the way to the shipper. We get there in about two hours, find our paperwork and trailer, and head out. I get to sleep about 0030.

624 miles in 10 hours 49 minutes.


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.


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.



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 25, 2020: Nebraska; Wyoming Ice Storm

I wake up about 5:30. The truck is stopped and the engine is off. My trainer is asleep in the passenger seat. I check my phone to see when my 10 hour break is up; about 15 minutes to go. After my clocks reset, I get up to see that we’re on the side of the highway next to an exit. I offer to take over driving and my trainer concedes. I get logged in, situated for driving, and head out.

On the way to our fuel stop, 380 miles away, I call a few of my mentors, one of whom had discussed a motorcycle trip he would like to take. So I repay a little of his wonderful mentorship with a “trip-plan” of eastern Canada based on my trip I took last fall.

The day was pretty uneventful. My trainer took over after I got to a truck stop for the changeover. I couldn’t push my clock today because the next truck stop was too far.

I laid down for while. We don’t deliver until 0800 and we only have about 300 miles left. So we will both sleep in a stationary truck tonight.

I woke up to the sound of hard rain, which once I got dressed realized was an ice storm.


We end up staying overnight at the Chevron in Diamondville, Wyoming. No Pilot, Flying J, or Loves anywhere close. And no paved parking either. Just a dirt “parking lot” behind the store. It actually looks like trucks started driving on it and then the owner just threw some gravel down over the hard packed dirt.

Nice to sleep in a stationary bed tonight.

614 miles in 10 hours 10 minutes.

Rob D.'s Comment
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June 26, 2020: Delivery to residence; pick up repower.

Trainer PCs to the delivery. It’s a residential street but the guy is building a workshop. I doubt they have any zoning regulations here. He’s got an 80’s vintage Case forklift that he “borrowed from a friend.” He unloads us and I back into the gravel parking lot and then pull out onto the state highway headed to the Prime terminal in SLC.

No issues going through inbound. As I pull through the yard I see a very high load with yard tarps and hope that’s not ours. Sure enough it is. I pick a tight space between two other trailers and back up our trailer. Getting better at this backing thing. Then off to retarp our load. We get the tarps off and rolled up. As I mentioned before, yard tarps are really heavy. And we need to put them on our dropped trailer which is ways across the yard. So we’ll put them on the catwalk and drive them over. To get them on, I put one end of the drive tire and flip it up.

After that time for our tarps. Now our trailer is parked near a dry van and our load is every bit as high as the top of the dry van. My trainer gets the tarps on top of the load. I climb up on the trailer and as I stand up, i’m overlooking the top of the dry van trailer. I start to roll the blue lumber tarp to the back of the trailer. This load is some sort of lumber that is covered already. But the pallets are not even all the way back There is a shorter stack on one side in the middle. And while the top of the stack looks square only one side is solid footing. So you have to really test everywhere you step before you put your weight on it.

One of the things that worried me about flatbed was my fear of heights, which I don’t consider a phobia per se. A phobia, is a somewhat irrational fear. IMO, the fear of falling from 13’ 6” is not irrational. So when I climb up on the back half of the load, I crawl on my knees to continue to roll the tarp back. I’m not proud.

It takes us about 2 hours all in but we get the load tarped and head out. I drive until my clock runs out at sunset.

Only 545 miles today.



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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
Rob D.'s Comment
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June 27, 2020: The long haul; Covid strikes again.

Our load is going to Chicopee, Mass, which Google maps has us going on I-90 through New York, which goes right by Johnstown, NY. And you all know who runs out of that DC. And we will be rolling into that area starting a 34 hour reset. After some preliminary discussion with the Superstar of the Walmart Private Fleet, I start planning the mother of all driver meet ups. I find an Eaglerider rental 28 miles from our 90. The plan would be to park at the rental place, rent a Harley Road Glide and meet up with Turtle for a Sunday afternoon. And although the Harley dealer/rental place is okay with us parking the truck there overnight, Eaglerider doesn’t rent out of that location anymore. In fact, because of COVID, the closet open location was Manchester, New Hampshire. Not an option. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. But I guess that’s just trucking.

After solidifying plans with the legendary flatbedder to meet up at the Loves in Canaan, New York (where can I buy a sticker that says I H8 NY) I take over from my trainer. Pretty much uneventful drive across I-80, except for dinner and about 10 miles from the switch over.

We stopped for my 30 minute break at the TA in Indiana, Exit 15B. We both like Popeyes so we get chicken for dinner. Inside dining is closed, but they have tables outside. We are close to the lake so the seagulls are crowding around waiting for food. And not patiently by any stretch. While I don’t speak seagull, by the tone of their squawking, they were saying “GIVE ME SOME GD FOOD MFer.” “NOW, Beatch.”

Just before the switch over, an electronic sign says “accident ahead, be prepared to stop.” The electronic sign was most likely for the construction, but they changed it for the accident. The construction is two lanes closed of a four lane road. The left two lanes are newly paved and the right two lanes are that rough grooved pavement. As I approach the fireworks display of emergency vehicle lights, I realize that both through lanes are closed. The accident is right next to an exit and someone in a safety vest generally pointing to the right of the accident. Not really clear where I was supposed to go. I go the right but stay on the rough grooved pavement. As I pass the accident scene, I see a black vehicle, make, model, or even type cannot be determined due to the damage. There is also a semi in front of the black vehicle. From the all over damage it appears that the semi rear-ended the black vehicle then rolled if end over end against the jersey barrier like a rolling pin over dough. From the way the accident scene was closed off, I’m sure it was a fatality. Sad for the people who lost their lives and the semi driver. After the accident, I simply make my way through the lane closure barrels to get back onto the newly paved surface.

Before I hand over to my trainer, I double check both GPSs to make sure they are going the same way across I-90, where we’ll meet Turtle. Google maps has an alternate route that takes I-86, but that is longer. I confirm that both GPSs are going to I-90 and not I-86. I also explain to my trainer that I-86 is NOT the route to take so don’t go that way.

Sidenote on my trainer. I’ve shared some of the things that my trainer has done, simply because they are relevant to my story. Although, these experiences have been frustrating for me, I have intentionally withheld venting my frustrations about my trainer because, as I mentioned I have wanted to remain positive and not have this diary turn into a bad trainer rant. I am determined not be the “complain, blame, criticize” driver that Brett always mentions. Also, while my trainer’s knowledge and skills may need some work, he is not a “bad” trainer in the sense that being on the truck is a nightmare. Rather, he is patient when I make mistakes and generally maintains a pretty cordial demeanor. He buys almost all of our food, including when we eat at Popeyes or other fast food. So while I can’t wait to escape Shawshank, just like Andy, my circumstances are not so bad that I can’t bide my time until I get my own truck. And just like Andy, when they audit our logs at upgrade, I will dispassionately share what I know.

Called it a night about 1:00 Prime Time (CDT).

649 miles in 10 hours 48 minutes.


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.

Rob D.'s Comment
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Sidenote on mileage. I haven’t shared my mileage for each day. This is because with rolling over to new days it can be a pain to calculate a driving “shift.” For example, I take over at 1900 and drive through to 0700 the next day. My trainer drives until 1900 when I take over again. The Qualcomm just shows mileage and hours driven in a 24 hour day, using CDT. So for the shifts above, it will tell me how far and how long I drove from midnight until 0700 and then again from 1900 to 0000. To be honest, sometimes, it’s just too much work to calculate the mileage for each shift. As a general rule, my shifts are 500 to 600 miles each. Some days I have shorter ones simply because we only have like 300 miles left and then we go on home time. But for the most part, we are covering the miles. For pay purposes we run about 4500 miles per week.


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.
ZedLeppelin24's Comment
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Hey Rob! I've been considering a career in Flatbed at Prime INC and have been following your diary. Very detailed and much appreciated. Is there a way to contact you personally weighing the pros and cons?


Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
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Jared, we like to keep the conversations within the forum. You have no idea how many people will learn from your questions. Ask away over in the general discussions sections. We've got plenty of Prime drivers here.

Turtle's Comment
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Great entries, Rob. Your attention to, and narration of, the details is one of the many reasons why folks will enjoy this diary for years to come. Keep it up, man!

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