Prime Flatbed; Springfield, Missouri; Spring 2020

Topic 27910 | Page 17

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Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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July 15, 2020: Back at it after home time.

So home time lasted longer than I expected. Two full weeks at home. As I'm writing this part I’m at the Oasis Hotel in Springfield, waiting for my trainer. I drove down yesterday from St. Louis because my trainer had gotten a load going to Ozark, Missouri from Alabama, his home state. Then he got another load picking up in Blytheville, Arkansas and going to Tucson. So, while he went to pick up the load, I came to Springfield where he’ll pick me up on his way out west. After I had gotten my long term parking permit from security, I tried to get one of the driver bunks at the Millennium Center. All full. So I went to the Campus Inn. Because I’m a student, I get to stay there free. The clerk takes my information and then hands me a sheet saying “take this to the Oasis, they’ll give you a room.” They didn’t have any available rooms at the Campus Inn. So I lucked out with a nice room. I posted some pictures of the room in the album.

Trainer rolls in about 9:00 from Blytheville, Arkansas with a load of steel tubing going to Tucson, Arizona. Load up the truck and head out. Initially, It feels weird driving the truck again after being at home for two weeks, but after a while it starts to feel comfortable again. We travel I-44 parallel to the “Mother Road,” Route 66. So, I get to see the sights from my 2017 motorcycle trip and reminiscence about that trip. In fact, I was tempted to stop at the iconic Conoco Station in Shamrock, Texas for my 30 minute break but decided to stop at one of the standard truck stops because I can’t remember if the Conoco Station had public restrooms. But we do stop at Russell’s Truck Stop just over the state line in New Mexico. I know that Kearsey has been there but my other two mentors have not. It’s a mom and pop truck, nothing fancy, but they have a fantastic classic car museum. In the general discussion section, there’s a thread about manual or automatic. Well, Old School will tell you you’re all young whipper snappers because when he started driving it was reins.

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As we approached Russell’s there was a spectacular lightning storm, similar to what Pete B had posted in the Postcards from the Road thread . The sky let loose AFTER I went inside to get my milk and cookies. While waiting for the rain to let up with several other drivers, I saw my trainer walk to the edge of the fuel canopy, stop with a “well maybe not” look, then turn around and go back to the truck. After waiting a while the rain let up just slightly and I made the mad dash to the truck. My trainer took over about 2130. I crawled in the sleeper to get some sleep.

639 miles.

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.

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
member avatar

July 16, 2020: Traveling out west to Tucson.

I wake about 0800, but try to continue to sleep because if my trainer drives his full clock to the receiver, I will be driving late through the night. As it is, I take over before we get to the receiver because my trainer was exhausted. He had taken a load to Springfield on Tuesday, then drove through the night to come back to Springfield to pick me up. I drive the last about 160 miles to the receiver.

Nothing eventful with the unload other than the self-deprecating forklift operator, who told us that we can’t be anywhere near the trailer because he is prone to dropping loads. In his defense, this steel tubing is probably about 35’ to 40’ long, so, not the easiest thing to balance on a forklift.

After unload we’re off to Best Buy and Walmart while we wait for a new load. We pick up some boneless pork ribs to go with the Adobe Sauce I had made while at home.

Our next load is going from Yuma, Arizona to Hickory, North Carolina. The shipper is a tire store. On the way, we stop at a Love’s for showers and some business that my trainer had to do for another driver he knows. While my trainer goes off to take care of business, I put away all the groceries and reorganize some things on the truck. After two hours my trainer has still not returned, so I go inside to find him, but he’s not there. So I head back to the truck and after about half an hour my trainer comes back. At this point, I have less than 3 hours on my clock and we need to drive 180 miles to the shipper. I tell him I don’t have enough time and he explains that we’re not going to the address on the load, but rather another place he got from “Chuck.” And that Chuck will load us tonight. And it’s not tires, but hay.

Now on the drive to the Love’s one of my mentors told me that there has been some truckers getting shot lately. As I’m driving through the dark of night to some obscure field near Yuma (Chuck says he’ll direct us once we get close), visions of pulling into a circle of Ford F-150 flatbed farm trucks with black diamond plate headache racks covered with flood lights blinding me swirls around in my head. My trainer is dead asleep when I pull in about 2300 local time. I practically have to yell at him to get him to wake up. I tell him we’re here, expecting to continue driving to my doom, but he says Chuck texted him that it would be tomorrow morning.

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.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
member avatar

July 17, 2020: Hay Maw, go this way.

I’ve been following Papa Pig’s Zainy Rookie Solo Adventures, which is pretty entertaining. And by comparison, my diary seems pretty mundane lately. So, because trucking is a competition, I had to spice things up a little bit to compete with Papa Pig. I have also learned from reading Papa’s Pig’s diary that he was a D.A.T. (I know I’m dating myself). In this modern era, he’s a C.D.A.T. Ironically, he’s still a D.A.T., and with the Qualcomm , even a C.D.A.T. I’ll let him explain these acronyms . (We’ll see if he is reading my diary as well).

We get up and my trainer drives to the shipper. Now this is all rural farm area with only County roads and spotty street signs. So the directions are more landmark based. “Turn left at the old rusted out Chevy.” We get to the Maw Farms scale, which relieves my anxiety about getting shot up by the Mexican Drug Cartel. A sign on a post next to the scale says “Hay Maw.” Nice, our shipper has a sense of humor which is going to be very important very soon.

After we scale, we head out a few miles to the field where the bales of hay are stacked under a metal canopy. Chuck is there with a hay forklift to load us. As I find out later, the bales are actually alfalfa. My trainer had pulled into the loading area rather than backing in. After we get loaded and throw just enough straps to drive a ways, we are supposed to go back to the scale to check out and get our bill of lading. In front of us is a dirt farm road. I look on the satellite image and it appears that the dirt road leads to a paved road with wide shoulders. FYI, on the satellite image an irrigation canal flanked by two service roads looks like a paved road with wide shoulders. So we’re at the T intersection facing the canal. The service roads rise about 4 to 6 feet above the dirt road where we’re sitting. I ask my trainer, “do you think you can make it.” He says “Yeah.”

So as we start turning the tight corner, he is butting up against the edge of the canal. I get out to help guide him. As he continues to pull up the slope the trailer wheels are off-tracking on the steep slope and the trailer starts tipping. When it gets to point where it’s teetering, I tell him to stop or the trailer will tip over. He gets out to assess the situation. S.C.R.A.P.E. We decide that we need to back down the dirt road where we came. When he backs up, the rear of the trailer is too far to the passenger side and is tipping to the other way now. He pulls back forward to get the trailer lined up. In doing so, the driver side landing gear sand pad is dragging on the dirt service road. He backs up, dragging the landing gear about 10 feet, and we get the trailer lined up to back down the road but we’ve got three other problems. The driver’s side landing gear is dug into the dirt road, the trailer is jack-knifed and titled to the left to where the left edge of the trailer is about an inch from the catwalk. The alfalfa is smashed against the headache rack. And a winch is stuck on the front driver tire. Finally, we don’t have enough room on the passenger side to chase the trailer.

Another S.C.R.A.P.E. Time to enlist help. Chuck or wrecker. My trainer calls Chuck who meets us at the intersection to assess the situation. He’s going to help us so no wrecker for the time being.

0209998001595191044.jpg0780877001595191093.jpg0978522001595191142.jpg-

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.

Qualcomm:

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.

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.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
member avatar

July 17, 2020; continued

The plan is to unload the alfalfa, straighten out the trailer so we can drive down the canal service road, and then reload us. But to unload the alfalfa, we need to upright the trailer some or else the alfalfa will fall off the driver's side when he tries to take it off. My trainer and I commence cranking the landing gear down to upright the trailer. We make substantial progress until we get to the point where we reach the torque limits of the landing gear which pops, and drops a notch. At this point, we are probably pulling the flange on the bottom of the kingpin against the underside of the fifth wheel. But it’s good enough for Chuck to unload us. While we’re unloading a white Chevy work truck pulls up to watch the entertainment. I think he oversees the irrigation canal. He’s talking to Chuck, who after the conversation resumes unloading us.

Next is moving the trailer. We hook a chain to the forklift and the rear of the trailer. Chuck lifts the trailer with the forklift and moves it over toward the canal service road so that we can drive out to the paved road. My trainer drives down the canal service road back to County Road 33.

We meet Chuck back at the metal canopy to get reloaded. We had left out straps on the canal service road, so, I ask Chuck if he will take me there in the forklift. He motions for me to get in. The forklift has dual bi-directional controls. The forklift side and then the road driving side.

0980654001595191619.jpg

I sit in the forklift side seat while Chuck drives.. As we’re driving he asks “why did you let him make that turn.” I said “He’’s my trainer, I’m the student.” He laughs. I laugh. Good times.

Chuck drops me off at the canal service road while he takes another load of alfalfa to our trailer. When he gets back and picks up another load of hay, I jump into the empty seat which is the road driving seat. Chuck reaches over to change the controls and motions for me to drive. I drive down the dirt road, careful to maintain lane control. Chuck say’s “this is good (speed wise).” Chuck explains that he has been doing this all his life. That he drove hay trucks before driving the forklift, which is why he was able to help us out of our jam

We're all loaded now and start strapping the load, which is really high so throwing the straps over is hard. Out of desperation I revert back to junior high PE class basketball and do the underhanded, between the legs “granny” chuck. It actually works quite well. Although I still want Turtle to show me the sling throw. We get enough straps on the load to drive back to the scale, where we tarp and finish strapping across the street after we scale. I continue using the granny strap chuck method with pretty good success. Except, I realize that I can’t chuck the straps too hard because it will completely unroll in the air and then fall back on my same side of the trailer.

Remember, now we’re in the desert doing all of this stuff. I had bought a gallon of water the day before and drank almost all of it by the time we finished about noon. After we were done, I checked the truck thermometer, which registered 121 degrees. Good times.

We’ve got 2200 miles to get to the receiver, which I think is a dairy farm in Hickory, North Carolina. The road where we deliver is Cauble Dairy Road. We only lost about 2 hours stuck on the canal service road and getting reloaded.. And BTW, although Chuck told my trainer “this is going to cost you” when my trainer asked him what we owed, Chuck said “don’t worry about it.”

My trainer drives the first shift until his clock runs out and I take over the next morning.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
member avatar

Sidenotes on this experience:

Sidenote on responsibility. While I have conveyed what could have been a career ending preventable accident with a sense of humor, I felt nothing of the sort at the time. Although my trainer was driving, I told him that the dirt road led to a paved street. And although he made the decision to make the turn anyway, I still felt responsible for our situation. In addition, Chuck made the comment while we were driving in the forklift that he had left us because he needed to go to another site to load another trucker but he said that “he shouldn’t have left until we were safely on our way.” I consider both my and Chuck’s sense of responsibility for another driver as a stark contrast to those who refuse to take responsibility for their OWN actions.

Sidenote on my trainer. Despite being in a bad situation he maintained a positive attitude and was even laughing and joking in the middle of it. This does not mean that he didn’t take it seriously, but he didn’t blow up at me or get generally angry. Despite his many faults in other areas he maintained his composure.

Sidenote on people skills. I have seen several comments from prospective drivers about people skills in trucking. IMO, the experience described above shows how much of a difference people skills make. Chuck could have easily said “sucks to be you, good luck with that.” And he could have asked for a lot of money for what he did. He saved us the time waiting for a wrecker, the cost of a wrecker, and the need to report a preventable accident to Prime. Although, there still may be some fall out. Regardless, Chuck helped us out and didn’t ask for a dime. Had we been rude from the get go, we would have been on our own. And this is coming from someone who came to trucking to get away from political drama. But you don’t need to engage in all the political drama to simply treat people with basic human decency and respect. And as I learned from this incident, that goes a long way.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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You're truly making some memories, AND this is where the real learning happens: In the moment.

Great updates as always.

Papa Pig's Comment
member avatar

Rob D I do read these from time to time. And I have been both a DAT, a CDAT and just a plain old door kicker.

The name papa pig comes from being a Platoon Sergeant and calling my PLT the “War Pigs” and I was the proud papa. What did you do?

Enjoying reading the diary and that was a HAIRY situation! Glad y’all got out of there!! You should label today as the “almost flight of the navigator”

You enjoying all of the training and securement? I def know that after awhile even if you like your trainer y’all can get in each other’s nerves.

Stay safe driver!

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

These updates are gold.

I hope that anyone reading this takes note of the many vital lessons contained within this one load.

Even though I find fault in the trainer for getting you in the jam, you both showed great resolve in getting yourselves out of it. Good stuff.

The most important takeaway here is knowing when to stop before making things much worse. By the looks of it, had he kept trying to save it he would almost certainly have put that combo in the ditch.

Better to make the call for help.

I look on the satellite image and it appears that the dirt road leads to a paved road with wide shoulders. FYI, on the satellite image an irrigation canal flanked by two service roads looks like a paved road with wide shoulders.

Hilarious rofl-1.gif

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
member avatar

Rob D I do read these from time to time. And I have been both a DAT, a CDAT and just a plain old door kicker.

The name papa pig comes from being a Platoon Sergeant and calling my PLT the “War Pigs” and I was the proud papa. What did you do?

Enjoying reading the diary and that was a HAIRY situation! Glad y’all got out of there!! You should label today as the “almost flight of the navigator”

You enjoying all of the training and securement? I def know that after awhile even if you like your trainer y’all can get in each other’s nerves.

Stay safe driver!

Papa Pig,

Marine reserves then active Army 3 years at Ft. Irwin. 11B driving Sheridan, M113, and Hummer for NCOs and Lt. Colonel. Live fire portion of NTC training.

Really enjoying the flatbed work but am pretty much tired of teaming in any capacity. Just want to get my own truck and run like a rented mule.

Uncle Rake's Comment
member avatar

Rob,

Thanks so much for the diary. As a potential Prime trainee (in September), I have read all you've posted with great interest. I do have a couple questions. In your early training, I do not remember reading comments about learning to shift gears. Do I infer from this (note that I did not assume) that all training is now done in automatic trucks?

Second question: You have had two or three periods of time at home during your training. Is that common for Prime training?

Thanks again for the incredibly informative and occasionally hilarious accounts of your training.

Hope you get started on your "rented mule" work soon, although I suppose that will (unfortunately for me) bring your diary to an end.

UR

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