A Week In The Walmart Private Fleet

Topic 28324 | Page 2

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PackRat's Comment
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Turtle's Comment
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6/24 0315

Up & at em. 89 more miles to go before reaching the 1st stop. Thankfully it looks like I should be able to fish my way out of this truck stop. The swarm of trucks that came rolling in last night to park "creatively" left me wondering if I'd be blocked in this morning. I'm pretripped and rolling out by 0345.

0530

Arrive 1st stop in Islandia, NY. Live unload 8 pallets.

I roll in and bump the dock knowing they have...ahem wink wink...strict rules at this store against delivery before 0700. I was taught to ignore such trivial matters. The larger issue is noise. As long as I'm quiet, they'll allow an early offload. No idling, no Apu , no slamming doors or loud voices etc. There are houses directly behind the store whose owners will complain if they're disturbed.

The receiving guys actually prefer that I show up early before the mad rush of vendors arrive at 7. Little tricks of the trade get you ahead. There are of course some places or employees that adhere closely to delivery times.

Depart at 0600 for the short jaunt to the next stop. ETD at Johnstown set for 1300 with 3 drive hours remaining.

0625

Arrive at 2nd stop in Middle Island, NY. Live unload 22 pallets.

This store only has 2 docks, and both of them had a trailer docked. No tractor attached. Every store should always have a least one open dock available, unless someone is currently being live unloaded. For whatever reason, that didn't happen here. So I had to drop my loaded trailer in the parking lot, pull an empty out of the dock and also drop it in the parking lot before reattaching to my loaded trailer to put it in the dock. What some drivers would do now is hook to the empty and boogie out of here, leaving both docks blocked again for the next driver to worry about. But no I'll do the right thing and wait to be unloaded, so I can get my trailer out of the way, clearing a dock.

They already told me they don't have much room and will need to shuffle stuff around to fit all 22 pallets. So I may be here a while.

I finally pulled away at 0825hrs after over 1.25hrs wait time beyond the allotted 45mins. Now for the 260 mi deadhead back to Johnstown. I pushed my ETD out to 1500 because of the delay.

It slipped my mind to note what time I made it back to the yard, but it was probably somewhere close to 1330. The trip back was uneventful, save for the conversation I had with a knuckle-dragging primate I counsel from time to time. Short on big words but heavy on burps and grunts, we sometimes understand each other.

Somewhere along the way I stopped at a rest area for my 30, this time skipping the chicken fingers.

Arriving back at the yard, after dropping my empty I ran into Joe over by the fuel bay. Remember Joe? He and I go back to our beginning at Walmart. We chewed the fat for a few, but I really needed to go grab a shower and check on my next trip.

In the dispatch office I asked why I hadn't received a new trip yet.

"Hmm, must be a glitch again. I'll resend it to your computer. I show you going back to the island." Well, okie dokie then.

Depart Johnstown 1440 for this 1 stop 450 mile round trip. Looks like it'll be a repeat of yesterday's trip down. I'll make it as far as the Ramapo Service Plaza again before shutting down. The difference today is my 14 will nearly be cooked when I get there. Then up at 0dark30 for the last leg to the island.

1715hrs

Parked for the night.

Today's tally

521 miles

1 hook

1 drop

2 Arrivals

2 Live unloads

1 Layover

1.25hrs wait time

1 bridge pay

Gross pay $443.49

Deadhead:

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Andrew J.'s Comment
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I just delivered to the Walmart in johnstown ny. I had a nice run from appleton Wisconsin. That bridge going over the River was tight. It’s nice up there in upstate New York. I then went to Chobani in new Berlin and back to Chicago. I always enjoy upstate New York. Even in the winter time. Lol.

Turtle's Comment
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Yeah the turn for the bridge is super tight, especially with the construction going on right now.

Turtle's Comment
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0300hrs

Time to make the donuts. Pretripped and rolling by 0330 for the remaining 66 miles. This is such a good time to roll into or near the city, traffic is always light. Even the Throgs Neck Bridge, which is under perpetual construction, is a breeze.

0450

Arrive Westbury, NY store. Live unload of 16 pallets.

The two docks at this store were also blocked just like yesterday, so I had to pull an empty out before backing in my loaded trailer. Since we don't get paid for these extra moves, a lot of drivers complain about it. Although inconvenient, it really isn't a big deal to me.

After parking the empty, and when I'm just about to bump the dock with my loaded trailer, another WM truck pulls in the lot, with a reefer attached. Normally, WM reefers take priority over everything else, even me in my dry van. But now that I've bumped the dock after clearing the empty, I ain't moving for anybody.

To his credit, the other driver didn't yet complain. All he asked was:

"You got alot?"

"Nope" (standard reply whether I have 3 pallets or 30)

I departed at 0540 for the roughly 225 mile deadhead back to the yard. If everything goes right I can make it all the way back before needing to take a 30. I set my ETD for 1100hrs with 4 hrs drive time remaining.

Got a surprise call from my travel agent on the way, with a roughed out itinerary for a two-week motorcycle trip with Mrs. Turtle, planned hopefully for sometime next year.

WM gives generous paid time off. Enough that for the first time in my adult life I can plan a vacation like this while still having plenty of time off left to get to Florida a couple times a year to see the folks.

"Get busy living, or get busy dying."-Andy

0935hrs

Arrive back at Johnstown with a preplan already in place.

Rounding the corner to drop my trailer in the empty line, I noticed both the safety and logistics managers, clipboards in hand, standing in the opposite row. In full view, mind you.

Rather than slinking down the row to get further from sight, I boldly opted to park that sucker directly in front of them, proudly displaying my "one-shot" backing prowess. It was picture postcard textbook perfect.

Now in the interest of full disclosure I'll tell you the rest of the story:

Climbing out of the truck, I expected one or both of them to walk over and observe my post trip, as has happened in the past. Instead, they stayed over there and simply acknowledged me when I got out of the truck.

"Hey Rich, how's it going? Don't mind us, we're just doing a study on how long things take."

Ok cool. I went about my business doing my normal post trip. When things were squared away I climbed up in the cab, released the kingpin, dumped the bags, slowly pulled away...

and watched in horror as my trailer gently but squarely sat right down onto the drive tires!

Yup, I'd forgotten to lower the landing gear. At a time when I should have been laser focused, I focused so much so that I overlooked the obvious. Thanks to good training, I at least adhered to one basic practice I always follow: When pulling out from under a trailer, always go slow and watch your mirrors. It's this practice that allowed the trailer to go down silky smooth without a sound, and I saw it the instant it happened. It was so smooth that the managers didn't even notice. I simply re-inflated the bags, climbed out and lowered the gear as if nothing happened. It helped that their attention was divided between myself and other drivers at the time.

I'm sharing this because there are 2 lessons here that any driver, experienced or not, should be reminded of.

1- Don't get kocky. In showing off, I threw myself off my own game instead of focusing on the business at hand.

2- Never get so full of yourself that you can't share your own mistakes, so that others may learn from them.

So no harm done. Moving on...

1010hrs

Departing with my next load, a 40 something mile run to drop a remix trailer at a store, and hook to a load of pallets after taking a 30. Stores will save up enough pallets to fill a trailer, then we bring them to a facility that inspects and repairs them as needed before shipping them back to the DC.

Again I lost track of the time through here, but I made it to the pallet yard, and brought a load of repaired pallets back to the DC.

Already pre-planned again, I get the paperwork and hook to my next trailer, destined for the island once again! This makes 3 days in a row I've been sent there. They must be awful hungry on that island!

1355hrs

Depart Johnstown for the 450 mile round trip drop & hook remix load due tomorrow.

I hope they don't get the idea that I enjoy going to the island every day. Not that I mind the ride. It's actually a decent trip. But I like variety. The extra $50 adds up, however.

1630hrs

Parked for the night at....you guessed it....Ramapo again.

Today's tally:

555 miles

4 Hooks

4 Drops

1 Arrival

1 Live unload

1 Layover

1 Bridge pay

Gross pay $480.10

Deadhead:

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

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
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I'm sharing this because there are 2 lessons here that any driver, experienced or not, should be reminded of.

1- Don't get kocky. In showing off, I threw myself off my own game instead of focusing on the business at hand.

2- Never get so full of yourself that you can't share your own mistakes, so that others may learn from them.

So no harm done. Moving on...

Thanks for sharing all that Turtle. Although its embarrassing to admit we goofed up it acts as a reminder not only to ourselves but others that no matter how experienced you are mistakes can still happen when we're not focused 100% on the task at hand. Are the days you've outlined so far pretty in line with what you normally face? Both hour wise and pay? It seems pretty similar to what I do with one of the only exceptions being when I make it back to the DC I'm done for the day unless I know going into the day that I have a 2nd or 3rd load. It sounds like switching to Walmart has definitely paid off for you. Do you still miss throwing tarps in the pouring rain? Not to put you on the spot or anything but have you found it harder to maintain your weight by removing almost all physical labor in your job?

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
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Are the days you've outlined so far pretty in line with what you normally face? Both hour wise and pay?

This week has been rather different in the fact that I haven't visited another DC. This is the first time that I've spent a whole week pulling from the same DC without even once shaking it up somewhere else. A rarity.

Hour and pay wise are in the average range, with today in particular definitely on the upper range of pay. It fluctuates of course, but stays steady in the long term.

It may sound crazy but I do actually miss the physical satisfaction of the flatbed life. The feeling of accomplishment after some exertion just can't be replaced.

My weight has held steady, but I feel I'm losing some muscle mass and replacing it with fat lol. But I'm working on that.

smile.gif

PackRat's Comment
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Good catch on that trailer, but WOW! That was a close call near the bosses.

I did the same thing one time when I first started driving. Had to crank up the trailer because no airbags deflation switch when I was at CRST. After my goof, I always go slow and watch the mirror real close pulling out from any drop, too.

Jetguy's Comment
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Thanks Turtle. Like Old School you’ve found a way to make a fine income. $480! I wonder if a guy could break $600? Or more than that?

Turtle's Comment
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Thanks Turtle. Like Old School you’ve found a way to make a fine income. $480! I wonder if a guy could break $600? Or more than that?

Honestly, that $480 has to be close to the top end unless they give some significant pay raises. To hit $600 some stars would need to align perfectly. Even then I don't see how it could happen.

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