A Week In The Walmart Private Fleet

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Turtle's Comment
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6/26 0230hrs

It's go home day, let's do this! 65 miles to go to the stop.

You'll notice I've "backed up" my hours this week, meaning I've started a little earlier each day after limiting myself to a 10-hour break. I know that's nothing out of the ordinary for a truck driver, but what it allows me to do is get a nearly full day on my go home day, while still getting me home at a decent time. You see, many of the WM drivers I've come across like to slack off a little on their go home day. It's natural to want to knock off a little early at the end of your week, but it sure puts a dent in the paycheck.

Besides the obvious benefit of a bigger paycheck for a full day, maximizing each day as I do has the added advantage of maintaining a significant Average Daily Pay (ADP). The ADP is averaged over your previous 6 months of daily figures, and is what used to pay you for personal, sick, or vacation days. It's a blatant production incentive, but one that pays off in a big way for those drivers that capitalize on it. When a first year driver can earn up to 25 paid days off a year, that's a bunch of money on the table.

0405hrs

Arrive at the Valley Stream, NY Walmart, the busiest Supercenter in the nation (at least that's what they tell me). I believe it too because there's a near-constant flow of trucks in and out of here on a daily basis. They even have a section of the parking lot specifically for us to drop and hook , keeping us from having to pull back to the extremely busy and extremely cramped dock area.

0777153001593280641.jpg0950971001593281071.jpg

A yard jockey with a single screw day cab ferries trailers back and forth.

On my first trip there I made the mistake of pulling out back to the dock, where I found myself amid a bevy of food vendors, all jockeying for position and dominance. It took over 2 hours for me to get everyone to cooperate enough just so that I could get turned around and headed back out to the drop area. Lesson learned that day.

0420hrs

Depart for the 225 mile deadhead back to Johnstown. ETD set for 0930 with 4.5 drive hours remaining.

0845hrs

Arrived at the yard, and after a quick 30 I grab a trailer and boogie out to my next load: a 120 mile round trip remix drop and hook.

1025hrs

Arrive at Clifton Park, NY for the swap. The trailer I'm picking up was supposed to be an empty one, but instead it's loaded with pallets. So I called the office to have them make a change to the trip to include stopping by the pallet yard. It's no big deal since the pallet yard is only about 20 miles from Johnstown. Depart 1045 with an ETD of 1300 with 2 hours drive time remaining. With such little time remaining at that point, I'll likely just call it a day.

1200hrs

Arrive at the pallet yard, grab another trailer full of good pallets, and depart by 1215. I can smell them 3 days off coming.

1245hrs

Back at Johnstown, and since I've heard no mention of another trip I'm going to assume they don't have anything that'll fit within the limited time I have left. After checking in with dispatch that is confirmed. I'm outta here. But first...

Joe will be hopping in this truck first thing in the morning to start his week, so I'll take some time to have it in perfect ready condition for when he arrives. I top off all tanks, clean the windows, wipe the interior down with Clorox wipes, sweep and vacuum, the whole 9 yards. Three of us share two trucks, and we each clean up after ourselves this way each week, leaving the trucks spotless.

Afterward I check in with the office again to confirm my next start date and time. Peace I'm out.

Final day's tally:

415 miles

4 Hooks

5 Drops

No layover

1 Bridge pay

Gross pay $352.52

Summary:

This week was a bit of an anomaly in some ways.

First, I've never had a week like this where I hauled nothing but grocery loads. On average, half my time is spent pulling GM freight (General Merchandise).

Second, I've also never had a week where I hauled strictly from 1 DC. Most weeks have me popping into different DC's regularly from Maine to Ohio to Virginia. Sometimes I may even see 2-3 different DC's in a day. So this week was quite odd in that sense.

Third, zero backhauls this week, another rarity. I normally average two or three backhauls per week. So I don't know what's going on with that either.

I used 60 of my 70 hours in 5 days. That's about average, as well as the miles and pay.

As G-Town once said: This job is a churn. You stay moving in a constant effort to keep the goods rolling to the stores so they can keep the shelves stocked. It's a good time, and can be very rewarding.

Deadhead:

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

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Auggie69'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.

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...

All my little boo-boos have happened EVERYTIME my routine is broken. I have to make a mental note to either start over or doublecheck everything.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
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At least you caught yours Turtle I can attest to the loud bang the trailer makes when it fall to the ground.

A good lesson learned with no damage just a little self pride.

G-Town's Comment
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Turtle remembers...

As G-Town once said: This job is a churn. You stay moving in a constant effort to keep the goods rolling to the stores so they can keep the shelves stocked. It's a good time, and can be very rewarding.

Amen to that! I would not trade it for anything.

I’ve eclipsed the 2000 mile mark 2 consecutive, 5-day weeks. For you OTR guys, that’s nothin. For us, 2k miles in a 5-day period is significant. Really gotta hustle to make that happen and really need a cracker-jack planner who knows the territory so available clock can be maximized. Thankfully I’ve got two such working with me, in total lock-step.

By day 5 I’m exhausted, usually less than 6 hours remaining on my 70, can’t wait to get out of the truck for a couple of days. However...after one full day at home I’m chomping at the bit to “get back at it”. I can’t explain it, but I know I am doing exactly what is best suited for my personality and driving (I enjoy backing and navigating close quarters)

Gotta hand it to you Turtle, this diary is exceptional! Don’t know how you have the time and energy to turn this sort of quality out. Thank you!

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Yuuyo Y.'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?

I think the most I've made in one day has been ~$500 (with current hourly rate it would be $650.

Except that was a 19-hour workday where the last 5 wasn't even spent driving a truck rofl-2.gif

Ray S.'s Comment
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Im kinda new and cant wrap my mind around ETD times cause about the time you figure an etd they pop somthing else on ya

Ray #6024 Grove City

Turtle's Comment
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Im kinda new and cant wrap my mind around ETD times cause about the time you figure an etd they pop somthing else on ya

Ray #6024 Grove City

An ETD only needs to be accurate for the last segment of your trip. If they add something, you simply need to update your ETD to reflect that change.

For example: Let's say they give you a 3 stop trip.

1st stop-store #2264 4 pallets live unload.

2nd stop store #2219 8 pallets live unload

3rd stop store #5498 drop n hook

With this or any trip, you set your ETD when you depart the yard to begin your trip. The ETD you set is for when you expect to finish the 3rd stop.

When you depart the 1st stop, you set an ETD again for that same 3rd stop. If you're on schedule, your ETD won't change. But if you feel you're either running ahead or behind what you expected, that's when you'll update your ETD.

Now let's say you get a message while traveling to stop 2 adding either a backhaul or an empty move back to a DC. You'll now adjust your ETD when leaving stop 2 to reflect the added movement(s). Your new ETD will be for when you expect to finish the last added stop. If you plan to stop and grab a lunch on the way back, be sure to account for that time in your ETD.

When your last movement is back to a DC, be sure to include time in your ETD for fueling, shower, chatting, hooking, etc

Remember, an accurate ETD is important so the ROC can keep you moving efficiently, making you the money. You can also use the ETD to give yourself some free time when you want.

If they pop something else on ya, pop a new ETD back on em. Nuttin to it

Old School's Comment
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This is why we sometimes stress how important communication is in this business. I love the way Turtle explained it. This is his key point to me...

Remember, an accurate ETD is important so the ROC can keep you moving efficiently, making you the money.

I am not a dedicated WalMart driver, but I have learned how to keep my support staff up to date on my times of readiness. That is key to every driver's success out here. As with all things trucking there is a learning curve to this. Once you get it down and know how to keep the people who are scheduling work for you well informed of your willingness and ability to get things done, you will never want for work. They will help you maximize your hours so that you are being as productive as possible. That's when the money starts flowing your direction.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

John M.'s Comment
member avatar

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

Do yall have nightshift drivers or all day shifts? I’m assuming the latter if stores don’t receive before 0700. Or is that just that particular store?

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.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar
Do yall have nightshift drivers or all day shifts? I’m assuming the latter if stores don’t receive before 0700. Or is that just that particular store?

That particular store, and certain others don't receive overnight. This is due to either town ordinances, or local agreements with the neighbors. Most stores will receive all hours of the night, and we have drivers that run all hours.

Outside vendors are usually limited to daytime receiving hours, but Walmart drivers can typically be unloaded 24/7.

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