Prime Inc. PSD Covid Edition

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Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Soug sorry to hear you're not enjoying it as much as others. Thats perfectly fine thats what I love about having a CDL. If you enjoy driving there will always be something out there that suits what you're looking for.

You mentioned

nobody is financing usda because of the massive delays they have

I'm not endorsing them, and I couldn't tell you if they're a good lender because I haven't communicated with them. I pay my mortgage on time online and thats the end of it BUT...... I had gone the USDA route in Iowa through a broker who immediately sold my loan to a company called Planet Home Lending out of Lee Summit MO that appears to do business across the country. Maybe give them a shot regarding a home purchase. We closed end of April last year during Covid lockdowns and the whole process only took 35 days, although we chose to close 45 days after the process began. I'm paid hourly so it may be different but we financed 100% of the purchase price. Have you tried Rocket Mortage (Quicken loans mortgage)? When I was enquiring with them they said they've helped those paid CPM get the mortgages they needed. You should create a thread in the general forum in regards to getting a mortgage. Hopefully others can point you towards a lender that allowed them the loan type they desired off a commission income. Do you get paid per diem? If so that lowers the income they'll look at.

Nice to hear from you, hang in there.

CDL:

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Stoug Danhope's Comment
member avatar

Yep rocket mortgage was a no go once they heard I was on cpm. Said I needed to be at prime for 2 years for any loan options they had available. Technically I needed two w2s so really 2 1/2 years . Also said due to Covid usda was taking 6 month minimum to process applications and that many would fall through after the wait.

I don't think my dispatcher would play ball with me staying regional in the PNW to look for anything either and have frequent enough home time to search around.

And yes prime does an .08cpm per diem so my take home looks pretty low, not that I'm trying to finance a mansion. I'd rather buy the land outright and have enough to cover power and water installs and then build a cabin as income permits but financing land is even more difficult than something that already has a home. The areas I'm looking have a large majority of mobile homes as well and getting financing on them is difficult as well. I'll be getting a w2 for 5 months at prime here before long and know what my yearly would look like but it would probably be around 30-40k gross taxable income. Hence the usda route.

Coming from the southeast, money goes nowhere for land and housing out west. It's incredible how little you get. I'd imagine that plays into the dynamic of why so many drivers out west are foreigners and why so many domestic american drivers seem to come from the south and midwest. It's just a trend I noticed but I don't see how you could be a trucker and have a home base in cali or oregon or places like that. 750 a week take home in the southeast is pretty decent money and 200k gets you a nice 2 story house on some land. Out west it gets you a trailer about to fall in on itself with no power and 2 acres of land 45 minutes from the nearest town lol. But I love being out west and would pay to play, climate is great, it's sparsely populated, the scenary is gorgeous, no mosquitos, you actually get snow, you can off road and do outdoors stuff, etc. I'd be plenty happy never crossing the mississippi ever again if I had the choice. It comes at a price though but I also think the housing market is in a bit of a bubble right now as well. I've been watching real estate sites and bidding wars and listings pending sales in less than a week are common in extremely rural areas. Price history and trends from my research show places doubling in cost in as little as 3-5 years. Seems like a bubble to me.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Dispatcher:

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Stoug, your post was pretty tough reading for me. I'm sorry it's not working out for you. I understand everything you said. You pointed out all the things that are tough about this job, but what's weird is that so many of the things that make it tough for one person are the same things that make it enjoyable for another. We've talked about these problems for years here in our forum. The solitude is one man's haven while it can also become another's hell. I seldom ever sat like you complained waiting for loads. I learned early on how to deal with issues like that. So many things that you mentioned can be cured by taking actions that most new drivers don't realize they can do.

As far as the social aspects of the OTR life you are right. Your friends kind of become distant. I can remember coming home and feeling like a stranger among the people I had once been close with. It's part of what happens when we are away. People's lives continue on without us being involved. Their schedules don't change just because we showed up for a few days. I found it that way even with my own family. I still managed to enjoy being home for a break. I always told my wife not to rearrange everything just because I was expected to be home. After all I may not get there exactly when I'm expecting to. I would usually just make a point of trying to fit into their schedule while I was on their turf. Life on the road is unpredictable, but that was always part of the appeal to me. Some people need more structure. Others of us like being blown around a bit by the wind.

There's no reason you can't be earning more money than you are. If you are burning up your 70 and only taking home 800 dollars then you have a lot of room to make improvements to your income. But honestly it sounds like you want a more predictable lifestyle. I am at home these days (not by choice) and I understand how you want certain things like "sitting by the fire," and "riding your bike on the weekend." Those things are not part of the OTR lifestyle. We are funny creatures. We think we want one thing and then when we pursue it we miss the old things we thought we were ready to give up. I'm sitting here working this morning, writing some commentary for you with my feet warming at the fire, but I'm sure missing my life on the road. I loved getting started at about 0200 and watching the sun rise after I had turned about 250 miles. For me there was nothing like that. I loved the challenges and coming up with ways to conquer them. I was a warrior. I was in my element. I fit in and made my way finding successful ways to combat the loneliness and the long hours. It's not for everyone. We know that.

Here's to your success my friend. I hope you find your place in the world, and I know you will. You are honest about your feelings, you seem to have a good idea what you want, and that is a great start.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Stoug Danhope's Comment
member avatar

I would be interested in hearing how to combat the sitting aspect. I've had a few loads that are listed as drop and hook and I show up on the appt time only to be told it's going to be a while before they have a trailer loaded. Others are just multiple unloads on a trip. To be fair I haven't complained about them or the miles because I'm guessing that would get you on the **** list but I dunno.

Additionally, I wouldn't say it isn't working out, it just seems like it isn't exactly worth it to work your life away. Maybe it's because I used to do local driving but the pay was terrible. The job itself is a cakewalk. There isn't any challenge like tailgating rock or doing 3-4 loads on a grapple truck in a day. It's the lifestyle of otr for the pay that is hard to handle for me personally.

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.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
I would be interested in hearing how to combat the sitting aspect. I've had a few loads that are listed as drop and hook and I show up on the appt time only to be told it's going to be a while before they have a trailer loaded. Others are just multiple unloads on a trip. To be fair I haven't complained about them or the miles because I'm guessing that would get you on the **** list but I dunno.

Stoug, I'm just going to share with you my own personal experience as a rookie driver. I had all the same struggles you describe, but I knew there had to be a better way. I knew that moving freight was the way trucking companies made money, and therefore I assumed they wanted me to be moving more freight. If I am limited to 70 hours each week, then I didn't need to be wasting time sitting for days at a time for a load. That made no sense to me, and I knew that some manager had to be keeping an eye on my dispatcher's numbers that showed how he was doing keeping his drivers busy. Efficiency is a key component to trucking profits. Trucks and drivers who are sitting doing nothing are not helping push the end goals of the company.

I can remember having a discussion with my dispatcher. I wasn't complaining. I just said to him, "I'd like to be turning more miles. I want to be earning more money. Are there some things I can be doing to help you get me where I am more productive?" Now, a conversation like that will not put you on anybody's ****list! Driver managers love having a driver who can consistently turn 3,000 plus miles every week. A driver who shows that initiative will get their attention. I started practicing methods like changing my own appointments. I had tried to get my driver manager to change them with very few positive results. They have so many drivers that they are responsible for that they just don't have time to cover everybody's requests and needs. I would usually get a message at the end of the day stating, "I am sorry, but we couldn't get your appointment changed."

The light bulb went off one day when I had gotten to a certain customer a full day early. The gentleman at the guard shack said, "I'm sorry but you aren't due here until tomorrow. There's a truck stop about a mile down the road. You'll need to go over there and park - we will see you in the morning." I said, "Well, I'm here - couldn't you just let me in and unload me today?" His response was, "We have a company policy that doesn't allow us to let drivers just come in here at their own whim. Someone from your company or a dispatcher would have to call and change your appointment." I went and parked at the truck stop and thought about calling my dispatcher, but all I could think about was how many times I had tried that before with no results. I looked up the number for the customer and called it. Guess who answered? It was the same dude who had just sent me to the truck stop. The phone number I had was the guard shack! I said, "Hey, this is Dale over at Brand X trucking. We've got a driver who is sitting at the truck stop just down the road from you. He's got two steel coils that were due tomorrow. Somehow he got there early and we were just wondering if you guys could unload him today so we could pick up another load across town today?" Here's what the guard said, "Sure thing. Send him on over here. We are really slow today." Boom! I was in the gate in no time, unloaded, and ready for another load.

From that point on, every time I got a load, I would contact the customer and try to move my appointment forward to a time that made the load efficient for me. I would just tell them who I was and that I could be there at whatever time I could. Most of the time they would accommodate me. The very next thing I would do is send my dispatcher messages indicating my ETA (estimated time of arrival) and my PTA (projected time of availability). That way he got used to seeing me doing what I said I would. Once he realized I knew what I was doing he started having loads pre-planned on me before I was ever empty. He couldn't do that before because he didn't know if he could count on me for that type of activity. Once he saw that ambition and drive to excel and the ability to make those things happen that I promised, he was all over it. He loved it. That's when I discovered how dispatchers need and love drivers who take their own initiative and do things that help their managers keep them busy. I never waited around to hear from him. I consistently set everything in motion that enabled him to keep me busy. He makes more money that way. I make more money that way. Most importantly the company moves more freight and increases their revenues coming from my truck. It's all Win Win.

I just had a call from my former dispatcher over the holidays. He wanted to check in with me, but mostly he talked about how in 25 years of doing this he had never worked with another driver like me. That's why we encourage new drivers to be Top Tier Drivers. That's why we teach that trucking is a competition where the drivers Have To Hang With The Big Dogs. There are always ways that a driver can work on improving his performance. We just have to learn how.

Dispatcher:

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.

Driver 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.

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.
PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Calling shippers and receivers is always a good idea to get an appointment sooner, as Old School points out.

Some places it works; some won't, but it's always beneficial to try. "Help Thyself!" is what I've called this for years.

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.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

When it comes to reefer , we are often stuck with the appointment time due to certain products being worked at certain times.

However you should definitely tell your FM that you want more miles. Often new drivers dont speak up and the FM isnt pushing you out of fear of overwhelming you. Every FM handles these things differently. Ask for preplans. I told my FM my first few months that I couldnt sleep without a load. I was afraid I wouldnt hear the QC. Also tell her that you want to be able to trip plan during unload to save fuel by knowing which direction to go in order to park.

As far as weekends and local....as about dedicated routes and call the intermodal department. Many get home daily and or weekends. You dont know unless you try.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Intermodal:

Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

Fm:

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

Soug,

I was somewhat surprised by your post, because, to be quite honest, it sounds like the stereotypical disgruntled rookie posts I seen on this forum: “I didn’t realize that I would have to live the lifestyle and perform the tasks that EVERYONE told me REPEATEDLY I should expect.” I say surprised, because you seem to have a pretty good head on your shoulders. And I’m not trying to be one of the haters. One purpose of my comment is emphasize to other readers of this thread that if you think you will be miserable in this career based on what the experienced drivers tell you, don’t become a truck driver. In other words, don’t cling to some fantasy of trucking that is contrary to the advice that everyone gives you. But I also have some specific comments to your post.

Pay rate for the hours you work. You said that you are averaging about 2300 per week, which is not bad for miles, but then you lamented that you’re “working 60-70 hours per week.” Think about what you do “working 60-70 hours per week.” Even though driving is “on-duty” for HOS purposes, I don’t consider driving onerous work. In fact, I can talk on the phone, listen to pod casts, think about things (I think and over think many things.” So, if you’re driving 60 hours per week, and on-duty 70 hours per week, you only have 10 hours of actual onerous work. I have probably about 10-20 hours a week of securement, which I consider “real” work. Pre-trip, road inspections, fueling, checking in with shippers/receivers, etc. totals about 5 hours per week. So, from my perspective, I’m making like $45 per hour. My thoughts about the “work” of trucking, and my advice (and I had thought even before I started orientation) if you considering driving onerous work DO NOT even consider this career. IMO, you will have a miserable f-ing existence.

No life outside of working. Just like with the “work hours” this is something I thought you pretty much understood when got into this. To be honest, it sounds like you’re saying what many other delusional people say on this forum after they’ve been solo for a while. “I didn’t think living in the truck, meant actually living in the truck.” Seriously? I myself do have life outside of my work. Like I mentioned above, I talk on the phone, I listen to the news, I listen to podcasts, and I plan to get some books on tape. I use Bixby to text, research things that pop into my head, schedule appointments, make shopping lists, and make notes of anything I so choose as I’m driving along. I had little time or mental energy to these things at my prior job. Now I have as much time for these things that I spent actually working in my prior job. I cook more now that I did when I was at home. Similar to the “work” schedule, if you consider every minute spent in the truck your “working life” this career will be a miserable f-ing existence.

Maybe your latest comment in this thread comes from some of the frustrations of the learning curve. Trust me, I can empathize. I have had some very frustrating days. In fact, I was very much in the same frame of mind as you recently. Asking myself if I made a mistake getting into trucking because I’ve felt overwhelmed and consumed by the job tasks and lifestyle. But when I stepped back and took some inventory, as I’ve described above, I realized that, with a proper perspective adjustment, I am satisfied with my progress and the decision to pursue trucking.

A common refrain on this forum is “trucking is hard.” I disagree. It’s not rocket science. Almost anyone can learn and perform the necessary job skills. Rather, “trucking is challenging.” You have new and different challenges every day. And YOU have to meet and overcome these challenges. No one will do it for you. It seems like every load I get has different nuances with securement. And even with some of the loads I’ve had before, by the time I get them again, I’ve forgotten some of the nuances of the securement.

Again, I am posting this comment not to be a “hater” but rather to make you take inventory, as I’ve done, as to the real source of your frustrations. From what I’ve gathered, you too smart to be making statements like “I didn’t think a 70-hour work week meant working 70 hours” or “I didn’t think over the road really meant, New York to Los Angeles.” Don’t let trucking beat you down man like the terminal rats.

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.

Terminal:

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.

Over The Road:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

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