I'm Heartily Ashamed Of Myself

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Old School's Comment
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In the past few months I remember us having a discussion with a driver who had been out running solo for just about a year who was complaining about his ability to manage his hours and get enough miles to make a decent living. One of the things we said was that you've sometimes just got to make things happen out there. I seem to find myself doing this on a daily basis. I enjoy the challenge of being creative with each load whether it's organizing a plan of how to get it delivered early, or just coming up with a creative way to run my clock so that I come out on top, or maybe it's even as simple as how you talk to the receiving clerk that helps you get a leg up on your day.

I don't recommend anyone of you try what I'm about to share with you, and I certainly don't even condone my rash behavior, but I pulled one over this week on a really tough receiving clerk, and I'm just sharing it with you for the entertainment value of it - that's all - so don't think I'm encouraging you to try this kind of trick, because it could turn out badly for you. I took a chance and it worked, but I do not recommend any of you try such a tactic.

Many of you know I make a practice of running hard to try my best to get my loads in early so that I can hopefully get on to the next load and thereby get more loads accomplished in the week than my peers. In the flat-bed work that I do this seems to me to be the way you make yourself standout as a go to guy for your dispatcher and as a driver who is more than satisfied with his paycheck.

This week I got a load of OSB (wafer-board plywood sheeting) that was being delivered to a Lowe's store. I've delivered to this store once before and it was only a stroke of good fortune that caused the lady that does the receiving to let me deliver early that first time because I treated her kindly and respectfully while confessing to her that I was a rookie and didn't know she wouldn't take me early. She sternly warned me that first visit that it was only because there were no trucks there, and that she just happened to be in an unusually good mood, that she was going to let me deliver early. But, she told me it won't happen again, at this store you show up at your appointment time or you will have to wait.

Well... this load had way too much time on it for my taste. I went ahead and got there at about ten o'clock at night and slept in their parking lot (this is so I don't have to start my clock in the morning until I'm ready to roll on the next load assignment) while dreaming about ways to get that hard-nosed woman to unload me in the morning which would be a full twenty four hours before my scheduled delivery appointment. I parked my truck right where I needed to be for the fork-lift operator to unload me (this is so no one can slip in ahead of me in the morning) and set my alarm on my phone so I would be up in plenty of time to try and "make something happen". I got up before they showed and took all the bungees loose from my tarps just so I'd be ready to go if I got a chance. Dark clouds were rolling overhead and it looked like a serious storm was brewing. It just started sprinkling when I noticed the fork-lift operator cranking up his ride and looking out the fence at me waiting out there, so I jerked the tarps off my load knowing full well this stuff can't get wet. He came racing out and asked me if all of it was theirs as he was stabbing his forks under the first stack. I said yes it's all yours. He was half-way done getting me unloaded before I could even get my bills together and get over to the receiving door to check in. Miss Congeniality gave me a cold hard stare and proceeded to tell me that I wasn't on her schedule until tomorrow, and it was way too much trouble for her to keep her paperwork straight by taking me early so I would have to come back tomorrow. I began to plead my case trying to buy just enough time to let the fork lift guy finish the job he'd so frantically started a few minutes ago. And as she began lecturing me again on all the trouble it would be causing her to bump me ahead of everybody else, (by the way I was the only truck there at the time) the fork lift guy comes in with a beaming smile and tells her that he thinks he just broke a world's record for getting a truck unloaded so fast! That's when she really started staring daggers at me and tersely said "give me those bills". Then she wrote what was intended to be a nasty note on my bills about how I had disregarded my appointment time and showed up 24 hours early. What she never knew was that my dispatcher sent me a message congratulating me when he saw the note on my bills!

I am ashamed at myself, and seriously don't recommend these kind of tactics, but they do have value as some great story telling fodder. It's almost as shameful as the time I parked in a receivers lot so that no one could get ahead of me in the morning and about thirty minutes before they open an Owner Operator shows up and starts begging me to let him go first because he had another load he had to get onto. When I told him I was sorry but that's why I planned ahead and slept here, he then offered me forty bucks to let him go first. I said "look I've got another load to get also." So then he offers me a hundred dollar bill - I took his money and left that receiver exactly ten minutes later than he did! Go figure!

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Steven N. (aka Wilson)'s Comment
member avatar

You're right. That is a good story. Perhaps someday I will understand why receivers do not want their stuff early. When I was running a business and ordered product, I always dreamed of getting it as soon as I could. If it was delivered early, I was a happy camper. So I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.

I also hope that someone somewhere in my training will teach me some advanced and creative clock management. Right now, I don't know diddly squat about the clock. But like I said, someday soon I will be starting my training and I sure hope I get an instructor, trainer, mentor or someone that will teach me these 'options' with the clock.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Awesome story! People, that's exactly what we mean when we say you have to learn how to make things happen out there.

Old School, I literally made my living with tactics like that. I had a list of em about ten miles long. I would call customers and imply I was a member of customer service at my company to get loads moved ahead. I would do the "parking at the dock" thing to make sure nobody could squeeze in before me. I would tell shipping and receiving clerks anything to get unloaded more quickly. One time I told them it was my last delivery and I had to get home to my Grandfather's funeral. My Grandfather was just fine. But they all offered their condolences and unloaded me like I was their king.

And it doesn't stop with shipping and receiving clerks. I used to do that kind of stuff with mechanics, dispatchers, operations managers, customer service - anyone and everyone I could get in touch with to keep things moving ahead.

I worked at some dry van companies who notoriously kept their trailer count low making it difficult to find empty trailers after drop-n-hooks. I kept a running tally of every customer I knew of that had empty trailers of ours. Many times I would drop my trailer at a customer and see several of our company trucks sitting bobtail off to the side waiting hours, if not days, for dispatch to find them an empty trailer somewhere. I would just drive on by em, hit the highway, and start scavenging all of the customer lots in the area for an empty trailer. I could always find one somewhere. I'd be off and running on the next load while everyone else waited and waited and waited for someone else to make things happen for them.

Then of course one of the ultimate time and money-savers....talking your way out of tickets or being shut down by the DOT. Nowadays with electronic logs it's quite different. But on paper logs you always kept your logs way behind where you actually were so that you could make up nice lies to make yourself appear legal. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've filled out my logs in a flurry while the DOT man was walking toward my truck. I'd make up anything I could think of. I was always super kind, super respectful, and tried cracking a few jokes along the way. I talked my way out of countless tickets and shutdowns over the years.

A savvy road warrior is priceless to trucking companies. When you're the type that always finds a way to get the job done out there safely and on time (or ahead of time) your company will keep loading the miles on you.

To anyone coming into the trucking industry, keep something in mind. OTR trucking is not an hourly gig like you're used to where you go into work, do as little as possible, do exactly what you're told, and go home. OTR trucking is more like running your own business. You're the captain of the ship and you're given the very bare necessities to get the job done. They'll give you a truck and trailer, a load assignment with a schedule, and that's about it. They won't even wish you luck. You're on your own. It's up to you to figure out or verify the scheduling and proper routing and deal with everything the world can throw at you - traffic, weather, road conditions, DOT checkpoints, crazy drivers, erratic sleep patterns, breakdowns, fueling, finding places to park - you are on your own out there. The more creative your thinking and the more savvy you become with experience the more work you'll get done and the more money you'll make. Because the reality is you're competing for freight with the other drivers at your company. There's always plenty of freight for the top drivers. The load planners and dispatchers can assign freight pretty much anyway they like. It's your job to convince them that you're the one they should keep moving.

I think that's one aspect of trucking most rookies don't understand right away and it causes them a lot of grief. They expect trucking to be like other jobs where you simply do as little as possible and do only what you're told. In trucking, if you want to make good money and be one of the top earners you have to learn how to compete for freight. Get to know your dispatcher really well. Get to know your dispatcher's boss and the boss above them. You need allies that can make things happen when you've done everything in your power but you still need a favor from a higher power. You have to sweet-talk the dock workers and shipping clerks. You have to sweet talk the DOT. You have to have solid strategies for dealing with parking, logbook rules, fueling, and all matters of scheduling.

They say some people will lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead. Well in trucking I never stole anything and I don't know how stealing could help. But I lied and cheated regularly and made a lot more money for it.

Old School - we need to gather a series of road veteran stories from anyone that's been out there for a while. My Book (which is free online by the way - just follow that link) has a lot of great stories like that. We need a series of articles called "Road Warrior Stories" or something to that affect.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

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.

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.
ThinksTooMuch's Comment
member avatar

Truckers are more creative than people think. You HAVE to do this sort of stuff out there or you will slowly turn into one of the complainers we always mention.

Wine Taster's Comment
member avatar

Old School,

That is awesome. Was is that lady such a pain on receiving stuff? It seems to me that the manager at that Lowe's needs to know she is like that. Maybe a phone call from a throw phone is warranted! ROFL! Anyway, I tend to be a VERY honest person. It is hard for me to lie. I guess I will have to be very creative. BTW, Old School, you talked me into it. I am going to start off pulling a skateboard. I am sure I will be asking you a ton of questions!

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
member avatar

The things with these big box stores is that can receive it early but can not enter it into the computer until the day it's supposed to arrive and the lady did not want to kept up with everything till the next day.

Let's look at it from her view. It's like you going down the road and have a flat tire but instead of sending someone to change the tire they send someone with the tools to do it and give them to you and say Now you have an extra duty to. Change your own tire or wait till tomorrow.

Same thing. It's an added duty on top of all the rest of the stuff that those underpaid employees have to do. Keep up with extra product till the next day. I know it does not seem like a lot but there ya go

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Wine Taster's Comment
member avatar

Well that s just dumb! ROFL! Are all the big box stores like this? They do not want to accept early?

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
member avatar

Well that s just dumb! ROFL! Are all the big box stores like this? They do not want to accept early?

With some companies if you show up early your company gives you a service failure because the customer complains about it. I know it goes against the mind set of doing more loads but what the customer wants the customer gets.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Guyjax is exactly right in what he said here.

I've found that at some Lowe's stores the receiving clerk doesn't mind entering the info on the next day, but for the most part they want it when they schedule it. I didn't have time to put all the details into the story, but later in the day when I could get a hold of someone, I personally called and had the appointment time changed to the day I delivered just so that clerk would be able to get her paper work cleared up properly, and also so she wouldn't strangle me next time I showed up at her store. She wasn't a happy camper, but it's her department and she is free to run it in what she thinks is the most efficient way possible. On the other hand, it's my paycheck, and I'm free to be as creative as possible (without being cruel or hateful of course) in getting ahead of the game. It literally is a game some days, and I just happen to enjoy winning the game.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
The things with these big box stores is that can receive it early but can not enter it into the computer until the day it's supposed to arrive and the lady did not want to kept up with everything till the next day.

Wow, I mean is this a "modern American worker" problem or what? What a bunch of soft, lazy crybabies people are anymore. Oh, you mean she has to set a piece of paper on the "to be entered" pile instead of the "entered" pile? OMG someone call the paramedics. Nobody could ever survive such a traumatic ordeal.

Lazy, Selfish American crybabies. That's all we produce anymore.

Let's look at it from her view. It's like you going down the road and have a flat tire but instead of sending someone to change the tire they send someone with the tools to do it and give them to you and say Now you have an extra duty to. Change your own tire or wait till tomorrow.

No it isn't. Not at all. Setting a piece of paper on one pile instead of another is not at all like getting out the tools to change your own tire. It's 10,000 times easier and takes no thought or effort whatsoever.

Lazy, Selfish American crybabies. Drives me insane. I came from a long line of steel workers, auto workers, farmers, mechanics, and brick layers and I've had a long list of hard labor jobs myself. The idea of telling someone to go away for a full 24 hours and give up a full day's pay so that you don't have to set a piece of paper on one pile instead of another is the saddest thing imaginable. I guess we've finally reached the point that setting a piece of paper on a pile requires more fortitude than the American Worker can muster.

China, take the wheel. We quit. We don't even have the drive and character to be pencil pushers anymore. We'll just collect unemployment and live in our parent's basement.

wtf-2.gif

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