Journey With Wilson Logistics - Springfield, MO

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Eugene K.'s Comment
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UPDATE: Wednesday 27 Jan, 1823, Boise Idaho

Tuesday morning we set out from the Petro in York Nebraska, with my trainer starting off because I was only 4 hours away from finishing a 34 hour reset. What we saw on I-80 was nothing less than complete chaos. I counted no less than two dozen jackknifes and rollovers strewn across the highway like toys. We crept along at a steady 35 mph because there were patches of ice still on the road, all the while with supertruckers zooming past us at the speed limit, completely oblivious to the surrounding wreckage. I find it simply unfathomable how any driver can unlearn all the safety lessons they were taught and drive with such reckless abandon. Do they want to get fired for crashing, or kill someone or themselves? I just don’t understand it.

The roads cleared up fairly soon and I took over around 1330, carrying us out of Nebraska, across all of Wyoming, almost to our 90 in Ogden Utah. Most of the time it was dark out, but I could still tell the scenery was gorgeous from the light of the moon (especially in Utah along the 84 pass cutting through the wasatch range). Utah is my favorite state and I’ve done extensive hiking here, and my long game is to eventually buy a few rental cabins here and flip them into Airbnb properties with the money I make from trucking. I can’t wait to get back in daylight hours, off the truck, and onto the trails!

When we got to the receiver, yet again I proceeded to do a terrible job backing. Since this was a drop and hook with completely wide open parking spaces and no obstacles, I was especially annoyed with myself for not being able to figure it out. It didn’t help that each time I’ve backed so far, they have been night drops where I can barely see anything, and my trainer has told me this and to not be too hard on myself. But I can also tell he finds it a bit shocking how little backing I did during my D Seat phase, not to mention that there were several days during that phase when I did no driving at all because the loads were late. I just assumed it was the norm for us to do so little backing with our first trainers, because I had heard that so far from several drivers, but my current trainer tells me he would practice backing 6-8 times a day with his permit trainees. Regardless of what the norm is, I’m certainly not going to throw my first trainer under the bus, especially because I was her first trainee and it’s possible she wasn’t accustomed to working my training regimen into her loads. I think she is amazing. But the end result is I feel like I am way behind where I’m supposed to be in terms of my backing skills, and I know I have a lot of catching up to do. I know it’s very easy to lose one’s job in this industry, so I need to make sure I am the best of the best and can get the job done with flying colors. I understand there’s a learning curve, so I’m giving myself a break, but I just feel like I should be doing better with backing than I am now.

Driving 11 hours a day? That is the EASY part. The general public, whenever they express admiration for how hard we truck drivers work, always phrase it in terms of our stamina for being able to drive so long. You can train a monkey to keep a truck in a straight line for 11 hours a day and adjust the speed going up and down some hills. It’s everything else that’s difficult! I’ve never been mechanically gifted, and to be Frank am a bit of a klutz. My trainer finds it amusing to watch me struggle with the glad hands, the fifth wheel safety release, and even getting fuel. I had zero illusions about this job simply being driving, but it’s a bit embarrassing to be out here barely able to manipulate basic auto parts. I hope I get this soon! I know most don’t make it.

That said? I am legitimately having a blast. Each day is more fun than the one before it, and I mean it with all sincerity. I signed up because I wanted a challenge, and that’s exactly what I’m getting! I’m taking all of these hiccups in stride because the learning curve is steep, and I know I’ll get it eventually. At the end of the day, we are living every 8-year-old boy’s dream: we get to drive big trucks for a living!

Sitting here at the shipper outside Boise waiting to pick up a two-stop to salt lake and Denver. Will keep everyone updated!

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.

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.

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
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It's fun following along with you Eugene! I love your enthusiasm! You may be a Klutz, but you are a fun Klutz! Carry on brother, you are going to get this stuff down eventually. Nobody is born a trucker. We all have a learning curve to get where we can do this stuff. Each of us learns it at their own pace.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Eugene K.'s Comment
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UPDATE - fri 29 Jan 2021, 1530 Denver CO

Afternoon all! Quick update on my comings and going’s: we arrived at loc 02 in salt lake at 0700 yesterday for a quick live unload, then headed up through the pass on I-80 to stop at little America Wyoming for some backing practice. I performed two 45s really smoothly and got a 90 in the box with a little trouble, but managed. Either way it boosted my confidence. We made it all the way to a Petro outside Fort Collins CO for the night, then made it to our 90 in Denver at 1200 today. The receiver docks backed up right onto a street, so my trainer had to guide me in on my 45 so as not to impede traffic for too long. I felt confident knowing that I could have pulled it off on my own, even though it may have taken twice as long! Quick and easy drop.

A general observation on culture shock: this career change is, for me, a transition from a role of high authority to one of no authority, which has been a bit jarring. As a manager of luxury fitness facilities with very fussy and demanding high value clients, I ran a very tight ship and had to expect nothing less than perfection at all times from my team in order to satisfy our customers. This often involved swiping for individual specks of dust with a rubber glove around spin bikes, and telling someone to get it cleaned ASAP if anything was found. And don’t even get me started on handling clients who complained!

Though I’ve yet to have an outright negative experience at any shipper or receiver, and considered myself well prepared for the reality of the delays and the business in general by spending months on TT, it’s STILL a bit of a shocker to experience the general culture of nonchalance and inefficiency and everywhere. Coming from the business I spent so long in, it’s surprising how no one seems to mind that loads are frequently 6-8 hours late going in or out, and the general attitude of everyone from the yard dogs to the shipping clerks everywhere seems to be “that’s not my job.” I frequently have to pick my jaw up off the floor from how little anyone seems to care about efficiency, especially considering how I had to fire employees for far less for so long on a regular basis.

Oh well! It’s one thing to be prepared mentally just by reading about it, and another thing entirely to experience it! Another lesson learned, just roll with the punches :)

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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.

Paul D.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm still following along and thank you so much for sharing your journey. I'm sure you're doing much better than you think, "we are all our own worst critic"

I just completed my week 1 training at Wilson and will be heading out on my D Seat training as soon as my trainer gets here.

Maybe I'll see you out there...

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Davy A.'s Comment
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Thank you so much, I really appreciate your journal and sense of humor. Ive selected Wilson too, and am expecting to be starting school in March. Ill be hitting the Missoula Montana one according to the recruiter.

Eugene K.'s Comment
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Tuesday 2 Feb 2021

Hey folks! Quick check-in. I can barely remember where I was or what I was doing last time I posted. Looks like we were in Denver....

Went from Denver to drop at Walmart DC in North Platte NE, picked up huge load out of Tysons heading to Syracuse NY and Cheshire CT. We were stuck in this mess of a storm pretty much from before Chicago all the way till the end, and since we had so much time before getting to the 90 we only managed to be one hour late even with having to shut down for over 24 hours. My stamina is through the roof while driving and I always feel like I can keep going for hours every time my 11 run out.

I am finding now that there are certain things I genuinely love about the job and certain things I don’t, so in that sense trucking is no different than any other job. We are here to work; this isn’t a paid vacation! What I love most about the job? Pretty much everything involving the journey. From the moment I first pull out of the shipper and hit the road and turn up the music, trip planning, looking for truck stops, stopping for the night, showering, eating in diners, sleeping in the truck, waking up in the freezing cold to grab coffee and hitting the road again to watch some gorgeous sunsets, sunrises, and scenery. Basically, I love the lifestyle. Love everything about it.

What I can’t stand? Pretty much anything dealing with shippers and receivers. I love everything about the middle of the journey; I just don’t care for the beginning or the end. My backing is still an absolute mess. This morning at the 90, I got so frustrated after about 30 minutes of inching forward and back all over the yard with no progress that my trainer offered to take over so I let him. The truth is, the only backs I’ve managed to complete without any help have been straight backs and offsets. Any 45s and 90s I’ve had to do have required my trainer to coach me every single inch of the way just to complete it. If I had to do these on my own without my trainer to hold my hand, I never would have been able to finish them, which has me concerned for my prospects out on my own. The truth is, in my career, I’ve always been told exactly what to do by a boss, OR I’ve been a boss who told my employees exactly what to do. I’ve always worked on teams and have never worked independently, so the prospect of having no one to help me out of a mess but myself is a little frightening, especially considering how I still manage to struggle with basic things like opening and latching the trailer doors, opening the hood, sliding the tandems , manipulating the landing gear, and taking any less than an hour to get a trailer backed into a dock. As I’ve said before, when it comes to using my hands, I’m basically cursed. If this job was only as easy as simply driving, I could do it for 24 hours straight and outlast anybody. It’s the other stuff where I really struggle. Suffice it to say that a local job will probably never be in the cards for me!

We are here at a trailer washout in MA about to pick up a load for Bakersfield CA, then have to head all the way back to be in Richmond VA by Monday so I can make my DMV appointment on Tuesday. It’s insane to think we will have criss crossed the entire country literally 4.5 times within 10 days!

Will keep you all posted

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.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

PackRat's Comment
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Ah, but you do have people to help you out on here, or just a text or phonecall away.

Rob T.'s Comment
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Don't be so hard on yourself Eugene. You're doing a great job! Despite the way some people act none of us were born with these skills. You're still in training. Truth be told your backing is likely to take 6 months to a year or more before you're able to perfect it. That is one of the reasons we recommend OTR for a minimum of 1 year before going local. You're doing a great job, keep it up!

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.

Eugene K.'s Comment
member avatar

Packrat be careful what you wish for! You may regret it when you get a call at 3 in the morning asking you to walk me through a blind side 90 😂

But appreciate the encouragement! I’m just a perfectionist is all. It always passes.

Quick update - Fri 5 Feb 2021 1500

Not much to report! We picked up our new load in Springfield MA around 1800 and I was ready to go on a fresh clock, excited to head for California on a cross country run on a tight window. It’s challenges like these that led me to pursue this career in the first place. Then, as fate would have it, a lake effect snowstorm blew in and shut us down overnight at the Petro in Waterloo NY (the third time at this truck stop now — I’m getting to know it quite well). It’s actually a fairly huge lot, and it was packed to the brim. There were entire new sections created that clearly aren’t intended as parking areas, and we had to carve one out for ourselves along the rest.

Due to the hours we lost, the customer pushed back our delivery and window, but that would have made me unable to get back to Virginia in time to pick up my CDL. We wound up dropping the trailer at the prime terminal in Springfield so someone else could deliver it, then checked into the Baymont Wyndham at 0430 (my fourth room here in about six weeks!) Spent Thursday night at the hotel and my DM just found another trainer to temporarily scoop me up and take me back East as he heads for home time in Winchester VA, since my trainers truck is backed up in line to be serviced. Currently chilling in the drivers lounge until we head out this evening.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

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.

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.

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.
PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Most mornings, I've already been up for an hour or more.

I would rather give up some sleep than have someone on here do something wrong (with lasting consequences) instead of reaching out for help.

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