Journey With Wilson Logistics - Springfield, MO

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Eugene K.'s Comment
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UPDATE: Tue 9 Feb 2021, 1830

A TA in Ashland, Virginia, off 95

Flashback to Friday: my trainer’s truck is still in the shop awaiting work on the starter. (Those of you who drive a ‘21 Cascadia may find this amusing: whatever is wrong with the starter, we need to turn on interior comfort mode and fiddle with the heater in the sleeper berth until the truck turns on. It’s literally been like this for the two weeks I’ve been on his truck 😂) ..... might wanna get that fixed ....

My fleet manager has another driver route through Springfield on a load east to PA to pick me up, with the intention of dispatching us down to Richmond to drop me in time for my DMV appointment on Tuesday morning. We get rolling out of prime early Saturday morning, way ahead of schedule on the load, with an easy divvying up of driving time between the two of us (about 300 miles a day for me, 200 a day for him). Super nice guy, very chatty, very helpful, always willing to help out with a story or an example of how to get myself out of a jam.

Then something occurred to me that still has me wondering if I’m a jerk or not... after about 3 hours of friendly chatter across Missouri, I started to get annoyed at the chatter. I’m quite a talker myself, and have often been told I talk too much. But my trainer and I have fallen into a rhythm where we talk when necessary or when we are bored, but then otherwise leave each other alone for most of the day to drive in silence or whatever while the other one goes in the sleeper berth to play video games or cook or read or sleep or talk on the phone. The driver who picked me up to hitch along, on the other hand, simply would not stop talking for the entire weekend. The fact that he is such a nice guy actually made me feel worse about wanting him to shut up, because it WOULD be fairly rude thing to say “okay good chat but I’d like to drive in silence for a few hours can you go in the back now please?” The fact that I knew I couldn’t say this without being a jerk actually made me more irritated the longer he kept talking 😂 oh well. I was a guest on his truck and he was doing me a favor by picking me up, so wisdom and courtesy ruled the day and I kept my mouth shut.

We dropped the load in Allentown PA Sunday night and pick up a tiny load heading for Fredericksburg, after some confusion about two potential loads he rejected earlier that afternoon. It took some significant back and forth with my family about the logistics of getting me picked up and headed to where I was staying for the night in advance of my DMV appointment, not to mention the fact my parents were driving up from Virginia Beach after not having seen me for two months. We settled on splitting up the short drive time, stopping outside Baltimore for a few hours’ nap, with me taking over around 5 am to get us to Richmond first. He would then backtrack to Fredericksburg, drop the load at 1100, and then head north for home time in Martinsburg WV.

So far so good. Until ....

..... halfway to Richmond, I realize my clock is three hours negative. Wait a minute .... that can’t be ..... OH NO. Guess who forgot to switch himself over to active driver when going on duty for his pre trip 🤦‍♂️ What a huge mess this created. We had to get on the phone with compliance to fix my clock, because he was technically in violation due to my mistake, meaning he would have been unable to deliver the load from being out of hours. Simply making one mistake of not clicking a single button could have screwed up BOTH my day and his, making myself late for my DMV appointment to get my CDL , ruining his home time, inconveniencing my entire family who changed plans twice to accommodate me, not to mention make the load late. What a cluster eff. Luckily compliance was able to fix it, but consider it a lesson learned: I’ll never forget this so long as I’m team driving!

Anyways, I’m here at the TA in Ashland as we wait to head to mechanicsville for a live unload at 0001. Till next time!

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.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

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.

Fleet 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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Anyways, I’m here at the TA in Ashland as we wait to head to mechanicsville for a live unload at 0001. Till next time!

Is your drop yard in Springfield, MA by any chance at 311 Industry Ave? Roehl also has a drop yard there, it would be cool to meet there some day. Good luck and stsy safe!

Eugene K.'s Comment
member avatar

*** Andrey our HQ is in Springfield MO, not Springfield MA

UPDATE: Fri 12 Feb, 1200, Jackson TN

Not much to report! Rewind to Tuesday evening ... we left the TA in Ashland VA and headed to the receiver in mechanicsville, then checked in at 0001 for a six hour live unload. I must have gotten a grand total of two hours sleep, so I was not exactly engaged and chock full of common sense for most of the day.

We arrived in Chesapeake VA around 1100 for a live load, which is in the backyard of my home town on Virginia Beach. I may have already done a 9% grade in whiteout conditions, but few things have terrified me more than the prospect of dealing with southeastern VA drivers in broad daylight. Not sure how many of you run down to the 757, but I’ve never seen worse drivers anywhere in else in America. Anyways, my backing was a certifiable disaster .... on a wide open lot with no obstructions and maybe two or three other trucks, as far away from me as humanly possible. I was just not having a great morning. Pretty much the only thing I could remember was “right to go left, left to go right” regarding trailer control. Anything else went completely out the window. After about 30 minutes of struggling, my trainer took over because the shipper contacted us and told us they were in a hurry to load — now THAT’S a new one!

I was pretty down for the rest of the day, because as I accumulate more miles during this phase of training, I’m getting closer and closer to my solo week. This is when, after completing B seat phase, you stay in Springfield for a week to run solo, doing lots of local runs with tons of backing. I understand and appreciate that it takes anywhere from six months to a year to get good at backing; I just don’t have the luxury of six months to a year to get good at backing. I have about six weeks to get good at backing, because if I wash out of solo week, I don’t upgrade to my own truck and am stuck with the bill for my CDL. It is what it is at this point. No doom and gloom or self pity, just cold calculated reality. All I can do is practice backing every chance we have and hope for the best.

Fast forward: drove almost 700 miles to Alabama, we stopped for a day so my trainer could take care of some personal business, then we arrived at the 90 in Jackson TN today. And just like that, I was handed a gift from the backing gods:

Fresh ... Muddy .... tire tracks!

I one-shotted myself on a 90, in between a trailer and a brick wall, with no guidance from my trainer, strictly by watching my tandems and following the tire tracks. By keeping my eye on the tracks, I was able to tell exactly when I needed to turn right or left to keep tracking in. I did mess up a little bit correcting after I opened the doors, but I just pulled up and fixed it. Piece of cake!

Picking up a fedex load out of Memphis to head for Albuquerque next. Have a great weekend and stay safe!

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.

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".

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Eugene, can you learn something from that backing experience with the muddy tracks? I think you can.

Even as an experienced driver I used to envision an imaginary arc going right into the dock I was backing into. Then I would watch my tandems following that arc as I made adjustments to the wheel. You may have accidentally found something that helps you with that maneuver. You may be focusing on the wrong things at times. What I mean is maybe you are focusing on the rear of the trailer and you should be watching where your tandems are rolling instead. Sometimes it is just a little thing like that which will help you began to gain a mastery of the backing concepts needed. Try watching where your tandems are rolling. It just may be the secret sauce that helps you learn to go backward better.

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".

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

C'mon man! Everybody is an excellent driver in Tidewater! Just ask 'em.

rofl-3.gif rofl-3.gif good-luck.gif

Eugene K.'s Comment
member avatar

O/S you’re absolutely right I learned a lot about backing yesterday! Not only from the aforementioned example, but also when I backed in at a Petro in West Memphis last night with a line of impatient drivers behind me.

The long and short of it? Any lesson I had learned from the daytime experience went out the window when I started to panic at the crowded truck stop. But I still managed to get in, even though it took almost 20 minutes. The lesson is that I have absolutely no idea how I did it.

Think of it this way: when we parallel park a regular car, how often do we plan it out first and say to ourselves, “okay, I’m going to turn the steering wheel right once I’m four inches past the bumper in front of me, then pull hard left for three inches, etc etc”. I would imagine never. We just kind of .... do it. Sometimes we one-shot it, sometimes it takes a few pull-ups, sometimes we can’t do it and need to pull out and go find another spot.

There’s no reason to think backing a truck should be any different. Sure, there are underlying fundamental principles of Newtonian physics that apply, but the point is no two backs are ever the same.

I’ve simply been overthinking the s*** out of this lol. I just need to back the truck up by any means necessary and stay out of my head about it.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
The lesson is that I have absolutely no idea how I did it.

rofl-3.gif I get it. I thought I would mention what I did because it always helped me to watch my trailer tires as I backed. As a new driver I could watch the back of my trailer and it never helped me get any bearing on what was going on. Somehow watching those wheels roll in an arc helped me figure out what to do to make it go where I wanted.

We are all different on backing. There are very few experts.

I’ve simply been overthinking the s*** out of this lol. I just need to back the truck up by any means necessary and stay out of my head about it.

I think you are on to something there. I can remember as a rookie telling myself, "Just put the *#@* thing where you want it to go - quit thinking about it and do it!"

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Good job, Eugene! It's a challenge, especially in the beginning stages. Some days are better, while other days......

Get yourself into this mindset: You are backing and driving that trailer; not the truck.

good-luck.gif

Eugene K.'s Comment
member avatar

Update: Fri 19 Feb 2021, Denver CO

Hello all! This has been a fairly hectic and exhausting week with lots of miles, so my apologies for the delay in updating.

I’ll skip over some of the unnecessary minutiae and details of the day-to-day, and focus on the most important takeaway of the week: I think I’ve had a “eureka” moment with my backing.

On Sunday at a receiver in the Texas panhandle, it was my turn to back us in after driving in from Albuquerque. This time, I resolved to do no thinking whatsoever about what maneuvering I would do and when. I decided I would simply watch the tires and turn the wheel to correct as necessary. And guess what? I backed it in less than two minutes, appearing no different from someone who’s been doing this for 30 years. I needed no correction or guidance from my trainer whatsoever, who watched silently from outside the truck.

Think of it this way: say you’re driving a 4-wheeler and about to parallel park in a dense urban neighborhood. How often do you say this to yourself:

“Okay, first I’m going to align myself five inches to the left of the front car, and slightly angle the steering wheel left at 12 degrees. Then I’m going to back in for six seconds, before turning the wheel right 8 degrees, maneuvering until I’m 4 inches off the front bumper from the rear car....”

My guess is never. As I mentioned in my previous post, we just kind of do it. My problem with backing up until now has been that I have approached every other time like it’s quantum mechanics. It’s really not that complicated.

To anyone reading along who is considering a trucking career or about to enter training, my biggest lesson about backing is this: when you’re on the backing pad in training, memorize everything because that will guarantee you pass the backing portion of your CDL exam. Then go and promptly FORGET EVERYTHING you learned about backing on the pad lol. If you stay in your head about backing on the pad while trying to back in the real world, you will repeatedly get yourself into a jam. Just let it go and “use the force” like Luke blowing up the Death Star.

Enjoy your 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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Andrey's Comment
member avatar

Eugene, I agree about baking at school - it is only for CDL , and it cannot be anything else, because evey yard and every dock is slightly diffetent, and no school can recreate this variety. Maybe with am exception of huge distribution centers with lots of space. For me memorizing of angles and reference points never worked well, and sometime on the second week of training I noticed that my backing improved. It still sucks, but not that much, so I hope I am on the right way :-)

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.
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