Journey With Wilson Logistics - Springfield, MO

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Eugene K.'s Comment
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Update: Mon 22 Feb 2021

Binghamton, NY

Hello everyone! Before I begin, I want to make sure all of these reading along take today’s post with a grain of salt: I’ve been up since 3:00 am, have already run over 500 miles today and am not finished yet, and have a grand total of less than 3 hours’ sleep. Plus, I’ve gotten no more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep total on any given night going back to at least last Sunday.

As such, any ranting or negativity should be chalked up to this, but to suffice it to say I’m not having a good day. My mood will likely improve once I get a decent nights’ sleep, but at this point I’m not quite sure when that will be; the ability to fall asleep with ease during my first few weeks seems to have passed. That said, I’m committed to painting an unvarnished picture of my experience—the good and the bad—because Though my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, I feel I’d be doing anyone considering this career a disservice if this training diary wasn’t warts and all.

Whatever eureka moments or flashes of inspiration I had during my successful backs last week, simply haven’t been with me today. At a receiver in Rochester, the docks lined up against a fairly busy street, and I was already semi-conscious from driving 400 miles this morning through a lake effect blizzard to get there. I tried to remember following my tires and responding accordingly, but the cars backing up and honking for me to move threw me into a panic. Each time I tried to adjust to continue my back, I was also trying to give them room to pass, and the cars simply wouldn’t stop coming. The panic compounded and for all intents and purposes, I forgot literally everything about backing, even how to turn the wheel and basic trailer control. After my trainer couldn’t coach me through it after 20 minutes, he had to jump in and finish the back so we wouldn’t get a citation for impeding traffic.

Just now at a Love’s, my backing was just as terrible, and my ability to follow my trainer’s coaching actually worsened to the point where I was actually doing the OPPOSITE of his steering instructions. Yet again, he had to jump in and take over. It’s important to note that neither of these backs were even remotely difficult, and I couldn’t finish them even with my trainer guiding me every step of the of the way. We have only a couple of weeks left before my dreaded solo week and quite frankly, I’ll be shocked if I last a day with backing skills this terrible. It’s not negativity: it’s stone cold realism. I’m genuinely curious how I even passed the backing portion of the CDL exam to begin with. Today looked no better than my very first day on the pad, and I’m supposed to be almost ready to go solo.

It’s important for me to chime in about how poor diet, lack of exercise, and poor sleep have contributed to my mood, fatigue, and general aptitude for motor skills. As a reminder, I was in the fitness industry for ten years, accustomed to grilling salmon and chicken and vegetables for meals 7 days a week and working out for 90 minutes six days a week. I had no illusions about my ability to maintain this level of fitness in this career, and I’m highly educated on workout programming so I know exactly how to adapt to working out without a gym, but I assumed there’d be a lot more opportunity. I assumed there’d be an opportunity to shop for groceries twice a week at a Walmart or target, or at least once a week, but we have only had time for three stops in about three weeks. I had a friend write up a meal plan with nutritious easy to prep recipes, but my space is limited to half a shelf in a mini fridge, so whatever healthy food I buy only lasts for 2 days. That leaves me with no other options except the truck stops for meals, and even the “healthiest” options available are processed, packaged garbage laden with additives and preservatives. If I don’t want to rip my meals out of a plastic wrapper, it seems as if the only restaurants truck stops are aware of are McDonald’s and Denny’s.

Regarding my workouts? Writing out the program and knowing what to do has been no problem—I hold two training certifications. The Problem is this nonstop winter from hell. I think the temperature has been above freezing maybe once or twice, I’ve seen the sun maybe three times, and we have seen nothing but sleet or snow all across the country. Simply put, I’ve managed to do TWO ten-minute workouts since the start of 2021, before having to quit and hop back in the truck due to rain or cold.

I am aware that this has been an unseasonably cold weather, but I’m also aware that trucking is among the unhealthiest occupations in America and I’m beginning to experience why. My diet has never been worse despite every attempt to find healthy food. Compounded with zero physical activity, I’ve lost almost ten pounds of muscle and bloated to obscene proportions of stomach fat. My skin is pallid, I have permanent dark circles under my eyes, and the awareness of my worsening health and fitness condition has led to a downward spiral in my mood and self esteem. Quite frankly, I’m ashamed looking in the mirror when I shower.

Vanity aside, I value my health more than anything, and I’d love to be able to run marathons well into my 90s or even longer should I choose to do so. (I actually hate running; just making a point lol). At this point, I can’t see how anyone in this industry even survives past 70! My only hope is that when training ends (continued)

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.

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.

Eugene K.'s Comment
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(CONTINUED) And I upgrade to my own truck, I’ll have more space, time and opportunity to prioritize shopping for groceries and making time for workouts. Spring is also coming (I think?), so with warmer weather, I’ll be able to work out outside the truck. But if things continue as they have been, I’m legitimately unsure if I’m willing to make sacrifices this severe to my health if it’s what I need to do to succeed in this career.

It’s one thing to be as prepared as possible to transition into this career. I spent hours a day on this wonderful website poring over every post I could, and I have no doubt I came into training more prepared than 99% of new students. But it’s another thing to live it. And man, today is one of those days I just don’t feel like living it.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I have the perseverance, endurance, work ethic, and critical thinking skills to succeed in this career. But it only becomes increasingly clear that I’m severely lacking in both basic motor skills and, more importantly, nerves. I’m not sure how much patience my fleet manager will have with me if I need to run into a bathroom stall to hyperventilate into a paper bag just because a few cars drive past while I’m trying to back. Again, the backs themselves did not make the backing difficult; the traffic did not make the backing difficult; and the weather did not make the backing difficult. Only I made the backing difficult. It’s empowering to know only I have the power to fix it, but so far, every step forward is followed by two steps back. I have maybe two weeks left to figure out this backing before I’m thrown into my solo week without the cushion of my trainer to fall back on.

There’s no way I will ever quit at this: it’s simply not in my DNA. I just hope I improve enough at backing not to get fired! Thanks for letting me vent lol 🙏❤️

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Shadow Trucker's Comment
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Thank You for the honesty and telling us what we need to know, not what we want to know. Have you been tracking your Macros to maintain a caloric deficit ? That's what I was planning to do during my training period just to not gain body fat. Hope things turn around soon for you with the backing, I'm sure it will once you can get some sleep.

Eugene K.'s Comment
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Hey Don thanks for checking in and happy to help! I haven’t, for a few reasons:

1) I don’t know my caloric expenditure or new resting metabolic rate (with no physical activity and lower lean muscle tissue mass). Any calculations would be incorrect 2) tracking macros implies we have some kind of choice in our next meal. Without groceries, we never know where we are stopping next for food. 3) the fifteen minutes in the day required to do this work is fifteen minutes a day taken away from sleep!

I have maybe two weeks left in my B seat training, so I’ll just tough it out until I have my own truck and some more flexibility. This phase is temporary — this too shall pass!

Davy A.'s Comment
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Valuable information. I love reading your diary btw, really helps give me glimpses into what training will be like. Were you able to keep enough supplements and High cal/protein food around to help on hand? (Like powerbars etc?)

Old School's Comment
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Eugene, just as much as learning to back properly takes time, it also takes time to learn to manage your lifestyle out here. It can be done. Most truckers don't give it a thought and just eat fast food at whatever truck stop they happen to stop at. Others give it a lot of diligence and make a practice of eating and exercising properly. It's just as difficult as learning to back a semi, but it's also just as rewarding when you get it right!

Your life will be your own to control as a solo driver. Don't let the career control you and manipulate your lifestyle. Learn to embrace it in the way you want it to be. You can do that, but it is a choice you make. Right now it is impossible because you are in training and you don't have the kind of control you will have when on your own. Life is about choices. As a solo driver you will get to make your own choices. All you have to do is balance your career and your health choices in a way that works for you. It sounds simple the way I just put it, but it definitely has its challenges. You'll figure it out, or you will give it up. That is going to be up to you. I am pretty sure you've got the wherewithal upstairs to figure it all out. Keep trucking my friend!

Vicki M.'s Comment
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I have been really looking into ways to eat healthy and keep kind of in shape once I am solo. I am really thinking a yoga mat and a couple different weight kettlebells. Prison workouts if I can find room. I plan on doing a lot of my own cooking on my own truck. But I realize that probably NONE of this will happen during training. I'll have no control. I'll just have to hope my body holds out until training is over.

I am only posting this to remind you that it is a couple more weeks. After that, it's all up to you. I have been looking into extra fridge/freezers for fresh food storage, different cooking gadgets. I belong to several "cooking on a big rig" groups and forums. It's doable. But probably not until you are on your own. All this is important to me to keep my A1c at non-diabetic levels.

That being said, I have decided to go with Wilson for training (out of Missoula). I should be heading out in about a month after I tie up some loose ends. I'll be rereading your diary. Hang in there, you got this. Do what I do, when I feel yucky, I look down at my 200+ lb body and remind it that it's done 3 Tough Mudders, 5 Spartans and several years of weight lifting. If I can do that (fat and over 45 when I did all of that), I can do anything. Yell "Aroooo" at yourself and back that darn truck up!!

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.

Andrey's Comment
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Eugene, I am really surprised to learn how painful your training is progressing. Being a trainee too, I can relate to only one issue, i. e. lack of available fridge space. However, even that should not be a problem once you get your own truck and install a fridge of any proportions. Pack it with food, get a rice cooker, a tea kettle, a grill or a skillet, one trip to Walmart will be enough. Salad kits are great, fruit stay fresh for a long time, what else do you need for a healthy menu?

Now, what I cannot understand is your crazy schedule. You have a 10 hour break every day, and 34 every week. How comes that you sleep only 3-4 hours? It is not only bad for you, it can be deadly for others. I am sure you will not pull a trailer if you find its kingpin had a crack. Driving after only 3 hours of sleep is just the same. If it is your trainer, abandon him and asked to be trained by someone else. If it is the company, dump the company. Because nothing is worth human lives.

Andrey's Comment
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Sorry for mistakes, typing on a phone without glasses is my weak point...

Eugene K.'s Comment
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Hi everyone! Thanks for your feedback. Andrey, it appears you may have missed the entire first paragraph of my post where I qualified everything that follows.

I’m actually having an excellent time training and can’t recall the last time I’ve had this much fun on the job. My cranky attitude was due solely to sleep deprivation as a result of team driving, as I find it very difficult to fall and stay asleep while the truck is in motion. I’ve posted on multiple other threads throughout this forum that I’m a chronic insomniac and that team driving during training was a major concern of mine. All in all, it hasn’t turned out anywhere near as bad as I thought it would, and my 30,000 miles of team training are almost finished. The fact that it took almost six weeks to finally have a rough week short on sleep is actually a testament to the excellent training I’m receiving.

I’m simply not one of those people who can fall asleep on a dime and take naps spread throughout the day. It will indeed get much better when I have my own truck and am able to sleep for 8 hours uninterrupted in a stationary vehicle. Next time I have a rough time sleeping, if it concerns you that much, I’ll be happy to share our trip plan so you can route around us 🤷‍♂️

In the meantime, I’m enjoying what is pretty much a perfect day for truck driving, and it’s exactly what I signed up for. We woke up in Palm Springs to 72 degree temps and not a cloud in the sky, and I’ve been cruising through the desert along I-10 enjoying every minute of it, getting out to take pictures and exercise during my 30 minute break. These are exactly the days that make all the rough ones worthwhile.

Till next time!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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