Things Are Bad, Running Out Of Time

Topic 29905 | Page 1

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Eugene K.'s Comment
member avatar

Well, I just spent 30 minutes typing this post up and accidentally deleted it by hitting the wrong button. Trying again:

Suffice it to say that everything that could go wrong with backing at my solo week at Wilson logistics, has gone wrong. After finishing team training, I arrived back in Springfield over the weekend to run shuttles of product from the Kraft plant to their distribution center. On the very first load, I almost rolled an empty trailer over into a ditch, even after having gotten out and looked four times. I was sent home for the day, and reevaluated by an examiner Monday morning. He looked me square in the face and said “what the hell happened yesterday? All of these backs were fine.” I was sent back to Kraft under instructor supervision for the rest of the day without incident. Same for the first half of yesterday (Tuesday). Then, on the last load of the day, I spend over an hour attempting to 45 degree back, and simply cannot execute. Over 20 circle-arounds and resets. More than 50 or 60 pull-ups. I eventually call a trainer to come help me out and put it in the hole.

This morning, I cannot for the life of me back an empty trailer in to the drop yard. 45 minutes pass by. I circle around repeatedly and try everything I can to no avail, so I call dispatch and ask for a yard dog to help me out. At this point the manager calls me in and says “so it looks like you’re struggling with your backing. At this point, how can we help?” I said honestly I don’t know, because I feel like I have been shown a lot with months of practice and still, half the time I get it and half the time I can’t do it at all. He asks me “so how do you know the times you get it aren’t just luck?” My response is that honestly, I don’t, and maybe it is.

Graciously, he drives me over to the drop yard and gives me free reign to use an empty trailer to back anywhere I need, as long as I need. Perfect! Super nice guy, super busy, takes time out of his schedule for this when he didn’t have to. Then I get to it and ..... after two hours, successfully complete only two backs. Absolutely nothing is correct despite “knowing” exactly what to do: setup, trailer control, pull-ups, angles, watching the tandems , nothing is going my way. I’m all over the yard, going in the dirt, jackknifing, setting up wrong, coming in too close or too far, not able to correct without starting over. So I reach out the training center to see if anyone is free for one on one coaching, and that’s when things take a turn.

Apparently the call is escalated and I’m placed on speaker with the safety director and two program directors. The first question out of the safety directors mouth is “Eugene, tell me straight. Is this for you?” I’m so taken aback I can barely respond. Yes, this is for me! I’ve poured my heart and soul into this for over six months and can do every part of the job just great except for backing. He tells me Eugene you have been a star student from day 1 but I have to tell you, we have serious concerns about your inability to back on your own no matter how good you are at driving, trip planning, or any other aspect of the job. This is your solo week, your final exam, and you have only demonstrated you can back under supervision. The second we let you drive by yourself, you do a few loads and then get stuck and call us for help. That won’t work out on the road, and neither will taking 1-2 hours to figure it out at a receiver or at a truck stop at 2 in the morning when it’s raining. Phrases keep coming up like “serious concerns. Final exam. You should be able to do this no problem by now.” It is made abundantly clear that they don’t feel comfortable giving me my own truck to go solo, and I know this because they said “if someone can’t demonstrate they can back by themselves during their solo week, we don’t have the confidence to send them out. We don’t know what else we can do.” At this point, what little confidence I have left essentially shatters.

They send out the senior examiner to work with me on the drop yard for about two hours and nothing goes right. I’m panicked about being sent home, and mess up anywhere from 10-12 backs in a row. When we finish, he says don’t report to Kraft tomorrow, take the shuttle to the training center in the morning so we all can talk.

A few things here: I was in senior management, and senior training management, for years in the fitness industry. I’ve fired many employees and let many trainees go from programs. And my signaling in the time leading up to when I have no other choice but to separate someone, was identical to what I heard and experienced today. This isn’t pessimism, it’s realism borne out of experience. I cannot perform a fundamental requirement of the job to their satisfaction on their timetable. Now I don’t know how this meeting is going to go, but it’s likely either going to be “we are sending you home now” or “fix it today or we are sending you home tomorrow.”

We will see how things go, but to call a spade a spade, this isn’t good. It’s put up or shut up. My only option is to beg for more time to prove I can do this, or else I will wash out of becoming a trucker before I ever set foot in my own truck. What a cruel twist of fate. I dedicate every waking moment of my life to this for the better part of a year, excel in 95% of the training program, and may be sent home because I can’t back. What I regret most at this point is calling to ask for help. It is what it is.

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

Sid V.'s Comment
member avatar

Stop calling for help. Be a professional and get the damn trailer in there.

Eugene K.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the encouragement, *******.

I realize that now but it’s too late.

Go **** yourself you piece of ****.

Rhino's Comment
member avatar

That escalated quickly

Thanks for the encouragement, *******.

I realize that now but it’s too late.

Go **** yourself you piece of ****.

Eugene K.'s Comment
member avatar

Do I sound like someone in the mood for such an unhelpful, rude as hell comment like that? What in the world is that supposed to accomplish?

As I said in my post, “what I regret the most is calling to ask for help.” I had no idea that would suddenly flag me on leadership’s radar as someone unable to perform, especially when the words right out of the safety director’s mouth were “until today, I have never heard the words ‘Eugene can’t back’ out of anyone’s mouth.” This is after multiple evaluations.

Clearly, calling to ask for help is a mistake. If for whatever reason I survive this meeting tomorrow, I will never do it again.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Eugene take tonight and do alot of thinking about what is going wrong. Something is. We all have struggled with backing and some days are better than others. Take a deep breath and figure out where it is going wrong. You have to know the problem before you can correct it.

My guess is your getting anxious and the anxiety is what is wrong. My gf has that tendency. Once her back starts to go wrong she stress’s herself out internally.

When anything goes wrong just stop clear your mind, take a deep breath and identify what needs to be done.

We deal with a variety of situations everyday that we just have to figure out. There is no magic wand, just assessment and finding a solution.

They are looking at the last part just as much as they are your actual backing skill.

We wish you the best tomorrow.

Eugene K.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks PJ. That is precisely what they have been telling me from the start back in December, and what many on this forum have been telling me who have been following along in my journey.

It’s what’s been mentioned to me several times this week, from just about everyone at the program. I’ve heard it said different ways: “whatever is wrong with your nerves, you need to figure it out and fix it.” “Get out of your head!” “Stop overthinking it!”

And I get all this, intellectually. But that’s the problem. I’m ALL head. I’m always up there. And my concern from both their verbal and (mostly) nonverbal communication today stems from the finality of these pronouncements. Several times they have thrown up their hands and shook their heads, breaking eye contact and saying “we all don’t know what else we can do at this point.” That sounds like people who have given up. I know this because my job in the past has required me to give up on people.

I KNOW I can do this job. Now I’m just worried they are convinced I don’t have the nerves for it.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

87Wrangler 's Comment
member avatar

Eugene, I am sure you have watched many videos, but this is one of the best....He gives info that is usable, not many do. Like picking out reference points, before and during the backing procedure...I hope this maybe rings a bell, like it did with me. You can do this, I know you can.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1J0FH4CeaY

Andrey's Comment
member avatar

Eugene, I will tell you two things that may look silly and even wrong but they are not, and for a very simple reason - at the beginning my backing was poor and I struggled (just like you and everybody else), but now I can do it every time, which means that my approach works. Here is the deal. 1) Nerves have nothing to do with the movement of your trailer - it always follows the path set by your steering wheel at a pace set by your accelerator and brake pedal. 2) Setup doesn't really matter that much. Think for yourself - setups are unique and different every time, but the trailer ends up in the same position between two other trailers. Now, with these two core ideas in mind, think of steering to the right as a way to make things faster, and steering to the left as a way to make it slower. Position you trailer anywhere between 0 and 90 degrees, and start slowly backing. It doesn't matter how many degrees you turn to the right. Keep the wheel straight if you want, just do it slow and make sure you have enough room. Then if your left rear corner of the trailer goes towards the left trailer too fast, slow down (turn left), if it goes too slow, add some speed (turn right). Once you are in the hole and almost straight, pull up and finish your backing. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed!

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.

Eugene K.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks andrey! Unfortunately I’m already well aware of this point.

Hard right = go left quickly Straight = go left a bit slower Hard left = go left slowest of all

The problem is I wind up way in the wrong place even knowing this, and then don’t know how to correct. I don’t know how to pull up in the right direction, making it even worse. I may start off fine but in a matter of seconds, I’m right on top of the trailer all the way to my sight side. Then I’m suddenly jackknifed in the dirt in the other direction, or on top of the other trailer, or facing the opposite way after pulling up than I intend, or left with too little room to straighten out.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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