Why Did You Get Started In Trucking, And What Were Your Biggest Concerns?

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NaeNaeInNC's Comment
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Phewwwwww. It's a doozie. My son had just turned 18, and I was burnt out, working two jobs. Barely scraping by.

I was a single parent from day one, so had ample time to mess up my credit trying to do it without the dreaded government assistance. Still had nothing to show for it, and was wondering why?

One of my lifelong girlfriends watched me finally break, and told me I was moving into their basement, so I could at least have enough financial room to take a breath.

I was leaving home at 6am, drive 45 miles, hit the gym for 45 mins, shower fast and go the block to my office, to assist in the adjusting of work comp claims. I would sleep in my office during my lunch break, and be done at 5, quick change clothes, eat in my car, start the second job at 5:30. Off at 11. Drive home. Lucky to be in bed by midnight.

One day, I'm in my office, with 9 files (about 1k pages each) that needed me to redact certain proprietary info that claimants attorneys were not entitled to. I had to have eyes on every page of those 9k in the stack. They needed to be sent in 2 days, on top of my other claim duties. An adjuster came into my office with a smile, and asked me to do a redaction ASAP.

I SNAPPED. Lost my professional marbles (that was a first!) I asked her which of the other 9 I was supposed to tell to "Fudge off." Only I said it. (Nod to Christmas Story! Yay!) Little Miss Fully composed lost the plot, and cursed in a professional office! (The horror, right?) The adjuster looked like I had slapped her, and she sloooooooowly backed out of my office.

I had been kicking around the idea of driving for years. I had family members who were old school cattle haulers. Friends who became family who were mega carrier trainers. Boyfriends that drove for the little guy flatbed companies. I never could justify the sacrifice of time away from my son, or get past the terror of messing up and killing someone. I had gone as far as applying for Prime. They had offered me flatbed out of Montana. That was a no-go for me. One of our main WC clients was a flatbed carrier. It was a case of "too much graphic information" about life changing injuries in my face. Derek my recruiter told me to try again, if I moved to a state they hired reefer out of.

That day in my office, it took me ten minutes to do the math, call a friend in NC and ask if I could couch surf, and write my letter of resignation for 33 days later. I was terrified. Beyond terrified. My boss teared up, asked if I was sure. Two separate adjusters tried to get me to stay in separate ambushes in my office. The more they talked, the more I realized I was worth more than $14.50/hr with an hour each way commute.

My entire future plan hung on being able to do this. I had no plan B, or plan C. To say I NAILED IT is an understatement. I'm still afraid of someone hitting me, and as a result they die.... But I think that's going to be a forever worry.

I had planned for 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year if I actually liked it. May 6th will be one year as a CDL holder/Prime employee. It has by far given me room to breathe, think, and make a decision that is right for me, that benefits myself. I'm sticking with it!

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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Wow!

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar
1) Why did you decide to become a truck driver? What did you hope to get from it?

I needed a career and I always enjoyed driving. I was tired of doing warehouse jobs tearing my body up and dreading every day. For the 7 years or so before i got my CDL I was a order picker in freezers. With us just having had our 2nd child I knew I needed to get started or I'd keep putting it off like I'd done for the previous 5 years. Growing up we had what we needed but didn't have extra money for anything else. Our idea of vacation was going to my grandpa's house 2 hours away. I wanted to give my kids more than I had growing up, especially a house with a big backyard. Apartments suck!

2) What were your biggest doubts, fears, and uncertainties?

Failure.

I went about getting my CDL different than most. I tried to get it through Sysco in Tampa (Palmetto, shout out to Anne!) But they kept dragging their feet about it. We moved to Iowa and they wouldn't help me get my CDL until after I had an offer from PFG for a driver apprentice program. My wife was supportive but skeptical at the same time of my decision. If I stuck with Sysco I'd attend a local school for 8 hours a day, then work the warehouse 4 hours a night and be paid for 40 hours of work roughly $920 a week for 8 weeks. I was accustomed to making close to $1700 a week in Florida and couldn't survive off $920. If I didn't like driving I could fall back to the warehouse. PFG terminal/warehouse is over 2 hours away. They put me up in a hotel out there Sunday night through Thursday night (commute home Friday after class), school for 4 weeks, and paid me $600 a week. If I couldn't pass my test or like the job I would need to quit completely and be on the hook for a few thousand dollars. In the end choosing PFG worked out well. Leaving my wife at home with our 2 kids (2 year old and 6 month old) with no vehicle during the week was terrifying. Knowing that we are a single income family and we're completely screwed if I fail was very stressful. I needed to cash out my 401k to keep us afloat for those 4 weeks.

Other than pulling a 12 foot uhaul trailer with my van 3 months before CDL school I'd never backed a trailer. So of course the struggle I had with that little trailer made me constantly questioning if I'm even capable of backing something much bigger. Come to find out the bigger the trailer the easier it is to maneuver.

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.

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.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Wow!

Ditto for me. NaeNae you are awesome!

Anne A. (Momma Anne) & To's Comment
member avatar

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Wow!

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Ditto for me. NaeNae you are awesome!

TRITTO!! Awesome, girl. You are a HUGE inspiration to ME, always!

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1) Why did you decide to become a truck driver? What did you hope to get from it?

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I needed a career and I always enjoyed driving. I was tired of doing warehouse jobs tearing my body up and dreading every day. For the 7 years or so before i got my CDL I was a order picker in freezers. With us just having had our 2nd child I knew I needed to get started or I'd keep putting it off like I'd done for the previous 5 years. Growing up we had what we needed but didn't have extra money for anything else. Our idea of vacation was going to my grandpa's house 2 hours away. I wanted to give my kids more than I had growing up, especially a house with a big backyard. Apartments suck!

double-quotes-start.png

2) What were your biggest doubts, fears, and uncertainties?

double-quotes-end.png

Failure.

I went about getting my CDL different than most. I tried to get it through Sysco in Tampa (Palmetto, shout out to Anne!) But they kept dragging their feet about it. We moved to Iowa and they wouldn't help me get my CDL until after I had an offer from PFG for a driver apprentice program. My wife was supportive but skeptical at the same time of my decision. If I stuck with Sysco I'd attend a local school for 8 hours a day, then work the warehouse 4 hours a night and be paid for 40 hours of work roughly $920 a week for 8 weeks. I was accustomed to making close to $1700 a week in Florida and couldn't survive off $920. If I didn't like driving I could fall back to the warehouse. PFG terminal/warehouse is over 2 hours away. They put me up in a hotel out there Sunday night through Thursday night (commute home Friday after class), school for 4 weeks, and paid me $600 a week. If I couldn't pass my test or like the job I would need to quit completely and be on the hook for a few thousand dollars. In the end choosing PFG worked out well. Leaving my wife at home with our 2 kids (2 year old and 6 month old) with no vehicle during the week was terrifying. Knowing that we are a single income family and we're completely screwed if I fail was very stressful. I needed to cash out my 401k to keep us afloat for those 4 weeks.

Other than pulling a 12 foot uhaul trailer with my van 3 months before CDL school I'd never backed a trailer. So of course the struggle I had with that little trailer made me constantly questioning if I'm even capable of backing something much bigger. Come to find out the bigger the trailer the easier it is to maneuver.

Rob T., Man. I know you busted BUM (butt) to get where you are!!

Amazing fella, you are! Family first; I've always admired you!! Miss you up in here, too!!

~ Anne ~

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.

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.

NaeNaeInNC's Comment
member avatar

Awe, thank you guys! This site, and everyone's contributions managed to help me take something seriously scary, and realize that I could handle whatever this career threw at me. Thank you, everyone, from the bottom of my shriveled heart!

Anne, when it's your turn at bat, I suspect you will knock it outta the park too!

Anne A. (Momma Anne) & To's Comment
member avatar

Awe, thank you guys! This site, and everyone's contributions managed to help me take something seriously scary, and realize that I could handle whatever this career threw at me. Thank you, everyone, from the bottom of my shriveled heart!

Anne, when it's your turn at bat, I suspect you will knock it outta the park too!

NaeNae, you rock it, girl! No thank ya's necessary! Between you & Rainy/Kearsey ... y'all 'wowed' me from hello!

Best luck going forward, PLEASE keep usn's in the loop! I'll see ya on the blacktop, someday!

~ Anne ~

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations Nae Nae on one year with Prime. You are a very courageous person.

I had retired from my prior career as a Petroleum Engineer of 38 years at age 60. I started looking for work again at age 64. Frankly I needed something meaningful to do plus I needed the income to supplement my retirement due to life circumstances. I applied to many local jobs over two years and had only two job interviews.

I am just going to flat out say it, a senior white male was not the profile potential employers were looking for where I live.

Then I decided to look into truck driving and came across TruckingTruth.com. Trucking is the one industry that does not discriminate. So long as I can pass the DOT medical and drive safely I can work.

Driving a big rig was not something that I dreamed about since childhood. I drove diesel motorhomes and liked driving the large vehicle.

I discovered that I actually enjoy driving the big rig and all of the associated job requirements. It has put a smile back on my face again (ala City Slickers).

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.

KID's Comment
member avatar

I became a truck driver due to family tradition and yes I know thats probably the dumbest reason but also because I enjoy driving to places I've never been too before.

My biggest concerns and are still is miles, I couldn't give much a darn about detention pay I want my miles and experience.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

I got into this as a second career. After retiring I moved across country, Ca to Ga. Got bored after 11 months and the small town I moved to didn’t offer alot. I looked at part time jobs at auto parts stores, being an old gear head that would have worked for me. Didn’t work for them I guess.

My best friend most of my life was a truck driver and his dad owned a very small trucking company, doing heavy haul. I had been around trucks because of my friend but never drove one. He always told me not to do it, because I was too smart.

Well that seemed the only thing I had a good option for so I did it. I was scared to death of failing. I was also not prepared for the OTR lifestyle. My buddy did specialized stuff only on the west coast so he was only gone a couple of days at the most.

Went to Roehl’s company school and drove for them in the beginning. I have tried several things over the years. I’ve pulled dry van , reefers, tankers and flatbed. Worked for big companies and 1 private fleet. Been a company driver and an O/O.

It is closing in on 9 years and I’m still going strong. I think I still have a few good years in me, however I am in the process of making some changes that will get me home alot more and I’m in a great position now where I can slow down a bit, but stay as busy as I want too.

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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