Two Month's Experience Reflections

Topic 31885 | Page 1

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Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

Well, I thought I would check in since it's been a minute. I've been solo for two months now (9 weeks, specifically). I took hometime at the end of my first week and then just last weekend, so that was a 7 week straight stretch of working (with one 34 hour reset in there).

I've been averaging right around 2,500 miles per week. My take-home pay has been $850-900/week after taxes, health insurance, 401(k), etc. Overall, I'm making close to what I made before in my office job, though I work more but have fewer expenses now (no apartment/house, and I'll probably sell my car soon).

I've been learning plenty as I go, such as:

-I'm learning to pace myself. I tend to work for long stretches of weeks at a time, so sometimes if I have some time on a load, I've learned to take a moment when I need it. I've reduced my expenses, so I don't always have to be running at "maximal productivity." For me, this is about the experiences along the way, as well as the paycheck.

-I like to alternate one night at a truck stop (for a shower, to resupply a bit) and one night at a rest area (quieter, more nature and space to walk). This rhythm works well for me, and I've found some great rest areas with little hidden trails.

-Since my trainer was a lease operator, there was a lot I needed to learn on my own as a company driver: how to get reimbursement for scale tickets, how fuel bonuses work, etc. Since we drove team, we never had to use the split sleeper berth provision (someone always had time on their clock), so I've been learning that and how to swing my hours to fit the loads.

-My backing has improved greatly, though I realize I still have good days and bad days in this regard, so I just make sure all my days are "careful days." Sometimes I think, the harder the hole, the better I do at backing. Go figure...

-I sometimes get "stuck" in a region of the country, bouncing around the southeast for a couple of weeks, for instance. I know this makes sense logistically. I've dropped little hints to my fleet manager that I like going out West, but I still feel like I have to earn my place before I'm too forthcoming with such preferences.

-Reefer can be tough... some weeks I feel like I spend a lot of my time fueling reefers for drop-and-hooks, as well as getting washouts. I've been thinking a lot about what hauling other kinds of freight might be like.

-Sometimes things are really busy, and there can be tough days. But on the whole, I find being solo MUCH EASIER than being in training. My biggest challenges during training were living with someone else in a box and trying to sleep in a bouncing truck. Neither of those are factors in my solo life.

-In sum, I'm learning, gaining needed experience, and LOVING IT out here! Best job I've ever had. I love spending my days listening to music and audiobooks, seeing the scenery, enjoying my own company, and way less stress than my office/supervisory job before.

So, that's me, 21,000 solo miles in.

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Well, I thought I would check in since it's been a minute. I've been solo for two months now (9 weeks, specifically). I took hometime at the end of my first week and then just last weekend, so that was a 7 week straight stretch of working (with one 34 hour reset in there).

I've been averaging right around 2,500 miles per week. My take-home pay has been $850-900/week after taxes, health insurance, 401(k), etc. Overall, I'm making close to what I made before in my office job, though I work more but have fewer expenses now (no apartment/house, and I'll probably sell my car soon).

I've been learning plenty as I go, such as:

-I'm learning to pace myself. I tend to work for long stretches of weeks at a time, so sometimes if I have some time on a load, I've learned to take a moment when I need it. I've reduced my expenses, so I don't always have to be running at "maximal productivity." For me, this is about the experiences along the way, as well as the paycheck.

-I like to alternate one night at a truck stop (for a shower, to resupply a bit) and one night at a rest area (quieter, more nature and space to walk). This rhythm works well for me, and I've found some great rest areas with little hidden trails.

-Since my trainer was a lease operator, there was a lot I needed to learn on my own as a company driver: how to get reimbursement for scale tickets, how fuel bonuses work, etc. Since we drove team, we never had to use the split sleeper berth provision (someone always had time on their clock), so I've been learning that and how to swing my hours to fit the loads.

-My backing has improved greatly, though I realize I still have good days and bad days in this regard, so I just make sure all my days are "careful days." Sometimes I think, the harder the hole, the better I do at backing. Go figure...

-I sometimes get "stuck" in a region of the country, bouncing around the southeast for a couple of weeks, for instance. I know this makes sense logistically. I've dropped little hints to my fleet manager that I like going out West, but I still feel like I have to earn my place before I'm too forthcoming with such preferences.

-Reefer can be tough... some weeks I feel like I spend a lot of my time fueling reefers for drop-and-hooks, as well as getting washouts. I've been thinking a lot about what hauling other kinds of freight might be like.

-Sometimes things are really busy, and there can be tough days. But on the whole, I find being solo MUCH EASIER than being in training. My biggest challenges during training were living with someone else in a box and trying to sleep in a bouncing truck. Neither of those are factors in my solo life.

-In sum, I'm learning, gaining needed experience, and LOVING IT out here! Best job I've ever had. I love spending my days listening to music and audiobooks, seeing the scenery, enjoying my own company, and way less stress than my office/supervisory job before.

So, that's me, 21,000 solo miles in.

Glad it's working out well for you and you're enjoying it. Are you finding it challenging to eat healthy? Michael gained some weight in his first six months but has since lost that.

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Thanks, Harvey. You said: "Glad it's working out well for you and you're enjoying it. Are you finding it challenging to eat healthy? Michael gained some weight in his first six months but has since lost that."

You know, I don't find it too hard to eat healthy most of the time. I do kind of a "keto-lite" diet, so mostly meat, veggies, berries, nuts, etc. But I am indulging my sweet tooth more than I should (which I realize is very much NOT keto). Oddly, this is mostly after driving, when I'm relaxing, rather than while I'm driving. I've gained a couple of pounds, which I want to monitor.

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

Mt. Matt!!!

I was JUST getting ready to go to bed, after feeding my 2nd & a 1/2 shift driver; and saw this!!!!

I'm so dang happy for you. Your diaries will go FAR, in Brett's intentions of preparing the up and comings, with whatever company they so choose, stick with, and come out shining from, as YOU are!!

(Seriously, sometimes I DO feel, like some of y'all'uns ARE my kiddos, still setting the pavement for me, and the lay of the land.)

In sum ... I'm so proud of you!!!

~ Anne ~

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.

Matthew P.'s Comment
member avatar

Well that sounds about right matt. It's almost like you wrote my story. Good for you man!

Thanks for going smoothly and I had my most challenging day today. Got to a shipper they messed up and loaded the wrong load on me. They caught it after I had everything secured in one tarp thrown. So that led to a 6-hour ordeal. Now I have a check engine light on. Off to the terminal tomorrow for a check.

Otherwise, no complaints. I'm glad to hear that you're doing well!

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.

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.

Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

Thanks, fellow Matthew! And sorry for your rough day... hope it gets sorted soon.

Anne, you are kind and supportive as always! I was actually through your neck of the woods yesterday, but with no time to stop! Now I'm in Illinois...

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

Nice update, glad you are getting the hang of it

Now I'm in Illinois

Welcome home, we missed you.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Good to hear from you again Matt. Glad it is going well for you.

Solo is totally different from what we experienced TNT.

I’m going into my second week solo. I only plan to stay out 4 weeks then 4 days off. That 7 weeks stretch in TNT was too long for my taste.

They ran me hard for my first 7 days driving 3,077 miles. Slowing down some now as I’m running on recaps. Getting a nice long 19 hours break today parked early near my 90 delivery tomorrow morning early.

Take care

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

BK's Comment
member avatar

Nice update, Matt. Don’t you have the CAT scale app on your phone? Then you can do everything from your seat, never have to go collect your scale ticket and pay for it. The charge goes right to the company. Does your company offer you the ability to set that up?

Your take home pay seems a little light for the miles you are driving. Can I ask what you get CPM? And when does your rate increase? Since I started with reefer , I haven’t had to get a wash out yet. This has surprised me, but I’m not complaining, of course. Helwig doesn’t haul any veggies, maybe that’s why. Mostly boxed meat and lots of Dannon products.

Keep up the good work, man.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

CAT Scale:

A network of over 1,500 certified truck scales across the U.S. and Canada found primarily at truck stops. CAT scales are by far the most trustworthy scales out there.

In fact, CAT Scale offers an unconditional Guarantee:

“If you get an overweight fine from the state after our scale showed your legal, we will immediately check our scale. If our scale is wrong, we will reimburse you for the fine. If our scale is correct, a representative of CAT Scale Company will appear in court with the driver as a witness”

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

Thanks, Bobcat Bob...can't seem to avoid Illinois, lol.

Good to hear from you too, Dennis. Yes, I slow down once I hit the recaps.

Bruce, I do have the CAT app, but it doesn't accept our Comdata company card. I have to pay and get reimbursed.

I get 46 cpm plus up to 5 cpm fuel bonus. But the bonus proves elusive...they are not clear about which parameters we are or aren't hitting, so many weeks I get nothing, sometimes it's like $3-9. One week, I somehow got $40! As far as I know, I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be, so I kind of stopped worrying about it, as I got tired of bugging them with questions.

When I haul meat loads, I usually have to get a washout. Many of our shippers require it. If it's just dirty or whatever, I use my leaf blower instead. Thanks for the feedback!

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

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