Old Man Leaves Six-Figure Salary To Begin Training As A Trucker- Psychiatric Evaluation Pending

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Anne A. (and sometimes To's Comment
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Danville tests also. At least they did years ago.

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Well, Wednesday, July 27, 2022, at 7:30 a.m. in Roanoke, VA is test time! I've been through a couple of practice sessions on the driving range over the past week and all has gone well with straight backing, offset, and parallel park. Those are the only three backing maneuvers we will be tested on here in VA. I feel ready and am going for one final practice session tomorrow. There will be three of us from our class testing on Wednesday. Based on what I know of my fellow students, these two who are going with me are both well-prepared and ready to test. Our examiner is brand new, so I guess that could be good or bad. Regardless, if we pre-trip and drive the way we have been trained, it shouldn't make any difference. I'll check in Wednesday after the test with an update.

Awesome, Steve!

Man, how time flies. Wishing you the best tomorrow, and ALL of your going forwards!!! I'll be watching for a 'status change' in your profile, good sir.

Best to you; good-luck.gif good-luck-2.gif good-luck.gif

~ Anne & Tom ~

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Wile E.'s Comment
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Best wishes on your test! You've got this!

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Grandpa Clark's Comment
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I PASSED!!

Let me start by saying thank you to all the experienced people who answered my questions and shared advice. Coming into a brand new business, with zero experience, at a more "mature" age, is daunting. For over 7-years I have used this site to gain knowledge and finally, to practice for my CDL Permit. Of all the trucking resources and forums that I have discovered, this is the only place that I have felt comfortable recommending to others who are starting a similar journey. So, once again, thanks to all of you who have contributed to my journey.

The day started with heavy humidity (thanks Virginia!) and threatening skies. I met two of my classmates at the truck at 5:00 a.m. and our instructor chauffeured us to the DMV Testing Center in Roanoke, VA, about 1-hr's drive from Lynchburg. My test was up first, at 7:30 a.m. By then, the skies had opened up and it was a steady rain as I began my pre-trip.

My examiner was very calm and I instantly felt as though she really wanted me to pass. When one is nervous, having the feeling that someone is rooting for you makes a huge difference. The computer decided that for the exterior, I would pre-trip only from the driver's door hinges, to the back of the tractor, so I feel like that was a gift to start the process. The second student to test was assigned the engine bay, plus the coupling device, and our third student drew the short straw. He had to pre-trip the entire tractor-trailer.

Once I completed my exterior, we went inside the cab and I did my interior, Parking Brake Test, Air Leakage Test, and Service Brake Test. Then I asked the examiner to assist me in checking my lights. Once the exterior light check was done, it was off to backing maneuvers.

I tend to look past things I consider easy (straight-back), and fixate on the difficult maneuver (parallel park), but today, in the rain, I fixated on each maneuver individually and everything went very smoothly. The straight-back and off-set backing were relatively easy, although I used one pull-up on my off-set. My pride wanted to squeeze it in with no pull-ups, but I found myself coming out of the turn uncomfortably close to the cones on one side. On the range, I would have tried to finess it back to the center of the lane, but this is no time to try to be a "super-trucker". I used one of my two allowed pull-ups to get repositioned and it was a simple straight-back, down the alley.

The parallel park was not pretty, but there are no points for style. On my first attempt, I got it into the box. It was crooked and ugly, but when I got out to check all my sides, I found that despite the awkward angles, everything was in the box, so I re-entered, the cab, put on my seatbelt and honked the horn. I was finished with my backing maneuvers and it was on to the road test!

Before leaving the testing center the examiner asked me to simulate crossing a railroad track, using a painted line on the asphalt as the simulated stop line. Once we went through this exercise, we left the testing center for the road portion. Thankfully, I-81 was moving slower than the typical speed which usually seems to average about 80 mph. On this day, due to rain and moderately heavy traffic, speeds were 50-55 mph which thankfully slowed things down. After leaving I-81, we wound our way back through Roanoke's city streets to the testing center. Along the way, we did a simulated breakdown to describe the proper positioning of the truck and the emergency warning triangles. Several times along the route, the examiner asked about signs we had just passed, including a bridge height sign that I missed. I guess because I was on an interstate , I wasn't thinking about overpass height clearance, but missing that sign was a good reminder to me to pay special attention to all height signage. I had a couple of turns that were less than perfect, primarily because I was turning right onto a two-lane street, with oncoming traffic. I suppose I could have waited until oncoming traffic passed and encroached on the other land once it was clear, but my driving was during the late stages of the morning commute and traffic was pretty heavy. On one turn, the trailer tandem touched some grass and on one other occasion, I was only about 1-inch from the curb. Not very proficient driving to say the least! However, when we arrived back at the testing center, the examiner said I had done very well and that I had passed!

It's hard to explain the relief and excitement of passing this test. I don't recall feeling the same elation when I received my pilot's license about 10-years ago. I'm sure the stress and pressure of flying with the FAA examiner was intense, but somehow, this process seemed more of a challenge and thus, more of an accomplishment. Pre-tripping an airplane during a pilot's examination test is a breeze compared to the pre-trip for a tractor-trailer at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. I will also say that flying an airplane is in many ways easier than maneuvering a 70-ft. monstrosity on city streets. Now the pilots on here might disagree with me but I think landing an airplane and backing a tractor-trailer is probably close in complexity, although I would agree that the implications of a catastrophic failure are more serious in aviation. Once airborne, I would say that flying is much simpler than driving a tractor-trailer. So kudos to all of you drivers out there, who safely maneuver those trucks day in and day out.

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.

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".

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Grandpa Clark's Comment
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The BIG decision: what now? I decided early on this journey that I wanted to start my career doing flatbed. This decision was driven by a couple of facts. First, I'm not getting any younger and if I want to learn this specialized skill, now is the time. I'm in pretty good health and my physical fitness level is also good. I feel physically capable of hard physical labor and after decades in an office cubicle, I really would like some physicality to the work I'm going to do.

Secondly, my family runs a small food concession business which keeps us busy, primarily on weekends at certain times of the year (primarily football season). Flatbed work seems to lend itself to weekends off more easily than some other segments of the trucking industry. After applying with multiple flatbed companies, I ended up with job offers from Melton, TMC, and Maverick.

I pretty quickly eliminated Melton, although a recruiter at our school did an excellent job of describing an attractive company. The Cents/Mile, the $100/tarping pay, and his nearly new truck were tempting, but Melton required OTR to start and I did not want to be out 14-days at a time. That left me choosing between TMC and Maverick.

After extensive research, many calls to my recruiters, and endless YouTube videos, it was really difficult to decide which way to go. TMC offered training much closer to home (Columbia, SC vs. Madison, IL), percentage pay, and of course, the beautiful Peterbilt trucks. Their recruiter made a strong case for me to choose TMC to start my career. Having spent considerable time with their recruiter (Kyle), I have nothing but praise for the way they run their recruiting department and their professionalism. I was promised weekends home, and their pay structure with incentives is very clear and transparent.

Maverick was the first company to make me a conditional offer. It was an offer to join their Glass Division. Unfortunately, that division is out 12-14 days and I explained to them that I was needing weekends at home due to the need to be available for multiple Saturdays during football season. They initially responded that they couldn't work with that, and we decided to part ways. The recruiter (Jeff) was very professional, patient, and was always quick to return my calls and emails. I was rather disappointed when Maverick said they wouldn't be able to work with me on my schedule needs. Just over a week went by and Jeff called me back to explain that there was a dedicated opportunity that he wanted to discuss with me. He said the pay was a bit less than the Glass Division, but that it would work with my schedule. He explained the opportunity to join the dedicated division serving Nucor Steel in Huger, SC. This account typically requires a driver to live within 100 miles of the plant, but due to the amount of freight and the lanes being run, they had recently opened it up to a larger area and that area included Lynchburg, VA.

I managed to locate a driver via Facebook who has been on that account for over 5-years. Along with my very helpful recruiter, their driver, Chris has been invaluable to me as I have chatted with him and found out the day-to-day details for drivers on this account. He verified that he gets home every weekend and he absolutely loves his Fleet Manager on this account. He says they make a bit less per mile than some of the other divisions, but the consistent loads, consistent delivery locations, the fact that the factory loads/unloads 24/7/364 (closed Christmas), and all the drivers stay with their own trailers more than makes up for a couple of cents less in pay. He estimates he is making 80-85K/yr after 5 years with Maverick on this account.

After informing my wife that I had passed my CDL , my next call was to Maverick to accept their offer to join the Nucor Steel Account in Huger, SC. Within one hour, I received my airline ticket to Madison, IL with a start date, 2-days later. I will be starting a 12-day Pre-employment/Orientation Training Program at the Madison, IL Maverick Terminal on July 31, 2022.

In looking back to where everything started, and throughout the difficult process of deciding where to continue my training, I would say that my decision to join Maverick was based primarily on their responsiveness to my needs, and my many questions. It's hard to explain, but Maverick made me feel like I was important and valuable to them. They really seemed to listen when I explained my situation and were responsive to my needs.

I intend to keep up my training journal here on TT. Maverick has traditionally done all of their training at the HQ in North Little Rock, AR, and just recently set up this second training location. My hope is that my diary might be of assistance to those who will also be assigned to Maverick training in Madison, IL.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wile E.'s Comment
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Congratulations! Wishing you all the best!

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George B.'s Comment
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dancing.gif good-luck.gif dancing-dog.gif Way to go! Congrats!!

PackRat's Comment
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Congratulations!

dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif dancing-banana.gif

Anne A. (and sometimes To's Comment
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Congrats from us also!!

Safe travels, Steve. Will be waiting to hear more!!!

~ Anne & Tom ~

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good-luck.gif good-luck-2.gif good-luck.gif

Grandpa Clark's Comment
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Congratulations! Wishing you all the best!

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Thanks Wile E! Can't wait to get started in the next chapter and learn the joys of flatbedding!

Grandpa Clark's Comment
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dancing.gif good-luck.gif dancing-dog.gif Way to go! Congrats!!

Thanks George! I appreciate the encouragement and advice.

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