When Should You Put Your Foot Down?

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Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Ive been meaning to type this up for a couple weeks but I've been extremely busy. It ended up being alot longer than I expected, when I seen it'd take 3 posts to submit I figured I'd better cut myself off. In addition to the issues I've mentioned elsewhere going on at our household right now my son also talked me into coaching his 1st/2nd grade flag football team.  Between practices, games, work and all of my other commitments I'm beat.  I enjoy it and it means alot to my son, but i can't wait for our last game on the 4th.

Moe and Bill M have recently experienced challenges getting home on time.  One thing you'll often see talked about here on Trucking Truth is how important it is to take the good with the bad when it comes to freight.  In the trucking industry many companies have trouble getting a driver home at the correct time.  Often times it leaves a driver rushing (possibly being unsafe), and frustrated when it appears they won't be home on time, or needing to reschedule important appointments.  It also can reek havoc with your family if they were expecting you to be home by a certain time/day.  Dispatching freight has a science behind it and I would hate to do it.  But when is it acceptable for a driver to flat out tell their dispatcher no and not need to worry about their job security or getting crummy loads to "punish" them for turning the load down?  Dispatchers jobs are to move freight.  They're responsible for alot of drivers and it's possible they overlooked your hometime request.  You may also have a newer dispatcher that doesn't understand how important home time is because they get to go home every night and be with their family.  Sometimes you may get dispatched on a load that takes you away from home but they're planning on having you swap with another driver that will take it the rest of the way.  Talking to your dispatcher in a professional way free of swearing or any other disrespectful language will often times give you the better picture of what's really going on.  It will also give you an opportunity for everyone to be on the same page regarding priorities for both you and the company.

I'm going to give you an example of how I handle my business when work starts to interfere too much with home life.  Make your own choice if you follow my suit as the outcome may differ based on your company or even your management team.  I'm a driver that reports to our terminal daily so I have the luxury of seeing my family every night and also calling in if I deem it necessary, something an OTR driver unfortunately doesn't have.  I also call a number for dispatch and will talk to any of the 5 guys that work dispatch depending on the day.  3 are great at their job and solve problems on the fly, the other 2 are worthless in my opinion.  I've  called in 3 times when I wasn't sick in my nearly 4 years so it isn't something I make a habit of.  In June I missed 4 days of work due to being sick but had a doctors note excusing it.  Last year around October my company started a new routing program that was a complete disaster.  Nothing but problems for the drivers and the warehouse.   It wasn't uncommon for the system to crash and leave the drivers waiting several hours for their loads.  After nearly 3 months of dealing with it I was sick of it, and about a week before Christmas I went home after waiting 5 hours on my load.  It was 2 stops to southern MN roughly 500 miles.  It would've resulted in being out overnight and i made plans with my family.  I'd gone into the dispatch office and told them to give me an attendance point because I'm going home.  A couple days passed and I received a call from our VP wanting to discuss what happened.  We talked for a while and I aired my frustrations the biggest being the job now interfering with my family life to where I wasn't willing to budge.  Trucking no matter how you slice it often times takes you away from your family than it would for most jobs in other industries.  It's a sacrifice we make to provide for our families.  1 thing I made clear with my VP was that if this job continues to interfere in the same negative way even though I'm relatively happy with the company I'm going to choose my family every time and find something that suits us better.  He completely understood, and im not sure if it's related or not but for the next month I didn't need to wait more than 30 minutes on my load being done even when those that were supposed to leave an hour before me still waited.  We bid our routes daily based on seniority.  It gives me more control over what my day looks like.  It also allows me to start making plans for the following day after work.  Since then we've had sporadic days they're a couple hours late due to staffing and although not ideal its understandable.  The biggest problem is those days they ask us to stay home until we get a call or text saying the load is ready.  I go into work and get paid from the minute I was originally dispatched. Many other drivers are to this point as well.

Continued...

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.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

Dispatcher:

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.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

If I'm expected to be ready to work at a certain time they're going to pay me for that.  If they press the issue I have no problem going in to run that route when I choose which would likely be 7 hours later than normal after i get my kids off to school.  If I'm expected to be ok with coming in several hours late why shouldn't it be acceptable to come in late when I choose?  Fast forward to the past couple weeks.  We started shipping frozen out of our warehouse.  Stupid decision in my opinion as we couldn't even handle the volume we had with getting loads out on time.  This has resulted in substantial delays with nearly every day being a minimum of 2 hours late.  Fridays have been the worst so I make sure to stay local.  Last week I was scheduled to do 3 trailers.  Only 2 got done.  I got 13 hours only doing 4 stores and driving 99 miles.  Waited 2 hours on my first trailer, and around 6 hours on my 2nd trailer.  This week I waited 5 hours on my 1st trailer.  Ran that 60 miles and informed dispatch due to the delay I wouldn't be able to do all 3 and for them them figure it out as I'd be back to the yard in 30 minutes.  The other 2 trailers were done so they ended up having someone else that had hours left run my 2nd load.  I ended up taking the 3rd trailer so I did 2 trailers, 5 stops with about 150 miles and made it back with 6 minutes on my 14.  Last Friday I had made plans because I should've been able to knock it out in 9 hours very easily.  Ended up rescheduling for Saturday early afternoon since I'm always done by 10am Saturdays by choice.  When it was time to choose my route they bumped all the shorter days back to leave around 7am (if they're done on time which they werent) and the usual midnight runs back to 3am almost making it a guarantee I'd need to reschedule again.  I asked a dispatcher to bump a 2 stop waterloo (230 miles) run up to 2am because of how I got screwed the previous day.  Instead he transferred me to my manager.  Originally I was told no, to which I told him give me whatever then ill be calling in my absence in a few hours and hung up.  I received a call back asking me what time I wanted it.  I could knock it out and be on my way home in 6 hours after it's finally done so I said 2am to give me wiggle room.  It was 2 hours late and still made it back easily with time to spare.  There were still drivers waiting to be loaded when I got back.  Was it the best way to handle it?  Probably not, but my family comes first.  I'd love to stay here til I retire, but my duty as a husband and father is far more important to me than a job.  I've been a "yes man" at most of my jobs and will often times receive a call from dispatch asking me to do them a favor.  Usually I have no problem, I'll even give them a call when i see something routed stupid (it's not uncommon to see one driver deliver contract freight to a location and leave empty then have another driver go in there to pickup a load).  Last week we had 4 trucks picking up at an egg farm.  Due to something on their end we were being shorted enough that it could fit on 2 trucks.  I called dispatch and they agreed we'd just get the 2 of us loaded full and call the other 2 and let them know don't bother showing up.  Being a difficult worker, or terminal rat isn't what I'm about.  I set boundaries for things important to me.  If me or my company aren't the right fit there's plenty of other trucking jobs that I can get what I desire.  They were begging for drivers to work extra Tuesday this week.  I called and said I'd maybe take a run depending on what they had.  5am load 1 store with a backhaul 260 miles.  Usually I wouldn't do it due to 45 mile commute each way but I ended up running it after telling the dispatcher I'm not starting that late, if you want me to run it it needs to be a 1am.  We had our football game Tuesday night at 6pm and I wasn't going to risk missing it or being late by helping the company out.  Ended up knocking it out and making it back home before lunch.

Continued....

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.

Dispatcher:

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.

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.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm expected to show up to work on time ready to work.  I fulfill my end, why is it unreasonable to expect the same.  My job is just that.  A job.  At what point do we need to tell our company no, that you aren't going to do something for whatever reason.  I'm all for being a team player and working together but what happens when the favors are one sided.  Other drivers at my company are split on what to think of me and what the older drivers refer to as my "shenanigans".  The younger drivers my age praise me for having the courage to put my foot down.  Our VP retired today after 40 years.  Changes will be coming since they promoted the guy who oversees the warehouse operations despite no transportation background or being able to solve the issues that have plagued the warehouse since I've been with the company.  Nearly all the drivers are upset because running the warehouse he allows them to go home after their 8 hours regardless of how behind they are.  He claims it is to save the overtime cost, meanwhile they're paying alot of drivers a higher OT wage to sit around waiting, and hotel costs for some due to the delay.  It will be very interesting to see what he tries to do when he moves into this position, and how the drivers handle what he tries to change.

I feel I'm easy to work with and often times go out of my way to help others.  However, I will not sacrifice even more of my already limited family time to cover for somebody else due to poor planning on their end if I've told my kids we're going to do something.  Today (saturday) they expected the warehouse to be behind again so they bumped the shorter routes back again.  My 10 hr break would be up around 130am.  That didn't stop me from taking an 11pm route with a 2nd trailer scheduled to be out at 139am.  My supervisor chuckled about it when he seen me and knew exactly what I was doing.  I told him if the warehouse can be 8 hours late somedays and nothing changes why wouldn't it be ok for the driver to choose to make a delivery late.  Brightside is both of my trailers were ready when I clocked in, knocked the day out in 9 hours.  Clocked out at 1030am picked up the family, went to lunch and spent the afternoon apple picking.

As a couple family members deal with their health issues it's more important than ever I'm around as much as possible to support them and take some of the burden off.  There's some mental health stuff going on at home and at times is difficult as we figure out the best treatment plan and how to avoid triggers.

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.

RealDiehl's Comment
member avatar

I really don't have much to say about what you posted. You obviously spent a large amount of your limited free time writing it. So it would be a shame not to reply in some way.

Seriously though, it is quite eye-opening and serves as a great example of how difficult it can be to juggle family and job responsibilities. Sometimes it appears extremely difficult. Thanks for sharing with us, and I hope these delays become less frequent for you real soon.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

I can sympathize. I feel in some ways my work contributed to the demise of my last relationship. The company has only gotten me home on time a handful of times, maybe 3.

We're organized in such a way that our DMs don't actually give us the loads, it comes from load planners that we seldom if ever have direct communication with.

There are some loads that I have flat out refused to take at times because I could see that they wouldn't get me home on time and would extend my time out by weeks.

In those times, I was tactful and professional with my DM but firm. One of the loads was 3000 pounds in Wyoming, during a high wind event. I had done it before as I had a flight to Europe the next day. The second time I saw it come up I said I'll park at the terminal and just take two days off early. They begged and pleaded with me to do it, I simply said I'm sorry, but no, it's a safety issue, I'll get stuck up there with it waiting for calm winds.

It hasn't seemed to effect my reputation and it seems like crappy loads are just sort of random. The one thing I do notice is that I almost always have 2 or more loads on me and am frequently working when others at my terminal are not.

I guess what I'm getting at is that you have obviously established yourself as a top tier driver, have a great work ethic, I think that if you continue to keep your boundaries that they will respect them and in time, quit pushing them so much.

If they continue to push it, it may be a deal breaker for you. Either way, I think it's a corporate narative to ignore home time in general. It's systemic in nature, nothing personal. The company benefits by a percentage of the workers not really rocking the boat about it, but when push comes to shove, the company will back down.

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.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Ryan B.'s Comment
member avatar

Rob, you are not alone and I am sure you know this. I say this as a way of providing some sort of comfort in knowing that your frustrations are not yours alone.

Unfortunately, many employers get used to looking at employees as resources to be utilized, versus people with personal lives. This is a problem in every industry. It takes on varying forms in other industries, but it is definitely an employee relations issue.

You would be within your rights to move on from your current employer to choose a different company. I think you have put in enough time there where no one would fault you for that. The obvious question is, "Where would you go?" You would have lots of options available, but which would you choose? Once choosing another company, is it really going to be better, or will the problems that are consistent issues at every company appear at your new company?

You have been driving for several years. I feel confident in saying that the issues leading to these frustrations are not new. So the question then is, "What has changed that you are not willing to accept these issues where you have in the past?" I suspect that family is becoming more and more important because of things like your son's flag football.

I know that I am right there with you that if the choice between work and family must be made, I am choosing family. I think that a look into a career change might be worthwhile for you. Obviously this isn't because there is a problem with your driving. I throw this out there because it might be the only way that gives more opportunity to being home when you are needed at home. I know that if it were me in your position, I would be asking the company for which I work about non-driving opportunities.

I hope that all works out well for you.

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.

Delco Dave's Comment
member avatar

I am a yes man/team player by nature. I almost always take the extra work, but I’m also used to working long days from my previous career. A 10+ hour day is average to me, an 8 feels short.

Getting jammed up and missing something isn’t an issue at ABF due to the fact that we bid on start times based on seniority. Once you have a bid, its yours until the next bid comes up or if new bids are added due to new hires. Seems like everyone at my terminal has settled into their start time and no one bumps someone out of a bid. Theres really good respect for each other amongst the drivers. Most days are planned for 8-9 hrs out on the road. If an additional run is available, they ask you if you want to take it, its not forced. Also, ABF promotes a healthy work/life balance so taking the overtime for an extra run or dock work to help them out puts you in good grace when you do need to cut out early for something personal. I usually do 10-12 hour days because I want the OT. The one time I needed to be done after 8, I let my dispatch know early that week and he gave me assignments that would get me done by my desired time.

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.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar
So the question then is, "What has changed that you are not willing to accept these issues where you have in the past?" I suspect that family is becoming more and more important because of things like your son's flag football.

My boys just started 1st grade and kindergarten. Previously we were able to do stuff during the week but now that both of my boys are in school all day it limits what we can do, and when we can do it. My wife's been a stay at home mom for 7 years and will be graduating from her online degree in the spring. The great pay while also the flexibility by bidding your route daily is what really had me interested in this job. Our wages have increased but not at the same rate as most companies in my area. Never knowing if the warehouse will get you out on time takes away what I felt to be a flexible schedule. We're often not told they're expecting to be 3 hours late until they show up around 7pm when most of us are already in bed. There's quite a few jobs listed in my area that shuttle trailers between their different facilities for less pay but it's scheduled 4a to 12p M-F which may be something I look at once the wife is back in the work force. I enjoy starting my day in the wee hours of the morning so I can get a good 12 to 14 hours and still be home in time to get the kids, or atleast for dinner with my current job.

Time will tell what happens in the long run. Hopefully things improve as I do really enjoy my job but I'm not willing to budge with my commitment to my family. My wife grew up with her dad never around due to OTR trucking. When I got started she was supportive but worried our kids would grow up how she did.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bill M.'s Comment
member avatar

Family first? I have huge respect for that! I've said it more than once in this forum; my family and health come first. Money is a common thing, easily earned if a person is willing to put their skills to work for someone, or themselves. And in today's work environment, employers are in short supply of good workers.

It sounds like you have it figured out. I think the majority of us are hard workers who enjoy getting the job done and making money for everyone.

But, time with family is something you never get back if you miss out on it. Just this year for fathers day I was given a photo collage of pictures, mostly of me with the kids and my wife, of course. These brought back a bunch of memories of our children when they were young, such great times together, what a tear-jerker that was. Those were powerful moments in time - cherished memories created only by taking the time to do those things. They were a reminder of another motto of mine, "spend time doing things you enjoy doing now, today because tomorrow is promised to nobody." I doubt any of us will be sitting around after we've long since retired thinking, boy, I wish I would have worked more overtime. Or, boy, I wish I would have taken all of those extra loads. No, none of us will. In fact, I can point to several family members who gave everything they had to their employers; they worked 70-hour weeks every week and slept all weekend, taking little time to do what they loved doing, even at the cost of their health. Some were forced into retirement because of health issues. Some became very sick afterward and spent their retirement, short as it were, with doctors and hospitals, not doing a single thing they wanted to do in their retirement. It was so sad to watch.

That said, when I'm on my employer's clock, I'll do what it takes to get the job done, short of risking my health and safety.

I wish you the best of luck with everything in the coming months and years. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

As a couple family members deal with their health issues it's more important than ever I'm around as much as possible to support them and take some of the burden off.  There's some mental health stuff going on at home and at times is difficult as we figure out the best treatment plan and how to avoid triggers.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Thank you so very much for the words of wisdom Rob. A great read, I too lately have been looking at my future in trucking and seeing how that fits in with my over all life plan. I don’t plan on being OTR all over the place too much longer once I get moved back east, my friends and family come first.

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.

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