The Diaries Of Randy @ Prime, Inc.

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Randall H's Comment
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MY PAST to PRESENT -

Grew up in Ohio and went into the US NAVY at the age of 19. Served for 8 1/2 years as a Chemistry/Radiological Control Technician in the Navy Nuclear Power Program. Wanting something that was more than just repeating the same tests every day, I taught myself to do furniture reupholstering and bought an existing shop off a 30 year veteran of upholstering. It was an enjoyable profession that did not have a long term future to it because of the modern furniture industry.

For a short time, in Florida, I drove a Class B straight truck delivering bagged ice......8 tons per day in 8 lb bags. I had to lift and move each bag twice to get it delivered so I made 4000 reps per day of 8 lbs. It was during that time that my wife decided to end our marriage and I ended up being a single dad to my three wonderful children, then 7, 9, and 11, now 28, 30, and 32.

I moved back to Ohio and worked at a chemical manufacturing plant where I ran the laboratory for the first 7 years and then moved to the operations department after getting my stationary engineers license (Now that's a tough state test to pass!) There I also learned a lot about HAZMAT as we made it and loaded it onto trucks and rail cars.

While in the lab I was tasked an assignment that led to me being the first person in the world to successfully develop a procedure for analyzing sulfuric acid on what's known as mass spectrometer. I was told by PhD's at Ashland Chemical in Dallas that it could NOT be done. It was my moment. With the utmost of precision to detail I managed to do it....in just 1 month and proved it by testing for the next 2 months. 2 years later Ashland Chemical had me go to Dallas to show them what they were doing wrong and they signed an exclusive provider contract with my company for ultra pure sulfuric acid, the purest in the entire world. And what did I get from my company for that HUGE ACHIEVEMENT? Nothing!!! I knew then that I would not stay there once my kids were grown. I worked there for 10 years and ended up moving back to Florida. I was told by some that it was the equivalent of doing a thesis for a PhD. Yet I have no degree!!! I was just a lowly technician....with a brain.

In Florida I made even another career change....imagine that.....and worked in the financial services industry for 10 years. That brings me to now. When I made a move to Alabama, that profession did not pan out so well for me and now that I'm 56 years old, I'm not exactly prime material for employers.....well, that is, except for Prime, Inc. After months of getting nowhere with other job opportunities, I stumbled across a job listing on Careerbuilder.com that was for CRST and they would put me through school. Yeah, but I wasn't so sure about that idea, but did contact them.

About 1 month later I went back to the idea, but realized that they could not possibly be the only company offering that, so I Googled, "Comparing company sponsored CDL Trucking Schools," or something real close to that. That is when I found TruckingTruth.com. I immediately began reading and searching the companies, one by one. I read the company specific posts from the "All Topics By Tag" section of the forum. I read some diaries. I ended up thinking Prime was the company for me, so I called and talked to a recruiter, did their online app, and was approved for school 1 day later.

At the same time I also began studying the High Road Training Progam and on Monday I went and passed my Class A CDL permit along with the HAZMAT and TANKER endorsements. I started rounding up my things to take with me and kept studying, focusing on the log book and Pre-Trip Inspection to further put me ahead of the learning curve upon arrival to Springfield, MO this Sunday, starting Phase 1 May 12. That all happened in the time since I found TT .just 2 weeks ago.

As I write this I am sitting in my living room, packed and ready to go, carefully packing to stay under the 50 lb limit for Greyhound. I leave at 2:15 and will be studying on the way there. I am so excited and think this is going to be great for me. Getting back to a stable income and having benefits will be great, but even more will be having a chance to have peace of mind. I have been very encouraged in what I've read about Prime and the interaction on TT has been nothing short of outstanding. I thank you all for your encouragement, advice, and shared knowledge and wisdom. A SPECIAL THANKS to Brett for hosting such a fabulous, and well managed, forum. thank-you.gifnull The number of people you have helped is impressive, and I'm not sure I'd be taking this step if it wasn't for what I gained here.

While not professionally, I have driven a lot of miles and seen a lot of the USA for not being a trucker. I look forward to seeing the rest of it and adding to the 1+ Million miles of driving I've done....and safely!!! As you can see, I've taken on some challenges in the past, and I look forward to this one too.

Next up - the dreaded bus ride on the Hades Hound bus. embarrassed.gif

And now onto the future and another frontier.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
6 string rhythm's Comment
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Randy,

I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself. You never know who you might wind up meeting on the road from Trucking Truth, that's how I look at it. Even if I never meet another member from Trucking Truth in person, I'd at least hope I'll keep a number or two in my cell phone so that I can talk to a familiar voice while away from home. My wife and daughter will be my primary 'support group' while away, but it'd be nice to talk to another trucker I'm familiar with, especially one that I might have met from this forum. Besides, only another trucker will really know what it's like out on the road, and can encourage when times are tough, or laugh at things that perhaps only a trucker would understand.

I'll make sure to drop in periodically to check up on your diary - if you're going to be making this an ongoing blog. Hopefully your trip won't seem too long. I'll be curious to hear what you have to say about meeting Jopa, Daniel, and other TT members out in Springfield. Have fun out there!

Oh, and before I forget, thank you for your service in the Navy.

Randall H's Comment
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Thanks Bill. Yes, I will keep it going. I enjoy writing and I want to do my part to contribute to this forum as other people are searching their way and wondering if this is for them.

Daniel B.'s Comment
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You would be a great and easy student for an instructor.

Randall H's Comment
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You would be a great and easy student for an instructor.

Thanks Daniel. I hope that is how my instructor sees it and I sure hope to get one that is level headed and not on a power trip just because he's the instructor. I've been an instructor in the Navy Nuclear Power School and I never forgot that I too was once a beginner. It doesn't mean I'm inferior, just that I have something new to learn. The students hated the power hungry instructors because they were always giving them a hard time, yelling, and being unreasonable. God spare me from that!!! I just want to learn and learn it well from an instructor who knows respect is a two way street.

Tarren W.'s Comment
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Best of luck, Randy! Can't wait to follow along!

Tarren

Tracy W.'s Comment
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Randy, I too, was in the Navy ... as a Cryptologic Technician who did the repair to the Electronics Systems we used....lots of school there too.

Stood me in good stead for many years, but at age 55 I was laid off. Two years of job hunting and working part time in anything but computers and electronics and we were starting to run out of money.

I went to school, got my CDL and started driving at age 55.

What I can say confidently is that your Navy training will stand you in good stead because they taught us to think on our feet, solve problems and get the job done.

The first few months as a driver has a very steep learning curve, and you have to be able to respond. I went to work for a company that has a ten day orientation class then puts you in a truck solo right off. I didn't (and still don't) think I would do well in a team situation, even for the relatively short training period.

Anyway, with your Navy training, you know to suck it up and get the job done, and things will get better. And they do. I was riding down the ride a couple days ago, heading through South Dakota on I90, beautiful day, wind at my back, brand new truck, satellite radio on and thought ... 'Gosh, they pay me for this?'

You'll get it done. I've detailed my story elsewhere here, do a search for it if you are interested.

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.
Tracy W.'s Comment
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I meant to say I started driving at age 57 in the post above.

ColeTrucker's Comment
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Hi Randy,

I've been a lurker on TT for a few months before my first few post recently. I, like you, was excited to find that a forum like this existed! One of the things that kept me coming back again and again was the support that YOU -and many other TT subscribers- gave to everyone. Just like your work-life experiences, I was very impressed!

I look forward to reading your diary about Prime. I know you will do well.

Without hijacking this thread, I just want to let Tracy know that I was a Cryptologic Technician too! However, it was in the USAF. It is not often you meet another CT.

Randall H's Comment
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First, thank for the encouragement and responses. The sense of camaraderie is great.

http://i1266.photobucket.com/albums/jj525/rjorg/Mobile%20Uploads/2014-05-10134249_zps94d715a4.jpg

The bus ride.....they are who we thought they were!!! It's history. Arrived at 10:30 PM with 4 other guys and they put us up at the Ramada next door. Got about 5 hours of sleep, getting up at 5:30 to get in some breakfast and arrive for orientation BEFORE 7AM. They are very firm about being on time.....early.....and rightly so. Who wants a trucker who can't even get to a room on time? Not likely he'll deliver loads on time. Be early and you're on time. Arrive on time, and you're late.

Before bed I looked over paperwork which includes EVERYTHING on the online application plus some. I made sure to put the info together so I would be fully ready for morning. Oh, I walked over to Walmart to buy some shoes........All that planning for my trip and I walked out of the house in my sandals and forgot to put my closed toe shoes in my bag!!! Found a pair I like for $20.

NOTE TO PRIME FUTURE STUDENTS......

Write down all of the information you submit on the online application and bring it with you. Your personal residence history, employment, info on moving violations, accidents, etc, references, emergency contacts, medical history....ANY SURGERY YOU HAVE EVER HAD....the body part involved and when the surgery was done. If it was recent they may require you to obtain records and they have to be sent here by Friday or you can move forward;

Once they go over the paperwork with you everyone scatters to one of two places. If you have your paperwork in the yellow folder done, you SHOULD RUN TO THE OFFICE TO BE FIRST and go to your interview and pay your $100 and get a badge. I was told that by a former instructor and I did that and I was the first one there and it helped me immensely on time. After that, or if you don't have your paperwork done, you go to do the drug and physical. You set in line to do the pee test and then you sit in line to see the nurse for the eye exam, ht and wt, blood pressure, lifting and hearing tests. Then you sit in line to see the Dr who completes the exam, testing for reflexes, checking the eyes, ears, listening to your heart, and checking for a hernia.

I passed my DOT physical with flying colors and had my interview done, so it was on to the simulator at 4PM. Went through those 7 modules. The first one was rough because of getting used to the whole setting and double clutching at the same time. After that it was better and I felt good about learning to double clutch and handle the truck. It's just a simulation, but it's a good way to get introduced to it all.

After all of that I finally got a room assigned and took by bags to the room. Met Daniel today and he invited me to sit in his rig and showed me around the inside. Was my first time to even sit in one so it was nice. Chatted with some other instructors and overall it's been a very good first day experience. The food is good and it's free! All in all, I feel a great sense of relief getting to actually start the ball rolling. Each step forward is a step of building confidence and I am light years ahead of when I first signed on to TT.

In my room taking in some NBA playoffs and enjoying a Coke. Tomorrow I will get up early and go complete my computer training modules before our 8AM meeting. Then all I will have left to do before going out with an instructor are a couple of sessions about insurance and the program and get my badge. Hopefully I'll meet some instructors so I can start the process of finding the one I will go out with.

Liking it.......just a lot.

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.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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