3 Weeks Down As A Truck Driver....

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Max E.'s Comment
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Well.. it's been awhile everyone. I apologize. Let's just say I'm staying way more busy than I originally thought. After 12+ hours a day everyday for pretty much the last 3 weeks the only thing you think about is going to bed. Hahahah. Well I'm 3 weeks in and it's going very well. For those of you that are new or forgot I decided to go the oil rig route out of school and am currently working around north central pennsylvania and some parts of New York. I would say I average 250 to 300 miles a day. A lot of my miles are on small curvy mountain roads though and getting up to the oil sites usually requires you to go on a small dirt road that seem to be a 90 degree incline and make you think to yourself how am I supposed to get 80,000 pounds up there? Overall it's been nice glad to finally be driving a truck. Well.. it's been so long I lost my previous post. So if any of you have questions about life as an oil rig driver feel free to ask and I'll answer them to the best of my ability.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Max E.'s Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

So you got paid 250 and you didn't do anything that day? That's good deal. 250+75 when you work is about 28 an hour. You can't argue with that. Do you ever take more than 1 load per day? Also, how often do you go home?

I would say the average is 10-12 loads per week. On a hood week you probably wouldn't be able to do much more than 14.. really hard to get 3 loads in a day everthing has to fall into pass perfect for you to do it in the hours we have been given. Of course that dosnt stop the "super truckers" from calming they get 4 or even 5 loads a day. Bull crap. Hahahah anyways.. on to your next question home time. I'm single no kids so I have nothing keeping me in Phoenix. Besides the fact I love phoenix and if I'm blessed with opurtinuty to have a family I want to raise them in phoenix I really don't have anything forcing me to stay there or be there at any set time at this point. So i have been out 3 weeks now and it will probably be another 4 weeks or so before I make it back..

That being said that's me personally. But the guys out here with family ties elsewhere tend to stay 6 weeks than go home for 7-10 days. Most companies require you to be out atleast 4 weeks but most people stay 6 to make it worth it. One big thing you have to remember is you figure out how to get home yourself. I like to refer to myself as a local OTR driver... if that makes since. I stay in probably a 300 mile circle but I'm living in a truck and at truck stops and am 3000 miles from home.

But anyways the company dosnt pay for you to get to/from home. That's on you. You pay for a plane ticket to and from home. It's not like these companies have a load to give you to get you home.. hahahah

But the biggest thing is when your home you don't get paid. So if I take 7 or 10 days off I miss out on a lot of money. The cost of the plane ticket isn't the problem. It's the fact I don't get off time pay that's the catch. So a 500 dollar trip to get to and from home can turn into a 2500 dollar trip when you factor the time I'm missing in.

Well hopefully that answers it. Yes the oil fields is a great way to make money. But they are some drawbacks compared to other trucking jobs.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Great Answer!

Holy cr*p Max.....you're in a great position!

But the biggest thing is when your home you don't get paid. So if I take 7 or 10 days off I miss out on a lot of money. The cost of the plane ticket isn't the problem. It's the fact I don't get off time pay that's the catch. So a 500 dollar trip to get to and from home can turn into a 2500 dollar trip when you factor the time I'm missing in.

That will be a challenge for you to deal with....let me explain. When I started driving I was 21. In an instant I went from making $250 a week in a warehouse to about $750/week (or more!!!) driving a rig. I could make all I wanted to because I was paid by the mile. Incredible. What an opportunity. So I ran and ran and ran.

Problem is I burned myself out. After about 6 months I had nothing left in the tank. I didn't even want to look at a truck. I was just exhausted. You think about becoming exhausted by running sprints for 20 seconds or having a long day.....maybe a long week. But when you run yourself down on a regular basis it takes its toll over time and that isn't something you can recover from with a weekend or two off. Mentally you become fatigued. You can't concentrate as well, your mood isn't as happy as it normally is, and you don't have the ambition you normally do.

Now keep in mind....nothing went wrong with my career. My safety and service record was excellent, I turned a ton of miles, I was making more money than I had ever made by far, and man was I having fun! I mean, how can a 21 year old kid not have fun cruising the country in a big rig getting paid well, right??? So I wasn't depressed or ill or discouraged in any way. I was just exhausted mentally and physically. The pace I set was just too fast. It wasn't sustainable. At the time you don't realize what's happening if it's never happened to you before. You notice over a period of weeks that you've been tired more than usual or your patience has been a little thin lately but you just figure you have to eat better or stop thinking negative. Then after a while you realize it isn't going away....it's getting worse. Time to step away for a while.

So take advantage of the opportunity you have to make a lot of money when you're young and single. You may want a family one day and you're definitely going to want to buy a home and nice vehicles and toys and all that. This job can help you build a strong financial foundation for yourself that you'll desperately need someday.....good money in the bank, good credit, and no debt. And man will you be thanking yourself every day of your life for making that happen. But one of the keys to making that happen is to work at a sustainable pace. It doesn't matter how many extra days or weeks you squeeze in if you have to take a month or two away to recover. You're not getting anywhere that way.

You've heard the expression, "Slow and steady wins the race." Well believe me, it's true. Now I'm about to turn 43 and I still approach life the way I did when I was 17....I have a lot of energy, I'm into a lot of different things, and I really put everything I have into my everyday life. I'm a highly motivated, enthusiastic dude. I'm normally up before 4:00 a.m. and I hit the ground running. But the thing I spend the most time thinking about is sustainability. My life is going great and I'm accomplishing a lot. But I make sure that I enjoy every single day. I never miss a nap. I never miss a football game. I never let everyday life become a grind because I've been there and it's not sustainable. It's one of those lessons I learned the hard way when I was young and ever since it has played a big role in how I live. So it would be nice to help others learn it the easy way....from my mistakes.

So don't be afraid to fly home and take your buddies out with some of that hard earned cash once in a while. In fact...I insist.

My ma always reminds me, "If you're not having fun, then what are you working for?" Seems obvious in retrospect, but it's easy to get caught up in making money and forget for a while that life isn't about working....working is what you do to enhance the fun you can have the rest of the time. Yes, take advantage of the great position you're in. But keep in mind that pacing yourself is critical to your long term happiness and success.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bud A.'s Comment
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Good to hear from you Max! It sounds like what I imagine - too tired to post anything at the end of the day! The work sounds interesting too. Do you feel like you're "getting it"? Is it getting easier after three weeks?

Kai's Comment
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Questions:

I am starting with KLLM/FFE with my CDL training. The primary reason I chose FFE over others is the fact that they have a tanker department hauling water to oilfields in Odessa/Midland, Tx. They pay $22 per hour.

1. How much experience was needed for you in order to get the tanker position? 2. Are you paid hourly or per mile? 3. What do you haul?

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Questions:

I am starting with KLLM/FFE with my CDL training. The primary reason I chose FFE over others is the fact that they have a tanker department hauling water to oilfields in Odessa/Midland, Tx. They pay $22 per hour.

1. How much experience was needed for you in order to get the tanker position? 2. Are you paid hourly or per mile? 3. What do you haul?

I got this right out of school. They don't necessarily hire "new drivers" but I had a long time family friend who knew the people and pushed my application to the right eyes. But anything over 6 months of experience and they will hire you.

Next I'm not paid by either of those methods. I get a flat 250 a day plus 75 for each load. I average 12 loads a week. I'm on track for 14 this week but that seems to be the average. Some weeks you may only have 5 loads because if they are in between stages they don't need all that much sand delivered. That's where the 250 a day flat comes in great. As long as I call in and am available for my 12 hour period I get 250 no matter if I get a load or not.

Last question I already answered. I haul sand. Hauling oil pays the most for obvious reasons but they require 2 years experience for that. No exceptions.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Good to hear from you Max! It sounds like what I imagine - too tired to post anything at the end of the day! The work sounds interesting too. Do you feel like you're "getting it"? Is it getting easier after three weeks?

Ya.. when you unload sand it's called "blowing off." It uses air to unload and blow the sand.. so that's why it's called blowing off. Anyways yes I'm getting it. I can blow off just as fast as most people. My trailer was made in 1976 and it's amazing that when I get all my air pressures just right it will blow off faster than any new trailer out there.. only difference is I have to be right there with the valves the entire time. These new trailers it seems like all they have to do is push a button and it's auttomatic. But when I get my pressures just right my trailer is the best. Hahahahah

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Kai's Comment
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FFE only hauls water. I don't know what the water is for. Maybe, because Odessa/Midland is a hot desert?

Max E.'s Comment
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FFE only hauls water. I don't know what the water is for. Maybe, because Odessa/Midland is a hot desert?

Hahahahha water is part of the fracking process. Basically fracking is what it sounds like. It fractures shale rock over a mile under the ground to make cracks and than oil and natural gas are extracted from these cracks. This process uses water and sand at extremely high pressures to produce these cracks. This process can take millions of gallons of water and millions of pounds of sand to do. This is why they pay trucks a lot of money to be there. (You can't really just hook up a garden hose and get millions of gallons of water... especially in the middle of no where where some of these well sites are.) Not only are these wells typically in rural areas so they need to make the pay worth it for people to come out but once they start they can't just say "o we ran out of sand someone hit pause." It can cost them millions of dollars to shut down and than millions of dollars to start up again. Which is why they pay people like us good money to be there and be avalible to haul sand/water.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I know that Schneider hauls sand to Midland/Odessa, Tx. I guess they us that pneumatic trailer. Do you need tanker endorsement if you haul sand? I am really looking forward to this job. Odessa/Midland, Tx are just 4 hours from my hometown El Paso and about 5 hours from my future hometown Dallas/Fort Worth.

Kai's Comment
member avatar

Do you work all week? Do you have weekends off? What about holidays?

My plan is to whenever I work I live somewhere in Midland or Odessa and maybe every second weekend I go to El Paso (Greyhound/Flight/Amtrak) and then return to Midland/Odessa. I am excited, but first I need to pass the FFE Academy, the Orientation, and the Training. They don't require 6 weeks experience. They may prefer it. I think they need drivers. Not everyone is willing to live in Odessa/Midland. The closeness to my hometowns are my advantage.

Max E.'s Comment
member avatar

I know that Schneider hauls sand to Midland/Odessa, Tx. I guess they us that pneumatic trailer. Do you need tanker endorsement if you haul sand? I am really looking forward to this job. Odessa/Midland, Tx are just 4 hours from my hometown El Paso and about 5 hours from my future hometown Dallas/Fort Worth.

I honestly have no idea if the tanker endorsement is required. I have the tanker endorsement so it dosnt really matter to me since I already have it. I want to say you do need it? But I'm not 100% sure.

That's awesome your so close to home.. I live in phoenix but I'm all the way in Pennsylvania. Hahaha so I'll probably only be home every 2 or 3 months. Oil rig work is good money that's for sure. But it's hard work and you go every day. A lot of sitting and waiting which can really mess with sleep schedule. Don't be surprised if you have to go a full 24 before sleep. Just how it is with the waiting and what not. I'm sure Texas is somewhat different than up here but it's probably close to the same.

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