Late Bloomer Part One

Topic 7064 | Page 1

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Robert H.'s Comment
member avatar

Here it is, in just over a month I'll 43 and in my new career in trucking. I've driven trucks and other large vehicle for a long time, and drive and operate them in the Army Reserve. I started when I was 18, driving fire trucks for a local volunteer fire dept. I drive light and medium duty wreckers, charter bus size motorhomes and other straight trucks. in 2009 (at the age of 37) I enlisted in the Army Reserve as a Motor Transport Operator and was trained to drive very large trucks in the Army Inventory as well as the Army version of the semi known as the M915. However, even though both units had a couple of them, I seldom ever got drive them. Instead, my current unit has the M1074 and 75 Palletized Load System 10X10 truck and the M1076 trailer. In Afghanistan, my truck was a MAXPRO DASH MRAP. Yep, we line haulers became Convoy Escort Teams.

After informing my previous employment that I was being deployed, they started to target me, despite my years with an impeccable record. I was burned out after 12.5 years anyway, so I resigned Not that I really wanted to but I'll leave it at that. However, I thought that I would find a job when I came back. After deployment, I had a rough time trying to find a job. 42 years old, high school graduate with some college, a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, never been fired, never been arrested, never even had a traffic citation, 12.5 years serving my community as a deputy sheriff, in good physical shape (I jog and workout) and I couldn't find work if it fell on me. I submitted no less than 40 job applications. I either got "thank you for your interest but" or nothing. I would call to follow up just to be given some hippity hooblah as to why they had to advertise a position but then decided not to hire anyone. Some places advertise "entry level" but want you have experience. So I repeatedly fixed and rebuilt my resume, had it looked over, applied a lot of so-called "Veteran Friendly" places. Disappointed after being turned down one after the other. I took a step back. My wife said not to take it personal. There were, in fact, a lot of jobs I probably don't qualify for because I didn't have a CDL. Really...that got my gears turning.

One day, I was sitting at the house watching my baby daughter while my wife was at work when I saw "Talloby Trucker" videos on Youtube. The video, from 2013 (about the time my career was winding down), was at a local truck driving school known as TDI or Truck Driving Institute. Ironically, the school is across the street from my old employer and I used to see those trucks on the road all of the time when I worked there. During the series of videos, Tallyboy sort of produced a video diary about the school and what he did on a daily basis. One of the videos even showed him performing an alley dock. Then I saw other videos of him getting his own truck and getting out on his own. Those videos helped me make up my mind.

Then I spoke with a longtime friend, an owner/operator who I went to school with and have known since elementary school. I sent him a text and told him that I was ready to start a new career. He gave me a plethora of advice and provided a rough sketch of the big picture of the trucking industry.

Time to get into professional truck driving. Although I was a professional driver over the years and I drove trucks for nearly 25 years, I really wasn't even a professional truck driver. Given the fact that I'm in the Army Reserve and have driven trucks with a GCVWR of over 137,000 pounds, I could have easily obtained a waiver from my commander, take the General Knowledge, Combination and Airbrake exam, and walked out with a Class A CDL without taking the skills test. That is by far the easiest least expensive way to obtain a CDL. But I carefully evaluated the pros and cons and realized that if I went down the easy road, it would be highly unlikely to ever obtain gainful employment with my CDL The only thing is I would save a few bucks and walk out with a useless driver's license. Several guys in my unit told me to take the easy..but you get what you pay for. Besides, even if I used the Army, the only experience I had was driving automatics and not the Fuller Road Ranger Transmissions. I can drive a stick, but that's only in non-semi vehicles. Plus, my experience with combination vehicles were limited to the PLS truck, which does not use a fifth wheel; only a pentile hitch. I needed training and to start, I needed to go to Truck Driving School and I got a green light from my wife.

My next question is: do I have the resources to do this? After all $5900.00l is hard to cough up, especially when one is unemployed.

More to follow...

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.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

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.

Line Haul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

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.

GCVWR:

Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating.

The manufacturer's specification for the maximum weight that can be combined into one motor vehicle. (i.e. the truck and trailer).

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

Jeffry T.'s Comment
member avatar

The company I work for Roehl transport has a program for veterans and people still currently enlisted I don't believe the schooling would cost you anything might be something worth looking into I have never been in the military so I don't have much info on it but I know several people involved in that program.

Ricky A.'s Comment
member avatar

I went to tdi. If you pay out right you can get a free "$1000 scholarship"

David's Comment
member avatar

Robert,

Most companies have some sort of program for military. Current or ex I don't think it matters. It would be something to look into defenatly. Save your self some dough if you can.

Now there are 2 options you have for schooling. First one is going to a Truck Driving School in your area. Generally with this you would pay the school, and while going through the schooling, work on getting your self Pre-Hires from Trucking Companies. This will keep you from having to fulfill a contract from a Company-Sponsored Training which would be your second option.

Company-Sponsored Training is a great way to go should be strapped on funds and can't afford 5900$. You choose the Trucking Companies that offers the program, go to there school (they will pay for transport via greyhound bus), once you complete the schooling, you will get your CDL and work for them. They generally have a contract you sign for XX amount for 6-13months. Once complete you owe them nothing and can then look for something else or stay with them if they are the right fit. Some of these companies will take out a weekly amount to pay back the tuition such as Swift, and others will not such as Prime.

Either way you go, you'll have an oppertunity to get your CDL. If your having a hard time, take a gander at How To Choose A School and How To Choose A Company.

Also recomend you go and get your permit at least 2 weeks before schooling so you will be a head of the class when that time comes. We have a great High Road Training Program here that will help you ACE your written exam.

David

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.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Pre-hires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

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.

Robert H.'s Comment
member avatar

*Note: Thanks for the feedback. This was a series of events that have already occurred. It took a bit to get the second post in the thread. I've already completed Week One.

Now the gears are really turning and I'm starting to feel like this may be what I should have done a long time ago. Without hesitation I looked up TDI in Milton, Florida and sent in a request for more information. Almost immediately I received a call from Johnny Meads(former linebacker with the Houston Oilers and Washington Redskins). Mr. Meads gave me some very good information about the school along with the ins and outs. I told him that I was unemployed with limited funds but then he said not to worry about the financing aspects, companies that offer tuition reimbursement, and the high number of folks who complete the course and leave with a job. Plus, he said the Post 911 GI Bill would also cover it if I qualify. Given the fact that the GI does take time, Mr. Meads said that the tuition can be bridged by using the available student loan. When the bill kicks in, it will be taken care of and no worries.

Mr. Meads emailed me information of the school, plus the forms I needed to submit He told me that from now on, there were going to be background checks for school and every time I changed companies. No problem. I have a Secret Security Clearance and cannot screw that up.

Immediately I sent m the link with the school information on it. Almost immediately, she said "GO FOR IT!" Normally she would "interrogate" me for more information and that information would lead to her asking about THAT information and so on...and she is a Paramedic and a 911 dispatcher. I was the cop..lol I then went to the VA website, completed the online application and the school application. After printing it off, I had a packet prepared for the school.

The following Monday I went to the school and noted that the staff there is very friendly. The lady I spoke with was extremely helpful. She gave me some paperwork to complete for the financial assistance and I paid the $25.00 fee for the background check. That same day, all of the required documents were completed and I went back the next day and turned it all in. The admissions lady took me on a little tour of the facility as well as introducing me to the staff. Later that day, I got a call that my start day was January 2015. I think I was more excited about that than when I went to the law enforcement academy in 1999. I was enrolled in truck driving school.

My new career is on it's way.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

David's Comment
member avatar

Congrats sir. Good bit of story you got there, do keep us posted on your experience at TDI. Best of luck to you.

David

Robert H.'s Comment
member avatar

David you do NOT have to call me sir..I'm a Sergeant I work for a living lol....about the school:

I started on the 19th of Jan, and so far it has been very easy. Mainly 100's on the written tests and everything is going well. the truth is, a lot of the stuff I'm learning is something I would have never known from the Army. For example, shifting. Yes I've driven manual transmissions since I was a teenager, and started driving on an old Ford F700 with a New Process Transmission and a two speed rear end. When I was a wrecker driver for six years, none of the trucks were automatic. All of the Army's tactical vehicles are automatic. Quiet convenient but tactically smart. You don't have to worry about shifting if you are shooting. Plus, automatics are darn near idiot proof. Some of the "modern" soldiers would have burnt a clutch or two.

But when I got to school, one of the first thing we were all told was to forget what we knew and start out with an empty sponge. What little did I know: the fact that semi's rely on RPM's to shift and the RPM range; the positions of the clutch, when to depress it to the floor and why and when not to; and not to mention HOW to shift aside from the obvious "H" pattern. Had I just obtained my CDL via Waiver form and written test, how would I have known? Google?

In the Motor Transport Operator's Course at Ft Leonard Wood, MO, we only had to qualify on three nomenclatures in the Army's inventory. The Five ton MTV, The M915 (Semi with tri-axle trailer) and the M1074 PLS. We spent two weeks on just the five ton, five on the 915 and four days for the PLS. A little bass ackwards because we spent more time in the simulators and on the range with the most basic straight truck in the Army other than it's little single axle brother, the 2.5 ton LMTV; and only a total of none days for two complex/combination vehicles. Furthermore, the skills tests were less than the standard of the DOT Skills tests. Not to mention, weight is not an issue as long as the vehicle is not in gross overload. the course did train me how to properly couple and un-couple the M915's (which is identical to the way I'm currently being trained) and I actually scored higher on the skills test than the other trucks and scored a 100 on the driving.

By no means am I knocking the Army's way of training soldiers. I think it did give me the credentials to drive Army trucks which would be a help when I finally decided to become a civilian trucker. However, no matter how much training I did receive, plus the years of steady driving, as well as having professional truck drivers in my unit has been invaluable. The fact is, the Army may help you get a ahead of the game, but I totally recommend going to truck driving school.

Day 1 at TDI) Reported at 7am and met with the director of training. He gave us an overview of the course, what is to be expected of us and we had to complete a ton of paperwork less than an hour. The physician administering the DOT physicals was to be there at 8am. The training director pulled no punches and didn't sugar coat anything. I liked him from the start. He mentioned to us that he was a prior Marine, landed at Somalia in 1992 and returned in 1993 while the Battle of Mogadishu, aka the Blackhawk Down incident was occurring. What little did he know, another Blackhawk Down Vet worked across the street and was a fellow deputy: Todd Blackburn. Some of you may remember him being portrayed by Orlando Bloom in Blackhawk Down and was the soldier that fell 70 feet while fast roping. The training director then told me that he was in the National Guard and his job description is the same as mine.

We all went up to the front offices, and went into a room. The vision test, pee in a cup, blood pressure and some questions and answers. Then into the room where the Dr conducted his exam. It was painless, and I was in and out in less than five minutes.

We watched videos, received our drivers handbooks and other assorted materials. at 12pm it was lunch time, and since it was only 30 minute lunch, I brought mine from home. Since I run and work out, I try to eat healthy and drink a ton of water Truth be known, I had the stomach bug that started Saturday and I was still feeling the dehdration effects of it. I drank over a gallon and a half of water that day, at least an entire gallon before lunch. Bladder was constantly at full capacity.

After lunch, we met with out classroom instructor who told us that we were going to give urine to test for drugs. We had already peed earlier but I didn't care. I had to pee so bad from all of the water, I peed in the bathroom and 30 minutes later, gave a sample that was darn near clear. He jokingly looked at my funny as is I slipped some tapwater in it, but there is a tell-tell indicator on the side of the cup.

The rest of the day was spent going over what the next few says would entail. The CDL Permit Test...THAT is another story!

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.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

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.

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.

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

Robert H.'s Comment
member avatar

*NOTE- I apologize, I should have started this series in another category.

Continued

Still on Day One.

The class instructor, "G," is a long time veteran trucker, in fact, he had been driving since before the old Peterbilts used in movie "Dual." Also, he also was in the military, In fact, in my class, there are three of us that are/were Army, one was Navy, one was an Army senior NCO who got a commission and went to the Air Force, one military spouse and one child of someone in the military. There was an eighth student, but he was dropped for reasons unknown to us. Overall, I really liked the staff and my fellow students. We jumped into the study guides and took some practice exams. I liked the open book because it worked well with my learning style. No doubt, just in the second half of day one, I learned more than I though I would. But it helped that despite being an old salt, "G" is a great instructor and not some crusty old guy saying "hey big man lemme hold a dollar."

Finally, at the end of the day, "G" gave us a stack of applications for over a dozen companies. I already had one company in mind, and they didn't have a paper application. These apps had to be completed and turned in by Wednesday. Well, my handwriting sucks. Had it not been for typing my reports, my career in law enforcement would have ended much sooner. So my wife graciously volunteered to completed them. However, the one application I completed was online that night.

Day Two was pretty much spent on the CDL permit test: General Knowledge, Airbrakes and Combinations. We studied, did quizzes, discussion, "G" gave us even more insight, and we were given more practice tests for the permit exam on Thursday.

For some reason, Day Three was spent on logbooks and trip planning. Again, as mentioned in prior posts, this is why brand new candidates need this type of training. I caught onto logging quickly as well as the monthly summaries. I'm not a rocket scientist, but I didn't realize how easy logging is. I heard that time management over the road it tough, but keeping your logs updated will be a must. Having been a law enforcement officer in the past, I know the importance of documenting, and if you didn't document, it didn't happen. In trucking, it could land you in deep doo-doo. (BTW, when I was a deputy, the only semi I stopped in 12.5 years was a stolen rig.)

Also on Day Three, I received a phone call from the one company that I wanted to work for, and it was the first company to even call since I got home from deployment, Of all of the research on the different companies, this one company had by far the best incentives for me and my family Sure, some of you guys out there may say "Hey Rob, so and so is better." Sure, it may be better for them, but the company I want is what I feel is best for me. During my phone call, it made me even more confident that I was likely going to be getting on with them.

All of the other applications were submitted, except for one. I will not mention that company's name, but I heard their employee relations pay stink. Besides, I still had my mind set on the company I originally wanted.

Tune in next time for Day Four: Big Surprise at the DMV and the phone call I've been waiting for.

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.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

Over The Road:

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.

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.

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

David's Comment
member avatar
David you do NOT have to call me sir..I'm a Sergeant I work for a living lol....about the school:

I grew up calling people sir or ma'am. I find it gives a little more respect. ;)

mindes's Comment
member avatar

Robert, how was the school there in Milton?

I stopped by there yesterday and talked with Johnny about starting school soon. Just looking for opinion on the school.

Thanks.

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