What Did You Do Before Becoming A Truck Driver?

Topic 7924 | Page 30

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Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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Did janitorial work in my parents small business from 4th grade to 8th grade. Then got a job at the local lumberyard/hardware store, starting stocking shelves, then doing the weekly hardware order, customer service and deliveries (had my "chauffers license".)

After high school and about 4+ years at the hardware store, I got on at one of the local sawmills. 4-1/2 years of green chain, dry chain and utility relief.

Then I moved to Phoenix, and got an AAS/EET (electronics eng tech). Stumbled into industrial maintenance, and wrenched in food plants and a huge injection molding plant for about 7 years total.

Then I stumbled into drafting, machine design, 3D printing, CNC programming and parametric solid modeling for almost a couple decades.

I moved back to NW Montana, had a few drafting, design and tech jobs, but I got really tired of being" overqualified ".

So, here I am. I finished company CDL school and got my CDL a week ago. I start orientation in 3 days, and IF I get hired, I really believe I'm up to this profession.

After reading a ton of "Advice for new drivers" threads here on TT, I feel I have a pretty realistic impression of how incredibly, um, character building, yeah, that's it!, the coming year will be :)

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.
Johan Broad's Comment
member avatar

I have worked as a Security Guard, Barista, Deli Clerk, Chef, Bookstore Clerk, Online Brokerage rep, Tax Technician, Customer Service/ Tech Support rep, Welder/Fabricator, and Courier.

It's not as impressive as it sounds. Most of those jobs kept me Just Over Broke.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
MyNameGoesHere's Comment
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I've also got a pretty eclectic work history. I've worked fast food, at a gas station, security, armored car, manufacturing janitorial supplies (mostly urinal cakes), aircraft manufacturing, various retail jobs and positions, pest control, telemarketing (in-bound calls for hotel reservations), school bus driving.

Joseph N.'s Comment
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I worked for ford motor company building the ford transit. It paid extremely well, and had free health benefits, but the place is old school in terms of management. They would verbally and mentaly Harass you if you didn’t do things there way (hence why the union is still a vital part of their existence). I was a team leader, basically my job was an hourly union protected supervisor of a small portion of a line. I made sure jobs ran smoothly, everyone was there, getting their assigned tasks done and paper work on top of it. I loved it at first. Then people got enough time in that they would miss work without reprisals. So I started having to cover their jobs until I could get someone trained on it plus do my job. Think of it as juggling 6 simulatious jobs at once and getting no extra pay or even an attta boy for it. So I grew discontent for the place people and job. Needless to say I got upset one day and stormed out ( it’s still acceptable to walk out when you are 26 right?!). Four day later I was on my way to prime inc to get my cdl. I worked there for a few month and came back home when I was offered a better paying home daily job. Now that job has dried up and I’ve been working for another local manufacturer and my discontent has never gone away and at this point I’m about to leave again to rejoin another major training carrier since I’ve been out of trucking longer than I was in so I can get a refresher course. All in all I love driving a semi, it’s mosty no drama unless you get caught up in the truck stop gossip or you happen to **** off your dispatcher. I also LOVE driving so this is a win win for me and I won’t be losing much money going back Otr. Worst part is missing my family(young kids) but I know when I’m home it’s all about them! It’s truly hard to get out of trucking and not want to go back unless you have no desire to be gone for weeks at a time.

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.

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.

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.
Dave Reid's Comment
member avatar

I did about twenty years in the insurance industry...starting as a personal/family mutli-line independent agency and ending as a partner/general manager/tech guy in a primarily commercial multi-line independent agency.

Then I did about 18 years in the transportation business...starting as a taxi driver, then a call center manager, then a general manager, then president/coo/partner in a local transit firm with about 100 vehicles consisting of taxicabs, limousines, buses, luxury sedans, and accessible vehicles.

Then I did a year with two part time jobs - motor coach driver and private detective...this while assisting my parents with some health care issues.

Now, I'm happily an OTR trucker living in the truck and seeing the country. Hopefully, winter will end soon. One of my daughters lives in Ecuador...she was complaining today about the 129F weather. I asked her to send half of that heat here...then we'd both by happy :-).

Some people were chiming in on Laura T.'s "I hate Nursing" topic about what they did before they became interested in trucking. I put the question in the title for others to tell what they did "before".

I taught middle school math and science for eleven years. Finally I "had it" with both student attitude and administration pressure to get my students to pass the annual testing.

Also, rookie truckers make just about as much as rookie teachers do, without all that college!

So, what did you do in your "previous life"?

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.

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.
Jackson H.'s Comment
member avatar

So, I'm not a truck driver yet--I plan on applying around mid-March so that a majority of the worst weather has had time to die down a bit before I hit the road--but this is my tale.

I went to college straight out of high school with a dream of becoming a computer programmer. Everyone had always told me that I was good with computers, and I was a fairly lazy and unambitious young man, to be dreadfully honest, so getting a job where I sat in front of a computer all day seemed like a dream come true.

Unfortunately, the school counselor suggested that I take both Java and C+ classes in the same semester 'in order to decide what programming language I liked'. Which was a horrible idea, since that's like taking both French and Spanish classes at the same time. They're just similar enough that you start mixing between the two.

I tried to struggle through, but then my Grandpa died, and my mother ended up burning out at work between depression and stress from working upper management at a federal credit union, and she had to file for bankruptcy. We struggle for a bit, but between the poor class scheduling and my own personal depression, my GPA dropped too low, and I lost my scholarship.

Dropping out of college, I ended up going to Job Corps (a DOL-run trade school) where I learned how to become an A+ certified computer repair technician, where I graduated with honors... right as the dotcom bubble crashed.

I ended up couch-crashing at a few friend's houses for about a year and a half, most of that spent 'house-sitting' for a friend in the Navy to give him peace of mind while he was out helping tend the nuclear reactor on the Lincoln out in the Pacific.

During that time, I did actually apply for an OTR trucking job, but I didn't have any recent employment, and I'd only held a driver's license for two years, so I was denied.

Seeing nothing else I could reasonably do, seeing as I was still rather lazy and unambitious, I sent to Job Corps AGAIN, this time learning how to do household electrician work... right about the same time that the housing market crashed.

Twice burned, I was 'lucky' that a recruiter for a large bank was looking for potential employees for their call center, and I was lined up with a job pretty quick. It seemed like the life to me, since I had a job, and my parents had moved to a new house and had a room that I could 'rent' from them (read, pay for my own expenses, since they were making less money in the house after my mother had to quit her management job for health reasons).

And then the bank sent my team manager to Costa Rica to train new hires in a new call center there, all the time saying that the new reps overseas would be 'taking the night shift, not replacing you'. Nobody believed them, and sure enough a few months later all of the approximately 1500 call center reps were called into the different conference rooms, where we were basically fired via conference call. To be fair, they were good about giving us all severance pay packages, a 3-month notice, and assistance with finding new employment, so it wasn't TOO bad.

Sadly, instead of looking back into trucking for a living, I did the easiest thing and found another call center job, where I was on contract working at the Nintendo headquarters in Redmond, Washington, doing technical support for the handheld DS and DSLite. To do that job there was a two week training class before you got on the phone, while another class was being done in the other room for the people that would be handling technical support for the Wii when it came out. THAT class got like five weeks of training.

Come the launch of the Wii, Nintendo found out they did NOT anticipate the call volume on opening day regarding all of the issues with the wrist straps and the infrared sensors in the remotes. So, the poor schmucks like me who had 2 weeks of training, and had never even SEEN a Wii before, we taken off the phones on opening day for half an hour, in groups of 10, with a single Wii in an unused room... then thrown on the phones on launch day, just like those people who got an extra four weeks of training.

I stuck with it though, because the pay was good, and because it was still just sitting in front of a computer all day, until the 6-month contract ended and I had to find another job.

On to call center number 3, which was booking stays for customers at a timeshare company, which paid even more than I was making before. These were what I liked to call the 'glory days' of working in a call center, where I was making up to $2000 a month after taxes. Once again, sitting in front of a computer, surrounded by cubicle walls, with florescent light glaring from above.

That job lasted a good four years, before the fates struck again. They had promoted me to a special team of agents who handled booking stays for prospective clients, who only purchased a one year 'trial' package with the travel agency. I was making even more money, so it seemed like a good fit to me... until they decided to close down that department, without allowing any of its agents lateral movement back to their old positions.

So, I went from one job making $2000 a month, with a 15 minute commute, to another job making about $1500 a month, with a 30-60 minute commute, with a toll bridge, and downtown Seattle paid parking... having to pay the toll both ways, when going to work taking calls for the same company handling the tolling.

to be cont.

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.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jackson H.'s Comment
member avatar

This is when call centers lost their glamor to me, as one of the main reasons I found out that they had shut down my old job working for the travel agency was that they had opened a call center in Dallas, Texas, where they could pay new employees HALF of what they were paying us, and that was starting to become the national average.

Things get a bit complicated from that point, as at the same time I had allowed my best friend to move in with his ex-girlfriend--now just good friend--and her two kids. This helped pay for rent on my apartment, as they were chipping in with the bills, and I spent most of my time alone in my room anyways, so the lack of space didn't really bother me much.

She ended up meeting another man online, who was a soon-to-be-retired navy man living in Jacksonville, North Carolina. My best friend and her went off to visit them for a weekend, my best friend going partially to make sure she was safe, and she ended up getting pregnant during that short stay. The navy man wanted to do right by her, so he invited her and her children to move in with him, accepting my best friend when she said she didn't want to just leave him behind, since my best friend has been kind of the surrogate father to her at the time two children.

I ended up coming along for the ride, because damned if I was going to let my best friend move to the other side of the country without me, and we sent her and her children on ahead by plane while my best friend and I packed everything up in the house for the trip. The navy man took a one-way flight over to drive the 28-foor Penske truck for us, while I drove my jeep.

This was the first time I had ever driven further than western Montana (Flathead Lake), and when my best friend asked if I needed him to take a turn at the wheel, I actually turned him down since I was having so much fun just driving.

We stopped in Idaho the first night, since we started out in the evening, then again in southern Montana, next at a truck stop on the western border of South Dakota, where there was a horrible wind storm passing through. South Dakota didn't give me a good first impression, let me tell you that. Then we stopped for the night in Kansas City, Missouri, where some of the navy man's friends lived. Our final stop was at a truck stop in West Virginia, before finally hitting Jacksonville, North Carolina, in the dead of the night.

The navy man was amazed at my endurance on the road, and asked if I had ever looked into a job as a trucker. I told him about my one failed attempt nearly a decade before, shrugging it off, and quickly finding myself another call center job.

I've now been in this town for nearly six years, working at my second call center job here, with my life going nowhere. The navy man had retired, but his relationship with our female friend had soured to the point that he kicked us out of his home with nothing more than a week's notice to get our stuff packed and leave. This is after my best friend and I had given 90% of our paychecks to him during the previous two years with the understanding that once he was retired he would pay us back.

That never happened.

Thankfully, we did find a place to move in to quickly enough, though once more I was at the point that I was making barely enough money to pay the bills, and most of our groceries came from the food stamps our female friend got from SSI.

I was depressed, I had anxiety, my blood pressure was through the roof, and I had almost given up on ever being able to make enough money to do more than just make ends meet. My diet was worse than ever, since the groceries had to be bought in bulk due to having two teenagers and a small child in a house with three adults. Food was bought based upon three things: cheap, fast, and lots of it.

I had just reached burnout at my job when a snowstorm hit, blanketing the town in enough snow and ice that all but emergency services shut down for several days. Being a coastal town in the South, it didn't take much, only 4 inches of snow.

That gave me the time to sit down and really think about what I was doing with my life, and what I really wanted out of it.

I didn't immediately think of trucking, as I had long ago given up on that dream, but I did remember what my grandfather had done before he passed on, getting himself a piece of property and building it up himself. He kept himself busy, he had a huge warehouse built on his property, and build an apartment into one end of it to live in where he had easy access to all of his varied tools.

That, that was something to dream about, though not on the kind of money I would ever earn at a call center...

And then, I remembered my old dream of becoming a trucker, and started to do some research.

I found out about the DOT physical, and the blood pressure requirements it had, and realized that I needed to work on my health first. My blood pressure was 185/125 at the start of January, and between diet, exercise and a dream of a better future, I have managed to drop it down to 141/91 in the span of three weeks. My goal is to start my new life in little over two months, once I know my blood pressure is steady.

Screaming along so far in The High Road, and I'm going to repeat it again and again until I can pass that written test with my eyes closed!

Love this site,and love all the knowledge and support available here!

Keep On Truckin'!

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.

Bryan Q.'s Comment
member avatar

I was a music producer. But I plan on bringing my travel size equipment on the road with me to continue to make some music here and there when I can.

Robert J.'s Comment
member avatar

Well, I'm not a trucker yet, but I'll go ahead and respond to this thread as if I were one.

I'm currently an auditor and have been both a tax accountant and a bookkeeper.

My main reason for wanting to make the change, quite frankly, is that I'm getting very tired of office politics. I'm surrounded by childish gossipers and backstabbers, and dealing with the bad attitudes in the office for 8 hours a day has gotten old.

That said, I LOVE driving long distances BY MYSELF. I also have no family, not much of a social life, and wouldn't mind being gone all the time. A laptop and some good music would be all I need for company.

Curtis 's Comment
member avatar

Well my last gig with 3 different companies I was in the wholesale used textbook buying and selling business! In the 16+ years I have driven well over 1,000,000 miles on a few vehicles and all accident and ticket free. I am not in a hurry to get someplace because I know I will get there when I get there safe. I am now only two weeks away from starting my New Career at Wil-Trans in Springfield, MO on Feb. 12, 2018 as a rookie and I am so excited and nervous at the same time. I have studied and taken the practice test on the DMV Genie app and pass them all and the ones I get wrong are usually stupid reading errors and some of the brake questions. Usually I only get 2-5 wrong on them and sometimes 100% right.

Everyone at Wil-Trans has been amazing and my recruiter Alondra checks on me every week to see how I am doing and I think that is so nice. The whole interview process has been great and it can't get here soon enough.

I know there is so much to learn as talking to my brother last night he has driven and been a driver trainer for Rhoel and put on over a million safe miles and he just told me ask questions of your trainer no matter how stupid they may sound and said you will screw up but just learn from the errors. Practice makes perfect, right?

So anyways, Wil-Trans is the only company I applied at and like that they are smaller and have small classes for that one on one training.

Wish me luck and I will keep you all updated.

Curtis

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.

Wil-Trans:

Darrel Wilson bought his first tractor in 1980 at age 20, but, being too young to meet OTR age requirements, he leased the truck out and hired a driver.

Through growth and acquisition, Wil-Trans now employs over 200 drivers, and has a long-standing partnership with Prime, Inc. to haul their refrigerated freight. The family of businesses also includes Jim Palmer Trucking and O & S Trucking.

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