The Official Update

Topic 9878 | Page 1

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Little Syster (a.k.a. Sun's Comment
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Finally found a "free" minute :)

The last couple weeks have been...interesting. I'll start where I left off with the last thread I posted.

After passing the test, I shipped off to orientation with System Transport on Sunday, Aug 2. I am in love with this company (while remaining realistic that all companies are run by humans and therefore a flexible attitude and appreciation is needed at all times). I arrived in Spokane for orientation and was picked up by the shuttle and taken to the hotel where I planned on staying for 5 nights. As I'm sure some of you have gathered, I am so very excited about becoming a truck driver and especially becoming a flatbed driver. After taking my stuff up to the room, I called a cab and got a ride to Walmart where I did some grocery shopping for dinner for the week. Grabbed some healthy stuff - kale, craisins, string cheese, Amy's frozen dinners, etc.

I barely slept the first night and watched TV for hours until I was so exhausted I couldn't put sleeping off any longer.

Next morning, I woke up at 4:30a and started getting ready for the day. Got my poop in a group and headed downstairs to catch the shuttle to headquarters. Upon arrival, we were directed to wait in the lounge until we were called back to the training classroom. We were issued a safety vest, name badge, policy binder, and instructed to fill out some forms online. The day went as expected: forms, videos, presentations, lunch (provided by the company which was really nice), drive test, and then off for the physical.

And that's when things went haywire.

Old School, I think you and a few others might be able to relate. I passed the hearing test, flexibility test, etc. And then came the lift test. For this company (and most if not all flatbed divisions), a driver must be able to lift their tarps. Ours is a 90 lb tarp.

And I couldn't lift it on to the shelf.

UGH. I didn't realize that the shelf was going to be 50" tall and when I signed up I told them I could lift up to 100 lbs without an issue. And I can! Just not 50" off the ground - 42" doesn't count. I'm only 60" tall (62" on a good day) and some of you can guess the logistical difficulties I would have completing this task. Mortified and frustrated were only two of the emotions I was feeling after that test. And completely lost.

I had no idea what was going to happen the next day. Before leaving for orientation, I asked the fleet manager if I did fail the lift test if I would "be done." He told me not to worry and that the company would work with me, but I was still damn near having a panic attack as I paced back and forth in my hotel room. I slept very poorly, to say the least.

The next morning I packed onto the shuttle with the other men and headed to training. I immediately let the director know that I failed the lift test and he went to talk to his director. Within 30 minutes he came back and pulled me out to the hallway and said the devastating words - "at this time, we rescind our offer of conditional employment." He tried to get me on the reefer division so I could at least stay, but the fleet manager out there wasn't interested. It was all I could do to keep it together as he lead me to the head recruiter's office to arrange for my flight home (which I am SO grateful that they did - I couldn't imagine being stranded out there). I got back to the hotel and wept for about 15 minutes, called my best friends, cried and ranted a little more, then pulled myself together, packed my bags and called my local gym to sign up for a short-term membership and personal training sessions.

That's one thing that I've always been proud of - I might fall down, and fall down hard. But when I get back up, watch the eff out 'cause I'm coming!

I got home just before midnight on Tuesday and by Wednesday I was in the gym and at yoga (Bikram yoga is amazing - you should check it out) the next day. Over the last week, I have logged over 22 hrs working out (That's with taking the weekend off per my trainer's instruction - I overdid it Weds thru Fri and needed to recover before Monday). On Monday, I was able to press 90 lbs over my head (not fully locked out) and today I dead lifted 135 lbs. I'm putting in 5 - 7 miles everyday I'm at the gym on the cardio machines (combo elliptical and weird intense elliptical/stair master and wave thing) keeping my heart rate average between 150 and 170 bpm. I plan on heading back to orientation on the 23rd and showing that snarky PTA how this girl lifts 90 lbs!

'Til Then!

Happy, Safe Driving to you all!

~Sunshine~

ps: Though I have never made a cent driving a tractor trailer, I REALLY miss being behind the wheel! Soon... :)

Fleet Manager:

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Sounds like you are really motivated. Reminds me of Charles Atlas. He had a similar come-back story.

Are you going to talk to ST again, or will you be looking for another flatbed company?

Old School's Comment
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Old School, I think you and a few others might be able to relate.
Mortified and frustrated were only two of the emotions I was feeling after that test.

I completely understand... It;s devastating when you are so convinced in your own heart about something that you want to pursue and then there seems to be this one barrier that eliminates you right before you even get in the starting gate!

Listen Sunshine, I want you to try to think about this lifting aspect a little differently than you've probably been doing up till now. It seems that you are focusing on improving your strength, and that is good, but realistically where the problem lies is in your lifting technique. I've seen some smaller ladies than you handling this job. Just because you can lift 90 pounds up over your head in a gym is a completely different thing from lifting that bulky rolled up tarp out on the job site.

let me explain the technique, and then I'll share a little tip with you about getting it on that shelf.

You want to stand the tarp up on it's end first. Then half bending your body and half squatting you are going to need to get one hand underneath the bottom of the tarp (gripping in the rolled edges down there) and take the other arm and bear hug that thing up against that same arms shoulder area. The tarp will be standing in between your knees at this point. Now, while trying to stand up and straighten up your torso, you squeeze the tarp against that shoulder and pull up with your hand underneath the bottom until you get yourself up into an upright position. Now when you get yourself upright, you will have the tarp hugged up against your body with one hand still underneath the bottom, and the bottom of it is down around your mid thigh area. At this point you are simply going to give the tarp a few bounces with your body and your lower hand by bending your knees and bouncing your body upward so that with each bounce you are lifting that thing up higher against your body and holding it there in that position until you can get it up high enough to sort of roll it on up onto your shoulder.

I recommend you go to a large building supply place like a Lowe's, Home Depot, or a Menard's and look at their rolls of roofing tar paper. See if you can find some that are close to the 90 pound weight amount and practice with those things. If you can get the technique down with that large roll, then you should be good to go.

Now here's the promised tip: That shelf they are having you put the tarp on is just about the average height of a flat-bed trailer - that is why they chose that height. When you get the tarp into the position where it is hugged up against your body then all you've got to do at that point is keep bouncing it upward until you can get the top of the tarp five or six inches above the shelf. Then you are going to push the tarp against the shelf, and lower your top hand so that it is now at the bottom of the tarp along with your other hand, and both hands and arms are now supporting the full weight of the tarp. At this point you are going to use the edge of the shelf as a pivot point to get a little leverage to help you swing the tarp up onto the shelf. If you decide to purchase on of those rolls of roofing paper you can practice this at home, or you can probably find a way to practice it at the building supply warehouse if you want to save your self the expense.

I hope this helps! I love your attitude and your gumption - keep at it and you'll be out there before you know it.

And by the way, when you are out here doing this stuff, 90% of the time there will be a fork lift operator out here willing to help you get your tarps put where they need to be.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Magoo's Comment
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I look forward to hearing the good news by the end of the month.

You got this!

The Persian Conversion's Comment
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Dang I'm sorry that happened, but I'm glad you're not giving up! Old School's technique is dead-on. There's no way I could deadlift a tarp above my head, but I've been able to get it up on the deck more than once with that technique. Once you can get the tip of the tarp onto the edge if the deck, you're pretty much home free. Also, if that's still too high, you could lift one side of the tarp onto the bottom step leading up to the catwalk, then flip the other end up onto the catwalk. Then repeat this process from the catwalk up to the trailer deck. Just look out for your air and electrical lines! I'm not sure how much that tip would help you with the lift test though.

Do you have a chnce of going back to System? I've been to that Spokane terminal. My instructor at CDL school also worked for System and is a tester with DTS. He actually administered my state skills test and I did it right there in and around the terminal. His name is Doug, tall skinny older guy with blondish-white hair and a perpetual e-cig in his mouth. Did you meet him?

Hang in there, I can tell you have what it takes to be an awesome driver and I'm sure the perfect opportunity is just waiting around the corner!

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.

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.
ATXJEHU's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the update; that was an extremely tough situation to go through; sounds like you are on the right track and the preceding tips should make a big difference in your next result; sorry, don't have any tips as I am a "door slammer" (dry van), lol. Good luck and keep us posted

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
Phox's Comment
member avatar

I don't know about trucking companies, but in all fairness anything over 50-60lbs is usually a team lift at any other non trucking jobs I have worked or applied to. yeah sure plenty of people can lift 100s of pounds but that doesn't mean it's safe and a liability risk companies want to take. I don't really have much to comment on the company because I don't know enough about flatbedding. I mean they're giant tarps and usually flatbedding is done solo... what's a company supposed to do? Perhaps 50" is a bit much, maybe if they offered a step ladder or something, i mean that's a reasonable accommodation, I have seen videos of truckers who are short and use them for their job. you can't help being short(er than avg i guess I'm 6' and consider myself average height, not tall not short). the way I see it even if it takes another tool / device as long as you can get the job done in a way that is still possible in the field, then that should count as passing. for example using a forklift, not something you're going to have in the field so using one for the test obviously not ok, a step ladder, yeah that's something you can put in the truck or even attach to the back of the tractor... so i think that should be allowed / provided for the test.

anyways that's the past and it's good to hear you pressed on and decided to find a way to improve your ability. good luck with your next attempt, who knows maybe you make all the men look bad now haha (just make sure i'm not one of them, that's not nice when someone is being nice to ya haha)

Ernie S. (AKA Old Salty D's Comment
member avatar

Sunshine,

Sorry to hear that you did not pass your test, but all is not lost. Since I grew up on a farm I used to have to load hay bales out of the field to the back of a truck to haul it to the barn and then unload it into the hay mow. A technique I used when lifting was to bend my knees, pickup the bale (or tarp in this case) until I was standing. Then I would "kick it" with my knee as I continued to lift it and that helped me a great deal. So that is another way you can try to see if that may help. That was referred to as "bucking hay" where I grew up.

Ernie

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Sunshine,
It's been a week. How goes it?

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