Returning To Trucking After Vacation: Part One

by Rhonda

11/04/02 Back to work after vacation and I do not want to be here! But I must as I did not come into big money while gone! I arrive to work a little before 7am and park near "my" truck so I can re-load it with all my things. First I go to the fuel desk and ask for my keys as I had to turn them in. During the week off, "my" truck was used by other drivers. I was handed one key and not the others. This is my first clue that something is wrong.

Back to the line of tractors, I do a walk thru and can not find "my" truck. I'm not happy with this as I know what it means and I don't like that at all. But there is a slim chance it could be in the shop for a minor repair to replace a headlight or something? So I head to the shop as its almost time for my winter training to begin in the upstairs gathering room. I saw a movie on winter roads and lots of wrecked trucks and took a quiz. Because of my background and/or time with my employer, I did not have to drive for training. But I did last winter and also for this past spring training.

When done I head to the main building to report to my assigned office person and let him know that "my" truck is not on the lot and I want it now. He is already aware of this and called the person in charge at another terminal about "my" truck as it was put into the computer that it must back to this terminal on Sunday so I can do my assignment. Well, "my" truck was here yesterday but the driver(s) did not get out of it because of their truck not being ready or not here. I am so mad that I'm not totally sure what went on except that I am the one paying for it. All I know is "my" truck is now in Colorado and due back on Thursday.

So I get to use another truck whose driver is on vacation.The truckand driver are alsoon the same account as me. I'm given the keys and head to that truck which is here in the line up. I unlock it and see that it was not cleaned out!! What a crock! I had to clean out "my" truck but not this driver???!!! This is going to be a very long week. I put my things in and shove other drivers things out of the way. I get this done and the truck set up and ready to go so I can be somewhat comfortable in it. I go back to the office to make sure that I and this truck are in the system so I don't have any problems getting fuel with my fuel card and trying to leave and enter other company terminals. And to make sure that "my" truck comes back to me this week. Both have been taken care off. Out to the fuel pumps I go and put in 101 gallons.

Finally around 11 am, I can finally leave and I am told to bobtail for the 2 hour drive to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to another customer where I will get an empty trailer, then I can go to my shipper at the account I am on for my new trailer. We can not come in without a trailer. I go to the customer as assigned only to find out that there are zero trailers here. More delays and I am getting more angry as the day goes on. I send in a message on qualcomm and I wait and wait and wait. This makes me more angry. Finally abeep from the qualcomm tells me there is a message waiting. Could it be for me???? Or is a something for the entire fleet to see? Its for me!!! I am to now go to the mechanic shop and get a trailer that has been worked on. OK, but I drove by that place to get to this one and now I have to backtrack. IS IT FRIDAY YET??!!

Finally, I enter my shipper/ receiver and drop the empty trailer and get my loaded trailer going to Three Rivers Michigan. I pull onto the scale to get my axle weight and total weight. Steers are 12,080, Drives are 31,200 and Tandems are 33,120. Finally something went right. I do not have to slide the tandems to make axle weight.

I made a list of things I found wrong with this truck. Some of it is just being picky, but when you spend $80,000 and up on a tractor, everything should work on it. Here are some of them:

1. CB does not work--mine or the crappy one that came with the truck.

2. Gearshift not as tight as mine so it wobbles and hits the dash where the cup holders are when shifting. I WORE MY COFFEE!!! This was not a pleasant experience.

3. Qualcomm light works when it wants to. This means you need a flashlightwhen dark to enter your load info.

4. The dome light also has a mind of its own and did not like me at all.

5. Truck goes right and I mean right if you don't have a firm grip on the steering wheel (guess this is better than going left).

6. Air vents broke and the ones still there don't move.


8. Only 2 out of the 8 radio speakers work.

9. Headlights pointed too low for me, but I can live with it.

10. Fuel guage light is out.


11-05-02 As I amnearing our customer from the north side, I look south as I cross the bridge and railroad tracks and see no trucks in line or a truck in the one dock we use. This is good news for me. I make a right turn on a residental street and go south for about 3 blocks. There are factory/warehouses on the right hand side for the entire length of the street. My customer is at the end. At the end to myleft are trailers in the dirt lot. I turn right and proceed to the NW corner of the building on a drive next to the river. I round the corner andsee 2 of my employer's trucks that you can not see from the street when I was looking.

I park behind them and get out and see that they are sleeping as the curtains are shut. I go around them and back into the dock. I am being unloaded when they wake up and move the trucks closer to me. They got in about 2 this morning and stayed far enough back from the dock to not cause confusion while sleeping. I ask them if they had been to the scrap yard in Toledo. I get grins and the line that you are going to have "fun" now! I was told that someone must help you, and block 4 lanes of a busy highway while I back into the dock. And this wonderful event happens 1 block off the busy interstate. I am just thrilled to know about this and the new adventure given to me. Soon I am on my way and not looking forward to this blocking of a busy 4 lane highway while I back into a dock. Backing is still not my best thing. I'm going to have lots of 4-wheelers upset with me. That's OK as they upset me daily too!


"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.


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.


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
by Brett Aquila

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