Change Of Gears

Taking a different direction I think. I've been pushed out of the industry it seems. And honestly, I'm just about over it. You can keep the being away from my wife and kids for weeks at a time for $600/wk. I have some leads on some local work, and some of it is not even trucking. One is retail. One is a plant nursery (maybe I can finally use that horticulture degree I have). And a few other ones are in computers and information technology. Got a few in the LTL side of trucking which to me isn't trucking it's a delivery driver. But guess what some of those guys make upwards of $1,000/wk working beer, soft drinks, etc. and they get to come home every night to their family and sleep in their own beds. Yes it's hard work unloading the stuff but I've never been afraid of hard work. In fact, it would do my body good! I'm overweight and need to get the pounds off and fast or I'm gonna die. But anyway, as you can see, there are plenty of other options for me that I am not going for. It's a long story about what happened with this company I blogged about recently. It's always so close yet so far away or another way, it's the carrot dangling in front of my nose syndrome. I'm over it. Y'all can keep it. Trucking is great…..if you are single. Can live in the truck and on the road for months at a time and stack some cash. For family guys like me, it's a horrible way of life. Keep it…..

Stay tuned for my next adventure. Be it, LTL or soft drink delivery, food delivery, hell, maybe even computer work again. Whatever the future holds for me, as long as I am home every night, I'm good. And my kids, newborn baby and wife will thank me for it. Oh, and yes, they are all proud of me for busting my ass and trying this trucking thing and getting a fully loaded CDL. Which I will keep active forever. Nobody is taking it from me. And who knows maybe when the kids are grown I'll go back to trucking for real. Who knows. But for now my priorities are being at home with my baby girls. P. E. R. I. O. D.

If I go into delivery, I'll keep blogging! Why not. It's therapy for me. I'll have to be trained, so that right there will be a few blog posts alone.

Oh and for those that wanna know, I trained for two weeks in Atlanta as I blogged about. Two weeks from getting my own truck at the end of this month, I was told it would be September before I can finish. And instead of two weeks left I get to train for another month. Throwing away all my training I've done for the past month. Not to mention I turned down at least 30 trucking jobs, putting my life on hold for this company and this is what they do. It started in May. Was hired in May. Told me I could start June 5th. June 4th got a call "oh it won't be til July 5th". I said whatever. Then after two weeks of training now it's September 1st. Fucking done.

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Day 3

Shifting is improving dramatically. As well as my backing. Nailed the backs today first time. Every time. Felt amazing. Day started off after eating a convenience store breakfast at 6am with a quick pre trip inspection. Coupled to our ore loaded trailer at the Atlanta terminal and off I drive to Buford. To the Best Buy D.C.  It was gigantic. And tiny at the same time. Tiny for trucks. They had at least 200 docks. But the Parking was rough. Tight as hell. In fact my trainer had to back it in. Felt bad but he wanted to do it to show me a few things about tight spaces. We sat there from 8am til noon. Getting unloaded. Waiting for appointment. All that good stuff. I don’t care, I got paid for it. After that we took the empty trailer over to Winder to a plant that makes huge storage containers for water. Dropped that trailer at the dock and picked up our loaded trailer there. I drove it back to the Atlanta terminal. Backed it in amazingly, even my trainer was impressed. Uncoupled it and went home. Tomorrow is the end of week 1 of 4 weeks total training. Only 3 more to go. To say I’m damn tired of training is a gross understatement. I’m over it. But I gotta tell myself, only 3 weeks to go. Ugh.

Went to my mothers house tonight to sleep. It’s only 45 minutes to the terminal. That’s more like it! Gotta get up at 4:45am though. Shit. But it will all be worth it in the end when I have a secure and stable career that will never go anywhere.

Today I worked 6am-5pm, and drove 150 miles.

Day 2

Wow. Today was a busy and long one. Started off the day at the Atlanta terminal. I drove all day today and did all of the backing which was good. Anyway, the first stop was in Marietta. In morning rush hour. We had a quick drop and hook there. Dropped loaded trailer, picked up empty. We then went to Calhoun. Way up north in Georgia mountains. Good drive up. Got backed into the dock and sat there for a few hours while they loaded us with carpet. From there we took the carpet back to the Atlanta terminal to drop the trailer. After that, my trainer bobtailed to get an empty trailer a few miles away and take it to Palmetto. We sweeped it out and dropped it at the Lowes D.C. After that we bobtailed back to the Atlanta terminal and, since it was about 6:30pm, I decided to just stay in the truck overnight. Instead of driving two hours home.

The first night in the truck was cool. The APU hummed me right to sleep. Woke up about 4am though. I set the temperature to 50 degrees and it hit 50 degrees. Woke up shivering. Felt good actually with the 100 degree days we have been having lately. Woke up about 5am, got something to eat at the convenience store and started day 3.

Today I worked 6am-6:30pm, and drove 200 miles.

Day 1

First day at work was pretty good. I am finally at the last phases of my training. As if 13 weeks in school was enough, I got 4 more weeks to go. But in any case, today was good. Started off at 6am. Which, being the terminal is a two hour drive from Athens, I had to get up at 3:30 in the freaking morning. I’ll never understand why I moved so far from Atlanta, aka where there are jobs. So being exhausted I made it through my day.

Started off my trainer showed me how to couple. He drove the load to Doraville. However, I backed it to the dock. Nailed it perfect the first time. He was impressed. So was I, considering I haven’t backed up a truck to a dock ever and second, it’s been over 90 days since I even drove a semi. So we sat there getting unloaded for about two hours. He took a nap and I sat there and read stuff on my phone. I drove to the second stop of the day, out in Lawrenceville. Drove okay, considering it’s been 1/4 of a year. Little bit of gear grinding (why truck companies don’t go fully automatic defeats logic) but I made it. Backed it into the dock. Perfect once again first try. Not even a pull up. Got unloaded. Took about two hours. Left the location and went to Jefferson to drop off the empty trailer. I drove a little better. Backed the trailer between two trailers on a lot. Once again, perfect back. I guess a 53′ trailer is easier than the 43′ at school. I uncoupled and we bobtailed from Jefferson to the Atlanta terminal. After eating lunch for the required 30 minute break. Driving a bobtail was fun. Start off in 4th gear. Skip gears going up and down. Harder to stop though. Made it back to the Atlanta terminal and parked it for the day. Off for the 4th of July and back to training the rest of the week. Off weekends is cool. Driving four hours a day to and from work, isn’t.

Today I worked from 6am-6pm, and drove 150 miles.

Calm Before Storms

19553927_324593747963603_3344214279502601261_nWell I made it through the one day orientation with G&P Trucking in Columbia, SC. It wasn’t too bad. I loved the fact at how fast everything progressed, and how quickly they got us through and back home. I did have to drive the employee van back though (I volunteered) with the other two drivers from Atlanta. It was a four hour drive and I did it in one shot. I then, drove home another two hours. So I was exhausted last night.

On Monday, I will begin my training for them. Learn their trucks, systems, how they pre trip, how they run log books, how they plan loads, the qualcomm system, the whole nine yards. Its two weeks of training in Atlanta at the terminal, then I am off to Charlotte, NC for the final two weeks. I take a final road test with the company, and if I pass, I will be handed the keys to a $150,000 vehicle and told ‘don’t hit anything.’ I am both looking forward to these four weeks, simply because in my mind, this is the final test. I will FINALLY be in my own truck in a month (somewhere around August 1st) and be on my own and making money. And let me tell ya, they make MONEY (the drivers). I know a few personally that bring in over $2,000/wk.

So, I am back home in Athens, GA and taking the weekend to mentally prepare for whats ahead of me. I am nervous, anxious, excited, stressed, all balled into one. I will get through it though. I always have. I will find a way to internalize all of this information I will be given. And it will be a ton of information. I am certain of that. The trainer, I was told, has 35 years experience with the company. He is gonna pour everything he knows into me, to make me a ‘super trucker’ as my instructor said I still laugh at that term lol.

So lets enjoy the weekend. I am gonna shoot fireworks with my wife and kids this weekend, go view the fireworks in downtown Athens (its my youngest’s very first fourth of July) and relax. Cause the next 4 weeks are gonna be like going to basic training.

Stay tuned for more.

Columbia, SC

Today was pretty eventful. I got up at 6am and packed my stuff for my overnight trip to Columbia, SC. Headed out the door at roughly 7am. Got some breakfast, got some gas for my car and off I went to the Atlanta terminal for my trucking company I work for. 
Got to the terminal at 9am and waited for the other new guys to arrive so we could leave promptly at 10am. Waited in the lobby for a while and met the two other people that were just hired. All of us loaded into the company van in Atlanta and off we went. 

The trip was pretty uneventful. It was long though. A full four hours non stop out I-20. Got to the Columbia terminal at 2pm and did a quick road test. We were then informed orientation today and tomorrow was paid at $50/day. Not too shabby. Also, we were told the hotel room was $80/night and we would each have our OWN private room. No sharing with strangers and sleeping with your wallet. That was awesome! 

We left the terminal at 5pm and one of the new people drove us to the hotel. We checked in, and all three of us got our rooms. I went to subway and they went to the Mexican restaurant across the street. We got back to the hotel and here I sit, typing away on my iPad today’s journal entry. 

Tomorrow we get up at 6am, for the free hotel continental breakfast. Leave the hotel at 7am, to head back to the terminal here in Columbia. We are then going to fill out the paperwork needed, do some tours, check out some trucks and meet the president and CEO of the company. Then, off we go, back to our respective cities. There’s 13 of us total and only 3 from Atlanta. Tomorrow after the orientation, and meeting everyone, we drive (well, I drive) the company van back to Atlanta with the two other new people. Yes, they volunteered me to do that. I don’t mind though. They put me in a nice hotel free of charge so I’ll drive us back to Atlanta terminal. No big deal. At least I won’t be as bored as I was riding the 4 hours here. Driving it will be easier. 

Well that will just about put an end to today. Gonna go take a shower and watch some television before hitting the bed.

It Begins

I want people to know the full story of my journey in this industry, with full disclosure. As someone with a thirst for knowledge I found myself hitting dead ends and walls constantly in my research for the ‘perfect trucking company’…spoiler alert… it doesn’t exist. They all have some minor issues and each one is different. It just depends on what you are willing to settle for or put up with. By putting up blog posts, I believe trucking students or people new to the industry can benefit from what I say and some of my research. I follow many YouTube truckers (oh and I will also have a YouTube channel with live feeds of my driving…in place of a dash cam) and they are all a wealth of information. Ike Stevens, J Canell, Red Viking Trucker, to name a few.

So with that being said, here goes blog post 1.

As everyone knows, or maybe not, I went to Athens Technical College in Monroe, GA. I paid for my CDL school, meaning I didn’t go through a trucking company to get my CDL. I am a ‘free agent’ as they say now. If you go through a company, guess what, you are locked into a contract with that company, sometimes for 2 years! If you quit, move on, or get fired you will owe upwards of $5,000 and they will stop at nothing to collect. So I said to hell with that, and wanted to do this on my own. Went to ATC from January 2017 and took my CDL road test early, I was one of the first in my class of 4, on April 1st. I passed it on the first try with flying colors.

Its now June 28th. Why in the hell you ask, am I not working or in my own truck by now. I can explain that. First, I wanted to get all of the endorsements on my CDL. Which I did. That took time, and money, and testing. and waiting for the CDL hard copy to arrive in the mail. Then I had the brilliant idea (it really was, its how I got my current job, more on that later) to get my Hazmat endorsement so I can haul hazardous materials. That was a process in itself. Took about 3 weeks. Had to go to Augusta, GA to get fingerprints. Pay the $110. Take more tests at the DMV. Wait another few weeks for another hard copy of my CDL to get mailed to me. During this time, I couldn’t work driving, cause trucking companies want the hard copy of the CDL in your hands before you show up for orientation. I had a few offers but nothing was stellar. Every one of them were OTR (over the road, AKA home 4 days a month). I have a family wife, and 3 daughters. There’s no way in hell that I am gonna see them 4 days a month. So my journey to find something local began.

The search for local work has been an exercise in futility. NOBODY will hire you without a years experience. If they told me this in school, I would have went and got my HVAC certification and forgot the driving career. Too late now. In any case, its a massive SCAM ran by the insurance companies. See the trucking companies want to hire new drivers. But the corrupt, evil, sleazy insurance companies wont let them without a year of experience. I applied though, to every LTL (less than truckload) carrier I could see in this damn town. nothing here. Saia, Estes, YRC, R&L, McLane, and a few others. I got blank stares and canned rejection emails. To say I was pissed, was an understatement. I got a damn CDL, class A with ALL the endorsements…HIRE ME. But I digress….

This all took time. It took time to try to find something local where I can be home with my family like a normal man/husband/father. I even applied to drive dump trucks (need 5 years experience), trash trucks (need 1 year experience) and roll off trucks (need 1 year experience). Hell, I even applied for Coke, Budweiser and Pepsi. Need 1 year experience. What the HELL!! I broke down and sat on the bed one night and said to myself ‘well damn, I guess I am gonna have to take a job that takes me away from the kids and wife for a year. Its only a year. At least I’m not in the service and deployed with the chance of maybe never coming home’ (bless my service brothers and sisters). So, I took the job with Schneider. It was 3 weeks of training and then in my own truck. Sweet! Or so I thought. Got there, everything changed (the classic bait and switch) and I was very disappointed to say the least. But I stuck it out. Got my new DOT physical done with them (high blood pressure was a concern but I passed). Went back to the hotel, they didn’t have a room for me. Whatever. I drove 100 miles to the house. One way. Went back the next day, 100 miles one way (why the hell did I move to Athens) and tried to make it work. Went to climb into the truck like I’ve done at least 500 times, and I fell flat on my ass. See my thighs were not having it. The day before, we did the physical and I had to do 10 squats. Well, needless to say my legs were like wet noodles. And down I went. They sent me home, aka, let me go. Whatever. I continued the futile search for local work. Gave up on it. Applied to retail companies. Hell I could work retail again, even though I have a fully loaded CDL, no criminal history and a perfect MVR. I even applied to the transit system as one last breath of hope for local. Still waiting…..

So tomorrow, June 29th my journey with a company begins. I took the job with G&P Trucking Company out of Charlotte, SC (I’ll be based in Atlanta, GA). They said its off weekends. We will see. They said its home daily. We will see. They said its overnight runs. We will see. And trust me Ill let you know what they say or change. Again, full disclosure.

So with all that, here I sit washing my clothes for the trip. The cool thing about this company is the orientation is online. You fill out all the paperwork online, and watch videos. No sitting in a terminal for 10 hours while the other people play catch up. No. its not paid, but its fine. I’m sitting on my couch…..it shouldn’t be paid. After waiting another month, they got back to me and told me my training starts July 3rd in Atlanta for two weeks then it moves to Charlotte for two weeks. I test out, then I’m done and in my own truck.

I leave tomorrow from Atlanta at 10am. They are busing all of the Atlanta drivers to Columbia, SC. We will stay in a hotel tomorrow night (with someone I don’t know, yuck, time to sleep with my wallet, and phone) and Friday we do the formal orientation. Meet the president, do a driving test, and get bused back to Atlanta that evening. Then on Monday, the training starts. Its paid training, at $500/wk which isn’t too bad. I just hope they don’t hold out on you like other companies. Aka, if you fail anytime during the training you are kicked out and don’t get a dime. Should be illegal! But maybe they don’t do that. Again, I will find out Friday.

Well, let me go throw these clothes in the dryer. Its nice to pack a backpack for a quick overnight trip. Be kinda fun to get away anyway. Never been to Columbia. I will post everyday if I can, where I’m going, what I’m doing. And when I get my truck, I will post where I’m going, etc. And be sure to watch the YouTube live feeds. RedRider on YouTube.

Details about the company so far. G&P Trucking. Based in Charlotte, SC with terminals across the southeast. The parent company is Southeastern Freight Lines. The runs are all southeast runs for this company. No NYC, Canada, Mexico. The pay starts at .38 cpm for company drivers. 2000-3000 miles a week. They have a lease purchase option after six months if you wanna do that. Trucks are 10 speed, but they are going to automatics (hooray). Trailers are 53′ dry van, general commodity. 90% drop and hook. Like I mentioned, the orientation is done from home online. The formal orientation is in Columbia for 1 day, this is where you will do a driving test as well. They will accept your current DOT physical but you will take a drug test (urine) after interview. The runs are home daily, regional and OTR. The training is one month long and you do NOT go over the road with a trainer (this is what attracted me to them in the first place) you go home daily during training. That’s all I know right now.