Saturday, September 30, 2017

The rubber meets the road when you come to understand that they were not fully up front with you.  I didn't want a brand new truck, I didn't want any special anything except getting home frequently.  That was my main qualifier as discussed first with the owner of the company and then the recruiter.

But it became evident yesterday that the dispatcher has other ideas.  We'll definitely get you home on the weekends but the rest of the week may be a different story, spoken right in front of the recruiter who knew my expectations.  But, that's the way trucking companies operate: promise you the moon, deliver you a toilet full of pee.  Okay this isn't anything near that bad, I'm just saying they make promises that they can't or won't deliver on. In this case, it's won't, because they have at least 8 loads a day going to Lufkin and this plant's busy season is about to fire up.

They take these massive rolls of paper and make flyers and inserts out of it.  The busy season is Christmas, obviously, when they say 20 to 30 loads a day are needed there.  It's a year round operation, though, not like the plant just closes up and goes away after Christmas is over.  After making that delivery, I dead headed 132 miles to pick up a load of some sort of special baking flour.  Like, a LOT of it.  And then back down here.  I was on the road for about 12-1/2 hours yesterday, a little more than I wanted but not too bad. 

I mean, I've worked 13 hour days at the previous job before the new manager came along.  We worked 10 hour days as a rule of fact before he came and often enough longer than that.  So, long days aren't really a big issue.  But I do have a learning curve to get caught back up with all this kind of driving.  Haven't done it in so long I have forgotten the nuances of it. Time management being the key to making a successful career out of this kind of driving. 

The point is, I'm here, I'm working for them and I can see the money earning potential. Even if I'm only home on the weekends, I will likely do it for a while to get my financial situation turned around. Which doesn't mean I won't be keeping my eyes open for a good local job.  I intend on spending some time doing that today.  If there is something that comes up that is too good to pass up,  you can bet I will put my application in for it.  I can't really see myself doing what is know as "regional" work for the rest of my trucking career, which is really what this is.  Regional simply means they get you home on weekends.  You could be sent clear across the country but driving 600 miles a day you are right back in a couple of days.  Regional driving, in my view, is simply a version of Over The Road driving, you just get home more often.  The thing about this regional job is, if you get the same miles per week as a purely OTR driver and making the same money, why not? If that's what you want t do, that is.

I suppose it's just a matter of whether I can adapt to that kind of lifestyle again. Did it for years.  Got old after awhile, but that took a long time to actually get old.  Like 5 or more years.  I like going home every night to my dogs and my bed and the security and peace of a home.  At the same time, they are buying all new trucks and all of them will be outfitted with a 20 inch screen and Direct TV for free.  That's not bad.  I don't have a new truck, I'm stuck in an old thing that has almost 500k miles on it.  It drives fine, but it has very few of the bells and whistles that newer trucks have.  Not to mention whoever was driving in it before was a smoker.  No thanks.  I'm going to open that thing up today and let some fresh air go wafting in there and try to get that smell out of there.  This truck does have an APU tho, basically a glorified generator that runs electricity and AC/heat to the truck.  They don't want you idling the truck all night long as we did in the good ole days. But then again, we didn't have APU's in the good ole days, you had to buy your own power inverters or buy the gadgets  you want that run off battery/DC electricity, which are always more expensive. 

I can tell ya the first gaffe I made was bringing a small suitcase and trying to cram everything into it.  No reason to.  That will change.  They don't give you sheets for the bed in the truck, that's all on you.  Or a pillow for that matter.  I don't have an electric shaver, which will change today.  I've been meaning to get one anyway, much easier to shave than having to use shaving cream and razors all the time.  And, I'm going to have to scrub that truck out.  They did their version of it after the other person gave it up, but that's not even remotely close to good enough for me. Not when considering spending that much time in it.  A dirty truck gives a feeling of - I dunno how to explain it.  Just not a good feeling.  It smells bad, it looks bad.

As it stands, and I don't know why this guy did this, but I have to be somewhere in Mississippi at 8 am Monday morning to deliver this flour.  It's like a 5 hour drive from here.  That means my weekend is really cut short and I will have to get up in the middle of the night to get into the truck and drive.  Not really a fan of that. Give me my whole weekend so i can get up around 6 am on Monday and get moving.  If this continues, my dispatcher and I are going to have issues.  He's also a good guy, he wants me to make money, which is fine, but it isn't good for you to have your sleep schedule all screwed up by having to sleep during the day one day, the night the next and so on.  Perhaps it's just trying to get onto a schedule when you first start out, perhaps it's just that I said I'm here to make money, let's going on with it.

I'll keep my mouth shut about that stuff for a while to see how this all plays out. I'm actually kind of interested in driving to PA and some other areas that they deliver to and pick up from.  I'm also happy that I get paid for dead heading.  I mean, that was 132 miles last night of that.  I don't know if most companies pay that or not.  Back in the good ole days, dead-heading was never paid.  Which meant you had to insist the next load wasn't too far off. 

As for Adler, it would be tough to take him in this truck.  I would need one of the new ones with a bunk bed so he can have a bed to sleep on at night.  As I said, this truck isn't really built that well. I'm guessing going the route of taking a big giant dog would also necessitate me getting a ramp for him to get up in there with. Not to mention getting him to actually do it without getting all freaked out.  And, I would have to find time to stop and give him potty breaks and exercise, which during the course of the day while driving, you really don't have a lot of time.  This company makes you appointments and they want you there on time.  That is apparently one of their pet peeves. If they make an appointment - which they do on every load - they want you there at or before that time.  The other pet peeve is driving over your HOS hours as regulated by the Feds. I was informed they just fired 9 drivers for driving over the 11 hours, or staying on duty for over 14 hours or both. 

I do remember the days of wanting to drive endlessly - but you got away with it then.  You don't get away with jack nothing nowadays, it's all electronic logging.  These people were turning the unit off and trying to get away with it.  Lol, that's pretty funny cause even though I've been out of that kind of stuff for a while, I know that the truck knows what you are doing regardless of whether that unit is on or not.  The Feds can audit a trucking company and if they find a bunch of that stuff, they can downgrade the company's status. Meaning racking up points in a system the feds use. The higher the number of points, the the more scrutiny the company can get all the way to the Feds actually have the ability to shut a company down now.  I personally believe that's too much power in the hands of the Fed. Though I can see the point of it in cases where a company is operating unsafely. 

Anyway, I didn't know that electronic logs completely replace hand written logs.  You don't have to do any of that, you just input it on your dash mounted device, it's very simply and much easier than hand written logs.  However, the company still wants everyone to do hand written ones as a backup. Gag, what's the point then.  The point, apparently, is if the device stops working, you have something to back it up.  I guess it isn't that big a deal to keep a log book, but at the same time, they didn't provide me one.  That was a bit weird.  A trucking company that doesn't have a pallet full of them? lol you have to buy your own. They're very cheap, not the issue, just strange that they want you to keep a log but don't even off one of them to you at the get go? 

I'm totally out of it today. It's not the driving, it's my sleep. I have been sleeping poorly since I quit the old job.  I mean, very badly.  Some nights only getting 2 or 3 hours of sleep.  That's not enough to do a whole day's worthy of anything.  I don't care what you are doing unless you are just sitting on your butt all day long.  Is that the allure of living off the government? That the only thing you have to do is spend time in government offices convincing them that you shouldn't have to work and please give me everything for free?  I never understood that ideal.  This company's higher ups were complaining about a lack of work ethic.  Drivers doing "dodging" - meaning not driving when they should be.  They don't have any set rule, but they really want you to drive at least 3,000 miles per week. Which is legally done if you set your mind to the grind and just do it.  I'm guessing for the truck to maintain a minimum profit margin, the 3,000 is the point that they want it getting.  Still, they cited some people driving 2,500 miles per week.

Doesn't make any sense.  If you are out there anyway, you might as well just drive and make the money.  Isn't that what they're out there for?  Well, I need to write down a list of things and go to Walmart and buy some stuff.  I'm going to ask them about parking the truck there, too.  Do they charge for it? Do they care if you leave it there for several days?  The place where it's parked now is actually charging me.  I'd rather not pay if I didn't have to, Walmart parking lot is loaded with trucks in it all the time, even though there are "No Overnight Truck Parking" signs everywhere. It's been that way at that particular store since I started living in this town. Still, I would rather ask and make sure I don't come back to an empty space where the truck once was.  Those towing companies charge a fortune to tow a truck. 

Short trip, got that over with. I no more than got back to the yard and left for home when I got a text from yet the newest version of a di...