I lost nearly 30 pounds in the last six weeks working at Cypress Truck Lines. The weight loss looks good on me, but medically it's totally unhealthy.
The lost weight was due in part to my own inexperience I'm sure, but I'm equally sure that it was at least equally attributable to the eighteen-year-old, unsafe truck I was issued. "We're not going to risk having a decent truck wrecked by some rookie," they explained. "Once you prove yourself, we'll get you into a better truck." My 1989 Kenworth labored so hard under an ordinary load that even on level ground it took nearly 2 miles to reach 40 MPH with cars zipping by and swerving to avoid hitting me. And just when I did finally get nearly up to speed, of course someone would slow in front of me, forcing me to brake and start over again from or fifth fourth gear.
I did everything Cypress asked of me. Every single load was picked up and delivered intact and on time. But at great personal cost. Skipped meals, missed sleep, and illegally extended hours. Twice I brought my truck into the shop to have major safety issues repaired. The first time they patched an oil leak that was spraying like aerosol onto the windshield from under the hood and wouldn't wash off. Using the windshield wipers was out of the question. The second issue, now noticeable with the first problem "patched," was some kind of etching or scoring on the windshield that was only noticeable at night. The etching scatters light, distorting night vision badly enough to make oncoming headlights appear to merge with others, even across traffic lanes. Every day I skipped supper to get as near as possible to my destination before running out of legal driving hours for the day, then ended up driving beyond the legal limit because every truck stop and rest area for miles around was full by that time. Another near miss occurred in a blinding nighttime thunderstorm when the windshield wipers suddenly failed.
The weather was clear the next morning, and after another restless night I delivered my last load and headed to the terminal to have these safety matters with the truck addressed. That was when things finally became clear to me: They asked me to choose one of two other trucks from the so-called "ready line" to continue in while they repaired mine. Both of the alternatives were in worse shape than the one I started in! Decades old rattletraps with parts missing or falling off and still full of trash from previous drivers who had quit or abandoned them. When I expressed my disgust and outrage over these unsafe and intolerable working conditions, they scolded me like a child. "Where do you think you can go and get a newer truck right out of the gate as a rookie driver? This is all you qualify for until you prove yourself." Their message was very clear. They care more about their precious decades-old equipment than they do about the people who operate it. It was okay to risk a new driver's safety, but not okay to risk damaging one of their ancient, unsafe rattletraps that should have been retired from service years before.
I asked them why. They responded with a lecture about all the time and money they had invested in training me, all lost if I quit now. But that alleged training consisted mostly of ultra-cheap labor. There were several days when trainees did nothing but load and secure trailer after trailer in the yard without turning a wheel, even weeks beyond the normal one-week "load securement class." The training consisted mostly of fourteen-hour days of heavy labor (at "training pay" - less than minimum wage for the hours worked) and little actual truck driving. There's no way Cypress Truck Lines loses money "training" drivers who quit even immediately afterwards. Now they were trying to shame me into continuing to work under untenable, literally life-threatening conditions to "at least pay back their investment" in me. Sorry. Not worth dying for.
I just quit my first trucking job with the sound of their dispatchers' and "safety" supervisors' mocking words ringing in my ears: "You're giving up your whole career just for a little windshield wiper thing? You're a fool!"
To hell with them. But thank God for the lessons I learned during my six weeks in purgatory. Let me pass them along to you:
1. - Cypress is willing to hire inexperienced CDL school grads, but they expect to retain none of them. They simply use the "training pay" ($80/day) as super-cheap labor for as long as they can.
2. - Experienced drivers get decent, reliable trucks and even generous sign-on bonuses in certain parts of the country at certain times. Most of the drivers who have been there for a few years are content to stay.
3. - Most loads require two tarps. Cypress uses huge 90-pound tarps, and pay for tarping is $5. Most of the time a forklift operator will raise the tarps to the top of the load for the driver and it's not a big deal. But for this rookie, tarping took a good hour to get done properly. More experience would have shortened that time, but the point is that Cypress pays $5 for the same work that most other flatbed companies pay $30 for - and with much lighter tarps I might add.
4. - Cypress has become so infamous for overweight loads that all of their weigh station pre-passes have been revoked. And if a driver gets an overweight ticket for a "live load," he or she pays the fine, not Cypress (you were there when it was loaded, so it's your fault if it's loaded wrong).
5. - Inexperienced drivers fresh out of CDL school are expected (read: required) to endure intolerable and unsafe working conditions for their first few weeks or months and "prove" that they "deserve" a safe, mechanically sound truck to live and work in for days at a time.
My family thinks I deserve to be safe all the time. Especially at the beginning of my career. My only choices were to either continue under unsafe and untenable working conditions, or quit. I reluctantly chose the only option I could. Out of the fourteen drivers in my orientation class, I lasted the longest. But no matter. A fresh group of new recruits arrives every week to be exploited, lied to, and recklessly endangered.
Although I cannot imagine that you havent heard similar stories about Cypress Truck Lines from other drivers like me, I still felt it vitally important that you know my story also, to demonstrate that safety issues at Cypress Truck Lines are severe and ongoing at least for CDL school graduates just beginning their careers.
Cypress Truck Lines: Bad for Newbies, Great Weight Loss Plan
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If it were me when I seen those old rigs I would of done a 180 and the could kiss my backside.
Were can you get a better truck issued even to a new driver? anywere
It still will not be the best but most companies replace the trucks every 1.5 -3 years the newbees get the onlder ones because they want you to get good at shifting not running over things, scratching up the truck etc. once you prove yourself then you get a newer truck most of the time. 80.00 per day is not bad for training pay but that just depends on the hours.
I will be going with a company and will have to take their little training but I will get 500.00 per week. almost never touch the load but on some occasions will have to but at 75.00 why not all needed is pallet jack.
hopefully you will have better luck with the next company.
ps make sure you have another job before you report the last company that way that company can not black ball you out of the gate.
Hi Robin, I feel for you and read your post loud and clear. I am starting my new job this coming Monday with PTL out of Ky. I am sorry to hear about your mess with this firm. I am being told the oldest truck that will be assigned to me once I am a 1st seat, will be no older than two years. I think you right, so I wish you much success in your career.
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