A Rant/Looking for Advice after Switching Fields

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by Fronningen, May 17, 2024.

  1. Fronningen

    Fronningen Bobtail Member

    Aug 15, 2017
    Ipswich, SD
    As a preface, I write this while being somewhat overwhelmed after enduring traffic near Chicago, so please excuse anything that could be construed as whining--I don't intend it that way, I just need to vent as I ask for advice.
    In 2016, at the age of eighteen, I obtained my CDL with the help of an old farmer/trucker who wanted me to work for him part-time, hauling grain and step deck items. Since then I've worked as a truck driver a combination of full-time, part-time, and seasonal, for what would amount to around 3.5 years of full-time work as I went through college, and now as I'm finishing graduate school. I've used live-bottom trailers, hopper-bottom, QuickVeyor, reefer, horse van (I worked for Brook Ledge Horse Transportation in 2022), step-deck, side-shooter, end-dump, and a few others that have skipped my mind, not to mention hauling cattle, goats, horses, etc. as a farmer/rancher. Now, I began working in the dry van world precisely one month ago, and I've discovered a theme throughout the different fields: drivers in each field lose their patience with you and consider you a rookie trucker for not knowing every facet of the field you're just introduced to. When hauling grain, gravel, fertilizer, and horses, you rarely have to back into tight spaces (in my experience anyway), and the vast majority of driving the truck is moving forward; with grain and fertilizer, you wait in line instead of backing into a parking spot; when hauling sugar beets, it's the same thing, unless you need to back under the harvester in a corner of the field. In the dry van field, you're backing into tight spots every day with traffic coming by left and right between yard jockeys, cars, and other truckers.
    My question is, how do I retain some dignity as I ask for help and withstand the rude criticisms of overly confident young drivers who've been trucking for a shorter time than I have? Last night a couple of guys ridiculed me for not dropping a trailer in any random spot rather than helping me maneuver into the assigned space, which was tight between trailers and trucks unloading. I try to go slow to avoid scuffing or wrecking equipment at all costs (and the truck I drive has a terrible automatic transmission that struggles to accelerate as I turn while backing, then speeds up dramatically, with a sticky power steering pump, and the truck is new to me so I'm still getting used to it's character). I'd been told prior from security that each trailer needs to be dropped as assigned unless an issue arises, in which case I needed to report back to them for another assigned spot (presumably so that they know where each trailer is located). Then a nice man came and helped me, but he treated me like a total noob. Any help I receive while maneuvering is appreciated, but it's degrading being treated like I don't know that you have to turn your truck left as you back up to turn your trailer right. And what about backing into tight spots with a dry van? I'm a country boy, spending nearly all of my life in the countryside of western Minnesota and the Dakotas, not used to enduring traffic as I maneuver my truck and trailer, nor conversing with the diverse cultures found in this industry. Stage fright is real on the road when millions of dollars, a career, and literal lives are at stake; put me in front of an audience with a speech and I'm fine though.
    In all honesty, trucking isn't my career goal, unless I start a horse transportation business, but I want to excel in it while it pays my way through graduate school.
    Thanks ahead of time for any advice.
    Last edited: May 17, 2024
    Reason for edit: Pertinent information was added.
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  3. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Henderson, NV & Orient
    Say to anyone who is insulting; "I'm sorry I ask you; unlike you, I didn't pop out of the womb with a cdl in my hand." Then turn your back on the person and walk away.
  4. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    Nobody knows your life story when they offer to help you. Be grateful for the help.
    Back into a parking space every time you stop that truck for non-customer reasons. You need to learn backing, not avoid it until you can't avoid it any more. Be mad you didn't spend any time until recently learning the fundamental skill of this job. Take responsibility. It's hard work but the rewards are priceless.
    Concorde, TX2Day and Fronningen Thank this.
  5. TripleSix

    TripleSix God of Roads

    Apr 10, 2009
    Copied in Hell
    Everyone who has ever driven a truck has received help from another driver. Apparently some have forgotten. You be different. Always remember your start. Always remember those that helped you or mentored you. Pay it forward. If someone wants to act like a wiener, walk. Don’t speak to wieners. Speak to the rookies after you instead. Time is more important than money and you most certainly don’t give anything valuable to wieners.

    Don’t worry about the dignity. It will care for itself.

    Luck in battle.
  6. Fronningen

    Fronningen Bobtail Member

    Aug 15, 2017
    Ipswich, SD
    Thank you for your encouragement. I should've specified, the spot I was backing into was quite tight so I was taking my time and getting out to look, so the other truckers were getting impatient. A typical open spot isn't an issue for me, but I appreciate all help and try to help anyone else struggling.
    Concorde and tscottme Thank this.
  7. Ridgeline

    Ridgeline Road Train Member

    Dec 18, 2011
    Vent away.
    OK, you set yourself up for better than dry van.
    OK, I don't get the graduate school thing, I find an American education is rather worthless now-a-days. But that's my educated experience opinion. Oh unless it is ... an agriculture degree.
    Yep, great.

    you have experience in ag related transportation, not enough money or you like the stress (just kidding).
    yep I know.
    Of course, dry van work is really the bottom of the list.
    I think Tscott said it best -
    Screw them, I bet they had beat a few trucks up trying to back up.
    Well at least he helped, if they had a yard dog, I would have tracked them down and asked for some help, they may have told you to drop the trailer and they'll stick it in the slot. If they do, hand them a Jackson and thank them.
    Well degrading? Yeah it is but get a thick skin because this industry has been a mess for the last 15 or so years.

    it takes practice. Take some time to learn how to do it with cones if you can.
    I hate traffic and try to avoid it as much as possible. I like my open spaces and nice two lane roads where I live and work. I was in NYC recently, I flew in and had to pick up a vehicle. I could not stand driving across Manhattan at the morning rush hour because my scheduled meeting took place at 7am. After the meeting, I was so stressed by the time I was outside of Philly, I could not sleep.
    That's good, thanks for doing your best to get the work done, that's unique. And it is great you have a goal and a backup.

    Just remember this crap doesn't last, take one day at a time, one problem, one traffic jam all one at a time.
  8. TX2Day

    TX2Day Medium Load Member

    Apr 24, 2023
    When I can let them go by, I do. Otherwise they can cool their heels until I get it in there. If they get lippy and abusive, you have a middle finger, load it and use it. Not the way it use to be, but now everyone is short tempered and in a hurry.
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  9. Concorde

    Concorde Road Train Member

    Jun 29, 2016
    West Melbourne Florida
    First, no one likes being that guy at the loading dock but we all have our moments.. Your dilemma is just not having enough experience backing and it won’t just happen overnight.

    Next time you got some free time in the day pull into a half empty truck stop and practice…bust out some moves :) Just recently I watched a Knight driver do just that. Spent hours backing and trying different techniques. Nothing but respect for drivers who spend time practicing.

    Watch how others setup, you’ll learn a lot. GOAL as many times as you need to.
    If you mess up a setup, realizing that you won’t recover from it just circle around or start over somehow. I’ve done it and it can be embarrassing but it’s all part of the learning.

    I’m the type who will screw up if given 10 football fields of room but put me in a tight situation and that’s where I shine…I guess that I just think about it more in tight situations.

    If anyone asks on the CB, you’re just practicing for a truck rodeo, lol. Seriously, just keep it real and don’t go low if someone is taunting you. You may even get a driver or two interested in sharing some advice. Not so much anymore because English speaking drivers are becoming a minority.

    I had zero experience backing when I went solo so I just spent hours watching others. You’ll understand how to and how not to quickly.

    If you want to keep your dignity you got to practice every chance you get. Don’t rush, plan your setup ahead of time and use all the space available.
  10. Flat Earth Trucker

    Flat Earth Trucker Road Train Member

    Nov 19, 2018
    More weiners not to be.
    Last edited: May 18, 2024
  11. aussiejosh

    aussiejosh Road Train Member

    Aug 28, 2009
    Airlie Beach QLd
    Know how you feel buddy, we've all been through it though when starting with a new company and they expect you to do a training run, there will always be someone that gets picky with you, why are you doing this or that driver, you just have to go with the flow, if it is annoying, but you're right drivers who are training should understand that you are new, and be a little patient with you, unfortunately if the company have picked them to do the job of training should of put some consideration into who qualifies to train. Yes backing onto docks is far different to driving out on the corn fields of Iowa, but like anything you have to learn to adapt, with time you will get the backing perfect, I'd hadn't done any dock work for over 10 years, but had not forgotten how to reverse a trailer, fortunately so never had an issue with my trainer, the great part about most docks is they'll have a yellow line painted on the pavement to guide you onto the dock. Wait till you have to learn how to operate a road train, I had no experience driving a 60 m (190') super - quad set up, fortunately with road trains your not required to reverse, so it's rather important to not miss a turn, as you can't just do a U-turn. Anyway just stick with it dude, stay the course and you'll be fine. All the best for the future. :cool:
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