So over the past 2 months I've been working with First Fleet. I gotta say, I enjoyed it. I was with Pro Drivers, who I would certainly NOT recommend, that set me up with them. Real quick:
If Pro Drivers sends you to a company like First Fleet, ask First Fleet consistently to buy out your contract! Pro Drivers will vampirically suck out a HUGE portion of your money (First Fleet would say they were usually paying $1100 - $1300 a week with CPM for the miles and like $50 or so on each delivery. Pro Drivers barely gave me $750). So, you COULD BE running hard for absolute crap pay. In my case, they were dragging their feet constantly on returning calls. They were saying, "You'll make $850.00 each week," but won't bother considering taxes on that, medical plan, and I had to call them AGAIN to get them to up that from the low-end pay it was on the previous job.
So anyway, First Fleet. I just woke up one morning, they text that they needed somebody, and I got a pretty quick rundown of the weather on the way there, how it all works over the phone, and I was off.
Each day was:
- I wake up and drive to their yard
- Head to meet the other guy in another state
- Drop 'n' hook
- Drive to my drops
- Help them unload if they need it
- Circle back to the yard.
- Text the guy I'm relaying with the next day.
- Rinse and repeat for 5 days.
Macros are laughably easy. Two and three when I leave, a six when I swap trailers, another two and three, and then another six at the end of the day. GPS handles when I arrive at my drops.
Fueling is also simple. When I was with Prime it was: Truck, Trailer, Trip, and each was about 9 to 12 digits. So you gotta bring out your phone when you fuel up. Here it's truck and your username, both around 6 to 7 characters. Same thing every time.
Another unnecessarily complicated thing with Prime that I do not miss, even slightly. Can't say I want to do drop trailer inspections, arrival, depart, reefer fuel, and on and on, every time I get to my destination. Even the idea of a trailer swap at Prime is a symbol of absolute failure as a driver. So...
Problems! OK, so yeah, there are problems. Just a few that really got me, and they were easy to shrug off:
- Considering it's the Southwest, I'm about 1,000% sure the people loading these trailers can't speak, read, or write English to save their lives. In fact, they've probably got a 3rd grade education at best.
Seriously though, it's bad. There's high value loads, padlocked, and it's clear they just THROW these containers with grocery stuff on top of some pallets. Hardly even wrapping some of them. I mentioned it to the guys unloading me and they say, "We tell them all the time. It's always like that."
Also, more than once I told the guys I was helping to unload, "When I was doing over the road driving, if I pulled up to a distribution center with pallets that were like this, they'd send me out to get them restacked at another place. They wouldn't even touch the trailer." We're talking putting a ton of water in front of a pallet stacked with styrofoam containers...
One that REALLY got me was when I had 3 pallets going to a little mountain town 45 minutes away. I had an hour and a half on my clock left, and when I walked to the back of that trailer I said, "You gotta be kidding me. No, no, no, no..." Basically milk crates with water containers had 3 feet of room to slide into the front end of the trailer, so about half on 1 pallet busted open. It didn't help that these places use ratchet straps instead of load locks, so you're adding another half foot for them to slide forwards.
Ya know, that is one thing I think Prime got right is using load locks instead of ratchet straps. By the way, these trailers are SEALED when I get them, and the road to many of these drops is a LOT of smooth hills. A few bumpy roads, but not many AT ALL.
- The truck wasn't in the best of shape.
For a company that kinda just throws you at it, it's what you expect.
- The truck I had was having coolant issues. I hear that's normal for Internationals. We had a leak, we had to add some, and not long after the engine was heating up again. For the hills on these routes, and at the rate of the leak it'll probably be awhile before it needs more coolant though.
- The fifth wheel release on the dash doesn't work, and so I shelled out $25 for a puller. I've needed one, but the switch really should have worked. I'm shorter, so I REALLY gotta get in there behind the wheel to pull the fifth wheel and it honestly scares the crap out of me, especially when the yards muddy. In fact, I think I'll mention that to the guys over there...
I kind of wish some routing was sent as well, but honestly, it's not necessary. Just a few places where you really would want some getting in because it's really easy to go down a road you're not supposed to in smaller towns. Most of the time I wasn't in those places though, so it's hard mode once or twice in two weeks.
- When I started, there was a HUGE crack down the windshield. They fixed it. Fixed it pretty quickly for me actually, but driving with that thing going down it made me worry about DOT for my first week. I'm lucky they didn't care.
Anyhow, that's my experience with First Fleet. If you're wondering I'm signing onto an asphalt hauling company and they said they were going to get really, really busy soon. First Fleet also asked me to send in an application because they said, "You're kicking ### out there," and that it'll stay on file for 1 year if things don't work out with the asphalt company.