First Steps

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by Poor_Dog, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. Poor_Dog

    Poor_Dog Bobtail Member

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    Oct 10, 2014
    Spring Hill, Tn
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    I guess a brief introduction is in order first. I'm 56 years old, married with all the kids grown and out of the nest. Having spent the last 14 years of my life in architectural millwork as a CNC programmer, draftsman, designer, material procurement and inventory control, I found myself disappointed, looking for something else to do with the remaining years of my 'working' life. Getting up every morning at 4 am and getting home every evening at dark thirty was just killing me. Staring at 5 computer screens for 10 to 12 hours a day wasn't helping out either. Stressed, overworked, out of shape, out of time it would seem. Got to be time to start living or start dying...

    So last week I turned to the owner of the company, told him that he'd been raised with a silver spoon and handed him my company 'smart' phone and the keys to the building, walked out to my bike and hit the road down Natchez Trace Pkwy and home.

    I'm in a good place, blessed to have a great family, fabulous wife and enough to get by on, made good investments and followed Dave Ramsey before he became famous. All my life I've often wondered and thought of learning to drive a commercial rig. But kids, family life, and the orthodontist put a lid on that. So now I've laid around a week now and had time to think back, the one thing that really stood out was my time in the Air Force. I was certified to drive several different dump trucks, M52 w/flat bed, our tank hauler (super cool hauling an M60 around with escorts and such). I really loved doing that. I certainly feel that I've spent the last 14 years doing something I hated, just for the money, when I should have been doing something I loved. Now I am in position to do just that...

    I don't think it's too late in life to get into the trucking industry, I've read extensively on this forum and know that it's certainly not out of the question. I understand that like anything, I'll be climbing up the ladder but honestly I'd rather be there than teetering around at the top. I still have allot of concerns, heck I could always take up mowing yards and gardening I suppose.

    My first questions concern health and DOT physicals and such. I figure they will prowl through my medical records and such so I need to know what to expect. I'm 20 pounds overweight and have high blood pressure that's well under control, but I've also had 3 stints as well. With sitting behind a desk forever and a day, I hope I can pass a stress test if they give one. Medications being taken are a beta blocker (Metoprolol) and aspirin. I also take Meloxicam (anti-inflammatory) and Ambien (which I am discontinuing, very bad habit forming stuff). I was also prescribed a small dose Xanax a month ago (1 fill only, 6 tablets of which I still have a couple). Five years ago, I was going through a divorce and the oh so concerned doc prescribed some type of anti-depressant (never take that stuff, took almost 3 months to get off that crap without my head exploding), and I wasn't depressed until a week after I started taking them.

    Back in 1984, I lost a fight with a McCullough chain saw and nearly lost my left leg. It's long since healed, but there are allot of varicose veins in the area (cut was about 12" long, from ankle to almost half way up my lower leg), ugly as sin but works fine.

    Do any of these ailments exclude me from pursuing a career in the trucking industry? I'd like to get a heads up and correct what, if anything I can, prior to starting training in school and investing in a fruitless endeavor. How many 50 year old guys/gals can there be that don't have some or even more 'battle' scars than I have?

    I have plenty of time to research, make decisions or corrections. Lots of loose ends to tidy up before I make a career change, so my projected date for attending school will be late May or early June of '15. Maybe this dream of mine will cease, but I'd sure like to take a shot at it. It would be great to spend a few or more years OTR, seeing this great country of ours, money isn't near as important to me as is the experience.

    Best Regards,
    PD
     
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  3. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

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    Henderson, NV & Orient
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    Get a DOT physical on your own is the first step. Xanax is probably a disqualifier, so make sure that's all out of your system.

    If you can pass a physical, many companies will hire you. Being overweight and with the stints, you may not pass the heart rate test some companies do at orientation. It's a stair step test and squatting test then check heart rate; no second chances if you fail with whichever company is giving the test.

    Attend a good 160 hr. CDL school.

    Best wishes!
     
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  4. josephhighfield

    josephhighfield Bobtail Member

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    Nov 7, 2013
    Marshall Texas
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    Poor Dog I admire your position and completely understand it. I have a few questions for you. Will you be attending a school through your own funding or are you being sponsored by a company?

    If you are attending a school you are financing many of your medical card physical questions are irrelevant. You will cross those bridges during the hiring process of your first company. If you are being sponsored then depending on the company and school you will attend a ridiculous and potentially vigorous screening process.

    Personally if it is financially possible finance the CDL school on your own. Try and avoid the indentured servant puppy mill programs if possible.

    Your DOT physical and screening process vary from clinic to clinic and company to company. There are black listed medicines that the DOT does not allow to be taken while operating a commercial motor vehicle and in some cases within 24 hours prior to operation. Remember this. Your drug screen is looking for illegal substances that are not prescribed by a physician. Therefore they only know what you tell them and they only find whats in the 5 panel search. I'm not suggesting lying. I'm giving you the facts.

    Regarding being over weight. The same applies. Some companies enforce a BMI policy and testing. Some do not.

    If you can find a company that is smaller and willing to take on a new driver. Offers a good training program (not just uses you for miles to the trainer). Jump on it.

    Best of luck and if I can help ya navigate the entry into our industry feel free to message me.

    Joseph
     
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  5. dennisroc

    dennisroc Road Train Member

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    If you fail a heart rate test for one company you can still try another company , right ?
     
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  6. Poor_Dog

    Poor_Dog Bobtail Member

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    Oct 10, 2014
    Spring Hill, Tn
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    Thanks for the quick reply Chinatown.

    So frankly speaking, I need to get off my lazy butt and do some work over the next few months with my weight and overall cardio health. I can do that. The Xanax was prescribed, but I can see where that in this industry it would be severely frowned upon. I was really concerned about the Ambien as well. That stuff is some type of 'hypnotic' from what I've read, very addictive too. Maybe addictive is too strong of a word, it becomes relied upon too easily. I'm down to half a pill per night now and hope to have it kicked after this last bottle is used up.

    Doesn't really matter one way or the other, my health situation is up to me to fix, whether I pass or fail... Good tip, and thanks.

    Best Regards,
    PD
     
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  7. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

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    Yes, that's right. Those tests are company specific only.
     
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  8. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

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    There's a good company in Mt. Pleasant, (Armor (sp) tanker company), that hauls waste water from the chemical plant there. I think their longest run is to Texas.

    Depending if you want Eastern half of USA or 48 states, lots to choose from and many are 100% no-touch freight, which means the driver doesn't unload.
     
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  9. Puppage

    Puppage Road Train Member

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    Good luck, Dog. I'd like to hear about how things work out for you.
     
  10. Poor_Dog

    Poor_Dog Bobtail Member

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    Oct 10, 2014
    Spring Hill, Tn
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    Joseph, I'll be funding my own schooling, mainly due to what you clearly stated. I don't mind a bit being low on the totem pole, but I don't want to be indentured either. I may just take you up on the messaging when I get further in to this. It's something I've yearned to do for some time and have finally gotten the opportunity to pursue. Some would say I'm nuts but hey, my thoughts are do what you enjoy and you will be a success at it.
     
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  11. tumblin dice

    tumblin dice Light Load Member

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    Apr 18, 2014
    Jacksonville, FL
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    I've seen a number of posts from guys who've spent their lives behind a desk and the notion of the open road is appealing but remember you'll be sitting behind a wheel instead of a desk, staring out a windshield 10-12 hrs. a day. Long hours, low pay, unhealthy lifestyle, ever increasing regulations, in cab cameras, etc. You'll be just as "stressed, overworked, and out of shape" as you are now! You say you wanna see the country? The only country you'll see is through your windshield and it will mostly be interstate! You sound like you've put your time in and got your finances squared away. Relax take up a hobby and enjoy life!
     
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