Warning: Long, long read and let me preface this with who I am. 44yr old from Colorado, retired military (Army 20yrs) and did five years of contracting in Afghanistan before that all went away. I got my CDL in 2016 after I retired as a fallback but never used it until now.
I signed on for the new Anheuser Busch account, good CPM for a rookie, bonus and monthly Veteran apprenticeship....I was going to make pretty decent money for my 1st year.
Attended Schneider New Driver Orientation down in Phoenix for two weeks, it was uneventful but I didn't mind it. I think it does a decent job getting you ready and doing everything the Schneider way.
Week three I head out with my trainer for the week. He was awesome and I learned a lot from him and he put me up in a hotel every night. We finish up on Friday and I had the weekend off.
Day 1: Monday
They fly me out from Colorado to Gary, Indiana to pick up my Tractor, a 2018 Kenworth with 475k miles. I get there, find my truck and load my gear into it and prepare to spend the night in it at the OC. The truck has papers inside saying it's been sanitized and serviced. Notice it has a dash light for emissions and Low Voltage so let it run awhile to get some heat in it and charge the batteries. That night I realize none of the outlets are working in the bunk so can't charge anything but the bunk heater is working so I go to sleep.
I report the low voltage and emissions light (25% reduction in power) issue to the mechanics and they can't get to it until noon as they have limited personnel that work on Kenworth's (Schneider apparently has phased them out of the fleet). Around 4:00pm I check on the truck and they have replaced all 4 batteries and cables along with some minor other fixes and cleared the codes. They said the emissions light was a result of the low voltage (story doesn't end there with that #### light). I go park the truck and get some rest ready to get out on the road tomorrow.
Day 3: Wednesday
Wake up and start pre-trip and after running the truck for a few the emissions light comes back on and I get the 25% reduction in power notice on my tablet again. Take it in back to the mechanics they can't get to it until 9:00 pm, another day shot. Spend the night in a hotel.
Day 4: Thursday
I get back to the OC, talk to mechanics, they cleaned up some corrosion on the terminals reset the code everything appears to be good. I'm assigned to take an empty trailer from the yard and take it to Topeka, KS. Do pre-trip, route planning and get on the road around 2:00pm. Pretty nervous, first trip by myself getting out of a city I've never been to in a 75ft truck. I fill up in Bloomington, IL and continue on hwy 72 just west of downtown Springfield, IL with I hear air escaping at a pretty rapid rate. I look at my air gauge and air in both takes are down to 90psi and dropping. I pull off on the first exit and at the top of the exit I'm at 60 psi. I turn right and shut it down while the gauge is in the red.
I contact SEM (emergency maintenance) and fill out a request for services at around 6:30 that evening. Call the after duty hours DBL and let them know what happened. Snow has started accumulating and I get out to set up my warning triangles and find the source of the leak. After about 20 minutes I located a brake chamber on one of the drive axles leaking air. Get back in the truck and wait. Sometime around 11:15pm another DBL calls me and I tell him what's happened. Apparently he didn't realize I was on the side of the road. He says he will get someone out there ASAP to fix it. 30 minutes go by, he calls back and can't get ahold of anyone so he calls a tow company. Tow company won't get there until around 5am I'm told. I get back in the bunk and set my alarm for 4:30 am and try to get some sleep while the plow trucks run by me every 20-30 mins at 60 mph.
Day 5: Friday
Wake up at 4:30, start the truck up and wait some more. Around 5:00 am I get a message from the actual tow company and they will be en-route from St. Louis which is 90 miles away. Estimated time of arrival is 7:30am due to weather conditions. Four more hours go by and tow truck arrives. Hook up and he cages the bad brake chamber after some resistance. He notes that all the brake chamber look like crap. We load up after 90 minutes or so and make our way to the Edwardsville, OC. We arrive just after noon, get the truck in the shop and explain what happened. Also noted to them that I lost any functions of the steering wheel controls(cruise, radio, horn and windshield wiper fluid). They start working on brake chamber and I call my DBL to give them an update.
I couldn't reach my DBL but got his boss instead, gave him the run down of what happened, spending 15 hours on the side of the road, truck having constant issues and his only concern was the empty trailer arriving late. He was very rude and condescending. Around 6:00pm I got back to the shop to get an update on the truck. They think it's the clock spring in the steering column that is bad so will order one in the morning. I call afterhours support to get hotel accommodations set up but get recording that their system is down. I'm exhausted so I get an Uber and a hotel on my own dime.
Day 6: Saturday
I arrive back at the OC at noon, mechanic tells me in addition to the clock spring that "may" fix the steering control issue that the truck needs a new EGR valve as the emissions light has came back on. Neither of the parts will be available until at least Monday. I attempt to contact the weekend support but cant get through and get placed on a callback automated service.
Over two hours go by before I receive a callback and at the point I'm honestly done. I tell the lady thanks but no thanks. Called an Uber to the St. Louis Airport and flew home. On the way to the airport I get a call from one of the Leads from weekend support but it's too little too late.
The lack of support or the ability to talk to the same person more than once as a new driver was beyond frustrating. I had zero faith in this truck safely hauling 80,000lbs of beer in the Colorado mountains.
Edit: I tried to contact someone from Human Resources today (Monday 14th) but they don't list a number (that I can find.) Called the main line and was told who my HR rep was but that she would only forward my number to him. That was at 10am, I have not received a callback yet.
My first and last week as a new Schneider Driver.
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I'am still scratching my head wondering why they wanted him to pull a empty trailer 500 miles
You mean to tell me that's the closest empty trailer they had to Topeka ?
That's what I call outstanding management
On the surface it seems dumb, but if you can see all the variables it starts to make more sense. Particularly when you can identify the places where trailers stack up. Starting the week before Thanksgiving and going thru New Years, the Gary Market is awash in trailers while Green Bay has none. We regularly bobtail guys from Green Bay to Gary just to deadhead them back up. It's just part of the cost of having 3 trailers per tractor. In the long run it's still cheaper than having a truck sit under a load waiting for an appointment or dealing with 8 hour load times.
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