Starting Schneider National Dedicated Flex Fleet
Page 17 of 17
So, another update:
At the beginning of Sept I took my TAH (except not at home). Parked at the Sturtevant drop lot near Milwaukee and had my dad pick me up. Spent some quality time with my dad, grandmother, and cousins. Also got to take my dad to Summerfest to see some live music!!! First concert since covid started and it was a great experience to finally see live music again. I needed that. Also got to go swimming in Lake Michigan. Almost made it all the way through summer without going swimming and that was driving me nuts.
When it was time to go return to work, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they put me on the Master Halco account in Milwaukee. Apparently they had lost all of their permanent drivers due to them getting into fender benders and damaging property. So, I ended up being the fixer and cleaning up the messes that were left behind. They sent me with a bunch of long 4-5 stop loads that would run my clock into the ground, just trying to get them all caught up. I didn't mind it though, I got to park at a truck stop 10 minutes from my grandmother's house and I was able to spend an extra weekend with them during my reset at the end of the first week. I love Schneider for giving me the opportunity to do that, seriously. I don't think they actually know how much that meant to me, or if they did it on purpose, but I'm definitely humbled and grateful. I hadn't seen my dad and grandmother since 2019, and I don't get to see them much, so any time I get to spend with them is time well spent in my book. At the end of my 2nd week doing MH in Milwaukee, they ended up transferring me to MH in Chicago which is where I am now.
They gave me some van relays to shuttle from WI to the Gary OC before I started the account. So I did that and started my reset at the OC when I finally got there. It was cool taking a reset at an OC again, haven't done that since April. I was finally able to get my fifth wheel greased, get a new steer tire put on, got a couple wiper blades, and a handful of gladhand seals. Also free showers, free laundry, and using the company car to get epic food woohoo!!! This weekend if I do my reset there, I think I'm going to get some tire chains and practice putting them on while it's still dry outside lmao.
I'm wrapping up my 2nd week here in Chicago and it has surprisingly been my favorite Master Halco account so far. When I first saw the word Chicago on my assignments, I was nervous and a bit apprehensive because I've always heard stories about Chicago being notoriously difficult. I was nervous about the switch, but also looking forward to the challenge. But I've been pleasantly surprised to find it isn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. Not sure if it's that it's not actually that bad, or if my experience level has just increased. Maybe I intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle me. Lol.
The guys at the MH yard here are really good about loading the trailers in such a way that doesn't give me major anxiety when I'm trying to figure out how to strap them down. They keep the loads centered on the bed and keep the center of gravity low. It's easier to have even pressure across the straps when the product is stacked low and centered. With lopsided, funky loads; the strap tends to pull the load towards the roller, which is no bueno in my book and it makes me nervous every time. MN and WI were very hit or miss when it came to this sort of thing. Sometimes MN and WI would stack stuff sky high, and also just kinda throw random product in the middle of the trailer bed, between stuff, where I couldn't actually get a strap around the product to secure it the way I'd like. I'd basically have to make bulkheads out of the rest of the product on the flatbed and make sure there was no way for anything to roll out the sides or come loose and slide out the front or back. There weren't really enough winches for this on the trailers either; so I'd have to use up all the winches, as well as all of my portable ratchets. Made things take a lot longer because I had to do some extra engineering when I was strapping.
MN and WI also had a way of running my clock into the ground such that I'd be scrambling at the end of the day to get to parked before I used up my 14. WI more so than MN. Chicago has been giving me loads that I can start and complete within their business hours, which pretty much ensures that I don't run my clock into the ground. This has been a huge stress relief and has dramatically improved the quality of my life. I'm no stranger to hard work and I don't mind working a 14 hour day every now and then... but a 14 hour day EVERY day... man... by the end of the week I feel like I need a hot tub and a therapist. Lmao. On those 14 hour days when you finally go off duty, you're still in grind mode. If you want a full 8 hours of sleep, you basically only have 2 hours to eat, clean up, take a shower, check in with fam/friends, trip plan the next days load, and then get ready for bed. Your 10 hour break is literally 10 hours because you have to be back at work the same time the next morning. Those days/weeks are rough. I've had them on both MH and HD accounts and they stress me out. Those days haven't happened here in Chicago and I'm grateful.
For future reference if another NDF driver ends up searching this board for tips on the Chicago Master Halco account:
Don't use the intermodal drop lot during the week for your 10 hr breaks, I considered that too, but other drivers told me to avoid it if I can. Apparently the single shower there is nasty, and it will also make your morning and evening commute worse because the traffic around there can get a little nuts. You're better getting away from Chicago at the end of the day rather than going deeper into it. There is also no easily accessible food in the area.
Your best bet is using the cluster of truck stops at I-90 and US-20 around Hampshire, IL. I've been using the TA because the EFS card works here so I can get free showers; but there is also a Speedway Truck Stop, Road Ranger, and Love's all right here at this exit and they all have a wide variety of food selection. It's a 30-40 minute drive from the yard in West Chicago, but its not nearly as bad as it sounds. There is also a Super Target off IL-59 and US-20 you can stop at to get groceries on the way to the truck stop. You might think the Pilot in Carol Stream would be the move; but the Pilot in Carol Stream doesn't have showers, the parking lot only has 20 spaces, and they're 2-hour spaces anyway so that Pilot is pretty much useless for an NDF driver. Might be good for you if you enjoy racking up Pilot points. Personally, I don't care about points, I just want showers. Lol. I took my reset at the Gary OC over the weekend and it was nice. Took the South Shore train into downtown Chicago on Saturday and did some touring around Millenium Park. Had a good time.
Anyway, not sure if I'll be on MH Chicago again next week, but I'm hoping so! Should get my assignment message tomorrow evening. The week after next, I start another block of TAH, but this time I'm parking at Carlisle OC and driving a rental van to NYC and Boston to visit some friends. When I get back from TAH I'm running through January and probably February too. Thinking for my next block of TAH I might finally use my passport and go visit a foreign country or something!!
Will check in again in a month... maybe sooner. Stay safe everyone!
Page 17 of 17