Swift - Starting the New Year training with Swift 1/7/13 - A long read...

Discussion in 'Swift' started by DocWatson, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    The grass is not always greener. That has been the saying that keeps popping into my mind lately. Not to say the grass is necessarily burned out and full of weeds but it is not always that much healthier.

    I took my 34 this past Friday afternoon and I haven't had a load since. Now I'm waiting on a load to pop onto the radar within my dedicated route and there's nothing. Not a big deal the first couple of days as I was burned out again this past week between stress, low miles and some butting heads with my DM. By the time Friday came, I was ready for some time off.

    So the first couple of days I got to spend with my family. It was definitely what I needed. My little bro and my sis in law flew out a few days prior so I had the chance to see them. Now that I don't drive all over the U.S. my chances of seeing my bro and sis in law out in Salt Lake City are slim to none.

    Saturday night I found myself nearly sick from alcohol. That rarely happens. I was at my family's house and had two drinks, a couple of screwdrivers. I was not really buzzed and a female friend asked me to go out for a drink. Sounded like a good idea so she swung by and picked me up. One of the benefits of only having a motorcycle for transportation is that l get a free ride when I go out. In return I pay for the drinks, dinner or whatever it is we are doing. Works out wonderfully and everyone wins. We went out to a hotel bar since my friend's sister bartends there and I was told she makes great drinks. I only had one drink, a long island iced tea, and I was feeling it. By the time we were on our way out I was dizzier than a Bill Cosby date. By the time we neared my family's house to drop me off I was almost sick. Not sure exactly what happened but my diet is different lately and I take more supplements to enhance the gym experience and my losing weight. Maybe I didn't eat enough. I don't know but I was almost out from those drinks that would normally make me buzzed.

    Sunday came and I called about a load before I would ride the 60 miles back to the terminal. No loads as far as my dedicated route goes but they had a beer load that was picking up soon. I would never make it back to the terminal to pick up the truck and then head to the pickup location so I couldn't take it. They told me to call back this morning, Monday morning, and still no loads. But I headed back to the terminal to get ready for one. I called again, sent messages, still no dedicated load. So here I wait.

    I got some laundry done and I put my truck in the shop because my rear speakers were not working. The rear speakers in the Cascadia haven't been working in over a week and I couldn't figure it out. They weren't crackling like they were blown before not working and the mechanics told me it couldn't be a fuse since there is no separate fuse for just the back speakers. A few minutes ago the mechanic came into the driver's lounge to fetch me. He pointed out something that he just learned himself, the freakin switch in the bunk for the rear speakers was shut off. What?!?! Both of us had no idea there there was actually an "off' switch for the back speakers. I'm guessing it's for the comfort of a passenger in a teams driving situation. ####. Learned something new and I feel more stupid for it.

    Back to the grass is not always greener...
    So I was hired for a dedicated route. They advertised and assured me and the other drivers doing this dedicated route that we could make a certain amount of money per week. It was not only verbally assured to us but it was actually in the advertisement for this position. Even after the conditions changed right out of orientation whereby it wouldn't necessarily be all Lowes loads, I was still making great money doing the drop and hooks and the backhauls back to Chesapeake. However in the past two weeks, even that changed. I have still been driving the drop and hooks from Chesapeake up to Pennsylvania, fighting this moronic traffic and poor drivers, but the backhaul has changed which has changed the whole experience.

    There are two different places that I drop up in PA. The one that I was dropping in the first few weeks was up in Pittston, PA. That was working great. Once I would drop in Pittston, I was always find an empty at the Lowes DC and run about 40 miles into the mountains to Tunkhannock, PA to pick up another drop and hook load out of the Proctor & Gamble DC. That load took me back down to Norfolk where I would drop that loaded trailer, hook to an always present empty trailer and drive the 15 miles or so back to Chesapeake for my dedicated drop and hook load. That all worked great and the last week I had like that I ran 6 days and about 2800 miles. Perfect.

    At one point I was picking up in Chesapeake and I ran into one of the other drivers that does this dedicated route. He was not happy. He was getting a lot of live loads/live unloads and he was complaining about not making enough money, certainly not making the money they stated we would make. At the time I didn't really understand what he was talking about since almost all of my loads were drop and hook and I was getting the miles. I wrote it off as maybe he was just a problem child driver or wasn't as ambitious. But about a week later I would see exactly what he was talking about.

    The other alternative place we drop is a Lowes DC in Minersville, PA. Problem number one, and the lesser problem, is that this drop is less distance and less miles than the Pittston DC. Less miles suck. But that's not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the backhaul to Chesapeake, when dropping in Minersville, is a water live load back to a place very shy of Chesapeake. So not only less distance back towards Chesapeake, almost 60 miles, but it is a freakin live load. The last one I had, last Friday, took me 3.5 hours. And typical of the trucking world, the first 2 hours are "free" to the shipper. So that is exactly what this other dedicated driver was complaining about. And I had these live load backhauls from Minersville for most of the past 2 weeks. So my miles went from 2400-2800 week to 1500-1800 miles a week. Huge difference not just in money but in my patience and happiness. I've been pissed.

    I called my DM and complained the other day. I complained to the night dispatch as well. To paraphrase I was basically told that is what the job is about and if I don't like it I don't have to stay. Wasn't feeling the love and I'm disappointed that they can't understand from a driver's perspective how something like live loads replacing drop and hooks would affect the whole game.

    The way I would analogize it to a driver manager is this: Imagine being hired to be a driver manager. That is your expertise, that is how your resume is geared and that is the job that is sold to you. You are hired. The third week a supervisor comes up to you.


    "Hey buddy, we need you to empty the garbage over there. And would you please do it again on Thursday? Oh and you won't be getting paid for it but it is in the company's best interest. Thanks buddy".

    You empty the garbage those couple of times. It's in the company's interest and you are a team player. You're a company guy. The next week rolls around and your supervisor approaches again.


    "Hey. We need you to empty those garbages again but we need you to do it everyday at the end of your shift. You won't be getting paid for it but it's what the company needs. Oh, I almost forgot. I need you to go into the break room and clean it all up. Unfortunately we don't have anyone else to do it and it's in the company's best interest. Thanks. Oh, and you won't be getting paid for it".

    How happy would that DM be? Would it be acceptable to them? That's how I feel after two weeks of lower pay, almost the same amount of hours and much more aggravation. Another issue with these live loads is that not only is it a matter of waiting but that time spent sitting there waiting to get loaded is time I could be rolling with miles. I figure for every 3 hours I sit waiting on a live load I'm missing an additional 150-180 miles. Three times a week and that alone is 450-540 miles. And now if there is an appointment, there is more time lost just sitting. And now whereby if I had a drop and hook and I can keep running my hours out closer to when they expire, with the live load I have to plan more carefully on when and where I park.

    For example, lets say I have 4 hours left on my clock. if I dropped a load and have another load to hook to I can just keep running and start looking for parking an hour or two before my hours expire. Easy. Now if I have 4 hours left on my clock, it's later at night in PA and I know parking is near impossible to find, there's not overnight parking at the live load shipper (and there is not), then I have to plan on picking up in the morning after my 10. I've lost time that I could be running that night. Either way, I'm pissed.

    But when it was mentioned to me that I didn't have to stay with the company, that is easier said than actually done. I'm not going to job hop. If I switched companies at this point then the next company would be the third company in the same year. I don't want that. I'm aiming for consistency. Additionally I don't want to change trucks again, I don't want another orientation to attend, I don't want to apply for other jobs. And I shouldn't have to. And, something that is very important to me at this point in my life, I have my gym here. I don't want to lose that. I want to make this work as I'm already dug in to this position and I'm not changing it anytime soon.

    I'm not bad mouthing the company as most of the drivers, actually all of the ones I've encountered with the exception of those doing this dedicated route, seem very happy. The turnover rate is relatively low here. I know these recent changes aren't to intentionally punish those of us on this dedicated route but it sucks nonetheless. The company supposedly lost a drop and hook account around the time they hired all of us for this route and that is why we have this suck ### live load backhaul. But it still feels deceptive as this group of dedicated drivers had applied and made life changes in order to make the money and miles that were advertised and sold to us by the recruiters. And I know I'm supposed to roll with these punches, accept that my cheese has been moved, embrace changes as they come. And I will but accepting it so easily is going to take some time.

    So the grass is not always as green over there as it may appear.
     
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  3. capthook

    capthook Light Load Member

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    Hiya Doc! Glad to hear you found another company to drive for.
    You've been a good driver for Swift and any company should be glad to have you.
    No matter what the situation - guess it was time to leave: aka drive cam.
    I left a year ago after 3.5 years. Was a decent time there.
    I had some family medical issues that I wanted to be home more for - took a lower paying local job.
    And the hometime situation at Swift got to a hassle.
    For the first 3 years - home time meant calendar days... always how I set my PTA.
    12 days out = 2 days off = home Fri. eve, sat sun off, back out mon morning.
    Last 6 months, always trying to be told 2 days off = 48 hours, home Fri eve, back out Sun eve.
    That didn't fly for me. They managed to get me to do it ONCE.
    Got tired of butting heads over that.
    But all in all, was a good 3.5 years - mostly because I had a DL that left me alone to do my thing.
    Hope things work out good for you at the new gig... let us know from time to time.
    I'm looking right now at a regional gig - $15k + more a year than Swift and home EVERY WEEKEND - home Fri eve, back out Monday.
     
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  4. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    Let me say this, driving in the northeast some days just sucks. I've been trying to drive an overnight schedule to avoid the DC and Baltimore traffic back ups and regardless of what time I leave there is always something.

    And do they ever have roads out here that are not under construction?!?
     
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  5. WitchyWomen

    WitchyWomen Medium Load Member

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    Don't worry Doc winter is comming and the construction will stop, but it'll be cold wet snowy mess instead. Wow I love living in AZ where construction is year round but so is drinking margaritas in my pool. I miss you Doc, hope all is ok.
     
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  6. JOHNQPUBLIC

    JOHNQPUBLIC Road Train Member

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    No, not that I've ever seen.
     
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  7. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    Hey thanks CaptHook. Yeah that DriveCam was definitely going to be too much. I've been reading the updated threads on it and it seems to be as I originally suspected. Not only is it activated by a critical event (not as big of a deal, but still invasive) but it is activated by road bumps and other things that upset the truck enough to get the thing recording. I really wish Swift hadn't done that.

    I understand exactly what you mean about the time off thing. Something that is not usually considered is that if your hometime begins when you reach your terminal or wherever you are shutting down, that you had to drive a lot to get there. Usually, at least with me, that means that the only thing I want to do is sleep. 8 hours later you have 8 hours less on your hometime. Like you said, getting that Friday eve through Mon. morning makes a big difference.

    I kind of go through that when I take a 34, which is my hometime. They don't really sweat it here but if I take just the 34, by the time I get that first sleep when I park I'm not down to barely a full day off at 26 hours remaining.

    I'm glad you did enjoy most of your time with Swift. I did too. I miss my DM as my new guy is a focker.

    Have you looked at Epes? Their whole selling point is home every week (most of the time weekends) but they only run the eastern states, east of Texas. Not sure if you are interested in that. There's a lot out there for us so don't sell yourself short on your experience.

    Good luck!
     
  8. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    No, it doesn't exist. Literally every interstate I'm on has some construction. It's absolutely unreal.

    Haha Witchy! You are right about that. I am happy though that I won't have to chain up this year. However, those places where you do need to chain up are those same places that I miss visiting.

    Enjoy that margarita!
     
  9. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    Repetition, boredom and hobgoblins. And repeat...

    Man am I now jealous of you guys that roll over the lower 48 states. I thought I would miss it but I didn't know I would miss it this much.

    What was that that Emerson wrote? "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. , adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall". I am there Mr. Emerson, I am there.

    I'm not sure what to do to mix up this routine that has become as dull as my senses when I'm sitting there numb in bumper to bumper traffic. Pick anywhere north of Richmond up until I get near Pennsylvania and that is where the numbness begins.

    I miss waking up somewhere new everyday and those odd times where I would wake up and forget exactly where I was. What state is this? Am I still in Texas?

    I miss the changing weather patterns, even the violent and extreme weather. I just don't get that feeling I got when I was crossing into Texas north of Amarillo and saw that twister just off to my left and then experienced crossing so near it that it was as if I was inside it - violent hail, severe sideways winds, how much my truck shook and then the relative peace as I drove out of there, watching in my rear view mirror what I had just passed. The feeling of driving west in Kansas and hearing an emergency break over the radio warning me of twisters just north of me as I passed through Goodland. Rolling down the passenger window to see if I could hear anything, there was nothing. But they were there. Blinding and sudden snowstorms in Wyoming resulting in unplanned stays at gravel lots in view of Elk Mountain, sand storms that swept in quick in other states and how the severely dry 110 degree heat in South Texas actually felt great on my skin, devoid of humidity. Even the simple change in my view somewhere with peaceful weather, like the way an evening sunset in Nebraska reminded me that the flattest places have something different and so beautiful that I have to pull off in a rest area to just watch those final moments.

    My brother in law is observant. We were sitting out back one night on my parents porch, just him and I. He said "you really don't like what you are doing too much, do you?". I agreed and asked how he knew. He stated that I never update my status on Facebook, I never post about the places I go and I never post any pictures. He was right. It's not that I hate what I do. It's just that I'm bored and uninspired to post anything. Nothing really to report. My days are mostly the same. Days run into other days that become weeks that run into other weeks which are now running into months. It's all the same, ad nauseum.

    Even if I didn't have forward momentum with Swift in a career advancing way, I did have forward momentum in exploring new places, new states, new cities, new odd places to pick up or drop off. There was that kind of momentum and that to me was progress. Life experience progress. Now I have bankroll progress as I make about double what I made with Swift, more time off. But is that progress?

    I ask myself this all the time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
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  10. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    Update on the dating scene...

    Nothing to report. Haha. But really, not much going on in that aspect of my life. I have a couple of female friends out here that I can do activities with. And I have. These are innocent activities pretty much but these individuals don't really light that fire in me. For whatever reason, it just doesn't happen with these people.

    So I have to broaden my approach to meeting the opposite sex somewhat. My life at this point is basically work, sleep, gym. I spend an inordinate amount of time in the gym recently. Today was 5 hours. Average is 3.5 hours on a given day, 3-4 times a week. That's great. What's not great is that the rest of the gym attendees looks like the background extras from the movie Cocoon. Now if there was only aliens and a strangely therapeutic pool my gym scene would truly be authentic. In other words, despite how much time I spend there, options are limited. There's the young girl that works there, occasionally emptying the garbage cans with as much zeal as someone that must watch someone else doing their taxes. I guess I could be the creepy old guy and say something stupid to her but I think I'll pass. Oh, there was a girl in there this morning that I had never seen in there before. I tried to strike up a conversation only to realize that she had her ear buds in her ears, hidden behind her hair. By the time she took out the earphones to ask what I was saying, since she did see my lips moving in her direction as her music played over the trivial bumbling utterances coming from my direction, my whole flow of conversation was gone and too late to be repeated. When she asked what I had said I replied something like "oh nothing, have you seen where the..." and I mumbled something about a 40 lb dumbbell and walked away excusing myself to make it clear that I had absolutely nothing of importance to transmit to her. Smooth is as smooth does and this was not. She was cute though. Short of that, there are no opportunities unless the old guy that seems to follow me around sometimes is a prospect. He is not.

    The most unfortunate thing about my current lack of prospects is that I feel great physically. Between the excessive workouts, long cardio sessions, the supplements I take that make my blood flow greater and the testosterone that makes me walk around feeling like I need to hump something, I still have no female companionship release unless I want to open the Pandora's Box that is my one ex that I hang out with occasionally (not Brandi who has been MIA). And that one comes with strings attached that I don't want. Anyone that says that unaddressed horniness is not uncomfortable is full of ####e.

    So my dating life is dry right now. I know it will change and I don't want anything in the form of a relationship. I just want the once in a while companionship and some benefits associated therein. Hear that ladies? How does that sound? None of the benefits to you of a normal relationship but only the physical aspects. And I can stay unattached and detached emotionally. And I might at any given time take a trip on my motorcycle for months away from you. Sounds great ladies? Hmmmm.....might have to try something else.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  11. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    One thing I'm starting to realize, something that has slipped my mind up until now, is the importance of a good driver manager/dispatcher.

    Lately I'm really missing my old Swift DM. She was awesome. I recognized it at the time but it didn't reach full realization until I got stuck with this guy that I have here. Unlike Swift, there is no option to change DM's unless I want to give up my dedicated account. Which I don't, at least not right now.

    This guy is like a jealous girlfriend that likes to smack a guy around. I'm picturing a large, Eastern European woman that has about 100 lbs. on me and misrepresented herself in the personal ads. Now I married her and I'm stuck with her.

    I try to avoid interaction with him as much as possible. Whenever I can I try to go through the after hours nighttime dispatch to get my next load. I've also gone the route of communicating directly with the guy in charge of this dedicated account. He is down in corporate. This hasn't gone over well with the DM. Understandable if you didn't know the whole circumstances. Ya see, my DM has the attitude of someone that has checked out of his position a long time ago and is now just going through the motions and getting a paycheck. I could be wrong but the impression he gives is purely of this nature. If I'm not making enough miles. I am told I can leave. Not making enough money. I am told I can leave. Instead of trying to fix the problem or, at a minimum, communicating what the issue is to me, I am told that I have to do what is best for me including leaving. Who wants to work with a person like this that is a driver's only real connection with the company and the loads?? And he is like this with the other drivers on this account so it's not just me.

    Let me tell ya, this kind of non-support and attitude make an already tough job that much tougher. I thought I had it rough with my first DM at Swift. She was a tough cookie at times. But ya know, her just asking how my mom was doing or simply explaining that the circumstances sucked but that something was still necessary to do was much better than this guy's complete apathy.

    So I'm in a rut but I keep it to myself and away from my family. I gave up driving the lower 48 and seeing something new everyday. I gave up the West Coast. I find myself driving the same route everyday, every week for more money but with less life. I do have more time off now, at least my 34 each week. But I don't do much in my spare time other than go to the gym and visit my parents. I'm more than happy to spend this time with my parents while I have them around. That is the biggest positive aspect of my life. Second to that is the gym and getting back in shape. I find my gym sessions getting longer and longer. Minimally I'm there for 2.5 hours at a time and up to 5 hours at a time. The most recent sessions have been between 4-5 hours each. The results are starting to show and the gym itself is the only time where I seem to be able to find some kind of peace and stress relief. I even just completed a 30 day sugar and carb purge just to do something. I finished yesterday. But there is still an ever-present emptiness in the rest of my life. I'm honestly bored.

    I've found myself lately starting to research another trip. I need something, anything to look forward to. I'm roughly planning another trip to depart in about a year from now. Not even sure where I'm going yet but I'm planning roughly to go down to the end of the Pan-American highway in Panama - where the highway comes to an abrupt end in Yaviza, Panama at the start of the Darien Gap and miles of impassable jungle. The following trip I can pick up the Pan-American highway in Columbia and continue south to the tip of S. America. Maybe spend some time visiting friends in Guatemala, maybe at least a week in each spot in Panajachel and Flores.

    I've also been spending some time thinking about taking the LSAT again. This is the Law School Admission Test that I took twice so many years ago before heading off to law school. I'm not even sure what to do with those test results but something is making me want to retake them and score higher. This current trucking position cannot be the "it", the sum of what the rest of my existence will encompass. It just can't be. I feel completely unfulfilled at the moment. Remember, I do not have children to watch grow up and become adults. I cannot live through them. I do not have a significant other whom I share a life. It doesn't exist. I don't even have a dog.

    So that is the current situation. I'm going to keep posting here on this Swift thread because it feels like one of the only consistencies that I have. It is a record of change and a source of grounding for me. Until next time...
     
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