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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    Lol, good advice. I will stay away from any shirtless dudes for sure.

    I would trade you for the mountains but we get enough rain back in Tacoma that I definitely don't need anymore. It's been cold here but no complaints as at least I see the sun almost everyday. Keeps me happy and beats drizzle and almost freezing temps back in Tacoma.

    Funny thing about the baby wipes is I already have a bunch all ready. It is a good idea though for those times you need 'em. I've been reading some of the posts on what to bring along and that always seems like a good suggestion. I also got some of those Colgates Wisps disposable toothbrush/toothpaste things in case I can't brush with my regular toothpaste for some reason. Once I'm on my own I'll bring some water to brush with as well. These Wisps don't require water and they come in little packages of 4 for $1. I've been thinking, after getting all dirty from the 5th wheel and just the truck in general, that I want to get some of that waterless hand cleaner to bring along as well. I won't be able to buy an atlas until at least I get my first paycheck as right now my money is about gone. I've been smuggling a waffle from the free breakfast here at the hotel for dinners, eating my peanut butter sandwich for lunch and eating the complimentary bowl of cereal from the hotel lobby in the morning before the shuttle picks us up. It's been working so far but I can't wait until I get that first paycheck and I can go buy a real hamburger or steak with some fries and have a real meal. I anxiously await that day.

    I'm planning on those days when I may hate it all, the truck, the mentor, possibly the company or the job but I anticipate it and I guess my motivation, no matter how bad things get, it is always a better situation than I was in prior to starting this whole process.

    I know Swift gets knocked around out there a lot but so far I can't understand why. The training seems very thorough as far as what I have seen and Swift won't let just anyone pass. It's pretty difficult and their standards are higher than the state standards. If someone is a hotmess they won't make it through this program. You have to be 100% dedicated and really hungry for this opportunity to make it work. I guess maybe a few screwups make it through their fingers and then end up messing up out on the road. Not sure. Maybe it has to do with just the sheer number of Swift drivers so if you play the percentage game, there are something like 18,000 drivers, then you will have some screwups and a whole bunch of newbies. As it is, I don't really have anything to complain about. If I got substandard training I wouldn't be here. So far everything is good.

    Not sure how Swift works with running teams with your mentor. If I remember right I think the first week or so you run strictly solo and then when the mentor trusts your skill a little more you function as a team. I think there are enough pay incentives though for the trainer that they don't have to run as teams. I could be wrong but will post up as soon as I know for sure.
     
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  3. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    Day 14 - Final Monday of range training

    Today was all on the road training. 3 students to a truck plus the trainer. We took turns driving for one hour each and we each got 3 shots at driving. I think I did pretty well overall but my downshifting still sucks at times. I grind the hell out of those gears and just have a rough hand on this Volvo. It should go into gear with little effort and like butter but I bash it sometimes when I get nervous. I miss the downshift, keep trying to rev it up to match the engine speed and just clunk around until I can get it to mesh. The trainer suggested I wear sneakers tomorrow to hopefully rectify this embarassment. I am going to try that. Right now I've been wearing heavy motorcycle riding boots so maybe the sneakers will help me get a better feel for the clutch. My upshifts are pretty good and I hit a lot of the downshifts but I need work.

    My turns have been decent, no hit curbs or anything else. My hazard spotting and everything else has been good. I need to get this downshifting down before the Friday DMV test. I'm sweating it out a little on this.

    We spent the day in some city traffic and up on the local mountain roads. It was fun but a little nerve wracking. Let's see how tomorrow goes wearing sneakers and trying to calm down a little. I have a bad tendency to try and rush things being the ol' Jersey guy and being used to the fast city pace back there. After all these years I still haven't learned to slow down enough and now is the time I need to.

    4 days until the DMV test and hopefully get my CDL.
     
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  4. Surfer Joe

    Surfer Joe Heavy Load Member

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    Just curious. Are they telling you in training that you will be making about $450-$700 a week, AVERAGE, to work up to 100 hrs. a week? And regardless of what you hear otherwise, it doesnt get much better with time/experience at any of these large trucking companies. The main reason that there is such a high turnover at these companies is NOT because the drivers aren't "macho" or "tough enough". No, the main reason for such a large number of drivers leaving is because the pay and conditions are terrible. Dont believe me? Then go to any large truck stop and personally speak to as many drivers as possible. If these drivers are currently working for any large trucking company, they will pretty much be repeating to you what I have just written. Good luck!
     
  5. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    No, they don't tell us anything about pay. As a matter of fact, even though we ask questions they tell us to wait until orientation as Swift recently changed the training pay rate. I believe it is hourly now but will find out during orientation. I'll pass it along here once I know myself.


    I haven't heard anything about terrible pay or conditions yet with Swift. Can't speak for the other companies but haven't heard many complaints so far over here.
     
  6. ShamrockSalono

    ShamrockSalono Light Load Member

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    Hope it goes well Doc. I will be training at the Middleton, Tennessee Academy soon. Enjoy your post.
     
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  7. Jakaby

    Jakaby Medium Load Member

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    Show me any organization in this world with 18,000 people in it that doesn't have it's fair share of sketchy people and I'll buy you a steak dinner. I'll buy you another one if you are not able to find a few that will tell you just how bad that organization is as well.

    I'm not defending any company, or anybody for that matter. I'm just a firm believer that a person's attitude and actions make up 95% of the world around them. Swift isn't any different than any of the other mega carriers like US Xpress, Schneider, Knight, and others. When you have that many trucks running the roads at any given time, you are going to have a few that have some issues. When you hire on with a company they spell it out for you either in some form of an orientation or give it to you in writing. When it gets bad, then get back to the terminal, clean out your truck, turn your keys in and go down the street and start with another company. That new company is going to give you the same job pulling the same freight, bumping the same docks, dealing with the same people, and so on. You might make a little more, or drive a nicer truck, but in the end, you are doing the same thing. You are a truck driver. Be proud of the job you do.

    Everybody has different reasons for working for whatever company they work for. Some like a little more home time. Some like better trucks. Some need training and go with a mega carrier. I'll do whatever they ask me to do and I only ask two things in return. One, follow through on what you tell me your going to do. If you tell me you are going to pay me a certain wage, then pay me that wage. Two, don't ever lie to me. I'm a big boy, so be honest no matter how bad or wrong you think it might be. If you do those two things, then I will do the job I've signed on to do. It doesn't make me a kiss-butt, it makes me someone who will do what I understand the job expected of me is. I don't care if you are an O/O, drive for a mom and pop company, or a mega carrier like Swift. If you don't like your employer, them go find another one. Plain and simple. There are thousands and thousands of jobs for drivers out there.

    I had a driver complaining to me about how horrible his company was and how they don't pay him for his miles, and how his truck is a piece of junk, and so on. I had to call him on his BS because he drives for the company I started with. (not Swift BTW). It just gets old hearing it everyday.

    Just my two cents. I guess I've gotten too old to be making new friends.
     
  8. Jakaby

    Jakaby Medium Load Member

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    Keep learning Doc. The shifting will come to you. Your instructor is right about the sneakers. You will find your feet are a little bit more nimble than when you wear boots. It's all about "Feel" and boots do the opposite. Kind of like trying to sew a button on a shirt while wearing a pair of work gloves.

    Speaking of gloves, get you a good pair of leather work gloves along with your hand cleaner. You are going to get filthy working around trucks anyway. You can use go-Jo without water. Just keep you a towel handy.

    BTW- have you been able to stay off of the smokes?
     
  9. ucallihaul

    ucallihaul Light Load Member

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    I made my first $1000 paycheck after 6 months of trucking. As with anything in life, you get out what you put in. If it was easy everybody would do it.
     
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  10. newberick

    newberick Light Load Member

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    During the first 50 hours with a mentor he has to be in the 2nd seat after that you can run as a team.
     
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  11. DocWatson

    DocWatson Road Train Member

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    Thanks! Good luck and let us know how it is going out there. Let me know if you have any questions while everything is fresh in my mind.

    Just prior to coming here to Idaho, I was actually debating just doing my training at the Richmond, VA facility since my parents now live out that way but I didn't want to deal with the logistics of moving all my stuff from storage and also WA state has a decent minimum wage for when I go out on the road with the mentor.





    Funny because we were just talking about this today. I agree 100%. With any organization, trucking or not, with this many employees you are always going to get some screw ups or whatever. It's just a numbers game and a few are always going to slip by.

    The way I can see it right now is Swift gives you all the tools you need to succeed. I'm not candy coating the experience at all. They get you the basics to pass your state's DMV test, they give you the run down of pay/benefits/driver expectations etc. in orientation and then you get 4-6 weeks on the road with a mentor. If something gets screwed up after that, if someone does something stupid then it is on that particular driver. They are the #### up, not the company. They made their choices as they didn't use the tools given to them. I'm not sure, as far as training goes, what else Swift could do to make it better. Maybe there is something but from my standpoint everything seems above adequate. I'm sure there will always be complaints about a company, there will always be bad days but a lot of it is how you handle it, your attitude and just rolling with it. This happens within any big organization. Keep in mind I haven't been on the road or even to orientation yet so I'm just speaking to this part of the training.

    Now, I did have an issue today that I really don't want to elaborate on. It has to do (maybe) with a Swift employee being biased for no good reason but does that mean that Swift is a bad company or simply that this one individual may need to work on some things? I'm thinking it's that individual and not the company so that's the way I handle it. I remain professional, move on and keep doing what I need to. No need to curse the whole company over one individual.


    Honestly no. I completely failed. I made it the first 7 days out here smokefree. On my 30th day total of not smoking I gave in. No excuses and I'm not proud of it. What happened was everyday I fought through the cravings and was doing ok but since there is a lot of downtime and everyone smokes I realized on that final day when I failed that I had spent the ENTIRE day thinking about nothing but smoking instead of focusing on learning what I needed to learn. I guess the way I rationalized it was that getting through this process is temporary but all important. I would rather fail at quitting then fail at this academy. This means everything to me as well as quitting. But at least temporarily I need to do whatever it takes to be successful at this. I know, spoken like a true addict but it is the way I see it right now. Being as this process is so important to me and being as there really was no where to escape these triggers I failed and gave in. So now I'm going to have to requit after I pass my CDL test this Friday. More incentive to pass. I hate myself for failing at this but I'm glad I wasn't into my quit longer than the 30 days before I failed. Now I will just have to punish myself with going through the physical withdrawals all over again. It's fine, I look forward to not having to buy these again. Right now I don't need to be thinking about everyone smoking around me and I just need to focus on finishing this part of the training and passing my CDL state test this Friday.

    A funny observation I noticed about smoking and being out here at the Idaho facility, specifically the town of Lewiston: not only does everyone smoke that is training here and that works as a trainer but apparently the entire town seems to smoke. Can't remember ever being anywhere like this. It's weird and not just something I noticed when I wasn't smoking. It does seem everyone here in town smokes too.



    Very true. It's about tradeoffs as well. I will do this any day over working in an office again, doing warehouse, security, legal etc.



    Yes, that sounds right.
     
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