Well the one year contract is over. If you are just starting with PAM let me offer you some hints and tips to make some better money and maybe avoid a few of the land mines that I stepped on. Number one, you are going to be a servant for a year. take that into consideration. You traded a year of your life to get a skill and if you went through C-1 school to get to PAM you have paid a premium price to do that. Use your time wisely. When you leave your trainer, start assessing where he/she left you high and dry and LEARN those skills from other drivers. What I DIDN"T learn from my "trainer" were these things:
1. Learn how to adjust weight on your tractor and trailer. A few good fellows out there and a "coincidence" taught me about a sweet spot for all weights, but again there is a weight limit. You must remember there are truckers out there who DON"T know what they are talking about, find those white haired fella's who have been driving for twenty years, they know what they are talking about.
2. Always figure in another four hours with your trip time. Construction, accidents, your 10 minute stops all add up and remember the EOBR does not care what a nice person you are, it keeps ticking after four hours of on duty.
3. Never be afraid to tell your DM "No", there will be times when they want you to use the last two hours at night to pick up a load. Remember, you have to find a place to get your resets/rests and that usually means scouring a parking lot waiting for an open slot, or driving to another place. If you are solo, wake up early and get your spot between four and 6 p.m. at night. Don't wait until the last minute, you will regret it and that safe haven stuff does not work well.
4. Never be afraid to tell a Dm that you need to bobtail as a solo to get to a place with a bath room and food and water. You can always travel back five miles to get an empty, a violation for being out of service is not worth it.
5. If you are the active driver YOU FUEL the truck. Letting a team member fuel will be a F/M violation. I served five days of suspension (to harsh) for my team mate and I not knowing this was a violation.
6. PRE PLAN YOURSELF: Look over your plans, the times, the distances and make decisions about when to leave, when you will be traveling through bigger cities. Make sure you DOCUMENT everything in your little notebooks. When problems arrive and you dont have a record of the evidences and times, you will be left holding the bag. When you start quoting times, dates and conversations, someone else is going to be in trouble. NOT YOU. This has saved my bacon (after that stupid fuel thing) about six times. My dispatcher knew from the first time that he could not get away with telling lies about phone calls he made to me, messages he sent that mysteriously disappeared, ect.
7. Write down your miles. Make sure you are being paid what you drive. Check your payroll everytime you are paid and match it up with your books (I have caught two mistakes so far).
8. Treat your company nicely. If you have people who are difficult, use the rules they impose on you to catch them on their "bends". Once they see you applying their own negative dynamics on them, they change and comply.
9. You have a wonderful friend in David Finley, your driver advocate. Don't take your childish whining to him, take LEGITIMATE problems to him. As a team we had a truck that cost us 6 half paychecks because of maintenence issues, He called our nemesis, told him to drop his sword and start fresh and get us a new truck. It happened. David is not your Dr. Phil, he is your FRIEND. Take logical issues to him and he will solve it on the other side for you. Call him and tell him thanks when he helps you too. He also keeps your conversations CONFIDENTIAL when you need it.
10. If you have anger issues, you had better learn to cope fast. You are going to be stretched, tried, lied to, changed on and you will be swimming in many directions. Pam is a company trying to rearrange itself. In two years you will be driving a pretty nice truck and your pay may be better, but right now they have trimmed staff to the bone and your resources will be thin. Getting a hold of Road Rescue is a long wait. Remember, you do not have to stay in a truck with no AC or heat. Get a hotel room and get paid. Learn what you get when you are not running.
11. You WILL serve six months as a team member. You do not have to drive/live with a PIG a THUG or an IGNORAMUS, call your DM, explain the conditions and you will be pulled away and given another team member. The first team guy I had was a slob/pig. I explained my plight and was given a good and decent partner. We didnt' make great money, but it was more than solo pay.
12. Get your HazMat endorsement. PAM will give you priority loads. I have personal reasons for not doing it, but you will make more money.
13. YOU MUST be watchful for all other drivers around you. Yes, you are now a protector of yourself and a babysitter for men and women and teens texting, talking on the phone, reading, putting on makeup, disciplining kids, watching TV and video's while driving. One night going through TN, we were starting to pass a flat bed Ford work truck. It had a swing stage on it and other equipment. it broke loose on a few jumps in the pavement and that 800 pound swing stage jumped off the truck and on to the highway with other equipment. Someone behind us was coming and there was no fair warning. BE ALERT and you will avoid accidents and tickets.
14. GO SLOW..........Accuracy FIRST, Speed second. It took me a year to learn how to back up well. Others are naturals, but they get a false sense of competence and then mess up and sometimes badly. BE paranoid and safety minded ALWAYS and you will succeed well.
15. Your biggest friend out in traffic is CUSHION. You staying back the proper amount of space will save you from impact, rollovers and other tragedies truckers suffer. At night, a big cushion gives you more time to react/brake.
16. Take care of your health. You will be SITTING the majority of the time you are working. Stop every two hours, walk around a little, stretch. Drink water, eat a healthy diet. That is not always possible, but holding water in your legs, making your heart over work and being sedate are killers. Supplement, learn to eat well and eat less. Pilot roller grills and deep fried food are no way to eat everyday. Get to a T/A or a country pride and get salad in you. Not always the tasty alternative, but in a year when you are 60 pounds thinner (like me) your time with PAM will be a good memory and not a trip to the doctor to find out how to lose the 35 pounds you gained. Hard boiled eggs are cheap, salad is cheap at the fast food places and if you snack correctly, on beef jerky, water, nuts and have a cheat meal once a week, you can lose weight at this job.
17. Its up to you. I had a bad attitude for a while. I thought I was being screwed and half of it was me fighting the system. Had I argued in a positive manner I would have had more miles, a better truck and less hassle. You are going to blow tires, you are going to be stuck in traffic, you are going to get shafted by your DM (My first DM turfed me for seven weekends straight and I caught him in four lies and confronted him on it. He was promoted and then really put the screws to me. He has however been fired now and karma came fast) and your efficiency in turning in paper work, checking your rig and your lights, ect. will cost time. Remember ACCURACY first, speed second. By the time a year has passed, you will do very well if you LEARN while you are driving. Many just want to sit and make forty dollars a day. That is a waste.
18. Stay the whole year. I could have walked, but it would have made me look like a flake to the next job (which is in the process). I kept my word for a year and the new company knows that I will do what I say. You may have family emergencies and other things may come up, do your best to finish. A good truck driver is hard to find, when they are found a company will pay them well and work with them.
19. TALK to a lot of other truckers. Find out which company knows the driver is the paycheck for the company. I found one and although I would like to go local, I will go with this company as ten of their drivers gave glowing reports, drove nice rigs and were happy with them.
20. DO NOT GIVE UP. Giving up gets you nowhere but back at the beginning. yes, I should have went to a Junior college to learn to drive. Its cheaper than PAM, you get more individual instruction and you gather more skills and knowledge. You chose PAM, it wasn't a mistake, but it was not the best option. Hunker down, get it done and when three years have passed and you are making a steady 50-60K a year with weekends home, that first year will be an investment, not a regret.
21. Learn how to fix small problems with a hammer, pliers, spray lube, a pry bar and electrical tape, duct tape, screwdrivers and crimping pliers for wiring. The easy stuff you can fix will keep you out of a BUSY shop. You are not a mechanic, but you are not helpless either. Keep your wheels turning to make money. You putting in a light bulb in ten minutes could mean you saving five hours waiting for the shop to get you in while your clock is ticking.
Thats it. You will have good insurance, you will have low paychecks and you will be frustrated. Let it slide, enjoy the ride and do the best you can. Good luck to you and may our country turn back to its Creator and cast its tyrants, liars and infidels out of office so that we can all be owner operators making 100K plus a year without all the beauracracy, red tape and hassles. We can have our American dream back, we just have to wake up and do something about it.
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Guess I'm not surprised they went to the forced teaming now for new drivers, I was out a long time ago, and it was just 4 weeks with a trainer then solo.
I would suggest getting an automotive dedicated lane if you can - the year will go by a lot quicker.
Good post Cuda....to be honest, after you said "one year contract is up", I thought you were going to spend 1000 words bashing PAM. But you put a lot of helpful info up that will help a lot of these new guys. Bravo.
And, now that your year is up, what are your plans?
Lots of chest beating turkeys think they are getting rich. Most don't know how to run a business.
They are employees without benefits. What do they get? $.92 a mile + part of the FSC?
BTW they aren't owner operators. They are lease operators.
All you newbies need to do your homework on this site before getting rooked into a lease program. Even a lease purchase you usually end up paying for the truck twice, and have a worn out truck IF and when you pay it off.
I wasn't aware you knew him also. I thought for sure he said he owned his truck and trailer. And that he takes off every July to spend with his kids/ grandkids. Musta heard wrong. My bad. I guess you were in the truck loading after me and heard him better
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