Anyone following me on Twitter knows that I’m switching trucking companies. For those of you not following me on Twitter, well, I just don’t know how you can sleep at night. As of now, I’ve quit one job and orientation for the new job starts on Monday. The ride over to the hotel has given me some perspective.[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
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With the luck I’ve been having with my former company, I was shocked when the terminal manager allowed me to use the company van to get here. And she did this after I handed her my keys, so there’s no doubt that she did so knowing that I no longer worked for the company. Some of the drivers in the driver’s lounge said that it’s now a company’s responsibility to get a driver home after he/she quits, but I’ve never heard of any such obligation. If this is true, and you’re certain of it, please leave a note in the comments section so we can all know for the future.
Back to the story. I got lucky that I caught another driver pulling out in the van and he agreed to drive me to the hotel. His wife was following him in a rental car, so when I asked about it he offered to tell me what he referred to as “The Saga.” Since you readers know the way I tell long-winded stories, it won’t be hard for you to imagine that I liked this guy immediately. Especially since he asked if I minded hearing it all before he began the tale. That’s more choices than I give you poor folks.
His story began before we even got out of the parking lot, and it continued all the way to Hertz. After his wife/co-driver had checked the car in, she got into the van, listened for two seconds, and broke in with an exasperated, “Oh my God! Are you telling this story AGAIN?” Thinking that this woman reminded me of The Evil Overlord, I sat back and subdued a snicker as they playfully bickered about how many times he had told it. She soon gave in to the inevitable and waved him back into his story. I couldn’t see her face, but knowing The Evil Overlord, I imagine that there was some major eye-rolling going on up there. “The Saga” finished just as I pulled into the hotel parking lot 45 minutes later.
As these two were brand new truck drivers, I had listened with interest to the entire story, complete with her popping in to correct him every now and then. Being the thoughtful person that I am, I’ll give you the cliff notes version. His training went perfect. He got an excellent trainer who taught him well. Her trainer was a black man who constantly ranted about the white man’s oppression. Sorry, but I have to say this. It’s 2010 and there’s a black man in the White House. Enough already. @diesel_lady would be so proud of me.
Back to Mr. Racist. He drove on her log book, which for you non-truckers, means that he showed her driving, but did a lot of it himself. He didn’t help her learn to back the truck. He allowed her to take five whole showers in four weeks of training. This guy spent the entire training period using her as a tool to make big bucks, instead of taking it slow at first and teaching her the ropes. She admitted that she didn’t learn a thing.
This whole “bad trainer” thing bugs the crap out of me. I won’t go there right now because my next blog will cover that and more. A lady named Becca left a comment asking for some advice for people who are thinking of becoming truckers. Stay tuned for that by the end of the weekend.
Onward. After both of their training was over, they had to take a rental car from Ohio to the Chicago area to pick up their truck. When he told me that they were supposed to pick it up from an International shop, I knew what was coming; and so do you. But first, the truck wasn’t even there. Someone had picked it up and taken it to the company yard. After tracking it down, he hopped in it and turned the key, which produced nothing but a string of curses. Back into the shop for a new starter and it started right up. Ready to roll? Hang on.
Now they were informed that they couldn’t take the truck because it was missing two marker lights. Uh…wasn’t it just at the International dealer? Were they fresh out of lights? Well, it seems that the lights were being overnighted from another company terminal instead. Two days later, the lights still aren’t there. In the meantime, he’s talked to his trainer via phone. The trainer is coming through there and takes the initiative to stop into an International dealer and pick up some lights. Yes, I’m confused too. So anyway, now they’re under way, right? Nope, their very first load with their very first company gets double-booked (two drivers show up to pick up the same load), so they sit, frustrated, until the following morning.
Finally, they get a load to South Texas, they haul butt, and they get there early. They turn off the truck to take a shower, and yes, of course, the truck won’t restart. Now they sit for 7 hours and no one will respond to their satellite messages or phone calls. Finally, one of their messages gets a response. Messages that say stuff about quitting tend to do that. One of the higher-ups calls them, listens intently, and shoots off a couple of emails. Within a couple of hours they’re back in a rental car heading to the Dallas yard to pick up a brand-spanking-new truck. The same model that I’ve had in the shop twice in the last three weeks. I pray that I just had a lemon. And that’s when they meet me.
I mentioned earlier that this van ride put some stuff into perspective. It’s not just this story, but also the time that I’ve had to think. Yes. Pass the Excedrin please. So what exactly is my insight on this situation? Well, sometimes stuff just sucks. How’s that for deep and profound?
We all go through bad patches. Some last longer than others. Hopefully leaving my old team-oriented company will put an end to my hellish marathon. The fact is, if a company is team-oriented, it’s a good chance that it’s gonna suck for a solo driver. Likewise for a team at a solo-oriented company. This isn’t always true, but I think it’s a darn-tootin’ good rule-of-thumb.
This new husband/wife team knew that I had just quit. Yet when they asked me what I thought of their decision to work for the company, I told them that I thought they made the right choice. Sure, at times The Evil Overlord and I have been madder than a couple of cats in a bathtub. I told them as much. Still, I told them that the company was one of the best for teams. So how bad could it have been for The Evil Overlord and me?
Sure, the miles weren’t as plentiful as they were in years past. Maybe that was because the economy sucked harder than the national hickey-giving champion. Yes, there were times when I was frustrated because I couldn’t get a response to a question and when I finally did, it was wrong. Perhaps that was because this company chose to lay off office personnel instead of drivers when the hickeys started flying.
When my truck broke down in San Antonio, did they get me a nice hotel room? Yep. When it broke down three weeks later for the exact same transmission problem, did they allow me to go home so the nephews could spend four days pile-driving me and trying to rack me. Yep.
When I realized that I had accidentally signed up for the more expensive insurance plan after The Evil Overlord quit, did they let me change it and reimburse the overcharge. Yea. Did they totally screw up my paycheck and leave me without any money this week when I really needed it? Yes. Did they fix the problem and make an emergency electronic deposit into my bank account. Yep. Sure it’s not going to help much right now, but they could have made me tough it out until next Friday. Did they save me $60 by letting me use the company van, even after I had quit. Yup.
Have I been whining about my company for the last month? Yes. Have I had a job? Yes. Did I manage to go from one job, straight into another? Yes. Are there good people out there who have been without income for many weeks or even months? Yes. Should I stop crying like a little girl and appreciate what I’ve got? Uh… maybe?
Photo by Yellow.Cat via Flickr