In case I’ve been too subtle in my posts let me come out and say in standard English:
I HATE DRIVING FOR STEVENS TRANSPORT
It started in training, when they treated me and everybody else in class like mentally retarded, diseased sheep. Here’s why I can make that statement:
- They kept us in filthy pens (America’s Worst Motel).
- They herded us into cramped livestock haulers, and made us fight with each other to get a seat.
- They transported us to class an hour early where they made us wait outside until they were good and ready to let us in.
- They preached how important it was to stay healthy and then fed us high carbohydrate crap for lunch and supper.
- They brought in a steady supply of staff, most of whom humorlessly pounded us on their various specialties. They metaphorically barked at us as if they were Australian Sheep Dogs.
- The rare speakers who actually seemed to have a personality and made their presentations semi-interesting, were all show in that when you encountered them in the hall during a break, they would look right through you as if you were a retarded, diseased sheep.
Once you make it through the classroom training, they put you with a trainer who probably isn’t really interested in training. He is interested in making money off you. I was actually lucky in this regard since my first trainer, Dudley, actually taught me stuff. The downside was he acted like a drill sergeant. This is probably due to the fact that he gets so many zeros as trainees.
As a mature, educated, intelligent and disciplined adult, I do not respond well to drill sergeants. But, since he was the first real world driver I spent any time with, I couldn’t help but learn a lot from him. I actually called him once with a QualComm question. I’ve bumped into him a couple of times at The Yard. And once we actually swapped loads.
Dudley goy me all the way through Phase I. From the stories I heard from my classmates, I hit the jackpot. Several of them encountered really bad trainers.
In Phase II of training we were supposed to spend three weeks with another trainee, ergo the name Dumb and Dumber. After being rejected by my first partner, the second partner lied himself into a critically important trip back to Houston. So we both had to do Phase II with what are referred to as finishing trainers. My first finishing trainer was almost less than worthless. I learned nothing from him other than what he taught by bad example. I learned to:
- NOT stop along the side of a freeway to pee.
- NOT dump my pee jug out the window at a truck stop.
- NOT ignore the warning signs of diabetes. (This is the one I had to 911 at a TA in Ontario, California.)
He spent so much time in the sleeper berth that it was almost like driving solo, so from that standpoint, I made it into a positive experience.
The second finishing trainer was decent and entertaining. But didn’t have all that much to add. I’ve actually talked to him a couple of times too. Nice guy.
The third finishing trainer came about because FT #2 had to return to The Yard for medical reasons. I only had a day and a half left in my Phase III training and had to spend it with a trainer. He was an old hand who was kind of a dick. I wasn’t with him for long enough for him to have a positive or negative effect on me. All in all he was pretty much a waste of time. I heard he left the company. Hope I didn’t trigger something in him.
The four days in class preparing for grad fleet was also a waste of time. They trotted out all the same presentations we had seen at least twice before. Getting a truck on Thusday afternoon and Friday was retarded, diseased sheep redux. Wait in line and deal with dickheads. The guy who’s in charge of assigning trucks took dickheadedness to new heights. If he went to school, he obviously majored in Surly.
After a first truck, a Freightliner, electrical / light system was apparently possessed, I ended up with a mechanically sound but totally and completely grimy 2011 Kenworth. It’s been in the shop for repairs at least monthly and I still haven’t been able to get all the dust and dirt out of the vents. Every day I find a new layer of particlates covering every surface in the cab.
There are now three worst parts of the gig:
- Having to make telephone contact with The Yard any time outside of normal business hours. My personal best is just over TWO HOURS on hold. You will ALWAYS be on hold for at least 10 minutes, which can be a long time depending on what you’re waiting for. My personal favorite was being on hold for 50 minutes at 4 a.m. at a truck stop pay phone in Canada (I did not choose to upgrade my mobile phone plan to include Canada minutes) only to have a representative from Safety (which is who we are instructed to call) tell me she didn’t know anything about Canada.
- The long gaps between moneymaking activities. Whether they give you three days to deliver a load that’s only 900 miles away, or letting you sit for more than 24 hours after you report in that you are “Empty at Final” before giving you a new load assignment, or sending you to pick up a load of meat and then requiring you to sit for two days before the shipper actually has a load for you. With rare exceptions, if I ain’t driving, I ain’t making money.
- The PAY! I recently got a raise to 28 cents a mile. You can get a job at almost any other trucking company and start at 32 cents. I’f found several that will start you out in the upper 30s and as high as 41 cents a mile.
When you combine the lousy pay with the need for lotsa minutes on your cellphone plan and the lousy miles and downtime between loads, it’s triply troubling and frustrating.
And don’t get me started on going back to The Yard which is required every three months. It’s a full day or more of waiting in line to talk to all the people who have to check off on your sheet before you can leave. Total actual talking time? Maybe 30 minutes. I break out into a cold sweat even contemplating The Yard.
Stevens has positively beat any good attitude I might have ever had and there is no bringing it back. And if I leave within a year, I owe them for all the “training” they provided. That’s $6,000 worth of training. SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS! And word is, they are also collecting that amount from the government because they are getting us poor scum off unemployment and into “good paying jobs.”
Let me leave you with a mental picture of a billboard I saw just north of Harrisburg, PA. Over a photo of a big rig it read : “Big Bucks – Big Career.” Tears were streaming down my face for the next 30 miles, both from laughter and a deep dark depression. I’m wiping away a tear as I write this.
And I’m writing this in my 27th hour at a Flying J in Phoenix. Granted, the weather is great and there are worse places to be, but it was 24 hours after I communicated that I was unloaded before my new driver manager (I asked off the Canada team. This is the DM that gets all the hard cases.) saw fit to provide me with a new load. Assuming this repower comes off, I’ll be leaving at about 10 p.m. bound for a 6:30 a.m. delivery in La Brea, California. Once again, I’ll be traversing all that beautiful countryside … in the dark.
Putting the best possible spin on it, as I’m listening to Coast to Coast AM, maybe I’ll see a UFO.