Sep 19, 2011

Tooting My Own Horn

What a fabulous experience this has been. From the very beginning with the personalized pre-training, to stealing the show last week in training!!

It has been confirmed that I will "graduate" this week. In fact, the instructor told me that they would have set me free last Friday had it not been for the insurance. Legally, they could not let me go after 4 days of training being an inexperienced car-hauler. So this week, I am basically here to satisfy a time quota.

I do wonder what the record is for completing the training program. I feel that at 4 days, and being female, that I am A Big Deal.... At least, in my little world! I will load one more time to test out, and then.....

Cars will be delivered !!!!

-posted from my iPhone

Sep 18, 2011

Training Day

Thought I should offer a little recap of how the previous week played out in events.

After arriving late Sunday night, Monday dawned a bit too soon for me. There seems to be a little lack of communication here. Someone was supposed to meet us and instruct us for further directions. That did not happen, and only because the previous students drove past in the company van were we able to catch a ride to the office. Monday was nothing other than paperwork... Eight trainees in all, four of which are previously experienced. Or so they say !!

Tuesday finds me at the Detroit Manheim Auto Auction. We begin to take turns driving cars onto a trailer. It was a very long day. Immediately, I felt I had a major advantage with the pre-training I had received from my friend. I felt very little hesitation when it came to my turn to strut my stuff. By the end of the day, I was offering pointers to the other inexperienced guys who seemed to be struggling a bit more.

 Wednesday placed us back at the Auction. More loading and unloading, with a little strapping thrown in for good measure. We next learned how to chain cars, which I had not done before, but I found myself falling into that groove quicker than the others as well. Do I sound boastful? Well, it is my blog !! By this point, it is determined that 2 of the "experienced" trainees must have embellished a little on job history because they are struggling more than anyone. Once again, I offer pointers to these fellows and got a little reprimand for it. After lunch, they bring out the big pickup, and I was told to drive it up on the head rack over the hood. By this point, I almost have no fear and I put that big beast up on top like a pro. "Now, back it up there!"  Umm, okay! Not a problem. I am in and out of the pickup, two times on the truck, in less than 5 minutes. I began to draw a little more attention from the trainers. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut, especially when trying to be helpful. So after offering a few more helpful hints, the main instructor comes over and pulls me to the side. I feel as if it might have been an attempt to "put up or shut up", so he gives me the keys to 9 cars and tells me to go load my trailer.

First Training Load

That evening, I sensed a little more respect from the experienced haulers, and perhaps a little jealousy from the rookies. Thursday puts us back in the office for a few tests before heading back to the Auction, and upon arrival, I am once again thrown a pile of keys and told to get to work. Within 2 hours, I had an 8 unit load on the trailer, strapped, pictures snapped and back on the ground. There are a few guys from previous classes still here, working towards "graduation". By now, I am feeling a little aware of the commotion I may or may not be causing. The other rookies from my class are still huddled together as a group, driving one car on in turns. Yeah, I  am a little self conscious at this point.

Second Load

 Friday we are back at the Auction, and immediately I am back to loading. During the week, I have heard several things being whispered. All very positive about my capabilities. I was told that ALL trainees are required to stay the entire 4 weeks. This frustrated me a little because I feel as if I am just about ready to put my training to use.. It was later revealed to be a "prank". What a relief.... This morning, instead of practicing the basic load patterns, the head honcho has me load specific vehicles to test out what kind of heights I can achieve, or rather, how low I can get them. So I played around with more SUVs which is what I  will be hauling out of South Carolina. Then he wants to see just how low my truck really is and hands me the keys
to the Lincoln Navigator. Surprisingly, I can get this monster over my hood and still be under 13'6". I think I am going to LOVE my little truck.

That afternoon, Frank ( the lead instructor) tells me to pack up and take the truck back to the the shop for any minor repairs that can be made over the weekend. While closing up shop, it was mentioned to me that this only happens when you are about to be cut loose from the class. This was told to me by both of the other instructors. Also, one of the experienced guys said he overheard that I was graduating next week as well.

I sincerely feel bad for those who are struggling after weeks of training. I also feel a little bad for leaving my class so soon, but if they think I am ready...... Woohoooo!!  You have no idea how grateful I am for all my pre-training and now it is showing off.  Hopefully the rumors are true. I may very well be on my way in the next few days...

Sep 17, 2011

Michigan Bound

After arriving in Sellersburg, IN, I had every intention to clean up the truck a little and get familiar with it. It definitely looks like a work truck, inside and out. Plus, it smells like sour cat litter and ass. However, I am so excited to begin this phase of my career, that even the 477,000 miles on the odometer did not upset me. It is MY new car carrier.

First on the agenda, is to load my car!!  Oh boy....  I was very nervous to say the least. Not only have I never played with a Quick Loader Rack, but I also have never loaded a manual transmission vehicle. I have also never loaded a sports car which typically have a lower seat and taller door frame to see out of. I am 5' tall, and yes, this could be an issue. And, realistically, I just did not want to load MY CAR !!

It turns out I had absolutely no problem getting the Pony Car loaded up. I did, however, have a problem with the fact that another driver was also headed to Michigan and his truck broke down. It was now requested of me to give this fellow a ride...  UGH!!!!  This has the potential to get very ugly, but I agree and just hope the guy is not some bitter, bitchy, smelly, whiny truck driver.  After waiting over an hour, he finally arrives, and looked to be quite disgruntled. We mutually agree to make the trip together and it turns out.. I have made a new friend!!

He is experienced with 7 years of hauling cars. He will also load out of the same terminal as me and he had a great attitude about Little Ol Me wanting to haul cars. The 7 hour trip ended up being quite pleasant, and despite the anxiety of what is to be expected over the next few weeks, I now have a training buddy...  Which will make things sooooooo much more bearable

Orientation: Complete

As quickly as it started, Orientation has ended. After 3 days of watching, strapping, and finally loading a few cars, Friday rolls around and with only 1 load scheduled for the day. I was given the option of hanging around for the day hoping the truck showed up before 5pm, or returning to my home. Of course, I chose home.

My new boss tells me to head to Louisville, KY on Sunday and pick up my truck. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you.....

Sep 8, 2011

Orientation: Day Three

The moment we have all been waiting for. Well, at least I have been waiting for it. This morning I finally began to load cars. I worked along with Rob and Larry, both of whom were very nice. Neither of them seemed to express any doubt in my abilities, especially after putting the first car on the truck.They let me load everything and strap half of everything. While loading Larry's rack, he handed me his phone. He said I had a very important phone call. It was his sister. Of course, I have never met Larry or his sister, but I soon learned that she has been hauling cars for 15 years. She seemed to be as excited about my transition into car-hauling, as I am. After a pleasant conversation, we exchanged numbers and I look forward to learning anything I can from her.

This is my first official car. A 2012 BMW X5. I finally feel like I am making progress. Although I do not have the complete instructions, it looks like I am heading to Louisville, KY this weekend to pick up my truck. Then it is off to Romulus, MI, where the official training program begins !!

Sep 7, 2011

Orientation: Day Two

Today was somewhat better, I suppose. Still have not loaded a car on a trailer yet. At least not in orientation. I have loaded numerous cars on other occasions.

The activities started immediately with watching cars being loaded. I am not here to watch,damn it. But the driver was not willing to risk my rookie status and feared damages, and because he is not actually a trainer, I don't blame him. However, that did not stop me from strapping cars, which I did of my own initiative. He watched for a few minutes, tempted to stop me, but obviously was impressed enough to let me continue.


So at this point, I have watched two drivers load trailers. One with 4 months experience, one with seven months. Upon returning from lunch, I struck gold and was tagging along with a 17 year veteran car-hauler.

The thing that amazes me and I am ever so grateful for is this. I know a few longterm car-haulers and they all give me respect for my endeavors. They are willing to give advice and tell me how to NOT screw up. The two rookies were more focused on showing me how badass they were. I have now met the guy who NEVER damages anything. This was told to me on numerous occasions. This was told to me while he was telling me wild stories of miraculous saves. This was told to me just before he loaded a car in a "pocket", raised the deck and marred the wheel. NEVER happened, I am sure (wink,wink).

Oh, I should probably mention that the other trainee... he never returned after lunch.

So, the boss promised he would talk to the drivers and make sure that I would get to load tomorrow. He also spent some time trying to convince me not to give up. Of course, I assure him that I was not leaving. It seems that there is a high turnover rate of new car-haulers. It is not for everyone....

Still convinced that I am going to absolutely love it !!!!

Sep 6, 2011

Orientation: Day One


What a day!

Okay, so my first day in orientation went a little something like this...

SITTING, sitting, SITTING, sitting, LUNCH, watch a guy load his trailer, and back to the motel!

Not really sure what I expected of today, but I was very disappointed. There is one other guy who is going through orientation with me, and I have to say that I don't think he is going to be successful. The first thing I noticed, he had no heart. Yeah, it is still trucking, but I have to love what I do or I will be miserable. I think I will love hauling cars even more than I did with the aluminum. On several occasions he mentioned to me that he was not even sure he wanted to do this, but was just looking for something different. In fact, I believe he said he had not even quit his current employer yet.

But enough about him...

After sitting the entire morning, a truck finally arrived and we were sent to soak up the primary aspects of loading cars by WATCHING this fella go to work. He was a very personable kind of guy and offered me his number if I had future questions. I was shocked to learn he only had 1 year OTR experience with an additional 7 months of hauling cars. I caught several "mistakes" he was making, but I kept my mouth shut. In essence, I learned nothing today.

In all, the day was very disappointing. I was eager to show off my aptitude, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. We load cars tomorrow!!

Oh yeah, I fly into Louisville, Ky this weekend to pick up my truck....

That is all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sep 5, 2011

My Sentiments Exactly

Monday, September 5th, 2011

I am currently sitting in a motel room in Duncan, South Carolina. Tomorrow I begin my epic journey in the transition of becoming a Car-Hauler.

I felt this was a pretty good time to give thanks.

One person has been solely responsible for my progress thus far. Considering that I am not too comfortable with making major changes in my life, I needed a good shove.

Not only did I get the shove I needed, but tons of support, advice and encouragement as well. I feel really good about the career move and feel so much gratitude towards this person.

I hope I make you proud!!! Thank you sooooooo much BCH

Sep 4, 2011

Unidentified Flying Object

I get a little behind in these posts....

So a few weeks ago, not really sure when, I was on my way to Atlanta to take the pre-employment drug screen and physical for my soon to be new employer. As a truck driver, my eyes are constantly scanning the road for hazards, whether it be motorists or debris. As a Mustang GT owner, my eyes are constantly scanning the road for hazards, whether it be motorists or debris...

I noticed some objects laying in the road a pretty good ways ahead, but since they were actually laying on the dotted line, I was not too worried about having to dodge them. I wont make that mistake again. Just as I was approaching said objects (metal) , the car beside me accelerates and proceeds to cut over in front of me. I saw his blinker come on and just knew he would wait until he passed the metal lying in the road. WRONG!! He barely made it passed me before intruding in my lane.

He crossed the lane making direct contact with the metal object. His rear tire collected the item and sent it flying into the air and directly into my bumper.  SMACK, crunch, bounce, scrap...... SIGH!!!!

My first thought was to check and see if the tires had been cut but the car continued to handle just fine. I made it to the clinic and decided to check out the damage...  Not what I wanted to see.

 The bumper has a hole through it, and the impact knocked out the turn signal light assembly. The front wheel was scarred and the back tire flattened.

The bright side of this little incident, is that I actually keep my cool throughout. I made my appointment for the pre-employment screening. I made the trip back from Atlanta and did not yell, cuss scream, or threaten to kill anybody.. Maybe, I am finally starting to get over all of that pent up rage and frustration accumulated during the past few years of my trucking career. Maybe??