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Thread: To anyone thinking of getting their CDL

  1. #1

    Default To anyone thinking of getting their CDL

    I'm a truck driver at the moment. In the past, I've been a journalist, an editor, a part-time photographer, and a slew of other quasi-creative office-oriented things.

    I say 'at the moment,' but it has been six years since I became a trucker. I would've gotten out of the industry long ago, but I got a union gig that paid obscene amounts of money. No, I'm not going to go into specifics; however, just for perspective, the top earner at our company made the combined income of 8 people I know. Really good money.

    Well, this April I was laid off. That's why I was on here making inane posts over the summer; it was something to do while I sat around on my ass collecting unemployment and waiting to go back to work.

    Well, my somewhat considerable savings dwindled over the course of six months (following a great summer), and so in November I went back to work for the company I started with 6 years ago. If you were wondering, they have obnoxious orange trucks, and the company's name rhymes with 'Shmiter.'

    Even in the three years since I was employed here, this company has drastically changed. You never got paid to do anything but drive, and I knew that going in. The difference was, before you would get 500- to 600-mile loads. That meant quite a bit of driving before you had to do the stuff you don't get paid for.

    The average load length has now plummeted to about 350 miles, now. All the longer runs go to Shmiter's teams, leaving solo drivers fighting over their scraps. It's just abysmal.

    You don't have to be a mathematician to see that Shmiter has roughly doubled the incidence of "stuff you do not get paid for," which makes the job absolutely insufferable.

    When I first became a trucker, I struggled with it. I mean...what would the folks at my local MENSA chapter think? lol While that wasn't quite on my mind (they understood anyway), I've long worried about being seen as a "dumb truck driver" who was trading away his life for a middling amount of money. Being at my union company, I stopped worrying. I made a great living.

    Being back at Shmiter now, I don't worry about it...but for a different reason. You would literally have to be an idiot to want to do this job for the money they pay. Extra chromosones would have to be involved.

    Shmiter envisions a day when the truck driver is truly just a steering wheel holder. They're implementing electronic log books so the "stupid trucker" margin of error is reduced. They're putting in GPS so stupid truckers won't need to read maps anymore. Just keep that truck movin', boy. Do it until you can't see straight anymore. When you keel over, we'll just hire someone else to hold the steering wheel.

    I'm not one of these cowboy truckers. I'm from Chicago, I loathe every truck driver I've ever met, and I have no interest in bragging about the size of my engine.

    All I want to do is warn you: if you think trucking is a good industry to make a quick buck in, that ship has sailed. There's a very real chance the union carrier I was working for will go under sometime next year. They were one of the last great trucking carriers. When they go under, the bottom feeders like Shmiter will rush in and try to under-bid their competitors for that new freight...and when you under-bid, you have to under-pay to compensate.

    As far as I can tell, unless something changes, this is essentially the death knell of the trucking industry. Don't even bother with that CDL, young'ns. There's no future in it.

  2. #2
    Peachy

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    What is a "CDL"? I figure the "DL" part doesn't stand for "diaper lover" but "driver's license", but what's the "C" for? The word "truck" doesn't start with a "C".

  3. #3

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    It stands for Commercial Driver's License. Here in the US you need a special kind of license to drive a truck.

  4. #4
    Peachy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ace View Post
    It stands for Commercial Driver's License. Here in the US you need a special kind of license to drive a truck.
    You need a special license here as well. Still, you can drive large vehicles privately too, i.e. you don't need to work as a truck driver to get or hold that license.

    Peachy

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by balancedchaos View Post
    but I got a union gig that paid obscene amounts of money.
    3 years of obscene amounts of money for me would be a bunch of investments, rental properties, and the like. At the very least I would've built up a buffer to last more than 6 months of unemployment. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, I guess. Your situation may be different, though.

    I've got a CDL-A, and a NH CBL, but currently I'm doing better than I would behind the wheel (of a truck or boat) just working a desk job. I know that annual wages have decreased drastically in the 5-10 years, but also know that wages were insanely inflated prior, and trying to maintain that pay scale has put all the good (like your former employer) trucking companies out of business. Times change.

    That said, I'm quite friendly with both the long, and short haul truckers that come into my work, and they're still making good money for what they do. Both the BlueLinx and Quikrete guys are making close to $30/hour, work 5-6 days a week, and are home every night. That's $60,000/year for driving a truck, not including benes. The long haul guys make even more.

    That is not bad pay for the work involved, and at least in this area, there is plenty of work to be had. The local papers are littered with ads for CDL drivers for daily haul jobs that pay $20+ an hour for anyone walking in off the street... With benefits. For the job done, that is a great wage.

    If I owned Schneider, Mayflower, Swift, Estes, Con-Way, etc., I'd be implementing technology as it becomes cost effective as well. Why wouldn't a multimillion dollar company want to have the ability to pinpoint exactly where every bit of cargo was at any given second? It's a godsend from a logistics standpoint, and efficiency affects their bottom line. The company I work for is willing to pay for the ability to know exactly where that customer's order is, and exactly when it will arrive, and the trucking companies need to provide that service to be competitive and make money... To pay their drivers.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by NEJay View Post
    3 years of obscene amounts of money for me would be a bunch of investments, rental properties, and the like. At the very least I would've built up a buffer to last more than 6 months of unemployment. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, I guess. Your situation may be different, though.

    I've got a CDL-A, and a NH CBL, but currently I'm doing better than I would behind the wheel (of a truck or boat) just working a desk job. I know that annual wages have decreased drastically in the 5-10 years, but also know that wages were insanely inflated prior, and trying to maintain that pay scale has put all the good (like your former employer) trucking companies out of business. Times change.

    That said, I'm quite friendly with both the long, and short haul truckers that come into my work, and they're still making good money for what they do. Both the BlueLinx and Quikrete guys are making close to $30/hour, work 5-6 days a week, and are home every night. That's $60,000/year for driving a truck, not including benes. The long haul guys make even more.

    That is not bad pay for the work involved, and at least in this area, there is plenty of work to be had. The local papers are littered with ads for CDL drivers for daily haul jobs that pay $20+ an hour for anyone walking in off the street... With benefits. For the job done, that is a great wage.

    If I owned Schneider, Mayflower, Swift, Estes, Con-Way, etc., I'd be implementing technology as it becomes cost effective as well. Why wouldn't a multimillion dollar company want to have the ability to pinpoint exactly where every bit of cargo was at any given second? It's a godsend from a logistics standpoint, and efficiency affects their bottom line. The company I work for is willing to pay for the ability to know exactly where that customer's order is, and exactly when it will arrive, and the trucking companies need to provide that service to be competitive and make money... To pay their drivers.
    The problem is I live in Chicago, and for some reason they consider my city (which has some of the most treacherous roads, docks and overpasses) the midwest. National carriers don't pay a driver who lives in Chicago like they do one who lives on the east coast.

    All's well that ends well, though. I went on a job interview today, and it looks like I'm going to get into a local gig that pays $20 an hour, and I get to be home every night. A guaranteed 55 hours a week with time and a half after 40.

    It's not glamorous (I was making about $35 an hour with my old carrier), but it will get the job done until my gurl gets out of nursing school. That's happy. Once we get the house paid down, I can go back to school. Yay.

    So...apparently I need to bitch on fetish-related message boards to get anything done for myself karma-wise.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by balancedchaos View Post
    All's well that ends well, though. I went on a job interview today, and it looks like I'm going to get into a local gig that pays $20 an hour, and I get to be home every night. A guaranteed 55 hours a week with time and a half after 40.
    $65,000/year is not bad at all. Aside from 55 hrs of driving, what will be your other duties? Most of my guys make about that and only drive, back up to docks, and sometimes help pull things to the dock plate.

    Best of luck with the interview process.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by NEJay View Post
    $65,000/year is not bad at all. Aside from 55 hrs of driving, what will be your other duties? Most of my guys make about that and only drive, back up to docks, and sometimes help pull things to the dock plate.

    Best of luck with the interview process.
    It's flat bed work hauling steel coils. Chaining and the like but I'm not worried about that. After 6-plus months of being laid off, I'm a little softer than I should be.

    It's 55 hours on the clock, not necessarily all driving. A good portion of it will be just sitting around. lol

    It's a good job. If it's good enough, I may not go back to my union gig. I miss my gurl when I'm away on the road.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by balancedchaos View Post
    It's flat bed work hauling steel coils. Chaining and the like but I'm not worried about that.
    sounds like fun; can i play?
    i got my FLT and, without boasting, i could be the best you've ever seen. i'm also better than most drivers with the big n' bendy wagons, though i don't have a licence. how did you get your licence, by the way?
    oh, i can rope, too

  10. #10

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    Oh man no wonder you were bitter schnider is the 2nd worst carrier out there the first being England (not the country, just the cheap bastard trucking company by the same name).

    My brother tried Colonial FS but they have an exclusive L O/O program that left him with about 100 bucks a week. When he had enough we were very tempted spike the engine before he turned it in, but pussed out in the end.

    Best lines out there are ROEHL (pronounced "RAIL") Fed-EX custom critical, Anything government and a few smaller guys like Maverick and STS.

    Ya If I ever go out on the road you can be sure that the only orange I will have is on my safety vest.

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