Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

August 6th, 2013

On day six of their trip, Con-way Truckload’s Vice President of Human Resources, Bert Johnson and Truckload Professional Driver Frank Merrill drive from southern Georgia to West Memphis, Ark., and drop off a 22,000-pound load. The extra weight forces Frank to downshift going up hills and to watch his speed going down them. Bert begins to look forward to the ride home.

June 14, 2013

Got up with the rooster call, a little after 6 a.m. … the alarm actually went off twice … went in and brushed my teeth and used the facilities. Got coffee for Frank and me. When I came out Frank was doing his pre-trip. We looked at the map to determine if we could go around Atlanta on a different route, but the options are not good … we’ll have to take our chances with Atlanta traffic. Looked at Birmingham, Ala., and how to pick up Interstate 78. Frank has an ISX engine and prior to this trip, with light loads not exceeding 14,000 pounds, we did not have to downshift.

On this load of 22,000 pounds we had to downshift to make it up a hill … and not a major hill. Frank almost has a heart attack when a plane flies overhead and he sees the shadow on the ground coming at him … scared of his own shadow. We talked about accident prevention and accountability. Frank had a good suggestion to share with the Safety Department. The Atlanta bypass was awesome … no problems … took us about 30 minutes to get around it. Made a pit stop at the Alabama Welcome Center … just beat six school buses full of kids and adults. Back on the road again. Stopped to go to the restroom and take a quick break … back on the road.

We have had plenty of discussion about how drivers must maintain control of their vehicle at all times. Over speeds are a big deal … the driver has technically has lost control of the vehicle. I have observed Frank using the engine brake and/or the engine fan to reduce the speed on a downhill slope. Out of West Memphis, Interstate 65 is closed but ops hasn’t changed the practical mile plan to account for that. In Olive Garden just south of Memphis on our way to the customer.

Arrived at customer at 3:27 p.m. I noticed a Schneider trailer that has a sticker on the inside of the trailer, “DRIVER is this trailer CLEAN for our next customer ROAD READY for the next driver?” We continue to hear complaints from drivers that the last driver didn’t check the lights, it was dirty, tires had issues, etc. Just dropped our load and picked up an empty trailer. On our way to West Memphis for the night. Arrived West Memphis, Ark., dropped our empty trailer, parked, went inside to local to get our assignment for the a.m. … for the ride home. We went to Popeye’s (I have not had Popeye’s in a long time) for dinner and came back and took a shower. Frank did laundry. Sat out at the picnic tables and had conversations with drivers … specifically John and his wife (a new student), Frank and Aaron. Went into the terminal and introduced myself to Clark … he spoke about when he worked for MS Carriers years ago, where every driver had to get 2,800 miles per week and if they didn’t get those miles, the fleet manager had to write a report why. It is about accountability. He also talked about there are a lot of smart people around and that they should be listened to.

We drove 451 miles today in seven hours and 51 minutes. Played some solitaire and went to sleep. I am going home tomorrow.

August 2nd, 2013

On day five of their weeklong trek, Bert Johnson and Frank Merrill continue to meander across the Southeast, dropping off a load in McCrae, Ga., and picking one up with just a little time left to spare on their 14-hour clock.

June 13, 2013

At 12:32 a.m. we hear knocking on our door … don’t have tell you what they were looking for. Frank said get out of here. Up at 3:45 a.m. to get on the road … this life is sure good. Go to use the facilities, brush teeth and get coffee, but the place is closed. No coffee for Frank who really needs it or for me either. We need to pick up fuel in 92 miles. Well, we made it about 800 … everyone got their go-go juice … Frank and I got our coffee and the truck got fuel and DEF.

Now we are in rush hour traffic in Jacksonville, Fla. We have about three hours to go 155 miles. Sam called Frank to tell him that he upgraded to an OTR driver. Frank congratulated Sam and continued to offer support … Frank told him “call me if you have any questions except judgment calls. You are a full-fledged driver now.” Now once again we are in bumper to bumper traffic. Two accidents on the south bound lanes of Interstate 95 in Jacksonville … lots of rubberneckers. Free and clear now.

Agricultural inspection. Made it to consignee at the original delivery time. Directions to our delivery door are to turn at the Trucker’s Lounge (we thought the Trucker’s Lounge was the port-a-potty). Everyone (guards and us) got a good laugh over that. Frank backed the full trailer in and will pick up an empty. Just hooked to the new trailer … 25471, completed an inspection, raised the legs, and did our Form 13. Waiting for next load assignment. We have a little under six hours left on our drive line. Going to McCrae, Ga. for our next pick up which is 129 miles away. Sliding the tandems up.

Just had a conversation with another Truckload driver, Aaron, a driver that went through our student program. Leaving customer after trailer check at the guard shack. Trying to shave off miles from out trip … on U.S. Highway 280. Finally made it to customer early, once again. Still trying to figure out what’s going on with this shipper. We had to take the empty up to an empty trailer lot. When we arrived, we noticed four other trailers. We took an inventory, checked the condition and sent it to Equipment Control. We then went back to the company lot and picked up our loaded trailer and over an hour later we are finally back on the road. Our 14-hour clock is now ticking down to 3 hours and 2 minutes … how far will we get tonight? … the delivery must be made by 1 p.m. Friday.

We made it Exit 201 at the Flying J at 5:48, one of our earliest nights. Got to take my second shower … feel like a new person. Then we ate at Denny’s … had some more healthy food. We drove 527 miles today in nine hours and 48 minutes with only 47 minutes left on our 14. Need to get up early to make it to Memphis tomorrow. Well we just had a big storm come through … wind strong enough to make the truck move. We weathered the storm though. I realize that being in a truck when there is a severe storm is not a good place to be … Frank was concerned.

Checked some emails and was exhausted … for just sitting in a truck all day, I sure am tired.

July 24th, 2013

On day four of their trip, Con-way Truckload Vice President Bert Johnson and Professional Driver Frank Merrill overcome bad traffic, extensive road construction and questionable directions to make an on time delivery in Dale City, Fla. With the drop-off made, it’s off to the next pickup … in the 100-degree Florida heat.

June 12, 2013

Frank woke me up this morning at 5 a.m. … no rooster. Got up and went into the Pilot … brushed teeth, morning stuff, and coffee. Frank finally remembered to scan his paperwork also. We had to idle all night … temperature was over 80 all night. Used 3.3 gallons for 9.5 hours or 1/3 gallon per hour. We are looking good … when he hit eight days, we should have good hours to run … we have 42 hours left on our 70. Started rolling at 5:20 a.m. Central Daylight Time … mighty early … one of the first trucks out. Frank and I were discussing that we picked up this load nine hours after the initial pick up, yet expected to deliver it at the original time.

When asked whether the delivery time could be extended the answer returned was it has an appointment time and no. I wonder what our final dispatch speed will be. We really didn’t have time to do much else … eat, shower, etc. Here we are in a construction zone riding in the left lane as required. Trucks speeding by us on the right. Frank and I had quite the conversation relative to maintenance … will share that directly with the maintenance folks. Frank spends about $8,000/year on food if he has a refrigerator working and it would be higher … say $15,000 if he doesn’t … and this is out of their take home pay which is more than the average family. That’s a lot of money when you think that his family is spending money on food at the same time. I hadn’t thought about that previously. 8:40 a.m. and we have arrived in Florida … 188 miles to go … sitting pretty.

Another weigh station … this time, we have to wait to scale out. Window open, CB off so you can hear the speaker. We finally got a pass on the next agricultural inspection … green light. Traveling down the road, just witnessed a straight truck cut in front of an RV to get into the weight station … accident waiting to happen. Exited Interstate 75 … now the back road adventure begins. Ok, now we have road construction the last nine miles … barely enough room to stay in lane without hitting the ditch. Baby Schneiders everywhere. Just when we think we have figured it out, we get curve ball. The road to the customer is closed … now on a dirt road. So we go down this road and turn and turn and turn, still on a dirt road only to come to the customer and we can’t make the turn safely. We continue down the road and six miles later are able to turn around … Then we backtrack back to the customer and finally arrive two minutes before our appointment. We delivered to a chicken farm … good thing they were remodeling. Kudos to Frank once again … because a less skilled driver would have called for help. Several of our drivers have been here previously who should have updated the directions to make it considerably easier than what we had to experience. Finally unloaded after an hour and a half and ready for the next adventure (because it is a real adventure out here).

Frank made me sweep out the trailer for not using my three points of contact on the way out of the truck. Following our GPS to our next pick up by 5 p.m. … we don’t talk about the last 10 miles … you never know. It’s just nice to be on asphalt. So it took us two and a half hours to go 78 miles … great traffic … you should try it some time. We made it to Sonoco and Frank got to test his backing skills once again … squeezed it in between two trailers … and now we sit waiting to get loaded. Two and a half hours later we are finally loaded … 100 degrees outside … had to idle, nowhere to go and wait it out. Idling the entire time. One hour 16 minutes left on our 14 to drive … who knows where we will end up tonight. Well, we went around the corner to a Truck Stop because we would not have made it to another area to safely park and will need to get up once again at O Dark 30 … somewhere around 4:30 a.m. This was not your typical truck stop … a parking lot that was half paved and the rest looked like craters on the moon … yet there were lots of trucks there. In addition, we had to pay to park. Again, we hadn’t eaten all day and this place had a restaurant … we both got double cheeseburgers … they were great … and we had fries … again, not your ideal dinner, but the protein was great … that would hold us until the next evening.

We ran 423 miles. Our least productive day, burned our entire 14 hours and spent a great portion of the day at our customers. Total drive time was eight hours and 27 minutes.