Friday, April 25, 2014

Trucking in Springtime

Just a quick post since I hadn't put anything up for a few weeks again.

I do love this time of year, the flowers along the road give color and contrast to our other wise drab existence.

I have been noticing some realy unprofessional driving out here these last few weeks. Come on guys and gals you hate the hours of service regs but don't you realize it has been our unprofessional behavior that brought it on. Tailgating is stupid yet I see you all doing it every day, so is passing when you can only go 1 mi per hr. faster than the guy in front of you.

Oh and to the flatbed guy that doesn't like refers parking next to him in Little Rock, Ak., Petro, easy to solve don't park at a truck stop, park at your yard and stay there. You like to eat, reefers get it to your store without spoilege.

Well loaded and ready to roll so keep the rubber side down till next time.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Dealing with Family Emergencies

Hi all' been a few weeks since I wrote last because I had to deal with a family member emergency and while I did have some time to write I just couldn't get my mind around to it.

Family emergencies are in fact one of the biggest problems truck drivers have on the road. Life is filled with all kinds of surprises but one of the worst is medical situations.

The picture above is of my wife's arm on Sunday morning after the dressing had been removed. She had had an emergency procedure to remove blood clots from a vein after a scheduled procedure to reopen stents in her chest that had closed. I had to schedule some time off for the initial surgery and then the following day we had to return to the hospital for more test as she began to experience coldness in her hand. To make a long story short I went home on the friday before her scheduled surgery and will be returning tomorrow (tuesday) 10 days later. Not a problem says the employer, most are understanding. But, what about when something unplanned happens while you are on the road?

What happens when an accident occurs with your wife or child and you are a thousand miles from home under dispatch? What happens if there is a sudden unexpected death in the family? What happens if you are suddenly taken sick or have a heart attack?

It happens.

I personally, had the experience of my step-daughter die while I was 250 miles away delivering a load. You will have to get and read my book for that story.

Most employers are really great about working with you when there is an emergency at home. I have heard a few horror stories where the employer was a real SOB, but I suspect it had more to do with the lack of professionalism on the drivers part than any truly cavalier attitude on the employers part. Remember, you agreed to do a job, it is assumed you know the difficulties in scheduling and the liabilities involved in doing your job. Sometimes it just isn't possible for the employer to allow you to immediately duck out and go take care of things at home, thats when your professionalism matters most.

Like everything in life emergencies at home must be prioritized. The flooded basement does not take as high a priority as an accident with injuries. The death of Grandma doesn't rate as high as a child being admitted to the hospital with an unknown illness. While setting these kinds of priorities for yourself will help to keep you level headed when the unexpected happens, you may have fall out with your spouse or other family members.My wife still hurts 13 years after the fact, that it took five hours of her dealing with her grief alone after losing her daughter for me to be by her side.

I think it is important that we try to have a discussion with our loved ones about this very real problem and try to have some kind of understanding of what can be done and what expectations are realistic when there is an emergency.

Make sure your family members know who you work for, what truck you're assigned to, who your dispatcher is and any after hours phone numbers they may need in order to get a hold of you in an emergency, don't rely on your cell phone alone, coverage is still spotty in many areas.

And if you really want to be prepared set up an emergency fund that will cover an airplane flight from anywhere in the country as well as enough money to pay your bills for at least three months.

Well, as always, keep the rubber side down and may God bless you

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dispatchers - Angels or Demons?

Hi all, havn't been writing much lately since with this new company I don't sit very often. I Love it.

I have been thinking about dispatchers since so far the dispatchers I have had with this new outfit have been wonderful. Problems are addressed quickly, dispatches are nearly simultaneous with empty calls, and all have been thoughtful and respectful. Without a doubt this is the best crew I have worked with in my 20 years of driving.

So, why write about dispatchers on a trucker health blog? Answer, it's hard to want to eat right when your pissed off, that chocolate bar is just the thing to take the edge off, right.

Dispatchers can make life heaven or hell for us out here on the road. They can ignore us, leaving us to hang out at the truck stop when we would rather be working. They can want us to work when we have asked for time off. They can wake us from a dead sleep with dumb questions. They can put us on runs that will make sure we can't get home for that ball game or anniversary we told them about last week. Yes, dispatchers can make life Hell.

I have heard and experienced many horror stories regarding dispatchers. I had one dispatcher that would always deadhead me back to the yard after every load knowing full well that I got paid on loaded miles only, his reasoning "You make more money this way", I had one thing to say to that BULL###T! It didn't take long to straighten him out when I got to talk to the owner.

In listening to many of the horror stories I began to see a come thread. Yes, there are bad dispatchers, no doubt, but are you a good driver? Do you take every load that you can do legally? And if you can't take it are you respectful in your response? Do you inform your dispatcher in plenty of time when you want home time? Do you give respectful reminders concerning home time? Are you argumentative or are you respectful at all times? Are you considerate of the dispatchers time or are you chatty, telling war stories instead of business? When there is a problem do you call with an angry or hostile tone? In nearly all the war stories I have heard the driver had not been professional; at some point he had become hostile or belligerent, forgetting his manners and demanding his way.

Yes it's true we are the backbone of this industry, without us trucks don't roll and dispatchers don't have a job, but, they are people too, with feelings and problems just like the rest of us, so bottom line, if you want your life behind the wheel to be a good one, then treat your dispatcher with the dignity and respect that a professional gives. And if they are still A**holes then talk to someone over there head about changing dispatchers if that don't work, then there is always the next job.

Keep the rubber side down

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