First Runs

BigRed32771

Expert Expediter
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Thought I'd post an account of our official introduction to expediting. Picked up our truck in Columbus OH on Jan 28th and headed for Green OH where we would be doing our orientation for FedEx CC. I misremembered the exit for the motel, and wound up getting off one exit farther down the road than I should have. Went looking for a motel that wasn't there, and found myself driving down a narrow road with residential driveways plowed in the snow on each side. Finally found a school where I could drive through the parking lot and turn back. Went the other way through the interchange, still looking for the motel that wasn't there. Wound up pulling into a side street to stop and dig out the directions to where I was going. Two miles back up I77. Great! Now how do I back out of this side street when traffic is constant. Fortunately, a lady came down the street, rolled down her window and told me there was a cul-de-sac at the top of the hill where I could turn around. That made it lots easier, and soon we were pulling into the motel where we stayed for 6 nights. Met another couple in for orientation, and we wound up walking to dinner as snow began falling. By the time we got finished eating, snow was a couple of inches deep. The motel had a courtesy van, but it was on a run and wouldn't be back for about 20 minutes, so we walked back about 10 minutes and told them to cancel our pickup at the restaurant. Snow was a pleasant change for us, coming from Florida.

Several days later, snow as getting old. Finally warmed up a bit, and ground thawed to muck. It all came rushing back as I remembered why I live in Florida. We cleared orientation and went back to Columbus to have a few little things on the truck looked at (losing coolant around some loose fittings from Proheat installation apparently). Overnighted in Columbus and then on Friday Feb 4th got our first load, going from Marysville OH area to Charlottesville VA for a Monday AM delivery. We took turns driving till we got to Hurricane WV where we stopped for the night, then drove the rest of the way into Charlottesville on Saturday. I wanted to scope out the delivery spot so we went in search thereof, wife driving. Blew past the turn spot, so went searching for a place to turn around. Cleverly thinking that a couple of parallel one-way streets in old downtown would get us moving in the right direction, I managed to direct us into a dead-end of brick streets where we had to back up enough to get turned around. Found our delivery spot finally. Sunday we took the day and went to Monticello. Narrow twisty road up the mountainside to get there, and we were told that the road went under a bridge. Concerned about clearance, we asked how high it was. No one seemed to know, so true to Southern Hospitality, they sent someone out to measure. In case you ever want to go, it's about 15'. Actually, it's a fairly new bridge, and designed so that (God forbid) two semi's can pass underneath it. Our big Class 8 expediter looked impressive sitting in the lot at Monticello; I offered 20 bucks if they'd let me drive it up the road used by the shuttle bus and take a picture right in front of the house, but no dice. Delivery on Monday went well, and dispatch recommended Lynchburg as a good place to wait for another load.

Sixty-someodd miles down the road at Lynchburg we got offered a load out of Pittsburg PA going to Kansas City for nearly $1700. Jumped all over that, and we headed back up the road from Lynchburg to Charlottesville to catch I64 west a ways. Got about 10 more miles and the Qualcomm beeped with a message saying the load had cancelled. No doubt someone closer and cheaper than FedEx CC and my truck had underbid my job. Got $124 for my trouble on that load, and dispatch wanted us to go back to Lynchburg. I had already figured out that there was not really a good place to hang out in Lynchburg so I opted to go to Roanoke. Was advised that Lynchburg was closer, but pointed out that by the time I went another 10 miles up I64 to find a place to turn around and go back 20 miles or so to Charlottesville and then 60 more miles back to L'burg, it was about a wash. GPS tends to evaluate things crow-fly, and that doesn't work in that part of the country very often. A few minutes later Q'comm beeped wanting to know if we had panic buttons and knew how to use them. I said, yeah, just push the red button, right? Dispatcher replied sort of and offered a load. Pretty crappy load offer, though. Wanted me to deadhead from western VA to Elizabethtown NJ, pick up a load at 0630 Tuesday morning and deliver it into Brooklyn at 0830, complete with armed guard, and all for a little over $400. Deadhead was nearly 400 miles and load another 40 or so; numbers didn't add up for going into that part of the country and fighting rush hour traffic, so we turned it down. Found out later that two other trucks closer than us had turned it down already, so felt better about it. Pulled into TA at Roanoke and settled down for the night.

Tuesday ran into several drivers for FECC who had been sitting a couple of days there at the TA. Two tractor-trailers pulled out looking to relocate, and another D-unit pulled in and parked right next to us. Turns out he'd been sitting for a day over in Lynchburg and got tired of it so he relocated to Roanoke. About an hour later we got dispatched to go to Lynchburg and pick up a load to deliver the next morning in Pearl River NY (just north of NJ state line). Didn't have to tell the other driver I was going to L'burg as he was in the TA at the time. Another D-unit pulled in as we pulled out. Got our load and headed for the northeast corridor. The wife got to drive through rush hour in Washington DC; good practice for her to use the clutch on that semi-automatic transmission. Somewhere along the way got offered a predispatch for the next day to move a temperature controlled load from one side of Newark to the other for a fair price, so we took that, too. Got to our delivery spot about 2AM, had to wait till the gate opened at 6. Finally found the right place in complex to deliver and no one there till about 7. Pulled out about 8 looking for a place to grab a bite and take a leak. Pulled over about 8:30 looking for a way to turn around and go back the way we'd come. Pulled over about 9 AM thinking that no one in their right mind would voluntarily live in the New York City metropolitan area, but felt better after an Egg Mac and a pee. Arrived early for our pickup and had to wait, finally got in, got loaded and got out. After only brief frustration, found nice ladies in parking lot who told me how to get to the road I wanted; began to suspect that directions from company weren't all they could be. Drove through downtown Newark and eventually found delivery spot way out in Boondocks somewhere. Decided we'd had enough for the day and deadheaded back to the Philadelphia area where there's a nice TA only about 10 minutes from my brother-in-law's house. Had dinner and some family time with them that evening, and then turned in.

Wed AM got dispatched for a load out of Owings Mills MD going into Canada. We had hoped to avoid visiting our good neighbors to the north for awhile, but took the load. Scheduled for an 8PM pickup, it was finally loaded and we were ready to leave about 10:30pm. Headed across PA and NY towards Buffalo where we hit the Ft. Erie customs. Paperwork wasn't ready due to confusion about who was doing what in the middle of the night, and since we didn't have plates yet on our truck we seemed perfect candidate for inspection. They wanted me to open the back and leave it till they were ready to inspect, but I refused. Explained it was a temperature controlled load and that I'd be happy to open it when they were ready to inspect but not before. Even so, they still had the box open for nearly an hour while they sniffed our panties. Alarms were screaming and Q'comm beeping wanting to know what the problem with our temperature was; sent a reply blaming customs and we went on. Three hours later we were off-loaded and back at US Customs. Apparently not knowing what to do with a truck without a plate, the customs guy just made me open the back so he could look in, which he did from about 30 feet away before waving me on my way. I asked if I owed him 5 bucks or something and he said no, just move on. We decided to take the afternoon and visit Niagra Falls, so went in search of lunch (first meal since breakfast the day before) and the falls. Pretty cool, both figuratively and literally; we soon were coated in ice from the freezing mist coming off the falls. Leaving the falls we were following what had been indicated as the "truck route" to I190 when we were suddenly faced with a 12'6" clearance sign. A quick turnaround sent us in search of another route, and eventually we got to a truckstop where we spent the night.

Woke up Saturday AM to about 3 inches of snow on the ground. Another FECC D-unit was in the lot, and they pulled over next to us to chat. Turns out they had been the truck pulling in at Roanoke on Tuesday as we had been pulling out. We got a dispatch for a load out of Jamestown NY with a pickup at 0600 on Sunday, so we pulled out and headed west. Driving through Chatauquah had a chance to see people fishing out on the frozen lake. Very picturesque from inside our heated truck cab. Found our pickup location, then went in search of a place to overnight. Took in a movie (Phantom of the Opera) that evening before parking and sleeping in a TSC parking lot (Wal-Mart had refused us permission to stay in their lot due to impending construction to expand their store into a "Supercenter").

Picked up our load early Sunday AM and headed for Nashville for an early Monday AM delivery. Really enjoyed the warming temperature as we moved south. Got all excited as we passed through Louisville as I had lived there back nearly 30 years ago and I264 goes right through my old stomping grounds (hadn't been there in nearly 25 years). Got into a slow crawl on I65 down around Cave City exit, continued to creep until we passed the wreckage of a semi that had left the road and slammed into a rock cliff (word was the driver had been a fatality). Wife was really bummed by that. Stopped at Franklin KY for the night, then got up and drove in the rest of the way the next morning. Made our delivery at the Peterbilt plant first thing. Dispatch suggested that our best two choices for layover to wait for a load was Columbus OH and Columbus OH. I thought a 350 mile deadhead to wait for a load was a bit much so we elected to stay in Nashville. Apparently, so had a lot of other drivers. Ran into an E-unit at the downtown TA, and he said he'd been there since Friday. I think he accepted a relocate, though, as he pulled out a little later. He also did say that he had turned down several loads as being too little pay to justify taking them. Saw our first lot lizards and got solicited for handouts from the bums coming across the street from the Salvation Army dorm while we were sitting at that TA. We had been waiting for a call from wife's son to tell us that the paperwork for our apportioned baseplate had arrived so that we could send a payment, and while we were at the TA there in Nashville, he called. He also said that we had to sign the paperwork to send in. After scratching heads for awhile we decided that we could relocate to Huntsville AL where the wife has another brother living and have paperwork sent to us there. Of course, it was too late to get it sent out that day, so it would not get to us till Wednesday. Nothing for it, though, so we told step-son to send it to Huntsville and we'd be there waiting for it. Pulled out and headed farther south.

Tuesday decided to take advantage of being "stuck" in Huntsville and visit the railroad museum there. During our one previous visit we had found that it was closed on Mondays; we found this out by trying to visit it on a Monday. Since this was Tuesday this time, we thought things would go well, but found that they were closed the entire month of February (and would only be open Wed-Sun in March). Oh, well. Got a call that day from wife's best friend telling her that friends mom had passed away quite unexpectedly on Sunday evening. Wife was very upset, since friend's mom had been her "second mom." If call had come before we had locked in plans to wait for critical paperwork in Huntsville, we'd probably have just headed for home so wife could be with friend, but we were committed at that point. Spent all day at brother-in-law's on Wednesday waiting for paperwork (we had gotten the money order already on Tuesday since we knew the amount); it finally arrived at 6PM, too late to do anything with that day. Thursday AM we overnighted it to Florida and put ourselves available. Found a nice spot across the street from a Dairy Queen (DQ) where we could hang out and wait. About 6 PM we called brother-in-law and asked if we could take them to dinner since we were still there and Friday was his birthday. Did so, and then spent another night parked in his driveway. Friday AM went back to DQ to wait. Friday afternoon checked with dispatch to see if there was a better place to layover. Was told Huntsville wasn't bad place to be (despite something like 6 D-units showing in the area) but that if we wanted to relocate we could move to Greensboro NC after 6 PM. We elected to stay another day, but didn't go back to brother-in-law's. Camped out overnight in lot at Wal-Mart Supercenter. Saturday AM we were still considering options when my best friend called and told me his mother-in-law had died sometime in the previous couple of days (just found on Friday), and that they were heading home to Orlando. Since we needed to be home in less than a week for a wedding, and since two close friends had just lost mothers that week, we decided to bag it early and deadhead home. Checked with some drivers on CB about best way to get from Huntsville to I20 toward Atlanta and headed south on US231. Overnighted at the TA in Cordele GA, and made it on in Sunday PM.

Monday got offered a load from Orlando to Destin FL in the panhandle, and I accepted it before I really thought it through. Without a return load the deadhead back home brought the pay for the run down to a level I wouldn't have accepted if I'd thought about it. Didn't even get to see much of Destin, because we got in late and when we did our delivery in the early AM Tuesday it was so foggy we couldn't see much on our way out of town. Got back home Tuesday PM in time for a funeral on Wed afternoon. Wedding went off on Saturday okay, and we've spent the week getting caught up on some stuff around here that needed doing. Plans now are to put ourselves back on the board on Monday and take the first load we can get and just keep going. We plan to be out about 6 or 7 weeks (unless by chance we get a load that runs us through here, in which case we may take a day or two off to sleep in our "regular bed" before hitting the road again).

We've learned a lot so far, though it's clear to us that we've a lot more to learn about this career choice we've made. Overall, though, we've been enjoying ourselves and are satisfied that we've made a good choice.

Take care.

Doug
 

ATeam

Senior Member
Retired Expediter
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Thank you for sharing. This is very interesting and informative reading for those that are a few weeks behind you....i.e. getting ready to jump in themselves. You've done them a service by sharing your early experiences as you have. It's entertaining reading too. Takes us back to our first days in the business. Nicely done!
 

FireGears

Expert Expediter
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I enjoyed reading your post.
Your honest portrayal was very refreshing.
Thanks for sharing your adventures with us..!!!

Be Safe.!!!

FireGears - wishing you and yours Happy Trails
 

ATeam

Senior Member
Retired Expediter
Offline
>
>Sixty-someodd miles down the road at Lynchburg we got
>offered a load out of Pittsburg PA going to Kansas City for
>nearly $1700. Jumped all over that, and we headed back up
>the road from Lynchburg to Charlottesville to catch I64 west
>a ways. Got about 10 more miles and the Qualcomm beeped
>with a message saying the load had cancelled. No doubt
>someone closer and cheaper than FedEx CC and my truck had
>underbid my job.

That is a possibility. It's also possible that the freight simply would not be ready on time or that the shipper changed his or her mind about the schedule, or that the freight was no longer needed at the other end because other arrangements have been made...or that, or that, or that.... Canceled runs happen every once in a while. You learn to roll with the punches.

We've been delayed at shippers because the shipper's building was on fire when we arrived. We once had a load cancel because they could not find their freight when we arrived. We've had cancelations because the shipper or receiver worried that he or she might have to stay two minutes after quitting time to deal with the load.

Our worst cancelation day ever was a snowy day in New England where we ran on THREE loads in a row, all on the same day, all of which canceled. GRRRRRRR! But the next day we got a good run and the bad day quickly faded into the story-telling archives.

>Tuesday ran into several drivers for FECC who had been
>sitting a couple of days there at the TA.

That's one of the things we immediately enjoyed and continue to enjoy about running with FedEx CC. There are a lot of FedEx CC trucks out there. It's fun to meet and visit with colleagues on the road. Don't be afraid to ask for truck tours. Most people are happy to show off their trucks and you can learn a lot by seeing how they have their cabs and freight boxes set up.

About an hour later we
>got dispatched to go to Lynchburg and pick up a load to
>deliver the next morning in Pearl River NY (just north of NJ
>state line). Didn't have to tell the other driver I was
>going to L'burg as he was in the TA at the time. Another
>D-unit pulled in as we pulled out. Got our load and headed
>for the northeast corridor. The wife got to drive through
>rush hour in Washington DC; good practice for her to use the
>clutch on that semi-automatic transmission. Somewhere along
>the way got offered a predispatch for the next day to move a
>temperature controlled load from one side of Newark to the
>other for a fair price, so we took that, too. Got to our
>delivery spot about 2AM, had to wait till the gate opened at
>6. Finally found the right place in complex to deliver and
>no one there till about 7. Pulled out about 8 looking for a
>place to grab a bite and take a leak. Pulled over about
>8:30 looking for a way to turn around and go back the way
>we'd come. Pulled over about 9 AM thinking that no one in
>their right mind would voluntarily live in the New York City
>metropolitan area, but felt better after an Egg Mac and a
>pee.

Bravo! Bravo! You did not let the New York City area scare you off! You rose to the challenge! As brand new drivers, you got in and out OK. Good job! There's a lot of great freight there. You will be well served by your choices in the future.

>Wed AM got dispatched for a load out of Owings Mills MD
>going into Canada.

Wow! New York City and then the Canadian border! You two are leaning into it, that's for sure!

>
>We've learned a lot so far, though it's clear to us that
>we've a lot more to learn about this career choice we've
>made. Overall, though, we've been enjoying ourselves and
>are satisfied that we've made a good choice.
>

You are off to a great start! In just a short time you have taken on some of the tougher challenges of the job, worked in family time, made tourism attempts, hauled some good loads, and developed an eye for things like good stopping places and low bridges.

Very impressive! Great job!
 

Stranded

Expert Expediter
Offline
Sounds like a interesting adventure but without giving aexact amount, did you make any money? If you dont mind me asking, how many miles did you actually run all together including deadhead.?
I am probably missing something but it sounds like more than 50% of dead head.
 

BigRed32771

Expert Expediter
Offline
>Sounds like a interesting adventure but without giving
>aexact amount, did you make any money? If you dont mind me
>asking, how many miles did you actually run all together
>including deadhead.?
>I am probably missing something but it sounds like more than
>50% of dead head.

I'd have to sit down with our trip log and do some addition to get the figure. You may well, be right, especially since we effectively deadheaded all the way to Orlando from Nashville and then turned around and deadheaded back to Orlando from Destin (near Pensacola).

This reflects a series of events that led us to come home early, and then taking a load to Destin without giving it adequate thought first. About this latter point, we had decided that we wanted to be available to take local/regional work while home on break...short and/or solo hops to put some cash in the box if you will. Having decided to do that, we took the first offer that came along that fit our time schedule, and only later really analyzed the cost/benefit of the load. After consideration, we now know that we wouldn't take such a load again and why. I consider this part of the learning process. A shorter hop, for more pay, and especially one with a return haul would have made it worthwhile. As it was, it wasn't worth doing other than to establish our bonifides with FECC that we are serious about working. If, on the other hand, we had been ready to return to work after a break, it would have been a good load, as we would then have gone either to Mobile or Dothan to layover and wait for another offer.

Overall, to answer your question about making money, the answer is no, we didn't make money on the first couple of weeks we were out. We had overhead in getting to the truck, had several days of expenses when we weren't working, and then came home early and at our own expense. I had planned for this, though, and had money set aside to cover expenses while we were gearing up and getting established. Next time out we'll be in service more, use better judgement about accepting loads, and be more focused on the bottom line than on figuring out just what the hell we were doing like the first time out.

Doug
 

rollingstock

Expert Expediter
Offline
Good stuff there Doug,

I am considering a cargo van. even though the two are vastly different, the principle is the same. Thanks for your post. It really helps me more than you will ever know.

Thanks
Bob;)
 

davekc

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Fleet Owner
Offline
Sounds like some interesting experiences. I as well would be very careful on your deadhead. Seems quite high based on your post. In fact you may have been way over 50% if you had deadheaded to Ohio from TN. Certainly can't be much profit in that line of thinking. You were smart not to do that.
Davekc
owner
20 years
 

larrybadger

Expert Expediter
Offline
“<snip>...Charlottesville VA for a Monday AM delivery. We took turns driving till we got to Hurricane WV where we stopped for the night, then drove the rest of the way into Charlottesville on Saturday. I wanted to scope out the delivery spot so we went in search thereof, wife driving. Blew past the turn spot, so went searching for a place to turn around. Cleverly thinking that a couple of parallel one-way streets in old downtown would get us moving in the right direction, I managed to direct us into a dead-end of brick streets where we had to back up enough to get turned around. Found our delivery spot finally.”

BigRed,
Having lived in Charlottesville for over 2 years while my wife attended the University Of Virginia School Of Law, I can say I completely understand your description of the downtown area. My wife worked at the Legal Aid there in the summer between semesters, the office was right downtown on the mall in the general area you described. We had much fun getting accustomed to the streets; including the one-way streets you encountered. We kept finding ourselves trying to get on one of those little side streets by driving up to the road that circles downtown, but when we did that it always seemed to be going in the opposite direction! By the way, if you ever have to make a delivery around campus area, beware of the bridge on Emmett (Rte.29) near University Hall (U-Hall). Cannot tell the number of times I have seen a semi have to turn around in that small area because of the low overhead. We lived in family housing about one block away from it, used to cringe every time I heard a semi going in that direction if I didn’t see them turn up Massie St. to avoid it. One time it happened on a Saturday during football season; trust me if you do not know, but the traffic in the city and especially the University grounds is atrocious two hours before and after a game, and adding the semi into the mix was NOT a pretty site.


Larry Badger
Plainwell, Michigan
Future expediting company driver
Stay-at-home Dad, 2000-
25 years self-employed in landscaping business
 
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