Friday, June 08, 2012

It's No E-Z Pass

Some people think becoming a trucker is as easy as going to trucking school, getting your CDL, finding a company to work for, getting behind the wheel and keeping the rubber on the road. In many cases, it is that easy. Almost too easy I think, considering some of the drivers you come across out here. You’ve heard of puppy mills? Well, there are CDL mills too. Often, any old schlep off the street can get a license to drive a truck, and just like the sign above these toll booths, they can get it "on sale" for cash.

But if you’re looking to make trucking a career, you might want to consider what you have to do to get into the specialty areas. In some cases, the qualifications to do certain trucking jobs are specific, like when you haul for government contractors, move specialized freight like windmills, transport hazardous materials, or do what Ed and I have been looking into, A&E freight. To do these jobs you often have to jump through hoops, maybe even unearth a few skeletons to even be considered.

Take A & E, which stands for Ammunition and Explosives for those of you not in the industry; in order to haul this sensitive freight, you need to be vetted. In addition to doing an extensive background check – the application alone is 130 pages long – they also do a credit check. I suppose the reasoning behind that is, they want to make sure you’re not so desperate for money that you're going to be selling high-security bomb making materials to undesirables. Ironically, these credit checks tend to weed out the undesirables in our very own industry, which make it better for serious minded individuals to take those jobs.

Ed and I have excellent credit, way up there in the seven hundreds, so we’re not too worried about them checking our credit reports, but it does concern us a bit that it’s even necessary. We have exemplary driving records, and with a 130-page background check in their hands, I don’t really see why it’s necessary for them to know how or what we spend. Unfortunately, opting out can eliminate us from being considered for what some consider to be an “elite” force of drivers.

One of the best ways to get prepared for this kind of scrutiny, is to know what your credit report looks like. Fortunately, companies like Equifax, TransUnion and
Experian, the top three, make it easy. And all of them participate in websites that offer yearly credit reports for free, which is something they're required to do by law. Arming yourself with these reports make it easy to keep on top of things and monitor your own credit; this can benefit you in more ways than just passing muster for a job.

If your employer is requesting a copy of your credit report as a condition of hire, you should know your rights - check out the
Federal Trade Commission website - they're responsible for enforcing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is a law that protects the privacy and accuracy of the information in your credit report. By keeping up on its contents, you can be confident that an erroneous error wasn’t the reason you were disqualified for a position you applied for.

Of course, that may leave you to wonder what was the reason you didn’t get the job. I think I'd prefer being rejected because I was late on my Sears bill than to know a potential employer didn’t like my personality, what I was wearing, or my answer to the insipid “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question.

But let’s get back to the credit check for a minute.

Back in 2010, the author of
this New York Times article wrote, “researchers say there is no evidence showing that people with weak credit are more likely to be bad employees or to steal from their bosses”. My thoughts exactly. But for what we want to do, it's a necessary evil, regardless of what we think.

Sure, there are losers in every profession, and many of them you can peg right off the bat; others, like Bernie Madoff, blend. In the article, he was used as an example of someone who had a good credit rating, yet did bad things. The point is you just never know.

But I can tell you right now, most owner-operators like us aren’t going to put our hard-earned money into a $250,000.00 rig, and bust our asses day after day, just so we can drive off with
nuclear power plant components, submarine parts, or a $5 million dollar aircraft engine.

Seriously, where do they think we're going to get rid of these things? E-bay??

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
They’re Not As Loud When They’re Relaxing
2010: Sorry, no post on this day.
2009: Sorry, no post on this day.
Post-Tornado Sky
2007: Eddie Ooh Rah Friday
2006: The Human Jeweler
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.


Dave Sanderson said...

E-Bay comeon the real crooks use Craig's List Dahhh.

Anonymous said...

well Salena, i would think if anyone would be qualified for those contract hauls, it would be you and guys always conduct yourselves as professionals, have the experience, know how and drive.
Have you guys ever hauled tankers? or would you ever consider that?how would that compare pay wise to flatbed..
Keep us posted on your progress and good luck with it..

ELH said...

sorry i hit annom ny mistakr..

The Daily Rant said...

DAVE: Good idea! LOL

ELH: Thanks for the compliment - we try! We've never hauled tankers and we just recently talked about this...we don't know that we'd want to. A) I wouldn't want to haul one with hazmat, just for the danger factor if there's an accident and B) We recently hauled vats that had fluid in them, and the sensation of the moving liquid was weird. I wonder if you feel that in a tanker - the sloshing? I'm not sure on how it compares to flatbed regarding pay either. We think flatbed pays pretty good, but the money really seems to be in oversized loads. We've been talking a lot about maybe doing that. The Rant readers will certainly know if we decide to make the leap!