Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Too Unorganized To Organize, But I'll Bet They Have Thirty Minutes To Write A Letter

So far, this summer has been fantastic.  And I'm not talking about the weather - because anything over 65 degrees is too warm for me - I'm talking about the freight.

Holy dollar signs!!
Cornfields in rural Louisiana.
We've been all over the place in the last few months and have been raking in the dough.  We're not working hard (which I love), but we are making money (which Ed loves).  And while doing so we were able to fit in a week-long vacation in Montreal with friends, an extended weekend of bike riding in Chicago, and a Louis Prima, Jr. outdoor concert in the park in New Jersey.  And that's just since the end of May!

The freight rates have been pretty good - there's a lot of stuff falling within the $3.00 to $5.00 per mile mark - and when we see something we like, we jump.  Otherwise, we sit and wait.  The other drivers can take the $1.46 and $1.81 per mile loads. 

Many drivers have been concerned about the new Hours of Service regulations which went into effect on July 1st, in regard to how it's going to impact their ability to make money while abiding by them.  Thankfully, it hasn't had any effect on our revenue.  And we get an extra thirty minutes to officially relax during the day.  I say "officially" because now we have to log that thirty minutes. 

We get a lot of email from readers seeking our advice - usually people looking to transition from company driver to owner-operator, or those considering this as a new career.  Most often they're couples and the emails incorporate some variation of "How can we do what you're doing?". But there are others.

I recently got a message from a girl who is planning to go on the road with her driver boyfriend for a year and she wanted some advice on what she should expect and what kinds of things she needed to bring with her.  I gave her the scoop.

A guy we met through a family friend arranged a lunch meeting with Ed and I to pick our brains.  We gave him a few trucking magazines and a small pocket truckstop guide, filled him in on what being new was going to be all about - at least until he gained a little confidence - and wished him the best of luck as he set off to begin his new job in trucking.   

Then there was the young couple we corresponded with for several months who eventually quit their jobs and became team drivers, citing us as their inspiration. 

And just recently, yet another couple who had been reading my blog for several years (and who we actually met in person) had questions regarding certain aspects of our operation. 

We were happy to answer everything they asked and openly shared any other information we thought might be important to them.   
Me on my bike, crossing the stream in downtown Sparta, Wisconsin
They're interested in the technical and the practical.  Ed gets the fuel mileage, equipment upgrade, mechanical techniques, and truck gadgetry questions.  I offer all of the fun-planning, travel highlights, day-to-day responsibilities, and tips and tricks info.  I really don't care how the video surveillance cameras work (as long as they do), and there's no way in the world you'll get me to talk about a greasing system for longer than seven minutes.

And everyone wants to know what kind of money can be made.  That's a hard question to answer because a lot of teams who say they make a lot of money are running around the clock, non-stop, racking up five to six thousand miles a week.  We don't do that.  Ed carefully chooses our freight like the former Marine he is - so we work smart, not hard.  The best part? Anyone can learn how to do it!

Ed's not afraid of hard work, but he learned during his first few years in this industry that working less for more money is the no-brainer way to go about it.  I'm not afraid of hard work either, I just don't see any need for it.  I can't stand having the truck rolling every second of the day, hearing the engine continuously hum.  It's annoying.

I like having a day or two off (at minimum) between our runs and I like to enjoy our time out here.  People joke about us being paid tourists.  It's no joke to me.

Tree lined street in Wisconsin
So we tour, and we get paid.  Although we're team drivers, we've never run like a typical team. And almost everything we've hauled this year - with the exception of a few recent loads - has been solo freight. For those of you not familiar with industry terms, that means we take loads that one driver could do with the hours they have available to them for driving.  They could legally log any of these loads.

Ed likes to turn many of these loads into what he calls "Super-Solo" runs, which means we'll drive a little more than a solo, but a lot less than a team.  It translates into more money in a shorter time period and less work overall.  The perfect cocktail.

I've said this before and I'll say it again - this is one of the best jobs I've ever had.  It truly is what you make it.  I know that sounds super corny, but some people would rather bitch and complain about regulations instead of enjoying the experiences they have doing a very unique job.  Don't get me wrong, I bitch about almost everything, but having the opportunity to travel as much as I do and make money doing it is not one of them.

The latest round of complaints have to do with the new regulations regarding our Hours of Service.  Personally, I don't care what formula or data the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) used to come up with their new edict.  It's done.  And I'm not driving my truck to Washington, DC to protest anything.  Mainly because I'd rather be vacationing or riding bikes, but mostly because anyone with a brain will tell you that you can't get very far in any kind of vehicle in DC.  You think you're restricted on the interstate?  Try driving a big rig into The District.

And talk of a shutdown is just stupid.  There's zero chance of that happening.  Remember back in 2008 when truckers shut down on April Fools' Day to "send a message" about the fuel prices being so high?  Yeah, neither do I.  Because it didn't happen.  It was all talk.

You can't get a group of truckers to organize a backyard barbecue, you think you're going to get them to shut their trucks down in protest?  These drivers bitch about losing a few dollars a day under the new regulations, do you really think they're going to lose an entire day or several days' worth of pay, or their job, just to express they're unhappy?  I highly doubt it.

Shit, hundreds of the people out here driving trucks decided to become drivers for the very reason that they couldn't find a job in the towns they lived in.  So I doubt they're going to risk anything that will send them back home where they'll be spending their days filling out applications to get a job at the Piggly-Wiggly or Bob's Big Boy.  If those places are even hiring.

In fact, Anne Ferro, the Administrator of the FMCSA was in attendance at the biggest truck show in the country, and truckers couldn't get together to protest.  AND THEY WERE ALREADY THERE.  Thousands of them.  In a place with TRUCK PARKING. Perfect time to get everyone together, dontcha think?

But they were too busy eating corn dogs and collecting free swag from the exhibitor booths to be bothered with bending the ear of the person they claim is "regulating them out of a job". 

I say next time, they should forget about collecting mouse pads and tote bags and take the free pens.

Then use them to write their elected officials.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: Islands Are Out, But What About Canals?
2011: Survival Training And Retirement Planning
2010: Just A Glimpse
2009: Eddie Mails A Package In His Dorfman Friday
2008: Shower Jam
2007: Golden Arches
2006: The Land Of Fruits, Nuts And Flakes
2005: Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

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