Well, it’s a glorious view over the farm today, 60’s F and lots of sun burnt off the frost which dotted the hillsides this morning. How are you all faring this day? I pray you have beauty and peace in your day, and if not, will decidedly summon the strength to continue on a path of strength and faith to continue moving forward. As a dear friend of mine put it once: “The ebbs and flows” of our lives. (thanks Mr. Moore)
I promised that I would catch you all up on my Trucking Year 3! My road career continues to progress on a well-favored path despite, or maybe even because of, the bumps along the way. I needed a change last year (2022) and was unable to transfer to a different role with Schneider Trucking, so I did end up resigning mid-year. I felt a need to divert from the Long-Haul trucking I had come to admire, where I lived in the company truck out on the road for months at a time, just coming off for minor breaks here and there.
I had done the Dry Box hauls, tried the Tanker division, and when the Flat-bed Dedicated PODs account position opened up, I transferred right on over to that. The VP of our entire region was the one who led me to that account. I loved it, and enjoyed the long average lengths of haul, the last of which was a haul from NJ to CA with a backhaul to NJ. Great way to end that segment of my trucking career.
I had wanted to try doing dispatching or something where I could get back to the farm, and actually be home more. Where I lived posed a challenge to be able to just be home when I wanted with my tractor; Tree-lined driveway, busy horse farm, just not conducive to easily park a huge tractor, let alone if I had a trailer as well, which then I would not fit at all.
I ended up being invited back to the college where I obtained my CDL-License in 2019/2020, to be an instructor there. However, by the time that was in-place, it had dwindled to a part-time hourly stint with working conditions much harsher than I had hoped for, and a team of the same instructors from 3 years ago, although they, as well, seemed different. Fortunately, the program director had pointed me to a local trucking company where I could drive part time to supplement the instructing. I found it to be quite a challenging transition from OTR Living in a permanently assigned truck to slip-seating in 6-year-old trucks that did not have all the comfort amenities I was used to.
Faith [always] Gets Me Through!
This is where I must emphasize how my faith continually and reliably gets me through challenges. God always supplies my needs during these times, even when I’m unable to name at the time what He is doing. I merely keep one foot in front of the other, continually pray, and listen for His ideas which I receive through gut instincts and new thoughts. I know we all can relate to each other about these strange adjustment periods in our lives. It can be difficult for me to avoid succumbing to fears and doubts, and worry about bills, or all the other what-to-do-for’s which are part of life, yet my peace surely comes when I, and because I, trust Him completely.
I made one good friend at the instructor’s job, so that provided smiles to get through the displeasures on the range, and I also made adjustments weekly to balance the new style of driving. For those who may not have knowledge of Trucking and Transportation, Over-the-Road (OTR) driving is a lot different than regional driving (home weekly or every couple of days). Then slip-seating (sharing trucks) is way different as well. At the instructor’s job I was placed in some situations outside of my comfort zone. I also did not fit in well there. I initially felt a similar lack of gel at that local trucking company, although there I basically just came in, drove, went home. Not a lot of interactions. I found ways to mitigate through the tougher items at both employers and grew to appreciate, even enjoy, the shorter-haul regional trucking team. I also kept my walk with God daily as I awaited to hear His direction.
Where am I now?
Come December 2022, I embarked on a great journey to join WalMart Transportation’s Private Fleet, which is, yes, a private fleet and is regional driving. Private fleet driving has been another welcomed change. I no longer pull random loads going to 1000’s of random places. I start a work week at my home Distribution Center, drive for six days delivering to stores and moving other loads between distribution and claim centers, and then I’m off for three days. I share two assigned and late model trucks with two other teammates. There are other schedules, but this is the one I will be on until I bid for a change. At 3 months in, I’m really enjoying the work-life balance, less stress, higher camaraderie, skill levels, and personas of this atmosphere. I went through an initial week of onboarding at a main assessment depot in Delaware, then passing that, a week of orientation (paperwork stuffs) at my local distribution center, followed by a third week of riding with a mentor, to show how to put the Walmart Way into action, and to answer questions. All three segments were quite a pleasant experience, sans all those orientation videos, haha. I attribute the pleasantness to the less-stressed environment, well- skilled teams, and my good sense of self — confidence, not complacency.
I wear an employer supplied uniform which is also awesome! Walmart provide’s the drivers with personalized work shirts, jeans, and personalized coats. All fit pretty comfortably, and I enjoy the polished look. Two weeks ago, I spent the first segment of my 6 days running out to Columbus, Ohio and back, then the second half running around North Carolina and southern Virginia, before coming home, and last week’s runs were to northern PA, (Poconos), then upstate NY (Adirondack Mountains), then back. I do not drive a set route, but I do run within a set region of states on the Mid-Atlantic Coast. I would say in general, my region is mostly Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, Delaware, New York (Upstate mostly), New Jersey, pretty much like that. I am dispatched to any Walmart that is getting merchandise depending where I am, when I am there, and what loads are ready. I never touch the freight or unload it; I do the transporting of it.
Perks, Perks, Perks!
I am not subjected to coming off the road late for my three home-time days, and that is a huge improvement! One I didn’t think I would find in a trucking company. Three-day weekends have always been a sought after perk for me; that third day is just brilliant. Plus, since i’m on for six days, it’s always a different three days; not locked exclusively around a Saturday & Sunday, although rotationally sometimes it does fall over a Saturday and Sunday. Since leaving the OTR Long Haul life 8 months ago, I have shed a nice 23 pounds, have improved mobility, and do not find it necessary to eat truck stop food any longer! Healthier eating choices are much easier driving with this employer and the schedule I run.
Then God blessed me with a loft rental on a friend’s gorgeous horse farm where I enjoy such peaceful and serene views of neighboring cattle farms, along with the farm’s current nine horses, six dogs, one barn cat, couple goats, and an African Grey Parrot! I’ve actually lived here for four years, but was rarely “home”, due to logistics of fitting the tractor here. I have totally been thriving now that I am here more. I drive to my job Distribution Center, park my Jeep and climb in my truck each week – no need to bring home a monster vehicle anymore! Yippee. 🙂
I do not believe I will be putting out a Trucking with JJ: Book Three, as I am ‘Road-Pictured’ out. It was one thing when I was able to have all the cameras mounted and I was all over the country, but it’s just not logistically anything I wish to pursue at this point. I think the first two books were fun and don’t forget — you can view and/or download them here. I haven’t done any videos recently but hope to pick that up again this year. They will be home time videos and not Trucking with JJ videos.
Need to run! Thanks again for stopping off to keep up with my adventures… I pray you are all having a brilliant day!
Blessings, Smiles, Love and Miles,