By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 10/22/2018
Topics/Keywords: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver Page Views: 903
An entry from Alternate Roads: Paul S. Cilwa's Truck Drivin' Journal

Monday, August 18, 2003

I intended to quit.

There are plenty of things I like about trucking, and many things I don't. As in any job, there are pros and cons. But the biggest "con" in trucking was that I could afford to do it. Week after week, my paychecks had simply not covered the rent and utilities. If I lived alone and didn't have rent or utilities, it wouldn't have been so bad. But I didn't and I did and it was.

The toughest part was, I didn't have another job to go to. My mama always told me, never quit a job before you have another one to go to. Of course, she also told me there was a Santa Claus. But, in this case, the problem was that trucking simply makes it impossible to get any other job. You aren't home long enough to set up a job interview. If I wanted to get another job, I would have to quit this one, first.

Then there was Debbie, my dispatcher. I had spent, literally, days fuming over her lack of ability to do her job. It wasn't good for me and I knew it, but I wasn't quite spiritually evolved yet to simply let it go.

So, I decided I would tell Yancy, my new STL (service team leader, Debbie's boss) that I needed a new dispatcher; and, if he gave me a hard time about it, I would quit. So there.

In Fontana where I had come to relay a load, I went into the office area. I was in luck; Debbie was on a break and Yancy was at his desk. He recognized me right away, which got him a point or two in my estimation. "Hi, Paul," he said.

"Hi, Yancy," I replied. "I would like to request another dispatcher."

"Why?" he asked.

"I feel I would be able to communicate better with someone who was from the same planet as me," I said. "Earth."

Yancy sighed. "You aren't the only driver to have made the same request," he said.

"I'm not surprised," I responded. "Most of the drivers seem to be from Earth."

He shook his head, as if to clear from it my attempts at humor. "I can't take everyone away from Debbie," he said. "Here, let's talk in the One-On-One room." And that's what it was called; it said so on the door: One-On-One Room 4. Inside, the room looked like the interrogation room seen on countless TV cop shows. The only thing missing was a two-way mirror, and another guy to play "bad cop".

Yancy closed the door behind him and sat down. "Here's the thing," he said. "Historically, the Western Region has never made money. Except," and he paused meaningfully, "for my board and Shawn's." Shawn was a dispatcher I'd spoken with on a couple of occasions; he'd always struck me as being very sharp and very competent. "We make money every month and that's a matter of pride with us."

I nodded.

"Now, I've looked over your records and you seem to be a good driver, but you haven't been utilized well in the past. You've only driven an average of 1400 miles a week. You can't make any money like that."

"Tell me about it," I groaned.

"Now, Jay has his own way of running his pod," Yancy continued, referring to Debbie's and my previous boss. "I don't really know what he does. But, every morning, I check every message from every driver in the pod. That's Shawn's and, now, Debbie's. That means I will know what you are doing. And I'll make sure you get the miles."

"I was told STLs can't change what Trip Planning assigns us," I protested. "We have to take what we get."

"In a way that's true," Yancy admitted. "I can't ask them to remove a load from a driver. But, halfway through the week, I can give them a call and say, 'This driver's only gotten 1200 miles so far this week. We've got to do something about that!' And, usually, they come through."

"That would be great," I admitted, cautiously.

"Now, I want you to stay with Debbie. But I don't want you to feel that's the end of the story. If you have any problem with her at all, then call me. Or Shawn, if I'm not available. And we'll solve the problem." He gave me the direct numbers for his desk and Shawn's. "I'm not sure Debbie was adequately trained for this job," he added. "But we're going to teach her what she needs to know. She's a good person and she can do this job, I believe. But she needs time and more training."

"I'm really the most patient person in the world," I admitted. This guy had me wanting to help fix Debbie!

"You seem very open," he assured me. "That's a good thing. I hope, over the course of the next few weeks, to change any negative opinions you may have developed about Schneider."

By the time the meeting was over, I not only hadn't quit; I was enthusiastic over the prospect of making some money driving a truck!

But I wasn't completely mesmerized. I decided I would give a couple more weeks for the effort, and see what happened.

Even if I did decide to quit when this trial period was over, I'd feel better about it if it was because I wanted to spend more time at home or because I could make even more money elsewhere, than I would if I had to leave because I couldn't afford to eat if I stayed.