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The BIG picture can vary from one person to another. Everyone sees it in their own way!

I wonder what the big picture was to J. B. Hunt when he first started out?

Many people are entering the Wonderful World of Trucking each and every day! Some see becoming a truck driver as their last resort to get a job. Others look at becoming a trucker as a step to bigger and better things!

With the explosion of social media, support is out there, no matter what the reason. This is something we didn’t have when we began the adventure! We didn’t have the connections we have now to be able to compare and make an informed decision.

Today, we have watchdog groups, blogs, a variety of trucking magazines, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and the list goes on! Sometimes the information is contradictory from one source to another and can get rather confusing at times. We even have had a flood of self-proclaimed “experts” pop up, here and there and radio shows too! One thing is for sure. If you need info about trucking, it’s out here! It may not always be reliable or the complete truth, but at least there’s enough of it that you can compare, sift through the bull, and try to figure it out.

SO here’s a scenario! The  corporate guy (or gal) loses his job due to budget cuts or whatever. He sees the many ads about the endless opportunities in trucking. He goes to CDL school and becomes a trucker. You may feel sorry for this guy but, look at the BIG picture here!If he has the right attitude, he’s going to become a PERFECT candidate to move up the ladder. He may be starting at the bottom but  just might be the next V.P. of XYZ company!

You see there are many ways of looking at most situations. Honestly when I first started trucking, I hated it. I felt like a bum, mostly because that’s how I was treated. When I decided to pick myself up and get my positive attitude back, I began to see things much differently. I saw opportunities that my closed mind would not allow me to notice.

There are many former truck drivers that have gone on to bigger and better things. The things you see and the people you meet can open so many doors if you allow it. You just never know who you’ll run into out here or what opportunities may come your way.

So no matter what your situation, make the very best of it every day. Try to see what the BIG PICTURE could be for YOU.

Your dreams can’t come true if you don’t allow yourself to dream!

Jan

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I know you’ve heard it said by many who complain on a regular basis that truckers are “disposable”. In other words, in some cases and at some companies, there’s  a list of new recruits just waiting for your job.  Is that what YOU think?

We have never felt that we were “disposable” except maybe at the first company we went to work for years ago. We weren’t there very long and soon found our place elsewhere and have not felt that way since!

To me, the disposable trucker is one that’s on the verge of losing his or her job for various reasons.  I think in some cases, being a disposable trucker in some way is a result of some not so smart choices that may have been made throughout one’s driving career.

The Story of The Disposable Trucker

Johnny Smith barely made it out of high-school. He didn’t get along with too many people and had a hard time keeping a job because he was not the type of guy who liked to be told what to do. He went from job to job and was never really happy. He also had a bad habit of telling people off on a whim for the littlest things.

One day, Johnny was sitting in his little apartment that he was about to lose cause he couldn’t keep a job . He began watching a movie on the television. It was a trucker movie. The movie portrayed truckers as people of the world. Never being pinned down to one place, a girl in every town, drinking and having a good time and driving  on the highways like a bunch of outlaws. Johnny got to thinking that he wished he could have a life like that.  Nobody to answer to, living free as a bird. Durring the commercials, there was a truck driving school advertisment. Johnny wrote down the number. Durring the rest  of the movie, he imagined himself in that life he saw on TV. Dirty mouthed, disrespectful, unclean, and having a good ol time every day. “WOW, what a life that would be’ thought Johnny!

The next day, Johnny found the number to the truck driving school and called them. He gave them his information over the phone and made arrangements to get on a bus a travel to the school where he would spend two weeks getting his CDL and then be placed with a company for a job.

So he packed his bag with a few things and got on the bus. He was excited and kept thinking of that movie and how happy he’d be.

When he arrived at the motel, he only had enough time to throw his bag in the room and get on the shuttle to the school. There were about 45 or so other guys and gals there for the same reason he was. They talked amongst themselves about their dreams of being a “trucker” and how “cool” it was going to be.

Once at the school, the paperwork began. Everyone placed their driver’s license and social security card in front of them along with a paper that had their name and current mailing information.  The instructor collected everybody’s credentials and went to make copied and start files while the class was left watching a series of safety videos.

When the videos were over, the students were piled into vans and taken to the clinic for drug testing and DOT physicals.

Day two was classroom instruction on how to pass the written exam. The basics and even mock tests were given out and explained.  The didn’t need to know why the right answers were the right ones, only that that’s what they needed to know to pass the test. After a brief lunch break, they piled into the vans and went to take the tests.

The next two days consisted of learning basics like, pre trip inspections, straight line backing, split shifting, double clutching and various maneuvers around the yard. Durring this two-day on the yard stuff, Johnny and the others were patiently waiting for drug test to come back so they could  start their road instruction.

By the end of the week, almost half the students had been sent home for various reasons.  Failed drug test, other medical problems,  criminal record, or just a plain bad attitude!

Over the weekend, the remaining students buddied up and walked down to the local bar and shared dreams of what their truck driving career would be like.  Johnny would say “I just can’t wait to be on my own cuz I’m gonna buy my own truck some day and ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to do. I’m gonna be a owner-operator”  others would say things like… ” and if they think they ain’t gonna get me by the house to see my wife and kids, they got another thing coming”

This group had it all planned out. They sat and talked for hours just how they were going to be the next “super truckers” of the highway.  “well I’m going with xyz company cause they have this” another would say “yah but abc company offers this”!

Each one thought that the company they were going to was the best ever. They had no idea that they didn’t hold the cards and if they didn’t change their attitude, just how “disposable” they would become!

So a few of them made through the school and got jobs. Johnny went to XYZ logistics and was paired with a trainer. They didn’t get along so he went with another, and then another. Finally he made it through the training program and got his own truck. He thought he knew it all.  When things didn’t go exactly how he thought they should, he complained. Sometimes he didn’t use the nicest of language either! Eventually his miles got fewer, he sat for days at a time. You’d think he would have figured it out that he was not in control. All he had to do was be nice to his boss and do as he was told just like any other job. He learned the hard way, quit and found another company to drive for.

Johnny never did “get it”! He went from company to company til eventually nobody wanted him because of his job history and several companies made derogatory reports on his record.  All he did was bad mouth the industry and every company he’s ever worked for claiming that truckers were all “disposable”.

We learn from the time we are small children that when we grow up, we get a job.  We also learn when we are children that rules are meant to be followed in order to stay out of trouble. Getting a trucking job is really no different from any other. Your employer gives you an employee handbook and sometimes even makes you sign an agreement of conduct.  You agree to do your job and they agree to pay you. Can you imagine what would happen if some of the attitudes we see in trucking made its way to the retail industry? Nobody would go to a store that had employees with bad attitudes, dressed like slobs, and didn’t bathe regularly would they?

Your attitude as a driver makes a difference. Your appearance, cleanliness and professionalism is what gets you places. You can go up or you can go down. The choice is YOURS!

So if you think that truckers are “disposable”, I guess some are, but so is anyone at any job that has a bad attitude! Anyone can make themselves “disposable”.

 I think that proving you are as asset will get you much further don’t you?

GOD BLESS YOU ALL    Think Positive and go places!!

JAN

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We hear so many drivers mutter on a daily basis about wanting improvement in attitude, morale, company support and skill level. Many of those same drivers who speak of wanting positive change are also the ones who are quick to judge and criticize. Now what exactly does this accomplish?

Imagine what would happen if we could bottle the criticism for a bit and instead, replace it with guidance. Would that be so difficult? Don’t you think that everyone involved would benefit?

Caring for others is a part of human nature. Unfortunately criticizing, mocking and berating others seems to have also become a part of human nature. Which trait do YOU think is more productive at achieving positive goals?

With the large number of new drivers of all age groups entering the trucking industry these days, it stands to reason that there is a lack of education, guidance and understanding. Many of these “newbies” could really use a helping hand and probably some advise.

Just think of how much better things could be if more of us took a positive stand. Helping someone out instead of making fun of them.

Last week, I witnessed a very young, driver trainer screaming profanity at his much older student driver in public. This went on long enough for many people to witness and hear. Pointing at him and calling him names like one of these drill sergeants you see in the movies. The student just took it, but what else was he supposed to do?   What did I do?   Well, I used my social media resources. I contacted the company with details by phone, email and Facebook to make sure something was done about it.

We  hear about these situations often. These are the up and coming drivers that we are sharing the road with. Think for a moment about the kid who’s getting bullied every day and what we all to often hear is the result. The kid getting bullied can take no more and becomes violent against his aggressor. Is this how we want our new drivers molded, to be aggressive and lacking in professionalism. I don’t!

So when it comes to “raising the bar”. It’s pretty simple. Each one of us can take little steps. With more of us doing this, it can make a big impact. Crack a smile now and then!  Ask someone how they are doing and listen when they tell you. Get out and help another driver back up. When you hear someone complain, listen and offer a positive solution.

If more of us at least try to take positive steps to the goal of raising the bar, we will eventually begin to see it happen!

Something to think about!

Jan

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So, you have made the decision to become a truck driver.  The call of the open road, being your own boss, the freedom of going where you want,  when you want.  Man, it’s just what you always wanted.  To be in charge of a powerful rig running down the highways and byways of this great country.  Having people praise you for bringing them the goods and products they need. 

There is only one thing standing in your way of accomplishing this dream.  It’s the one thing that can break you down and make you run screaming back to the house, never to even think about trucking again.  What could destroy your dream?  Well, it’s the trucking schools, you know, the places where they prepare you to be an over the road driver.  Yes, over the road, or as we drivers lovingly call it out here, OTR. 

That recruiter for that trucking school you are thinking about probably told you that you will have a local job after a short while of OTR or maybe you will be an “owner operator” just out of school.   The promise of “Big Money” and business ownership probably drew you into the snare of going ahead and signing up for the school.   Yes, you are on your way to financial freedom and you are just chomping at the bit to sign up and get your career in gear, or so you think.

The truth is that most companies that hire from trucking schools will go ahead and pay for your schooling.  This is in return for a year or so of your life where you are basically “enslaved” to do their bidding.  Your pay will be lower than most out here until you get your schooling paid for.  If you want to go home once a month or so then forget that plan.  Most of the companies that train students don’t care where you live, they just want their freight hauled for as cheap as they can get it done for.  Being a slave means that they are profiting greatly from your time away from home so they will keep you out on the road as long as possible.  You have to pay them back for the schooling they put you through. 

But wait, did you know that those trucking companies that hire students already have gotten paid for your schooling?  Yes, that’s right, they have already received as much as 6,000.00 for you to become a truck driver from the government.  Why should you pay them anything then?  Because this is the way the system is set up.  God forbid that you quit while in training because you haven’t been to your home to see your wife or kids or husband.  If you decide to do that then they can put a judgement against you for the unpaid costs of putting you to school.  But they already got paid.  Hmmm…what a scam this is. 

My suggestion to anyone wanting to get into the business of truck driving is to consider geting your training through a community college and don’t let anyone hold you hostage for getting your CDL (commercial drivers license).  You will probably still  get treated like crap for the first year or so because you will be classified as a “trainee” but at least if you do want to go somewhere else after you get experience you won’t have your credit ruined by a trucking company. 

One more thing, these so-called “training” companies who pay for your school would love nothing more than to have you get your schooling financed through them.  And they would like you to quit after only being there for a week or so.  Why?  Because they not only get as much as $6,000.00  from the government but now they have a judgement against you for another 6,000.00.  They made up to 12,000.00 dollars off of your sacrifice and you didn’t even have to drive for a week.  One company that I know of (and I won’t mention the name) hired over 17,000 students in 09.  The shame of this is that they only have 5,500 trucks.  If you do the math then that’s 3.5 people per truck when they can only have two in it legally.  Is there something wrong with this picture?  I sure do think so.

In closing, don’t fall for the lies the recruiters and trucking schools are telling you.  Get your training paid for before you enter into the business if that is what you want to do.  You’ll be way better off and you will hold the cards to your future and your finances.

Stay safe, stay smart and prosper,

Jim

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When Jim & I were first contemplating a trucking career there were only a few arguments about it.  The recruiters we spoke with contradicted one another and the real story was a mystery.  The thought of being able to do this together however, was apealing. Even though we did not have the support of our family and friends, we decided to go for it!

We had both owned and operated our own businesses, made good money, lived in a big house with nice cars and lots of toys like boats, motorcycles dirt bikes, go carts and so on. We had taken very nice and expensive  vacations with the kids and even  coached soccor. We were also very involved in our community and of coarse there was the entertainment side also. Constantly juggling our business, family, performance engagements, vacations and community commitments was quite a feat.

The kids grew up, the businesses were getting bigger and the money was great but the quality time was no longer available to spend together. Jim was working so hard it began to affect his health and I became very ill as well. After my recovery from a long battle with a serious illness, we decided to sell it all and move to florida.  We were there almost a year before we decided to take the leap into a different lifestyle called “trucking” .

After speaking with many recruiters and truck driving schools, we chose one and headed to Litle Rock, Arkansas for CDL school.  We got a P.O. box in Northern FlA (nobody would consider us with a florida keys address) and off we went to become “The Keys Truckers”.

Truck Driving school was very interesting. We got to see all the ways that some people attempt to beat the drug test, watched as an epileptic in the class had a grand- mal siezure and listened to some of the most rediculious stories from the instructors.   Several people were sent home the first day including the guy who put so much bleach in his urine sample that it wreaked of bleach, several others that couldn’t pass the drug test and a few who had problems ranging from suspended drivers licences to felony records.  The girl who had the seizure was sent home after she returned from the E.R. with no Drivers licence cause they took it from her.

So we make it through school and get our CDL’s  after three weeks and are off to Oklahoma City for orientation and go out with a trainer for 30 days.  Jimmy left first while I waited a few days for my trainer.  We both ended up requesting another trainer. Jimmy’s was just plain irresponsible and mine was a total pervert.  The last part of our training went very well as we were both put with experienced drivers that were very thorough.

So after 3 weeks of school and 30 days with a trainer, we get assigned a truck and become a team making 22 cents a mile!  Whooohooo! Needless to say, IT SUCKED! We were never so poor.  But, by golly we were part of that “Gold Rush”  though that we had fell for hook, line and sinker.  A few months of that and we switched companies.

Our second “team” job was better.  Nicer looking truck that had more room but it was in the shop too much.  That’s when we stumbled upon an offer to purchase a truck from guy that had a small fleet with the company we worked for. No money down and the payments would be taken out of our pay each week.  NOW we could really make the money.

We were very fortunate to have a bit of business knowledge and actually did very well. Since then, we have leased on with a couple different companies and even ventured out to drive for separate companies for a short period of time. It was fun meeting my husband in truckstops every now and then but it got old really fast. We eventually went back to driving team with one of us taking a few days off here and there.  We put many miles on that truck but decided to take a break from trucking for awhile and ultimately sold the truck.

I guess the stories we’ve heard about “white line fever” are somewhat true.  Living a “normal” life just wasn’t for us. We decided to look into purchasing another truck. We were told “stories” by quite a few companies that were not true. One of them being about lease purchase programs. With some of these programs, it’s just a lease. Anyway, with the downturn in the economy, it was very hard to get any kind of financing at that time that was affordable and that’s when we decided to go to JB HUNT and try their program. It’s the best decision we ever made.

This time around is different. We decided to use our experiences to help others and get more involved in the trucking lifestyle. The decision not to run team anymore was a good one. It has allowed us to write music, get involved in charities, help out fellow drivers, meet people and just enjoy our lives.  Our website articles, YouTube videos and music have inspired many drivers.  We are honest with those we meet that need our help and we are always willing to lend an ear.  Offering advise to those who are new and helping them to succeed gives us a great feeling.

We hope to be around for a long time doing what we have found to be our “nitch”.

Look for our whereabouts on facebook and twitter. Stop by and say hello.

Soon we will be offering some helpful health information that we are being trained for,  including blood pressure checks,  A1C testing and sleep apnea testing. We will also be able to put you directly in touch with a medical professional, if needed. We soon hope to be offering safety training and business training as well.

Lastly, you know you will always find us at the truck shows performing our latest Trucking Songs and trying to keep Bobby Boofay out of trouble! 

I never thought that becoming a trucker could be so fulfilling. I am grateful to all the people I have met that have helped us along the way and even the ones who didn’t. We have learned from all of you.

May GOD Bless you and keep you safe!

Jan

 

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I honestly do not know how some of the younger folks out here survive when they first start out. I’m talking about the ones with a wife and kids at home that get into this business not knowing the real truth. When Jim & I first started, we were lucky to bring in$300 a week between the two of us as a team, which is why we purchased our first truck after less than six months in.  I hear every day about families being torn apart and drivers losing their homes and cars because they can’t make enough money to keep up the payments. Unfortunately, this is very common and by the time some of these new drivers realize whats going on, it’s too late, they’ve lost it all.  It’s really sad to think that the ones who sell these lies go home each night without a care in the world. 

People ask us often how we can stand to spend so much time together. We are perceived to be the perfect couple with not a care in the world. Well folks, I hate to shock you but  nothing is perfect including us, “The Keystruckers”. About sixteen years and trying different ways to get along and we may finally have or maybe we have just accepted the bad with the good. You see, I have always been positive to what some people say is a fault. I do not give up until I am forced to and even then, I will put up a really good fight.  Love has alot to do with it. Love of each other and love of GOD.

I don’t really know which is worse for a wife out here. Having your husband out on the road all the time or having to be with him all the time.  Both scenarios have their ups & downs.  I am first going to speak about being the wife at home.

The problem I see today when it comes to trucking and marriage is the lack of honesty and commitment. Too many drivers try to sugar coat things to the spouse at home and the spouse at home is doing the same thing. You are already separated, so when things get hairy, it’s too easy to just say screw it. Of course there many uncontrollable factors to this at times.  For one thing, most of the time, we are not told the whole truth when we enter into this business.

Let’s face it, how many drivers would actually sign on the dotted line if they were told “chances are, you wont be getting a decent paycheck for months” or “you will be living on advances and have no money to pay your bills for several months” or “kiss the wife and kids cause it’s gonna be a long time before you see them again” ?  How about telling them this ” you may as well go ahead and file for a divorce and give up your kids now cause chances are it’s gonna happen anyway”  I don’t think that too many people would sign up for that, do you?

It does not have to be this way. You can make it if you play your cards right. It’s much easier if you know what to expect.  I wish there was a way to educate potential new recruits on how to make it work.  Making it work starts before you even leave the house to go to truck driving school. Making sure you have a little money in the bank to keep you going and preparing your family for the possible thin times ahead. Talking to your kids about it and preparing them for the time you will not be there and letting them know that you love them and everything will be fine. We need to have the right information to pass on to our families and the right information ourselves in order to cope in the beginning. It does get easier as you learn the business.

I am not trying to scare anyone. I LOVE the trucking life Jim & I have chosen and it has been very good to us, especially lately. Finding the right company was a big part of it.  Learning how to spot the good, the bad, and the ugly was difficult.  I can’t really say that it takes this many or that many years to find your nitch in this business because everyone is different. What I can say is be patient and don’t lose your cool. Try to stay with the same company for a while to get a feel for the business and be honest with yourself and your spouse. Good communication is a must to make trucking and marriage work.  Try to network with the right people and stay away from the ones that are always complaining.  You know that old saying “misery loves company”, well don’t let yourself get caught up in it. Stay close to the positive people out here.  There are so many of us that are willing to share the knowledge it takes to be successful, so stick with the ones that have a smile on their face. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Trying to keep a family together and be successful in the trucking business can be trying at times, but it can be done. With a positive attitude, the willingness to learn and being honest with yourself and your spouse, you can prevail.

As you succeed, share with others and help the next guy out. 

One more thing….. never let missing your family cloud your judgment as a driver. You want to get home to them safely!

Remember, there are people out here that are willing to listen and help!  Jim & I will gladly answer any questions you may have and offer our support. just send us an email!

GOD Bless you and your families!

JAN

thekeystruckers@gmail.com

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