Month: September 2006

E. Coli and the Trucker

It was only a matter of time before another E. Coli outbreak in our food chain occurred. I have watched the cable news shows this morning and have learned some interesting facts about food harvesting and food handling.

Apparently the strain of E. Coli that reared it’s ugly head this week comes from the waste of cattle. This brings an interesting point, did fertilizer have anything to do with the E. Coli outbreak? What other explanation could there be? The spinach in question was from a so called “organic farm” operated by Natural Foods of Oxnard, California. Another explanation I heard on CNN was that the outbreak of E. Coli could have appeared from “IMPROPER REFRIGERATION” in the distribution network!

This could be the real cause of the outbreak. How many times have we worked for a big outfit with several refrigerated trailers? I think most CDL drivers have driven for one of the larger companies that run hundreds of refrigerated trailers. How many times have you backed under a trailer just to find out that the refer unit was A: out of fuel, B: overheated or C: just didn’t work at all! I recently left a refrigerated company that operated over 100 trailers. This company couldn’t even get the trailers in the yard to work right let alone a trailer 500 miles away in a drop yard. Have you ever picked up a trailer, pre-cooled it to 34 degrees (for produce), pick up the load and drive 300 miles down the road only to have the refer break down? I can’t tell you the number of times this has happened to me. The dispatcher usually informs you to keep the doors closed and drive 200 or 300 more miles to get it fixed. This is usually the case in the middle of Nevada or Utah where the nearest Thermo King or Carrier is in Denver! How long do you think the refer will stay at 34 degrees in the middle of August? Look at a map and draw a straight line from Oxnard to Minneapolis, two-thirds of the trip is desert and open road.

I am not speculating that a truck had anything to do with the outbreak of E. Coli. I am only pointing out how fragile our food chain is and as a driver, we need to make an extra effort to make sure our freight arrives safely to it’s destination.

We are entering the winter driving season and we need to take the same precautions with our equipment as we did going into summer. Make sure your equipment is properly serviced, make sure the refer is full of fuel, oil and anti-freeze. Check your tires, brakes, air lines and lighting. Make sure your tire chains (western states) are in good working order and free of rust and missing links. Washington, Oregon and California require ALL commercial vehicles entering and operating in the state to have a minimum of 5 sets of chains by November 1st. As a CDL driver, you have the responsibility to keep your rig safe and operational. Not only is your life at stake, but it could impact hundreds of other people too!

JB

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Quote of the Month

Subject A: (Sitting in a wheelchair, cast on arm and bandage around head) “I see waves of flowing wheat, blue sky and white clouds”.

Subject B: (Standing next to A) “Isn’t that a vision of your screensaver”?

Latest Apple v. PC Commercial

E. Coli and the Trucker

It was only a matter of time before another E. Coli outbreak in our food chain occurred. I have watched the cable news shows this morning and have learned some interesting facts about food harvesting and food handling.

Apparently the strain of E. Coli that reared it’s ugly head this week comes from the waste of cattle. This brings an interesting point, did fertilizer have anything to do with the E. Coli outbreak? What other explanation could there be? The spinach in question was from a so called “organic farm” operated by Natural Foods of Oxnard, California. Another explanation I heard on CNN was that the outbreak of E. Coli could have appeared from “IMPROPER REFRIGERATION” in the distribution network!

This could be the real cause of the outbreak. How many times have we worked for a big outfit with several refrigerated trailers? I think most CDL drivers have driven for one of the larger companies that run hundreds of refrigerated trailers. How many times have you backed under a trailer just to find out that the refer unit was A: out of fuel, B: overheated or C: just didn’t work at all! I recently left a refrigerated company that operated over 100 trailers. This company couldn’t even get the trailers in the yard to work right let alone a trailer 500 miles away in a drop yard. Have you ever picked up a trailer, pre-cooled it to 34 degrees (for produce), pick up the load and drive 300 miles down the road only to have the refer break down? I can’t tell you the number of times this has happened to me. The dispatcher usually informs you to keep the doors closed and drive 200 or 300 more miles to get it fixed. This is usually the case in the middle of Nevada or Utah where the nearest Thermo King or Carrier is in Denver! How long do you think the refer will stay at 34 degrees in the middle of August? Look at a map and draw a straight line from Oxnard to Minneapolis, two-thirds of the trip is desert and open road.

I am not speculating that a truck had anything to do with the outbreak of E. Coli. I am only pointing out how fragile our food chain is and as a driver, we need to make an extra effort to make sure our freight arrives safely to it’s destination.

We are entering the winter driving season and we need to take the same precautions with our equipment as we did going into summer. Make sure your equipment is properly serviced, make sure the refer is full of fuel, oil and anti-freeze. Check your tires, brakes, air lines and lighting. Make sure your tire chains (western states) are in good working order and free of rust and missing links. Washington, Oregon and California require ALL commercial vehicles entering and operating in the state to have a minimum of 5 sets of chains by November 1st. As a CDL driver, you have the responsibility to keep your rig safe and operational. Not only is your life at stake, but it could impact hundreds of other people too!

Job Search Techniques for Experienced Drivers

Trying to find a good Truck Driving job can be a frustrating experience at times. I have seen many job listing services, job boards and resume services come and go over the past few years. With the advent of the internet job search, one could very easily narrow down job opportunities from the comfort of the home. No more wasting time driving from job site to job site looking for that perfect job. Create an online resume, write a well crafted cover page, provide an e-mail address and a phone number and wait for the calls to come streaming in. But wait, it’s not always that easy.

I have searched for jobs using several online search engines. I have used everything from CareerBuilder.com, Monter.com and even the local edition of the newspaper online. These can be good sources of information and job listings, but be careful. The never ending lists of “Work from Home” companies, MLM companies and various other “Get Rich Quick” schemes love to use the large job search engines to “recruit” more prospective job searchers than I can shake a stick at. The most prolific scheme seems to be the never ending e-mails, phone calls and letters from Insurance Companies who claim I have the skills to become the next manager of their local insurance office! If they need “warm bodies” that bad, they must have a product no one really wants or needs. I have run across job listings that if you are breathing and have a pulse, you were the next candidate for CEO!

On the flip side to this dilemma, a potential job candidate might be able to pick and choose the companies for which they are genuinely interested in applying. If you have time and patience, you can pretty much figure out who is legitimate and who isn’t. My biggest complaint with online job listings is that the prospective employer doesn’t even have the courtesy of sending applicants a reply, much less a phone call. I recently applied for a low paying truck driving job and the guy finally gave me a call about a week and a half after I submitted my resume. Or take the company I recently submitted a resume to and left numerous messages, e-mails and phone calls without a reply. If a person calls you a dozen times and attempts to get in touch with you for an interview, don’t you think it is polite to return the call?

It appears that having experience in a job and using old techniques of getting a job just doesn’t work anymore, especially with the “job farms” or profit hungry “head hunters” found so prevalently on the internet. You need to have a game plan or strategy when searching for a new career online. Have all your information at hand, update your resume weekly and search all the job search engines. Not all employers use the same techniques of finding quality job candidates.If you are an experienced truck driver looking for work, I would suggest trying your local government state job service agency. It seems that employers still like to place a job locally and get local talent to apply for their jobs. I have had tremendous success in finding truck driving jobs using the local state job service. The jobs are usually a little higher paying, offer benefits and offer job security. The state job service acts like the Better Business Bureau. If you follow the rules, don’t rip anyone off and offer a superb service, the more likely the legitimate companies will still be around. If you live in the greater Washington state area, I might suggest you try your job hunt by starting on the Washington Job Service website. You can access their job search page by clicking the following link HERE. If you do not live in Washington, you can still search for local, regional and national jobs from their site. They have links to other state job service agencies and have free tools to post a resume to their site. Nothing to buy, no subscriptions or fees, their site is 100% free to the job applicant. Check it out!

JB

PS….. Professional companies such as Safeway Stores, Wal-Mart and other large trucking operations list jobs on the Washington Job Service quite often. These jobs are usually higher paying, allow you to be at home more often and offer substantial benefits. Be careful of the online truck driver search engines too. Most of these services are good, but usually cater to the inexperienced, rookie, recent graduate drivers. Stick local and get better results.

(Author is a 9 year veteran of the road. He has driven OTR, Local and regionally pulling 53’s, 48’s, Doubles, Rockey Mountain Sets, A-Trains, Refers and Vans. He has several years experience driving the winter routes throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California. He was a paid firefighter in California for several years and has his FAE certification with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Contact author by clicking HERE.)

Giving Credit when Credit is Due

I thought I should officially give credit to a couple companies that I have used images for my blog. In the title page, you will find a picture of a tractor uncoupled from a trailer. This is my dream set, well almost. I probably would buy a Pete 379EX with a 48′ Wabash Refer with split tandems.

Peterbilt and several other truck builders have come out with their 2007 models. The blue tractor in the title is the new Pete 387. Pete has totally reconfigured the interior and has many customization options, especially for the O/O. For some reason, Pete and KW show the new Cummins engines in their brochures. I am not sure if this is an option or the new standard in truck building. A Pete without a CAT? Worth looking into I suppose.

Wabash National has come out with their new line of Refers and Dry Vans. Above pictured is one of their new 53′ Refers with a Thermoking Cooler. Nice setup for those long cross country hauls. Makes me want to go out and start trucking OTR again.

If you are an owner of one of these fine pieces of equipment, I’d be interested in talking to you about driving your truck OTR. Email me HERE to contact me.

JB