My 3 months with SWIFT.
Well, I did drive for swift previously years ago, and was told I was qualified to re-hire as a dedicated reefer driver. So, I applied and was re hired. I left home on Dec 9th 2017. Greyghound, had to pay for my luggage, which I wasn't informed of, but.. No biggie. And had to pay for the taxi $35 to the hotel. Again, no biggie.
I was assigned a recruiter named Rebecca in Phoenix. She had an assistant named Mellissa. Now, we agreed that I was to be based out of the Lancaster terminal, Dallas, Tx. All fine there. Was given a bus ticket to get me there. Just before I left, I was also sent emails stating I was to be based out of the Laredo terminal.. Seemed odd to me as we had already set Lancaster, and I was no where near Laredo anyways. I messaged the recruiter without reply.. I would find out later why this was done.
I head to orientation, got set in hotel, and spent two days in the class room. Basically it was fairly routine. Lunches were good, and people were pretty nice. Could have been more organized without so much lag time between modules but was fine.
On the last day, I was informed I was on safety hold for an expired license. Seems odd to me due that mine didn't expire till 2021. Come to find out they didn't enter my license information in properly, if at all, and had my very old license info from when I previously drove for them. So, a short delay to get going. Thursday, I got my mentor. Derrick Crouch, reefer dedicated out of Denton Tx. Short drive north.. awesome. SO he picks me up at the terminal and I drive up to the target distribution center in Denton. There he leaves me in the truck for four days. In a parking lot far from anything. But there was a driver room of sorts. With a candy machine, soda, and a bathroom I should be just fine. Well, it sucked. Just to let you know. When we did get a run out late Monday, I was ready to go. The first week was again interrupted with layovers that following weekends, and at the rate we were going I would spend at least 8 weeks on this truck to get my 200hrs required.. But, I am generally patient, and I endure. I try to stay at a local hotel and uber over for meals, some shopping, and laundry. Of course I'd expect Derrick and his drive mgr to tell me no dice on paying for my hotels, so of the 3-4 times I did stay in one, only a couple were actually allowed. Even though there were no facilities where I was left in the truck, it did not seem to matter much. Oh well, I am patient and I could endure the cost for things I needed.
As we picked up pace fairly good on driving I drove to the city where Derrick would complete the deliveries, and I then drove us back to Denton. This was the general routine. I had thought I was racking up my hours pretty quick but didn't seem to add up at the end of the week when tallied up. Looking at my first check, I see I was set a base pay of $450/wk and my hours were listed as well. I though he was rigging the tally to keep me on his truck longer.
When in orientation, we were told out base pay would be $500/wk. So I asked Derrick, who did not know, I then called Lancaster who stated it was $550. Now being confused, I called payroll in Phx. The girl tells me yes, $550/wk. She says I am slated for Laredo which is $450/wk and it needs to be fixed. Well, Derrick can't fix it, payroll can't fix it, driver svc can't fix it either. And no one can seem to know WHO can. Ultimately we find out the recruiter is the one who sets that. Now, I know we set Lancaster as my terminal. I also know it was changed a day before I left home. Now I know why… So I try to call Rebecca, no answer. I use the Pulse app to message her. No reply initially, but then days later she says "that's based on location, and people in ElPaso only get $400.' Really? She can't see the problem, and boasts like I am lucky I am not from ElPaso? So, Derrick promises me he'll get to the bottom of it. And also submits another hotel receipt for me, which neither are resolved even to this day. Again… No biggie, I am a patient person.
The weeks go by, I drive to and from, and he delivers. I wondered briefly if he was getting the stop pay for these, or was I not involved due to my status as trainee.. No biggie. I will mention though of the 40 some times listed on my papers as performing back ups. I probably only actually did a dozen or so.. Since he did all the deliveries, he did 90% of them. I got the hook/drops in the distribution ctr, truck stops (which were rare). But, no biggie.
As it unfolded with other delays, layovers, and truck problems, I was on the truck till the 3rd week of Jan 2018. Needing to put his truck in the shop, he had me drive it to Lancaster, put it in, and then get to my upgrade tests for my own truck. No, he was not there. He had some personal issues to resolve and went home instead.
My drive test was fine, passed my written, and was assigned a truck. In much need of some body work, a gallon low on oil, stinking of cigarettes, and a permit book no one seemed to care about for some time. I managed to wander around to various people and get the guidebooks, permit papers, and engine oil I needed. No, no one really cared to help me find these things, and No, Derrick was no where to be found. Probably was still at home resolving his issues. But, no biggie. I figured it out best I could, wrote up the problems with the truck and then needed to work on getting home for my own sanity. Driver services inside Lancaster were very nice and helped with talking to Mike, Derricks Drv mgr in Denton. Who swears he'll get me home time but not in my truck. I'll have to fly or bus home. I was initially assigned Rochelle Ill, as my home terminal upon upgrade, which I had not heard from as of yet. I sent message and called there to determine my status, and could they get me home. But, no replies. So I head up to Denton and park at the Target dist. Such a wonderful place. My Drv mgr in Rochelle, Katy, calls me early morning and has to get back with me and to wait for her call. Meanwhile, Mike is calling me to step into the driver area. While there I explained it was my time for home time and had items of comfort I wanted to put into my truck that was unreasonable to carry on a bus or plane. He looked me straight and told me if I worked his routes tonight and Friday, that he would stay on his computer all day at home Saturday working on getting me home.. This really told me, he wasn't able to arrange it. So, I kindly say I am not ready to accept that, and told him I am waiting for a call back from Rochelle. Then he kindly tells me if I don't take these loads I'll never come back here. Awesome. At that moment I decided I had no intention of ever talking to, or working for Mike. He obviously did not care about anything of my needs and I took it as BS that he would work so hard for me. Particularly after he tells me I'd have to prove myself before getting any kind of dedicated/shuttle runs.
I was able to get a hold of Katy, and she arranged a t-call load from Lancaster to very close to my home, and gave me 4 days rest. And throughout the remainder of my time with swift, with little exception, she has been very kind and understanding consistently. Where other people at that location really need to look for another job as some are just frustrated and show it in their voice and the way they addressed me. I can only assume they are like this with other drivers as well.
Now, I have to admit, I called and asked allot of questions. My mentor was seriously lacking on basic information. When we did loaded macros for example, I'd go to the shack to get papers, he would have it already sent when I got back. Same with several others, but as result once I was on my own, I needed some assistance. So ya, allot of stupid questions I should have already known..
I head out 23rd Jan after my home time. Do pretty well, steady and decent distances. I spend the majority of my remaining time with swift on I-70, 80, & 90. And it's winter. It's cold, windy, and lots of snow and ice. Basically it really sucks. Several times I mention to my Drv mgr, to head south a bit. No dice.. I am cursed to the frozen tundra of the upper US. I have a leak inside my windshield, so I am able with Katy's help, to get my truck worked on. I get the leak, body work, front grill, and an airline repaired in Columbus. I am feeling pretty good. Of course the claims guy isn't so happy. Seems those repairs should have been done long before I was assigned the truck. So, I agreed with him. Asked why is that not procedure to review a truck before it leaves the lot? He assures me it is policy, but alas not many adhere to it. Personally I would assign one of the many useless people at swift to be a full time guy on that very thing. Complete review the permit book, stickers, etc. AND all maint needed on a truck BEFORE it's given to a new driver, AND they both go over the papers, Not like me where the guy said, ‘ya, it's in the lot, go find it and fill out this form. Bring it back when you're done.'.
But much like my permit book, no, sorry, it was not. While I'm here I get my HUD sticker for New York overnighted. Ya, they sent me to New York the week before, was a weekend so no one to send me a sticker.. ‘Oh well just go we'll cover you if you get stopped.'. Wow, that was so reassuring to know.
On my next load west through Nebraska I encounter an odd jerk in the steering when I brake, I stop at a TA truck stop for review of my front end. I pull in about 4:30 pm. The mechanic jacks up my front end and calls me over. He literally shakes my left steer tire in his hands, like several inches either direction. The right side is loose as well, but not as bad. He tells me the king pin is way bad, and needs replaced. We get to swift on road for authorization. The next day, we are still waiting. The load and truck put me about 79k lbs. It's terrible weather, hills/mountains/snow/ice/and strong winds. I check with the mech, he says swift isn't authorizing this yet. Now, eventually they did, but I was fairly assuming at this time that they would just say get moving and fix it at the next terminal.. In which I would have left that truck parked where it sat and rented a car headed for home. However, the repairs were eventually approved and finished late eve the 2nd day, I still had time to make my delivery on time.
At least two weeks ahead I set my home time. I stay for a month out. I need four days to land me home for a VA appt I have had for a long time. If you are not familiar with the VA, appts are hard to come by, and this was an MRI scan I needed. The date had been originally set in the fall of 2017, but rescheduled due to the big storms that shut things down across the gulf coast. So 27 Feb was the day I needed to be here, I set the 26th as my home day. I explain the need to Katy, who seems to agree and sets my day. As it got closer, I reminded her if I miss this appt I will not get another one. It took a year to get this one and I did not want to miss it.
Mid week before my Monday home time, I am in salt lake They want me to take a load from there to Washington State. Well, you don't need to be a geographical genius to know that is the wrong direction from Texas. So I call (Oddly as names go), Mike in Rochelle, tell him I have home time Monday and this run puts me 2k miles away, I doubt I'll get back on time if I go. He says, ‘We got it under control, I see your set the 26th for home time, we'll take care of it, just head on over get under that trailer and get on the way.' Or something to that effect.
Cursed for being responsible, I take it reluctantly. I make my drop on time and HEY! Guess what, I don't have enough time to get home. Gee did I see that coming? Funny how that worked out. Oh yes, I am working on getting upset. I eventually do, blame nearly everyone involved with my routing, as I am sure my home time date is available to them. And being the patient person I am, I get over it and move on.
After the drop I pick up locally there and I get sent to Phoenix instead, but really at this point I am already gonna have to cancel the appt.
I get to Phx, two days delay, and get a run to Dallas to drop in the yard. After that I get home almost a week late. Multi-Million dollar company, thousands of trucks being scheduled by the hour I'm sure.. And the one personal request I make is seemingly blown off for what? Well, just get under that trailer and be on your way.. We'll take care of you.
It kind took me back to ol' Mike in Denton, just do these loads, I'll take care of you and get you home. I almost think that's a line taught in a school or something..
So I get back into my truck after my home time, Doing my planning, looking at my next load. I am 290 miles to my pickup address. I am looking at my dispatch, says 16 miles empty. Well, sorry pal, that is not just a simple math error. Curious, I Iook back at some other runs. Since I keep good records, I see there are several more that are changed or different from the dispatch. What a scam. Now, I am not talking about the distance book swift uses compared to actual miles, I mean distances we changed outright. I dropped south of Columbus, it shows a certain miles empty to pick up at the terminal there. Once I was there and headed out, the dispatch came across again. With different empty miles listed. Wow, thanks. Kind cheap don't you think? Is swift really hurting that much to jip a few miles off?
Well, as I was picking up my phone to call my mgr about the 270 miles of limbo emptiness it rang and was my wife going to the hospital. So, I am afraid my priority was to her so I dropped that commitment load. The next day after careful considerations I told my mgr I was parking the truck and looking for a local job where I could be home for a while.
Now, I am a reasonable person. I am patient and can understand allot about schedules and timelines. I am also 100% on time, no accidents, and actually get and look behind me. Allot..
I was ready to go that morning, well stocked, and looking forward to another month out. So although I was ‘upset' the one time, let's summarize a bit over my 3 months with swift which added to my decision to walk away.
1. Recruiter set my terminal to Laredo rather than Lancaster, cost me $100/week.
2. My mentor did not really care other than being confident I could drive there, then back. And hated to stop for basically any reason. As an example he made me sit in the passenger seat while he drove for my 30 min break. Ya, he really was in that much of a hurry.
3. My alone time in that mentor truck really sucked. Days after days! In a parking lot.
4. No one helped with reviewing the truck or permit book before I left with it. Which resulted in problems later.
5. People making assurances that things will be done, that are not. Derrick swore he would get reimbursement for hotels and my pay rate issue. NOT. Mike in Denton swears he'll work all day at home for me… Ha. Not believable. Mike in Rochelle tells me not to worry, just get that trailer, we'll take care of your home time.. Ha.. Proven unbelievable.
6. Drv mgrs / dispatchers need to remember we're out on the road, alone. Sure some teams, but basically they are the only people we can rely on for certain information and direction to others we may need to contact. I hated calling to ask some question I should have already known the answer to. But getting some frustrated dork on the phone talking down to me like I'm an idiot isn't helping matters. Now I'm reluctant to call, if I do at all. And ya, things are missed or lost. I may just say screw it, figure it out later when something on the dispatch is confusing.. You have no idea how many times someone has told me, ‘you should already know how to do that'. I get it, I do. My only question to them is ‘Are you going to help me or not?' I was told the ‘new' swift puts drivers 1st. Well not everyone is playing that game. I was forever reminded I worked for them, not swift, not for myself, but them, the one looking into computer screens and spread sheets. I was just an entity that completed their jobs moving goods. When I drove before with swift, my Drv mgr was in contact with me almost daily. We talked about where I wanted to go, what direction. How long to stay out, how far did I want runs to be.. She was very interactive with me. The reason I quit then was because she left and I got a jerk replacement.
Now, seems Drv mgrs don't have say-so at all over when and where drivers go. Not much to do with them except change the fuel route or explain something on the dispatch.. Oh well.
That's pretty much it for my time with swift.
I hope this letter gives a little insight on some issues I had. Perhaps it will help with other drivers in the future. I wanted to be a mentor, but funny I had to apply before Oct 2017, but wasn't hired till Dec.. Don't ask me, that was on the kiosk. Oh, one more thing. Get those things replaced, they are terrible.