I think I have mentioned before that I spent some time working in the Operations Department as a Fleet Manager and have already admitted that I was the worst Fleet Manager that the Company has every endured.
I spent much of my time talking to Drivers about many aspects of Trucking and occasionally spoke to someone who was understandably upset that the miles they were getting were somewhat lower than they expected and certainly not enough to keep them in the lifestyle to which they were accustomed. It is very easy to see who wants more than they should expect and those who really have a good complaint and something that needs attention.
Firstly on the computer screen that glows in front of every Fleet Manager is a display which shows everything to do with the Driver's truck who is calling in. When someone calls into Operations their FM calls up their truck and they can scan immediately needed details of the current trip, available hours and so on. One other little indicator flashes on the screen if the number of dispatched miles over the last week is low. That indicator also shows up when the Planners are looking at loads and assigning trucks to them which draws the attention of said Planner to the fact that a particular truck, and therefore it's Driver, needs the longer of the available loads; that keeps the Driver from calling their FM to complain about low miles. It's a good idea.
When I was sitting in there I looked at the number of hours the Driver had available. (For the uninitiated Professional Drivers have 70 hours to work with during the week which are whittled down as the Driver spends time behind the wheel or working around the truck.) If the number of hours were low then presumably the Driver wouldn't be calling in and no further action should be necessary because, unless they were spending far more of their hours on duty than was needed, they were running well enough to have used up all their hours and were now running on recaps.
Recaps: No, this is not about tires. (Again, this is for the uninitiated.) When we use hours during the week those are recorded on our Logbooks in an area called the "Recap" and after 8 days those hours become available again.
So then, a driver who has almost used their allocation of hours must be running well. Got it? Good.
Last week I didn't feel that I was running as I should and fired off a letter, okay an e-mail, to the powers that be to make them aware of my problem. They looked, no doubt, and sure enough my miles were indeed lower than they should have been and loads were assigned so that I would stop writing e-mails and calling my Fleet Manager. I made myself a squeaky wheel and I got the grease.
At the beginning of this week I languished for most of the day in McAllen, Texas and my Truck Driver mind went into overdrive imagining all sorts of scenarios. "I have been forgotten and Nobody Cares." After sitting around I was sent to Laredo to pick up a load going all the way to Pennsylvania. I hadn't been forgotten after all.
As I write I am sitting in a Rest Area in Tennessee on Interstate 81 and am wondering what happened to my hours. Apparently I have been running pretty well and only have two hours left for the week. At midnight I will gain nine hours from last week (that's the Recap I mentioned) and will have a full 11 hours ready to run tomorrow which will see me to the customer's dock.
Okay, I am apparently running well. My truck is working as it should. I am going home next week. The weather is nice. I am healthy and happy and Ellen (wife) isn't complaining at me. I should be happy shouldn't I?
Well I am. This has been a good day.