I remember my first days at CFI, that was in 1995; I was in orientation and unsure of many things. For example, was I making a mistake? Well 20 years later I am still here and don't plan to go anywhere anytime soon. That said, if we win the lottery next week ~ adios! Even then we wouldn't burn our bridges, CFI has been good to us and we have made many friends here.
While sitting in orientation I realized that I wasn't going to remember everything I was being told. I had stacks of notes and could even read some of them - my hand writing isn't the best. I had been given the company handbook and expected that would yield many answers once I was done with the orientation process.
Some of us in the orientation were coming in from other companies and were therefore considered "experienced". Others were brand new to the industry having completed driving school and were about to hit the road for the first time with their trainers, or as we call them, "Finishers". For the latter group orientation would continue with their Finisher and any questions would be answered during their trips. What about those of us with the "experienced" group? Now there's a good question and I expected to be on the phone regularly to my Dispatcher asking one "dumb" question after another.
I quickly realized that there is no such thing as a "dumb" question, except perhaps that a question unasked could be considered as such. I also realized that there are plenty of people at CFI who are very happy to answer questions. There are a lot of Million Milers here and all are happy to pass on their wisdom and lend their experience. At the time of writing I have 2.5 million miles under my belt and Ellen is just over her first million. We are not only willing to give advice we are actually happy doing so.
So we have a website. It was originally created to catch a few recruiting bonuses, CFI is very generous that way. Over time it has become more of an avenue to pass on a little advice and encouragement to those who are at the beginning of their driving career and need a few tips to help them out. Not that we mind the occasional recruiting bonus which offsets the cost of the site.
Ellen and I don't limit ourselves to CFI either. We have found ourselves helping others who don't drive for us but were a little lost never the less. I do draw the line however at certain points and will tell a story so you understand what I mean.
Ellen was sleeping and I had arrived at a customer, reported into their receiving office, been assigned a dock and backed in. As I had arrived I saw another truck, no need to mention the company involved, whose driver was trying to make a straight line back into his dock. I was now docked and the other driver was still trying to get the job done and from what I could see he was making every mistake in the book.
I could have watched him suffer but elected to give him some needed help, a little training so that he would be able to do it now and in the future.
He explained that this was his first trip out and I wasn't surprised. I gave him some hints and a few tips.
"Put your hands at the bottom of the wheel," I said, "now if you move your hands left the trailer will come around to the left ....."
He told me that he hadn't been given that piece of advise before and began backing with a little more success. I walked alongside the cab and continued giving him some advise and a few tips. Then I realized that he was talking to someone and asked him to stop. I had thought he was on the phone and was going to tell him off. I was wrong.
HE WAS TALKING TO HIS TRAINER WHO WAS READING A BOOK IN THE BUNK!!!!!
I had some very impolite words with his trainer and left them to their own devices. Additionally I called their company and asked if this was what they considered a good training method.
As I said, I draw the line at some point.
Talking with other drivers is helpful to everyone no matter how long they have been driving. Ellen and I don't know it all but we are willing to ask and know the right people with the answers. We have set ourselves up to be a sounding board, an answering machine and perhaps a direct link between the Driver's Lounge and the Big House.
Drivers have the God given right to complain and we all take full advantage of it at every opportunity. Most of the time we complain about something that we don't quite understand, a miscommunication. This website works to explain what is sometimes unexplainable in just a few words. We answer questions ourselves or get them answered by the people who know what they are talking about.
One thing we do not do is pull the wool over people's eyes. We tell it like it is.
Unfortunately we are seeing some come into our industry expecting to have it all given to them and they give full voice to their God given right. Trucking isn't easy and it isn't a way to quick riches. Sure we can all do well but it takes hard work and discipline and some folks just don't get that. We are very happy to explain it to some, especially those capable of understanding it. Those who don't can go work with a shovel - except that is hard work too.
We are here for anyone who needs to know and is willing to learn. Give it a try, drop us a line.
Croc' and Ellen