The Phoenix Training Center is brand new. Brand new, like, some of the buildings weren’t even given the OK by city building inspectors until last week. I haven’t mentioned too much about all the complications and disruptions associated with us being the very first class to go through this center, because it’s really not specific to Schneider. I’ve been with several different companies over the years who have moved facilities and it never goes smoothly. I didn’t want to give the impression that this was a rocky start, because it’s always a rocky start, regardless of the company.
But, it’s been a rocky start.
From what I’ve been able to gleen from different people, Schneider is closing their Fontana Operating Center to build a whole new facility here in Phoenix. There has been a lot of shuffling of personnel, a lot of re-ordering of rank, and probably a lot of back room politics. Again, that wouldn’t be anything specific to Schneider. But I believe we got a glimpse into that window today.
A couple of corporate big wigs came an spoke to us today. Hand over heart I couldn’t tell you who they were or what their positions in the company was. But I definitely got the impression their presentations were as much about shoring up their authority on the base as it was about the dissemination of information.
First guy was from Texas, so that’s what I’ll call him. Texas, I think (don’t quote me) was a base leader. Or something. Haven’t really seen him before. Texas presented the Safety Briefing. This consisted of him saying things like “No drinking. If you are caught drinking in the 8 hours before you start your shift, pack up your belongings, you’re fired. Schneider trucks don’t do U-turns. If you are caught doing a U-turn, pack up your belongings, you’re fired. You can’t carry a weapon on your truck. If you are caught carrying a weapon on a Schneider truck, pack up your belongings, you’re fired.” It went on like this for almost a half hour.
After he left, our regular teacher said, “I’ve never really seen the Safety Briefing presented that way before”. I think it even caught her off guard.
Later on, someone else came in who I know I’ve never seen before and had even less of a personality than Texas. He talked about per-diem pay, then some corporate-speak about the “value triangle” between customers, associates and the business, and ended explaining to us why Schneider is union free; “We are a pro-associate company, see, therefore we don’t see the need for unions.”
All this continues to remind me that this isn’t just about me finding my footing in a new career. This is me as a cog removing myself from one wheel and volunteering to be put into another, insanely large, wheel. An entirely different wheel, actually.
In trucking, you talk about 10, 12 & 14 hour days like they are nothing. In fact, these are the expectations, rather than the exceptions. Working in an office, if you work one full hour over your normal eight hour day, you are considered a real go-getter. Or, you are working on something big. In trucking, if you only work nine hours from the start of your day to the finish, you are considered a slacker. It’s insane. No wonder fatigue is such a big issue with drivers.
The freight must flow, to paraphrase Dune. That’s the reason. Store shelves need to be stocked, construction sites need building materials, packages need to get there overnight. Transportation is twenty-four-seven in ways you and I can’t even imagine. It’s a battle against the clock, and I’ve signed up to serve on the front lines.
The day ended by watching some mind-numbingly tedious corporate videos. Mostly about HazMat. Some about harassment in the workplace (“If you even look at somebody wrong, or try to be funny in any way, pack up your belongings, you’re fired” is what it should have said.) There are many other videos but I would rather repeatedly pound my head against a brick wall than try to remember what they were about.
Tomorrow is the big test. I’m worried that I’m not worried. Hopefully it will be fine. Hopefully.
I’ll end with a funny story. Our classroom teacher shared with us an e-mail from the corporate office. It appears they are launching an investigation into which Schneider student ordered alcohol from the hotel’s room service and then charged it back to the room. They charged their booze to the frickin’ room!
This industry is full of chuckleheads, I kid you not. I wonder if the student will need any help packing up their belongings?