A Week in the Life

1 month ago

6/30/2019 12:00PM EDT

Allie Knight

To see a world in a grain of sand

There are a lot of ways I could run this truck. I could drive cross country, I could drive almost completely local, I could go up and down the coast. But what I do is whatever pays the best. And it's not a rate per mile issue. It's a time issue. See, having an electronic log book makes your time more valuable of a resource than it already is in this short game of life. My time is worth more now than it ever has been before. Maybe I just understand the value of my services. Maybe I'm just too old for this garbage. Maybe I just want my efforts to be worth my time. Whatever my reasoning, it's good to note what my boundaries are, and when to break them.

But first. Let's start with the video showing you how these runs are handled.

This was shot over the course of five days. Monday thru Friday. The week started like most weeks, from home in York, PA. We then drive two and a half hours northeast into the Poconos of Pennsylvania. There, we do a quick drop hook and that's where this week becomes different. Normally the run takes me to Minneapolis and then down to Louisville, Kentucky. This time we were chasing a fat paycheck in Maine. But we had to get to the pickup in Ohio first. That's where the Poconos came in. That load took me to Cleveland. A short day run really. Less than a full day of work by just a hair. 

From Cleveland we drove south further into the heart of Ohio. That's where we picked up the load going to Maine. Practically Augusta, Maine. This route took me through what most drivers call the forsaken lands. The northeast. Most people don't go to the northeast. They have reservations about the traffic or the people or the "lack of parking." Sure, there aren't a lot of truckstops, but there are plenty of little nooks and crannies to stuff trucks in. There is no shortage of large retail centers to hide in. And unlike the middle of the country (Ohio I'm looking at you!) the northeast doesn't kick you out on the vast majority of occasions.

When I got this run to Maine, I checked the loadboard. The loads coming out of Maine for Landstar are usually water, and usually heavy, 45,000 pounds or so. I am a lazy driver and don't like putting that kind of weight on the back of Barbosa if I don't have to. Usually I don't. So I had originally decided to deadhead back home for the weekend. I had honestly decided I would have pulled in enough money to justify the cost of going home. I don't enjoy doing it, but when I have to decide between my time or my money, my time will usually win out.

I got lucky, though. I checked the board a couple more times and found a rare paper load going to New Jersey. I grabbed that thing so fast it was lightning. This paid for my tolls and mileage home and was well worth the effort. So let's go over the numbers.

Poconos to Cleveland: $1,100.00

Ohio to Maine: $3,100.00

Maine to New Jersey: $1,200.00

Grand total Gross: $5,400.00

Mileage: 1,917 miles

MPG: 7ish (we'll say 7.0 to make this easy) 274 gallons used

Fuel Price at Pump (Prior to IFTA and the Landstar Discount): $3.20

Fuel Cost: $880

Approx. Take Home (After Landstar Cut): $3,000

So I pulled 3 loads. Paid for all my fuel. And brought home a gross of 3 grand. Things that might be missing? Toll money. I have an EZ Pass through Best Pass and I love the damn thing. It works everywhere, so I don't have to lose time at the tolls AND I get a discount in almost every state. That's just in five days of working. That's a great week. I barely touched my 70 hour limit, I didn't drive hard, and the heaviest load was the paper out of Maine (43,000.) BUT WAIT ALLIE! YOU SAID NO HEAVY LOADS! Yeah. I did. And sometimes I pull them. Here was my choice. Pull nothing and spend 300 bucks going home, OR pull a heavy load and make 1200 gross and still go home. It wasn't water, and it paid the right amount of money.

None of these loads were under $3.00 a mile. My bare minimum rate per mile I pull is $1.96 - that's my break even number. Break even includes a take home pay of $2,000 a month. So three a mile is well above the minimum. What else do I take in to consideration? How much money I make in a day on the load. So Ohio to Maine was a two/three day load (picked on Wednesday, delivered on Friday.) So even if you count the pickup on Wednesday and the delivery on Friday that's still $1,000 a day. That's my target number, a grand a day. That makes the job worth my time. If it's less than that, I'm usually not looking at it. I give leeway for days where two loads overlap, this is a guideline not a rule.

A note on my fuel mileage. I don't drive slow. Fuck, I'm a speed limit kinda gal. Until I get out west, then anything over 72 is pushing it. That's just a little to fast for me. But if the speed limit is 70, you bet your ass I'm doing 70. I got places to be and my time is valuable. 70 miles an hour equals $210 bucks an hour at three dollars a mile. Even at $1.96 that's still 137 bucks. But again, I'm not worried about miles. I'm worried about time and a fat gross rate for the day.

Is this for everyone? Absolutely not. It's just how I make mine work. I'll share more trips and some heavier numbers as time goes on. But this is a pretty rough picture of that last week and the cashola we were hauling. They say time is money. I say time is more valuable than cash, but it sure does help justify how you spend that time.

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