TT- Hi Genevieve, thank you for taking a moment to speak with us. First, congratulations on being our Total Solo Driver of The Year!
G- Thank you! Yeah, I was quite surprised when I got the news.
TT- Why was that?
G- Well, mainly because I didn’t actually have a full year with Total in 2020.
TT- You certainly made up for lost time then. Tell us a little about yourself.
G- Let’s see… I’m from South Africa… and I came over here in 2012. It was tough, but I definitely don't regret anything. I started with Total in March 2020
TT- What did you do for work before coming to Total?
G – I worked at an Amazon Fulfillment Center.
TT- What made you want to get into trucking?
G- I wanted more freedom. We were micromanaged. I had targets to meet every hour. If I didn’t hit the rate every day, then I got a warning. I didn’t care for that much. I was stuck in a big warehouse with no windows and breathing the same stuffy air as everybody else. Basically, rubbing shoulders with the person next to you. When I found out Amazon would pay for my CDL training I took advantage of the opportunity.
TT- So how long have you been driving trucks altogether?
G- I’ve been driving for just under two years.
TT- How did you end up choosing Total?
G- Well, at first, I went to Werner. After 7 months, I started wondering if there might be a better fit for me out there. I didn't know anything about Total. I spoke to someone in the HR and Safety Department when I was leaving Warner. They actually recommended Total. They said they'd known many people to come here and it was a great company. I was like, Okay, then I'll apply there. Total was the first company I applied to; I didn't even hesitate. In just a few days I got a phone call and the process got started.
TT- Well, now that you know all about us, what do you think makes us different?
G- I am not a number. People know my name and I feel like I’m heard. I've worked hard for that. As you show people that you are committed to your job and put in the effort people are going to learn who you are. Then you're going to get more personal attention instead of maybe your call going to voicemail or something…. Obviously, there's exceptions, the shift changes, weekends and evenings get slammed because there are less people manning the phones and stuff. But that's the number one thing. Mr. Stomps is very hands-on as you know. We’re not a small company, by any means, but we’re smaller than what I came from. If there's an issue, I feel like I can get it addressed much easier and quicker. We also get updated on it, it's not just tossed to the wayside only to explode a year later. Someone will do something about it.
TT- Do you have any tips for other drivers to have good relationships with your FM and other support staff?
G- Yeah, communication is key. From day one, I made sure that I put a name to a face. I went and I met my fleet manager and showed them who I am. “Okay, good to meet you! Now, we know who we're talking to on the phone!” It's not just the name on the screen. If something is the matter, speak up, because we're all human, everybody's situation is unique. People are not going to just know what you need, what you're thinking, or any issues that you're having. This company is very accommodating. If you're not getting the communication from your fleet manager, or whomever, don't be afraid to be open about that. There's always other people to talk to if you don't feel comfortable with the person directly above you. I can just send people from safety, recruiting, or my TM an email, they will respond to me. There's a large number of ears that are willing to hear you out and see what they can do. We even have the new Driver Council. I mean even Mr. Stomps is happy to receive emails and text messages. Personally, I don't go that high. Nothing's been that much of an issue to disturb him and he's got a buttload on his plate already. I don't know what people call him for, but with so many people willing to help it better be important!
TT- Do you have any thoughts on our equipment?
G- (laughing) Well, I’m honestly not a big fan of the Drivertech.
TT- Then you should be hearing some good news next month!
G- That’s great news. Besides that though, I've had this truck since I started and everything runs. If it doesn’t, we get taken care of. If a repair will take a while or if I say I need it, I get put into a hotel in a heartbeat. There's no pushback, Total understands that my risk is important. I do drive nights. So getting a hotel for a couple of hours during the day seems a bit crazy to the average person and it actually was an issue with my previous job. To get several hours of sleep during the day means we have to pay for two days because of the check-in and check-out times. But that's never been an issue here.
TT- Do you have any advice for new drivers on how to be successful?
G- Drive when it’s your time to drive and rest when it's your time to rest. When your clock comes back on, drive. Don't turn down loads. We're here to move product from point a to point b, this is our job description. Also, when you don't turn down a load, or when you get a call and they're like “Look, you're the only person in that area can you please help us out with this hot load?” or whatever the case may be… then, you know, help them out. They will remember it. And when you need help later on they have that, let's call it an incentive to try to make sure that they can help you with your request. I run out my whole 11-hour clock if possible every day. And that gives me little mini weekends at the end of the week. It gives me time to do whatever I want for myself, instead of just doing recaps and running myself dead every day. But I feel like it ensures you use your whole 70-hour clock for the whole week. And you get a weekend. So it's a bigger paycheck and you're getting more, you're seeing more profits. And you know, you're getting that extra little something for yourself, you know, right?
TT- I’ll tell you one thing we’ve noticed. You might just have one of the most positive mental outlooks of any of our drivers. How do you do that?
G- I believe that everything happens for a reason. I don't look at something that's going wrong and then feel like it's the end of the world. I believe that the Lord has a reason for everything. I get put in certain situations that I may not like at the time but there's always a bigger, better outcome. I may not see it right then. But you know, give it a couple of hours or days or possibly even weeks. You'll see the bigger picture. Take religion out of it if you want. If there is an issue, don't just think about the problem, think about how you can fix it. I eat healthy and I try to work out when I can, that helps with your emotions, your endorphins and all that. From the moment I wake up I’m just happy to be living another day. If you bring that positive attitude into every encounter, if you put forth a friendly positive attitude, you have a much better chance of getting that back. Some people over the phone are just like, ”What do you want?” I try to put myself in their shoes. I am aware that they are having 1,000 calls coming in. And I'm sorry. This is just all I need quickly, you know, I try to get to the point. I think if I put myself in other people's shoes, it goes a long way. Voice that, acknowledge that, and communicate. The people in this industry are alone all the time and when they're not alone, they have people shouting at them wanting them to move, or you know why you're not there yet. It's nice to have a little break from that, it's nice to not just be the same. Maybe you can be that little bright light that changes someone’s day today.
TT- What do you think that it takes to become Total’s Solo Driver of the Year?
G- It takes determination. Okay, so when I came in, I looked up at the wall and I was like, my name is going to be up there for 2020. Now, obviously, I didn't actually think that I would be able to do it because I started late. But if that is what you want you got to go for it. Don't just give up. You got to take those loads. Don't get me wrong. I've said no to loads if I felt unsafe. If I knew that there was an extreme rainstorm or snowstorm up north or something like that. If I feel uncomfortable, I'll tell the company. They'll take it off me and give it to someone else that is more comfortable driving in those weather conditions. I’m not an expert, I’m still relatively a new driver. I also drive whenever I am able. You can still take vacation days, but not weeks and weeks on end. I haven't taken any vacation since I started. Any doctor's visits and that kind of stuff, I do in my 34’s. I tell my FM, this is where I need to be for my 34, I have an appointment, or to do this or that. I do everything I need to do on my time off, my 10-hour break, my 34-hour break, or reset. I don't dilly dally. Get your loads there on time. If you look like you’ll be early, call. Sometimes they can reschedule you to get in early. Also, another way to make sure that you get to where you need to and be successful about it is to cover your 6, because people will take chances. Taking chances can cause accidents or delays that can cause more paperwork and more delays later on.
TT- Is there anything else that you would like to say to our drivers or the company at large, because this is your moment.
G- I feel like I've said so much. It’s a team, we're all a team. You've heard of “one team, one dream?” This is teamwork. Without the people in the office, we wouldn't be able to do our jobs and vice versa. So try not to separate yourself from the people that you're speaking to. We are all trying to work together. We need to remember that. I mean, I wouldn't have been able to become Driver Of The Year without the help, support, teamwork, and good relationships that I have with the people in the office.
TT- Well, Genevieve, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us, thank you so much. Drive safely out there.