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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 12-29-07, 08:08 PM   #1
niccolo
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Employers Demanding that You Drive for Errands at Work

So I've been a bike commuter for over 10 years and I'm still in my mid-20's. I've owned only one car and didn't drive it that much. Now I'm in a situation where my employer is saying I have to drive the company truck for errands on the job site (in construction).

I'm honestly not that comfortable driving, especially with handling a vehicle in tight, confined spaces. I told them this and they said I was going to have to do it regardless.

Does anyone have any advice? I really don't want to buy a vehicle, but in the long run it seems like the only option I have to get that hands on experience. After the weekend is over, they are expecting me to come in and drive. And they also want to have me drive the forklift (after a 15 minute "training" class).
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Old 12-29-07, 09:03 PM   #2
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I feel your pain. I don't drive much any more, and I feel much less comfortable when I do have to drive once in a while.

But driving isn't really that difficult. It's just that we get so out of practice. They should let you practice with the company truck, or maybe you could borrow a friend's truck for a refresher. Otherwise, you're going to have to convince the managers that you can do the job BETTER without the truck.

Personally, I think driving a forklift would be a blast. But they better clear out of the way first before they turn me loose on it!
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Old 12-29-07, 09:11 PM   #3
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Personally, I think driving a forklift would be a blast. But they better clear out of the way first before they turn me loose on it!
It's great, especially if there's water or sand on the ground.
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Old 12-29-07, 09:43 PM   #4
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It's great, especially if there's water or sand on the ground.
It does look fun....like riding a bike on a frozen lake, except you're throwing a lot more weight around. Could you lift the company truck with the forklift? That suggests some interesting possibilities for workplace hijinks....
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Old 12-29-07, 10:01 PM   #5
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Should be easy as apple pie. There was great pik of someone working on their car seven feet in the air thanks to a forklift I wish I could find.
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Old 12-29-07, 10:06 PM   #6
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Driving a forklift is easy. Just take your time and practice. I learned on a POS gas powered forklift with a manual transmission. It really sucked. Just practice driving it around for a while and remember both the front and rear wheels turn. It takes a little getting used to. I think the hardest part is getting the forks into a pallet that is way over your head. Hopefully you want have to do that. I've dropped a pallet of 32 5 gallon water jugs and it was not fun. Also remember to dip the forks slightly down when entering a pallet. Otherwise it's easy to get hung up.
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Old 12-29-07, 10:13 PM   #7
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I don't think you need to buy a vehicle just to get "hands on practice". Just take it easy and learn on the job. I once worked at a small airport and had to learn how to drive fuel trucks and tugs (the little lawn mower like things that push planes around) and it wasn't that big of a deal. Heck, last year I taught myself to ride a unicycle... If you really don't think you can drive, then you shouldn't drive - ever. Otherwise, get over the fear and give it a try.
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Old 12-29-07, 10:36 PM   #8
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You've given them fair warning, now do it and if you crash, you crash. Too bad for them.
If it really bothers you, change jobs.
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Old 12-29-07, 10:41 PM   #9
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i had an employer demand i get a drivers license but then i found a better job. but yeah it does suck when that happens.
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Old 12-29-07, 10:59 PM   #10
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You've given them fair warning, now do it and if you crash, you crash. Too bad for them.
You did point this out to them, correct?

I can't see why they would want an inexperienced driver roaming the country with a company vehicle, but hey, it's their insurance, correct?

Or are you only driving this on the construction site?

Do you have a current driver's license?

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Old 12-30-07, 12:16 AM   #11
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I'm honestly not that comfortable driving, especially with handling a vehicle in tight, confined spaces. I told them this and they said I was going to have to do it regardless.
If your employers have told you they want you to drive the company truck, they should also let you use it to get a bit of practice time in. I doubt if this will be a problem for them. After all, that's the vehicle you're going to be driving and you need to get the feel of how it's going to handle.
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Old 12-30-07, 02:25 AM   #12
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If you don't want/need a car, I certainly wouldn't buy one for this reason.

If you feel like you need practice, go rent a car for the weekend.
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Old 12-30-07, 03:10 AM   #13
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The forklift I wouldn't worry about so much. In my own experience, I'm safer in a warehouse full of forklift drivers with revoked driving licenses than out on the street. Maybe it's something to do with the vague attempt at training, the direct supervision, or the resulting immediate threat of cessation of cash flow in response to well-defined safety violations.

The employer-knows-best situation is the one I'd give priority. Maybe they think you can handle driving, or should join the grownups, or what's the big deal it's not like it's hard, or maybe there's some sort of perceived hassle; who knows, but they aren't paying attention to an employee's goals. Trying to change an employee, or pushing work duties which obviously counter an employee's personal ambitions promotes alienation of employees. I'd play along (within reason) to pay the bills, but in the meantime I'd discretely look for an employer that isn't so basically ignorant of effective management practices. This might be tough in construction -- a field that seems to fill management positions based more on seniority than qualification.
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Old 12-30-07, 03:58 AM   #14
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I'm wondering if you'll need a commercial driver's license (CDL) to drive a company vehicle. It might not be required if it's only on-site, but either way, the extra practice will help, and the company should cover any class fees.
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Old 12-30-07, 08:53 AM   #15
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When I was in the Army stationed in Korea, my squad leader told me I was going to have to get qualified to drive the M818 Tractor Truck with Trailer. I told him I didn't know how to drive a stick. He said I was going to learn. So, the first time I ever drove a stick shift, and the last actually, was behind the wheel of one of these. Some might think that it would be fun to learn on one of these trucks, but I think that week pretty much sealed my fate as carfree.
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Old 12-30-07, 11:29 AM   #16
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Don't go out and buy a car for this...unless, of course, you just want a car. Driving isn't exactly rocket science and any experience you need, you will get OJT. Just use every opportunity to get stick time, and the experience will come quickly. Expect to make mistakes, it's part of the learning process.

Consider this: Eighteen months ago I had no experience at all with golf course maintenance and the equipment involved. Now I can operate all but two pieces of the equipment that we have at the shop (and implements, if applicable) in the dark, blindfolded, with one hand tied behind my back...well, you get the idea. And the other two pieces of equipment? Only two guys use those, and one of them is the Superintendent.
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Old 12-30-07, 11:39 AM   #17
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No one is addressing one issue: your employer is changing your job description. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but not something that should be done casually.

First - is the position unionized, or do you have a signed contract with the employer? In either case, they may not be able to force you to change your job duties.

Secondly - why you? Can anyone else do these new tasks? Sometimes employers are more flexible if you also bring them a solution. If Bob can and wants to do the work instead of you, problem solved.

Finally, you always have the option of hunting for a new job - how is the local job market?
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Old 12-30-07, 11:46 AM   #18
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not quite to the point, but enjoy: http://bikescape.blogspot.com/2007/1...p-against.html
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Old 12-30-07, 01:13 PM   #19
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No one is addressing one issue: your employer is changing your job description. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but not something that should be done casually.

First - is the position unionized, or do you have a signed contract with the employer? In either case, they may not be able to force you to change your job duties.

Secondly - why you? Can anyone else do these new tasks? Sometimes employers are more flexible if you also bring them a solution. If Bob can and wants to do the work instead of you, problem solved.

Finally, you always have the option of hunting for a new job - how is the local job market?
Those are good points.

I have been wondering why an employer would suddenly want an employee who has very little experience driving to suddenly start driving a vehicle. Seriously, your employer couldn't find someone who LIKES driving?

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Old 12-30-07, 02:51 PM   #20
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Borrowing the car for some practice sounds like a good compromise.
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Old 12-30-07, 03:02 PM   #21
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Maybe everybody else really sucks that bad and they need to use you as a driver.

Or maybe you're no good at anything else.

(joking!...)
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Old 12-30-07, 03:04 PM   #22
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Oh, I just thought --

Where I work, any time that a truck needs to move backwards, there needs to be another person behind them, directing the driver where to go. Hopefully they do the same kind of thing at your worksite.
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Old 12-30-07, 03:05 PM   #23
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When I was in the Army stationed in Korea, my squad leader told me I was going to have to get qualified to drive the M818 Tractor Truck with Trailer. I told him I didn't know how to drive a stick. He said I was going to learn. So, the first time I ever drove a stick shift, and the last actually, was behind the wheel of one of these. Some might think that it would be fun to learn on one of these trucks, but I think that week pretty much sealed my fate as carfree.
Ok I know I shouldn't admit to it but I would love to drive that truck.
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Old 12-30-07, 06:41 PM   #24
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Ok I know I shouldn't admit to it but I would love to drive that truck.
I would have loved to let you take my place.
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Old 12-30-07, 07:36 PM   #25
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I'll play the devil's advocate here.

Everybody wants to make this a situation where the company is brow-beating someone to do something they don't want to do. But from their perspectiv they may very well need the person who holds this particular job to be able to drive on company business. Many companies are small operations and can't hire people for specialized tasks.

And to those who think the company should just hire someone who likes to drive, the employer may very well do this... and fire the bicyclist.

It all boils down to whether the job has the requirement that the employee maintain a current driver's license and be able to drive on company business. If this is in the employment contract, was part of the employee's usual duties over the years, or was well-known to the employee at the time they were hired then it's the employees responsibility to continue to be available to drive. But if this driving requirement is a new duty, then the employer should work to either train the employee in their new duty or provide them with another equivalent position. If the employer is willing to provide both training and the vehicle, then the employer should suck it up and drive, or find another job.

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