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Regarding Transportation... (Big Posting)

4842 Views 61 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  aftershockews
Hello everyone who reads this.

I hope this is in the right category for this but I didn't know where else to post.

Sorry that my first posting here is not exactly a happy one and I don't intend to tell my life story but I need some advice from some people in the electrical trade who are far more seasoned than me and I need to provide adequate info to do it.

Here's the situation/question as quickly as I can describe: I'm in my mid/late 20's, finished an HVAC program for 8 months full time at a tech school, got EPA certified, ended up not liking HVAC/not being very good at it (except for the electrical end) but am interested in possibly pursuing a career as an electrician apprentice or even some kind of low voltage semi-related field (cameras, alarms).

Here's the issue and is what makes a lot of this electrical stuff business-wise very different from what I'm used to in AC.

In AC almost every last company I have ever seen/worked for and heard/seen others work for has had these trainees, helpers and apprentices ride along in company trucks with the techs or lead installers.

Yes you meet an an office, the guy's house, wherever, but you go to the actual job sites in a company truck, mostly just due to the fact that all the materials you need (R 410A cans, pressure tanks, copper, duct materials, etc.) are already in the company vehicle.

HERE is what's unusual about what I know of the electrical, at least the commercial end of it so far, compared to my AC experiences....

Now I have accepted 2 jobs that I unfortunately was not able to do because the gasoline costs and wear & tear on my personal vehicle would have been waaay too much.

The first of these was a place that hired me but wanted me to drive 40 minutes north for 3 straight weeks and be there at 7 am which meant I would have had to get up at 5 in the morning. I also was NOT going to be compensated for gasoline. Before you think I'm a whiny little girl please keep in mind that I have worked various jobs throughout my life and the reason I didn't last at AC was not because I was afraid to work hard, get dirty or bust my hump so to speak but because they were looking for a lead ASAP and hired me knowing I was only at helper level. I was never late, complained, etc. I got stabbed in the back by nails, minor refrigerant burns on my hands (which I quickly learned how not to get) and went to work sick as a dog at times.

The thing is that I know how much my car costs in gasoline.

It's an 04 Mustang, not a Mercedes, but it still guzzles quite a bit. I measure it by notches and there are 3 left once you're at the 1/4 one going to full. Basically $10 per notch for gasoline where I'm at in Florida (so each notch is essentially a quarter tank). Now when I used to drive to the owner's place to do AC work I'd spend about $20-30 each week 5 days a week which is what I'm used to BUT I calculated the INSANE distance that these electrical people wanted me to drive and realized that the amount of gasoline was simply astronomical. I mean I'm talking like $30-40 A DAY!

This happened again with a fire sprinkler place I had accepted a job for too. This time I actually tried and did drive to the first job BUT I found that even to go from their office (a 20 min drive which is nothing) back past my part of the city, to halfway through this other city (only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the actual job's destination) already had cost me nearly 2 notches, like a notch and a half. I had to turn around and politely but pathetically call the guy and decline the job. Considering I was only halfway to the actual job site at best GOING there and not even coming back which would have been another nightmare, I estimated a realistic 3.5-4 notches GONE round trip each day which equates to about $35-40 PER DAY IN GASOLINE CHARGES!!!!!

I'm sorry but to me, this is bats*h*i*t crazy. Consider I was getting paid $12 an hour, which sounded good to me, but do the math and you will quickly see that nearly all the profit I made would have been eaten alive instantly after gasoline costs of perhaps $200 a week!

What if this job had lasted 4 weeks? Or 2 months? I kept doing math and depending on how far out the job was and how long it went on I could and would actually profit around what I would to work a garbage $9.00 pr hr Seven-Eleven job.

It sounds crazy but $150-200 a week in gasoline compared to a mere $20? That adds up mate.

So here's my question... Am I to expect that basically every last commercial electric and maybe even most residential ones will expect me to beat up my own personal vehicle to get to these job sites?

Please remember that I'm not trying to sound like a princess (I'm male btw lol), nor am I trying to sound like I'm too good to drive to the job sites but considering that I am changing careers, have very little money and my family has had a very rough financial time the last few years my concerns for these driving costs are very real.

Am I not cut out for this then? Just based on that alone?

I am going to school part time for a computer design-related career that is a long term interest/passion of mine in the long run but as a 40 hr a week or more day job I really would like to be an electrical guy. I don't see why I can't have a day job and pursue another possible future career interest of mine.

I'm just wondering if I should bother.

I know the owners of lots of these places are not trying to be greedy a-holes on purpose and say, "No!! F*ck you fledgling! You drive 500 miles to the site and kill yourself for me! I'm not letting you get my Escalade seats sweaty!" but you have to understand how it boggles my mind that these dudes pulling $20,000-50,000 contracts for commercial work in a month or 2 supposedly can't afford some more company trucks for helper/apprentices to ride in. I also notice that they sometimes have foremen with their own trucks but never seem to let helpers ride w/ them even though there's room.

Why is this so accepted? Isn't it hard enough just learning and trying to be good at the trade?

AC people have their own trucks, plumbers have their own and hell I've even seen alarm companies with their own... so why not electrical?

I know there are plenty of replaceable helper/apprentice people who would give a limb to learn the trade but again I have to eat so as much as I may like it/want it I'm not going to get screwed over.

Please let me know your opinions. I'm not trying to troll or be a smart a*s*s or anything but if you were in my shoes and gasoline were THIS BIG of a concern I think you guys would understand.

1 - 20 of 62 Posts

· Coffee drinking member
I pretwist and then use wire nuts. Solder pots rule.
14,921 Posts
The more time under your belt, the more $$ your worth.
Get a car that gets better mileage.

I drive a Jeep, 17 MPG uphill, down hill don't matter. A brick is a brick.

Of course I'm the kind of person who fills my tank whenever it's needed and I never look at the cost. $60 bucks a week, so what, like milk i have to get it anyway.

· Registered
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply Wirenutting.

I hear ya' but $60 a week would be no concern to me.

$200 a week however is really what I'm facing and a big concern.

When the amount you're paying driving starts threatening the ability to pay rent or a mortgage, among other expenses, you see why this is a big deal for me?

I would get another car w/ better mileage but again not able to financially do that.

· Senior Lurker
1,310 Posts
I have almost 16 years of 100 mile a day commutes. Try it in a 1981 F150 4wd with a built Cobra jet 429. Ive been so mad about fuel economy some days that I almost pushed cars down the road cause I could.

· Senior Lurker
1,310 Posts
I also know a guy who made a 180 mile round trip daily. He was on a big commercial job, all prevailing wage. It was worth it for him at $90 an hour but I wasnt gonna sit in the truck that long even splitting gas with him.

· Registered
310 Posts
So what are some real world numbers that your taking about? Not just one notch or half way there. Are you getting 20mpg 10mpg, 50 mile commute what. Kinda hard for me to give real adivce with out knowing what your looking at. I would start by getting a car with better mpg even if it's just a $500 beater. As to the transportation issue, for the most part I show up at the office and ride to the job with the JW but there are a few jobs where I drive there. It's no big deal to me. The reason for me driving is it allows more time on the job working. We're actually on the site 7:30-4 instead of 8-3:30. One other option could be find a hotel or apartment and rent that. It would end up be cheaper than the "$200" you would spend on gas.


· RIP 1959-2015
10,730 Posts
Hello R welcome aboard..:thumbsup:

Life as an apprentice sucks, I've been there too.

Doing new construction you will be driving your own and paying for your own gas, so you need a truck that will get better mileage than the mustang, get rid of it and buy one again when you become a journeyman.

Take a good look at your pay stub and think about that fine man Obama playing golf, after all that is where the money they steal from you is going:laughing:

You will only ride in a van if the EC you are working for does service work, like HVAC Guys.

· Registered
565 Posts
Not being rude. Op it seems that you are suited for a sit down job. that requires no travel to or from work. Have you looked into working from home?

Have you ever considered how lucky you are to be given all these chances. With no experience?
This is reality The economy still sucks. and guys are still out of work or under employed. yet you get chance after chance only to complain about gas? I am sure they explained this to you during the interview. that you were required to get your own way to job site.

What more do you want a school bus to pick you up at your door. Take you to the job site. Than have some one serve you a hot lunch at lunch time ?

· Senile Member
I make all the electrons line up for their Flu shots
37,001 Posts
Get a load of how skinny Sammy is (was) in that video.....

· animal lover /rat bastard
13,504 Posts
get a more efficient car to get to work.

whining about 40 min drive ? I can't go anywhere in my area without driving 40 min or an hour, I try to limit it to 90 min ea way, but that doesn't always happen.

get a job pumping gas or at your local McD and stop whining, you can drive you car the 1 mile to work and be happy.
  • Like
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· Registered
7 Posts

I think this is more suited for our friend here.

Big deal, you have to drive. I do find it funny that you're complaining about not being able to get a new car, yet you're driving a Mustang. Never once did it occur to you to gee... I don't know, SELL the damn Mustang on Craigslist and buy a Honda.

You sound like the type who thinks everything should be handed to you on a silver platter. Kind of figures since you're in your 20s, and with this generation growing up being given participation trophies, you all think you're special and deserve to start at $20 an hour.

Louis CK was right about you twerps in your 20s.
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