Inside the Rig - Orientation Time! Part 2
by, 08.23.2012 at 07.16 PM (655 Views)
NOTE: There's a tip regarding taking the Greyhound bus to orientation. Located at the bottom of this blog...
Last week I had orientation with Arnold Transportation Services (ATS) in Jacksonville, FL. I'm just catching up now.
I took the Greyhound down from NC to FL. We had an unexpected bus change in Fayetteville, NC due to a problem with the bus. That's when I almost lost one of my bags with a lot of my stuff in it for the orientation/training. It was a scary 20 minutes or so as my bag disappeared after I had taken it off the bus, along with my laptop, and was carrying it around. I laid it down for a split second and talked to the girl that was transferring the bags to our new bus, and I was so close to the two bags that I just picked them up again, without looking carefully, and proceeded to the bathroom. Upon leaving the stall I noticed that one of the bags I was carrying was not mine! What's weird is that while I was in the stall, the police were talking to a guy in the bathroom saying "Sir, you need to step out of the stall!" At first I thought they were talking to me, but why? I just stayed silent and figured "There's NO WAY they are talking to me, I haven't done anything."
Back to the missing bag...
Right after washing up, I realized I had my laptop but the other bag that I was carrying was not mine. It was a black bag, about the same size, and it looked pretty much like my bag but was slightly different. I immediately thought somebody had switched bags with me, on purpose, and had made off with my bag. But luckily later on I found out that this was a wrong assumption.
After trying to acquire the assistance from the Fayetteville (aka FayetteNAM) police (they basically couldn't care less and told me to report it to Greyhound), and wandering around looking at everyone's bags, searching for my own, I realized that there was a name on the bag. I had Greyhound announce the person's name over the intercom to come up to the desk and claim their bag. The person did. His name was "Fred". This is actually a nickname for him (he's Iranian and more about him in a bit). But Fred did not have my bag. So finally, in desperation, I got the Greyhound manager to come with me as I checked all the baggage on the new bus. Finally I discovered my bag in the cargo hold.
Now for a few more weird things about the story. And sorry if this is long. But it's the weirdest 20 minutes of my life so it deserves some attention...
One of the FayetteNAM police officer's INSISTED that I got off the "new bus" and not the bus number I had reported to him. I just agreed with him since he was kinda helping, and when we searched the new bus, in the passenger seating, of course my bag wasn't there. The Greyhound manager tole the officer "No, that's not the bus, he was on the other bus". I told the officer "I told you that". Then he kept asking me "What color was your bag? Was it ALL black?" I kept repeating to him that it was an all black bag. Finally on the fourth time, I lost my patience with him and told him "If you can't remember what color it is, maybe you should write it down." He didn't take too kindly to that. He lost his temper and starting shouting at me that "If you give respect, I'll give respect" or some kind of junk like that. He really went off into a tirade, very unprofessional. He really made a scene. So I stepped up my game too. I told him that he should "just do his job" and told him to stop taking things so personally. That was the end of him, he left the scene.
And here's ANOTHER weird thing about this. I later talked to "Fred" as we were waiting for the taxis. He told me he was going to Arnold for orientation! I told him I was going there too. And as long as we were waiting together, I asked him "How do you think I wound up with your bag? Did you pick mine up by accident? Remember: my bag was laid down together with my laptop and when I came back, after walking literally 6 feet away and leaving it for a total of less than 10 seconds, the switch had been made. But Fred told me "I don't know. I never took my bag off of the bus."
Huh? This doesn't add up. How in the world did his bag get outside the bus, winding up in my hands? I think the taxi cab driver figured it out. I took my own cab over to the Comfort Sweets and the driver was a really nice guy. I told him the whole story and he suggested that perhaps Fred had indeed accidentally switched bags with me, but then he was too embarrassed to admit it when I asked him about it. It was obvious to the driver that Fred was lying about NOT removing his bag from the passenger area in the old bus and nobody else did either since the bus was locked down during the cargo transfer.
Finally, the last interesting part to this story. During the first day of orientation, I found Fred pretty interesting and nice. So I sat next to him and we talked about trucking, and Arnold, and a bunch of things. He lived in Raleigh, just down the road from me basically. But after lunch they sent him home. I got the word from some others in orientation that Fred had some undisclosed felonies that he was not forthright to Arnold about. Hmm.
And speaking of going home, we had a big orientation class. 25 total started out. 22 finished. Besides Fred, a guy was sent home for not disclosing to the doctor that he had major back surgery 10 years ago. This guy made a big stink about it when he left. Fred just quietly picked up his stuff and split without saying a word to anyone. This other guy announced that he had "forgotten" about the surgery because it was "so long ago". Hmm. According to the other guys in class that were talking to him, he had over 100 stitches/scars from the surgery. Funny that someone would forget about THAT!
I'd like to forget about my roommate I had for the first three days. He insisted on talking to his girlfriend at 3:00 AM when I was asleep in the bed next to his. And he didn't bother speaking softly either. No. He talked loudly just as if I weren't even in the room! Talk about consideration. I never said a thing to him about it, figured it wouldn't help with anyone that boneheaded. But I'm sure he got the message on Wednesday night when I was waiting for my trainer to arrive into town Thursday, bobtailing from a drop he made in Georgia. I dumped this guy for Whit, a veteran of Arnold that had left the company a few years ago and had decided to come back.
Anyway, the rest of orientation was uneventful, thank goodness. We finished up on Wednesday after lunch. Arnold did a great job assigning trucks, and by Thursday all the veteran drivers had their own trucks. There were about 9 students, including myself, and by Thursday most of us had trainers and were assigned to the trainer's truck and were ready to roll. Only 1 or 2 students had to wait beyond Thursday to get rolling. All in all, I was very impressed by the professionalism and great job Arnold had done all the way around with orientation. They seem like a company who really cares about their drivers. I'm really looking forward to working for this company.
Oh, and by the way. Taking the Greyhound was a good experience in spite of the goofy bag experience. I had internet all the way down with free WiFi. And the A/C was cranked so cold I was almost chilly, and it takes a lot to make me cold. So for anyone wondering about driving to an orientation versus the Greyhound, you may wan to consider sitting back and letting another professional deal with the long drive as you do what you want.
See you next time!
UP NEXT: Training: Week 1