Sorry to hear you fell off the wagon. When I started driving, I got up to almost three packs of Marlboro Red's a day. I started chewing tobacco to help quit smoking and I soon found myself going through 3 bags of Levi Garrett a day. I woke up one morning and my mouth felt funny so I decided I was going to quit all together. I eat the heck out of Atomic Fireball Jawbreakers and drink about 10 Coke Zero's a day, but I've been free from tobacco for almost two years now. I started stealing my old man's Copenhagen when I was about 10 or 11 and have either smoked or chewed until I was 40. So if I can quit, ANYBODY can quit!
Swift - Starting the New Year training with Swift 1/7/13 - A long read...
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As far as the flat salary, the student was still being paid if the mentor went home and was stuck in a hotel. Now, nope. If you have any questions, feel free to pm me and I can also give you my phone numberKickstand-117 Thanks this.
Exactly my thoughts. I think anyone with the willingness and right mentality can do this. I do think it's harder for those with a home to return to....wife, kids, pets, whatever. Doable but harder from what I understand. I don't have anything to come home to and since I love to drive, have the freedom to be out for as long as I can safely and sanely handle it it works for me. I've had some jobs that I really haven't enjoyed at all, some I hated but ya have to make it work. I don't see this happening here but I'm sure without a doubt there will be some really bad days and times ahead and there will be times that I may not like Swift certain days. But that is life and that is the way it is with any job. Ya gotta have the right attitude, prepare for the worst, plan to succeed and establish good relationships.
You are right. I'm about to get back on the wagon. I noticed today, since I have been back smoking, that my chest feels tighter and that concerns me. I've been with this habit too long. Started when I was 11 also and I'm 40 now. So it's about that time. Funny thing about smoking and cravings, the same thing that I can't get through my thick head, is that the anticipation of how good it will be to smoke never meets up to the expectations. What a drug. I don't want to spend my money and time smoking when I drive. I would probably easily go through 2 packs a day driving. I gotta restart my quit all over again in the next day and just tough it out all over again. Good to hear you quit, you did the right thing. Not passing judgment on any smokers still, you just quit when you know it's your time. I know for me it's that time. It's the toughest thing to break but when you do you feel so good about beating it. I lost that feeling again when I fell off but I'll get it back.
You are totally right. The mentor will burn up their hours as well and I know you have to keep rolling consistently and monitor your time so you don't have to do any unnecessary resets. Like you said the smart thing to do is to is spread the hours out over the week to keep rolling. I will definitely try to do that. Like you said either way I have to get the 240 so better to run smart than run hard. 100% correct. I'm hoping I get a good mentor. I will try to be the model trainee. I have a thick skin and just hope that they are safe, they can show me what I need to learn and have the patience to teach a newbie.
Anything you think you can add about what a trainee can do to be a better trainee let me know. I understand about listening to everything and taking it in, not being a know-it-all (as Im not), taking your shoes off inside the sleeper area, not packing too much, etc. But I don't really know all the inside scoop. Feel free to comment if you can think of something that is not commonly mentioned on here. I try to pick up as much info as possible. I"m really curious what its going to be like living with another guy in such close quarters for a month to six weeks. I'm excited but apprehensive a little. I'll deal no matter what but the not knowing what this kind of situation is going to be like is almost scary.
Day 8 -- More work on the range and finally I get to hit the gas and shift...
So as we start out every day, we begin while it is still dark at 0600 doing a pretrip inspection. I usually do mine pretty quick then go back to transferring my notes onto the index cards so I can really get this down. Tomorrow I should have the index cards completed and then I can really start focusing on just memorizing everything.
It's hard to explain but I know how to do the pretrip. I know how to check everything but relaying it back to someone word for word is going to be tough. That's the part I need to keep studying as the WA DMV testers want it verbatim. As it is it is 16 pages or something total. I think my notecards are going to help a lot asI have my own information and have color coded everything with a highliter. It's what works for me but maybe not for everyone. I've always been the type of student that needs to study hard. Things like that don't come as easily to me as those with the photographic memories. But this is my way.
After the pretrip we start either continuing straight backing, the 90 degree/alley dock, or the off-set. The straight backing is mostly because we have such a large class. 10 people when there is usually only 5 to a class. So the ones that can't do the alley dock or the off-set have to do straight backing until their turn comes up. I think some of us are getting pretty restless spending so much time just chugging slowing with no acceleration, only the clutch out putting back and forth in a straight line. Its great practice but when you start getting into too much of a routine then you get sloppy. At least I do and I start overcorrecting and messing up my line.
When I hit the 90 degree/alley dock today for the first time I nailed it. I almost didn't even need my one pull up to straighten up. We are given two pullups and one "get out" for our Swift test and our DMV practical. I almost hit it that first time without a pullup and I was going to do my George Jefferson happy strut around the trailer. I didn't, but almost. The next time I was all out of whack but I began to put it all together more and realized I was cutting the wheel too hard and too early and messing up my set up to back into the imaginary dock. I think it's slowly starting to click I just need a lot more practice to get it down more regularly.
The off-set backing is pretty tough at points because for a few seconds while you back up into the imaginary adjacent dock you have to back up blind. I use the big "X" under the trailer on the frame as a marker and that kind of sets me up when to cut the wheel the other way to line up the backing but then for a few moments I'm blind. I try to use the convex mirror under my regular side view mirror to keep an eye on the cones but it's so tough to see out of that mirror since the cones look like they are miles away. I started hitting the back ok but I usually need at least one pull-up to straighten the trailer out.
I tell ya, it's fun just to be sitting in a big rig and running around the yard in slow motion. I finally feel like I'm at least taking the first steps towards driving. I have a long, long way to go before I'm on my own and then a long way to go from there before I know what the hell I'm doing but it's exciting nonetheless just taking this first step. I wish I would have done this in my early 20's, if not for the adventure, travel, driving and freedom but just for the experience. I guess at least I'm doing it now.
I finally got on the local roads with one of our trainers to practice double clutching and just actually driving. I was scared ########. The trainer kept telling me, half joking, that I was abusing his Volvo since I was shifting the stick way too hard. I'll be honest, I really thought this portion was going to be cake for me since I have always had a stick, my motorcycle is manual trans. of course and I have always been a gearhead and a great driver. I was in for a surprise. I didn't do terrible but I didn't do great. I have a lot to learn and to adjust to. It was icy everywhere and packed snow but that wasn't really an issue. It was kind of surprising, although not upsetting, feeling that trailer slide to the side on the ice when I stopped at the stop signs. I could see it in the mirrors too just sliding off to the side by itself even though I was being gingerly with the brakes and we were going as slow as can be - probably like 5 mph coming to the stop signs.
The problem I was having with the shifting was making a timed, smooth transition between gears as I was either too fast and rushed or I was too slow. It was like the transmission wanted me to dance to a slow love song and I was out there on dance floor doing the Robot. It was crazy. Eventually the trainer said something like, "since you like abusing my truck so much, I have another idea on how to get you to stop". So he asked me to hold the top of the shifter with my finger tips like I was picking up a cue ball with just the tips of my fingers. Surprise! It worked and I no longer man handled the shifter. I'm not sure if I was being rough with it because I was so nervous (I was near panic at times) or because I'm used to shifting our old Jeep Cherokee with the tricky transmission back home, but I was being rough. The finger tip thing worked. Apparently from what I heard later, I was the only one with this issue. That sucks. I also have to get used to downshifting. The whole double clutching and matching your revs while you are in neutral before downshifting was weird. Im just not used to that at all. I know this will all become second nature soon enough but until then it's going to be embarassing as I fumble around with this whole thing. I want to get the shifting down so I can concentrate more on the road, traffic around me, clearance issues, turning, etc. I want to be able to shift again like I do on my motorcycle or in the car without thinking about it. When I ride my bike (one of those GSXR crotch rockets) and I occasionally do a trackday I can blip my throttle downshifting in perfect time and that bike redlines at 12,500 rpms. No problem there. This seems like a similar type of situation matching the revs in the truck but for some reason I fumbled with it. It will take some time.
From what I understand we are going to be going out all week between working on our backing. Swift requires or/and the WA DMV requires something like 3 hours of nighttime driving so we will be doing that while it is still dark in the morning. Despite all the nervousness of this first on road drive today it was still fun to be out there with some light traffic driving around. Pretty cool stuff.
This week we finish up the backing exercises, the local road shifting training and then at the end of the week Swift tests us on all of it. Swift's requirements are more strict that the WA DMV test as far as how many points you can lose so that is good. I"m a little nervous as I only have 3 more days or less to get this stuff down before the Swift tests.
Next week I believe we go out on the road all day and all week in local traffic driving around and on the local highways. I can't even think about that at this point as I have so much to work on with this other stuff. Exciting and scary altogether. There is no fail in my picture. I don't want to and won't let it happen. I gotta nail this stuff this week. At the end of next week we are driven into Pasco Washington for the real DMV driving test. Scary stuff.
Sounds like you are progressing at a good pace Doc. A good trick that might help- instead of getting worked up about the next thing you are supposed to learn try and relish what you have already learned and be proud that you can do one more thing that 99% of the rest of he world can't do. It's all about perspective. Driving a truck can be broken down into little victories. Before you know it, you string all those victories together and it starts coming natural. Think of it like your flash cards. Each card represents one aspect of your pre-trip. Put all of them together and you have a complete pre-trip. Truck driving is the same thing. It's being able to put a lot of little things together to get the job done. Concentrate on the task at hand and you will use that as a building block for the next thing you will learn.
I give a lot of credit for those that do this. It seems easy when you have been doing it for a while but I can appreciate the learning curve. It's definitely not something everyone can do. I've done a lot of things in my past that were challenging but this is another one of the tough ones. Tough meaning not easy but definitely enjoyable. I can appreciate it.
Today we did more of the same but with a twist. I was tested with Swift on my 90 degree when I wasn't really expecting it. The big boss here had given me some great pointers earlier in the day and it really helped me get it down better. Later in the day after watching me he walked over with the clipboard, explained the rules and I had at it. Swift tests us to tougher standards than our own state DMV tests so that is good. Tougher but good. I only needed one small pullup but I lost 2 points because as I backed into the imaginary dock my front end kicked a little over to the right running out of bounds. I think I did pretty good overall. For all three backing tests (straight back/alley dock/off-set) we are allowed a total of 12 points to lose. Washington state allows 18 points to lose. So I have two of the three backing tests done and only lost 2 points thus far. Tomorrow I need to practice the off-set more and then I'm tested. We also have our pre-trip test tomorrow, if they get to me.
I put in another hour of drive time today. I figured we would just drive the loop around the training facility again like we did last time but I was wrong. We pulled up to a stop sign in my trainer's Volvo and I was told to make a left on what appeared to be a local highway. It went up a decent sized hill and back down. I thought I was going to have to change my drawers when I got back but apparently I did pretty good. After riding a motorcycle for so many years and rarely driving a car, let alone never driving a rig, I felt like I was going super fast even when we were just doing 52 mph. It's the opposite affect on a motorcycle as you feel like you are going slower. It was fun but scary as hell. I need more work on my downshifting with the double clutch. I'll get there with time.
Gonna hit the sack early as I almost made it to class late. I use a CPAP machine and last night I dozed off without using it so I didn't get any real rest. When I finally put it on and my body fell into a deep sleep I woke at the time the shuttle comes. I looked out the door and it was gone. Luckily I caught a couple of guys driving in and they saved the day. Won't let that ever happen again as this is too important.
Doc- did Swift give you any grief about the CPAP machine? Do they make you give some kind of corresponding documentation from your doctor? Just curious. I was talking with a US Xpress driver today who just started using one and said their company has been very accommodating with him. He said some companies make you jump through hoops about them. I don't use one so its never been an issue with me that I felt like investigating. Again, just curious in case I'm part of another conversation about them.
How's the down-shifting coming? If you stay out west you are certainly going to get enough practice rolling up and down those mountains. For a guy like me who's from the middle of a Mississippi cotton field, my best friends when it comes to rolling down hills is a jake brake and trailer brake. My uncle drove for 30 years starting in the 70's and he told me you are successful at coming off a mountain when you don't have to stop and change your drawers at the bottom.
So far Swift seems pretty cool about the CPAP machine. When I went in for my DOT physical I had seen my personal doc earlier that morning and he gave me a note stating that the CPAP treatment was working. Prior to that I had to bring him a months worth of printouts to show I was using it and it was effective. However, Swift didn't require it but I wanted to go to my DOT physical prepared. The DOT doc was surprised I had all my ducks in a row. When I got to training they sent a few people to the DOT physical including a guy much bigger than me, probably about 350 lbs easily, and he said they the doc there didn't even ask him about sleep apnea or take a neck measurement.
When I told Swift about the sleep apnea they sounded cool with it and said that my mentor's truck would be outfitted with an inverter and then my own truck once I go solo. Seems like they are cool with it. I'm hoping once I get insurance I can just buy this newer machine I'm using as currently it is only a loaner this company apparently forgot about. Swift seems cool tho with the CPAP issue.
I didn't get a chance to drive out on the roads today so no more practice on my downshifting. I know it's easier than I'm making it out to be but I struggled a little with it last time. It's just weird downshifting into neutral then revving the engine, hitting the clutch and shifting. It's just so different than any of my prior shifting experience. I gotta work on it some more.
I'm losing track of my days. I think today is day 10.
No road work today. Spent the majority of the day preparing for the Swift pretrip test. All of Swift's tests are the same as your respective state's tests but more strict so you can pass the state test more easily. Tomorrow I take the pretrip test. Hoping I do well. I'm going to study a little more tonight and then get some rest.
It was freakin freezing on the range today. I think the high couldn't have been much higher than freezing temps but at least the sun came up and that made me feel better. The mud on the range stayed frozen all day so it was a bumpy ride during those times I practiced and took my off-set backing test. I finally have all 3 Swift backing tests completed. Again, they grade them tougher than the state test so that is good. I'm happy that I only missed 2 points total for 98% cumulatively for all 3 tests. I missed those 2 points during the 90 degree backing for encroachment. I can't believe I hit the off-set spot on. Luckily we are only tested from one lane in the left to the lane in the right which is the easier way to do the off-set since once you begin the back with the trailer going to the right initially, once it swings back straight you can see it out your closer sideview mirror and just do a straight back. I used my one free pull-up to straighten it out. Happy I passed all 3 and did well.
I did see three huge bucks up on the hill today just walking slowly into the woods. Pretty cool seeing wildlife so close to the practice range.
Homeless beagle was still running around unable to be caught.
Tomorrow is pretrip testing and some more backing practice. I think Saturday may be videos and some classroom stuff. I'll know more then.
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