I can not believe how fast time is moving this week. I only have officially 3 more days of class???!!!! <img src="https://cdn.truckingtruth.com/smileys/shocked.png" class="smileyImage" />
It feels both like FOREVER and not enough time LOL. Let me explain this without coming off like a #######. When you do the same thing every single day in school, it starts to feel monotonous. Get to class, drive for 4 hours, go to lunch, go to the range for 3 hours, pre-trip for 2.5 hours, go home. Rinse and repeat and it gets a little boring. We have the pre-trip on lockdown. Each of us did it being timed, from start to finish and all passed with flying colors. So yeah..practice makes perfect but you can only say "securely mounted", "not cracked, bent or broken" so many times before you want to hit your head LOL
Driving is awesome and I really enjoy the morning time at school. It's never the same even if we are on the same roads. Each day something comes up that challenges us on the road and we have to figure out how to handle it or how to make this turn safely, etc. It really keeps you on your toes.
Driving on the range actually has become very tedious for most of my classmates. There are only 2 of us (myself included) that actually "need" to keep practicing backing. The others one-shot the maneuvers each and every time they attempt them. Gets kind of boring cause I don't have a "truck buddy" to talk to while I'm out there for hours each day.
With that said, backing was a success again today. So I'm very happy to know that yesterday wasn't a fluke and I CAN and WILL succeed next Wednesday!!!
BTW my pre-trip trial time run was 14.30 minutes with 5 misses. 4 of those misses were me forgetting to say that the lights are "the proper color" For whatever reason I kept saying "not missing" ?? Don't. know where that came from? LOL
So I'm sorry these might be getting boring and not as interesting as they might have been at first but to be honest, these days are getting a little repetitious. The finish line is in sight and the focus is high. I can't wait to share the victory with those of you following along with me!
Have a great night and stay safe!!
Trainco Trucking School w/ CFI
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Day 10 End of week 2
Holy cow, I'm down to 2 class days left. SMH
The nerves are trying to creep back up on me but I'm persistently fighting the urge to "freak out". LOL The CDL basic maneuver test (skills test) is right next to where we practice pre-trip and kind of the "hang out" area during breaks/lunch. So throughout the day, we can clearly watch students "testing out" and performing their skills test. It's extremely daunting knowing that everyone is watching you as you perform. It's even worse when that student gets in their own head and bombs the test. Which happens almost every day at least once. I know and fully understand that just cause someone else fails that portion of the test, has NO bearing on my ability to pass the test. I just had no idea how hard it seems to be to pass all three portions on the first go-round.
Today was another successful day all around. Driving was fun, really neat to drive around small-town Ohio, and through all the rural areas. I'm born and raised literally miles north of Detroit, MI, and farms and country life wasn't something I ever saw. Ohio is low-key pretty! Driving state routes for hours this week has been fun, challenging, and a great entry-level experience to life on the road. Literally, every single day for each of us, we experienced all kinds of hazards, lane closures, 4 wheeler stupidity, being cut off, etc. Enough to see and realize that what we all do each and every day is SO important to stay alert, avoid distractions and keep others around us safe, even when THEY cause the potentially dangerous situation.
My eyes have really been opened to the reality of what a trucker goes through each and every day. AND I'M NOT EVEN A "REAL" TRUCKER YET!!! I wish states did more focused public service announcements or even a class before getting your license to help the general public see and understand what a truck could do to them.
Anyway, I'm rambling and so so tired....so have a great night everybody, and stay safe!!!
Day 11 Start of the final week
Man does time fly! It literally feels like yesterday when I checked into my hotel room and pondered what lay before me in the coming days and weeks. Here I am, 12 hours away from walking through the doors for my last day of schooling. It's really bittersweet actually. I'm SOOO ready to be done with the training school. I just want to head to Joplin, and get started with CFI. ON the other hand, I've met some really really great guys and I'm gonna miss seeing them. LOL I know it's not super trucker-like to be all in my feels but...I'm kinda built that way.
Today, they threw us a curveball. Instead of heading out on the road, we started on the range/pad for backing practice. I decided that it would be a good idea to start at the beginning and do all the maneuvers that I've learned. So I did a straight-line back. No issue. Followed it up with roughly 5 offset back reverse lane-change maneuvers. Two or three to the right and the same on the left. Not as smooth as I would have liked but I literally haven't done this maneuver since day two of class, 15 days ago. The great thing about today is, I was able to correct and get the trailer into the lane without blowing the whole maneuver. So in short, I have been able to take all I've learned and successfully apply it to fix poor set-ups.
I then moved to my old nemesis the parallel parking maneuver. Started with the box to the driver's side and it was a rocky start. However, after a few attempts, I got it in the box. Very shallow finishing park job, but passing, nonetheless. Did both sides (left and right box) a few times and moved over to the alley dock maneuver. The particular tractor they had in the alley dock spot had these flared out fairing just behind the doors and the mirrors even fully pushed out, did not allow me to see the rear of the trailer. I couldn't even see the rear of the trailer looking out the window. I told them if I were to win the lottery, I'd come back and burn that tractor to the ground and purchase the school a new one!! (extremely frustrating experience) So yes, I got the maneuver done three times but took many pull-ups and even a couple of cones paid the price.
I'm ok with struggling when it's caused by me. I'm ok, knowing I'm new and can't nail every single maneuver with ease. However, I have NO patience for crappy, poorly maintained, and old outdated equipment. That is my number one complaint about this school. The range/pad trucks are absolute garbage. It made everything SO much harder than it needed to be to perform the maneuvers.
We did get out on the road today and I almost died at the hands of an amazon prime semi-truck. I was driving down north I-75 in early rush hour traffic. (around 3:30pm) I just merged onto 75 from I think 475? I was working my way over to the right, as the interchange comes in from the left side of the highway. A very nice 4 wheeler let me get over into the right lane as my exit was coming up within a mile or so. Up ahead I noticed a semi on the shoulder with 4 way flasher on. I looked to my driverside mirror there was no way I could get over. This amazon prime truck started rolling down the shoulder and started to merge into my lane roughly 500 feet ahead of me while I was slowing down from 60 mph. He had all his driver's side wheels over the white line when I started to pass him, now I'm pushed into the middle lane with cars on my side. Still braking, now harder than I was before, I desperately was riding between a semi and 4 wheelers who were freaking out about my abrupt lane departure.
I know I probably should have slowed down sooner. I was distracted in my attempt to merge into the right lane and probably noticed the semi later than I should have. I also probably should have blown my horn at the amazon truck in case he didn't see me?? (doubt that was the case) Anyway, no damage done, but much learned about NEVER allowing yourself to become so singularly focused on ONE task on the road that you neglect the ever-constant need to be proactive, and alert to everything else going on around you!!
Ended the day with more pre-trip and in-cab inspection w/ mandatory brake inspection. This I can do, and actually do, in my sleep now. Every night before bed I rehearse the full pre-trip in its entirety before falling asleep.
One last day boys and ladies...then testing on Wednesday. My nerves will probably be the main topic of my post tomorrow night.
Stay safe and have a great night!!!
Day 12 End of school....
When I arrived in Perrysburg, OH on May 9th, I didn't know what to expect. I was nervous, excited, hesitant, optimistic, and concerned. Wide range of emotions to say the least. I've never done anything quite like this before. Going out of state, away from friends, family, and my comfort zone. Taking a chance on finding a new career, a new beginning, a chance to find happiness, and let's face it, more money.
I found the last 16 days to be a roller coaster of emotions and success. Learning to drive a truck was actually the easy part. Learning how to control the truck, especially in reverse, well...that's another. All I've learned, all I've seen, heard, and experienced is only the tip of the iceberg. Knowing the learning will not stop or at the very least, slow down for many months to come is both exciting and motivating. It's cool learning a new skill. Knowing that you have a skill set that not everyone does/has. Driving an 80,000 lb truck is nothing to take lightly. My life and those of the ones around me are literally in my hands. I know that I can't take a day off mentally ever again. I must be alert, ready, focused, and engaged at all times when I'm moving down the highway.
I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to go to CFI. The few people I've been in touch with so far are genuinely so kind and welcoming. They are taking a chance on me and that is also something I don't take lightly. I look very forward to working hard, and keeping their customers, and property in the best of care!!
Tomorrow is the biggest day in my life that I've had in about 21 years. (when my daughter was born) I'm not going to lie and say that my nerves are settled or that I'm cool, calm, and collected. LOL Do I feel ready? 100% YES!! Do I know what I have to do tomorrow? 100% YES!! All I have to do is execute what I know to do. Seems so simple on my screen, yet...so complex at the same time. I know I have to get out of my own head. I know I have to have the confidence to succeed. I also know that I've done everything I'm going to be asked to do tomorrow, at least 100 times now. So I have to just do it. Plain and simple!!
If you are reading this tonight, I appreciate the prayers. If you are reading this on some other day down the road, I'll still take a prayer HAHA
I will keep posting updates as I move from school to orientation at CFI as well as my finisher/training time with a driver mentor. After all...this isn't the end but rather the beginning of all I have to learn.
Thank you to those that have contributed to these posts. For those who have encouraged me, taking the time to help me. Sincerely, THANK YOU!!! Please do not think I take that for granted. It means the world to me!
Have a wonderful night, stay safe, and here's to a future CDL holder in roughly 16 hours from now!!
So it's no surprise that how this post is going to end LOL but I thought that I would post today's experience for anyone that is reading this that is about to take the plunge into trucking.
My test was set up with the other two automatic drivers that were in my class with me. I had the middle test at 10:00 am. I arrived around 8:30 am so I could make sure I wasn't late and got into the proper mindset. I decided after much hand wringing that I wasn't going to practice before testing. They do give you the option of doing that but I went with the logic that if I was struggling, it would get in my head. Also, with all the practice on the range, I have had over the last 2 weeks, if I haven't figured it out by now, it ain't happening. LOL
The pre-trip went off without a hitch. I went through the whole in-cab, brake insp, and exterior insp with light check without taking a single point! I'm so happy about this because I put in so much effort to make sure the pre-trip was spot on. In fact, I think having this down perfectly helped me down the road.
We then moved into the basic skills maneuvers. I got (life everyone) the straight line back, offset back to the left lane, then sight side parallel back. I went through the straight line with no points, went through the offset with no points but used both my pull-ups and one get out and look. I just couldn't get away from the right side cones and I was afraid I was going to hit them. Come to find out I was lined up perfectly and just had to straight line back through the cones. Lastly, my nemesis the parallel back. Now I have gotten much more comfortable with the parallel over the last week. However, something about this maneuver just gets in my head. I did my approach and after my first maneuver and I'm chasing down the trailer to an "in-line" tractor and trailer approach. The key is to look out your mirror and look for the two outermost cones in the back of the box. All three cones, bad. Less than two cones, bad. I looked and I had NONE!! I completely missed my approach maneuver. So I adjusted twice as I backed slowly to get myself almost two cones. But by this point, I was pretty deep in the box so I quickly moved to bring my tractor into the box. I didn't get my trailer deep enough and I spent 5 pull-ups inching the trailer back and forth into the box. What I should have done was just pull up and reset my approach the first time.
Anyway, only took 3 points on the basic skills which is way less than the 12 allowed points.
Off to the road test portion of the test.
Now you would think that getting through the part of the test that I was most scared about would have set my mind at ease. It didn't...I haven't driven in the rain even once in a truck so of course, it starts pouring as we head out to the road. I can't figure out how to increase the speed of the wipers on the Volvo I'm driving. It's approaching lunchtime and our first turn off of the country road the school is on, is to a state highway, with NO TRAFFIC LIGHT!! Car and truck after car and truck. All the inspector keeps telling me is "don't impede traffic". So I'm trying to find a gap. I get one that is "close" but should work. I hit the gas and the truck lurches badly and jumps forward. I pull off the gas and gently retry to accelerate the truck lurches and jumps again. I'm realizing that the truck doesn't have proper traction on the slight incline and significantly wet roadway. She's freaking out thinking I'm slamming on the gas pedal. I apologized profusely and she calmed down some. We chalked it up to poor traction and first time in the rain and she let me continue. The rest of the drive went perfectly. She actually complimented me and informed me that I need to have more confidence because I'm a "good driver"
Overall I took 6 points on the road, 3 in the basic skills test, nothing on pre-trip. So that is a successful CDL test.
It's been a whirlwind and honestly, I met so many great people along the way.
The next update will come next week when I start orientation at CFI. Have a great weekend everybody, stay safe, and Happy Memorial Day!!!
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