My Condensed Saga From CDL School So Far

Topic 20190 | Page 1

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Garth M.'s Comment
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The Wednesday I passed my license test I called the recruiter who had told me to call her as soon as I passed so I could be scheduled in their orientation class for the following Monday. That company seemed to have the most thorough training to offer and she invited me for a test drive the next day a Thursday, that went well I passed even though I was running on pure adrenaline and very little sleep in fact I was seriously debating whether I should have asked for a later date but I was foolishly worried it would evaporate never to be seen again, so after that I was scheduled in for the drug test and physical the following Friday which qualified me for orientation.

Orientation was excellent, we covered as much material with more detail than I had at CDL school and I found the other employees in this company to be a good bunch and all seemed happy while being very serious about their duties.

The week after orientation I worked at a tarping station in a drywall plant to become familiar with load securement and tarping, they haul a lot of drywall. It was a good experience and my construction background made it easier on the physical side of things.

My third week I was put with a trainer who had 43 years of safe driving behind him and he seemed easy going with a good sense of humour. I had a lot to learn about the equipment especially the many different variations of flatbed trailers this company had acquired from companies they absorbed through acquisitions.The first day seemed overwhelming but I was so happy and excited to be here, we almost did 14hrs which is legal in Canada and I barely had time to eat lunch. My trainer is a hard working fellow who likes things done his way and as it turned out doesn't hesitate to express any negative thoughts, the only downside was I didn't get to drive. The second day went the same and so did the third.

My trainer's truck had an 18spd and he went through every gear up and down, only using the clutch to start and stop hoping I would absorb this skill I guess because by the end of the first week I only had maybe 4hrs behind the wheel. I was beginning to wonder if I was missing something because I didn't seem to be making progress as fast as he wanted. it seemed as if he expected me to learn through osmosis. To make matters worse he mumbled and spoke in spurts that I couldn't distinguish whether the topics were important or trivial conversation, the second morning I explained that even though I passed several hearing tests before this I had a lifetime of construction and if he could, speak louder.

12 Tips For Surviving Your Time On The Road With A Trainer helped me get through the 2 weeks I spent with this person and even though I knew he was working hard on my behalf by the end of those 2 weeks I was seriously thinking I wasn't cut out for this job, the skills I had learned to drive the trucks at school had disappeared and I lost most of that self confidence. This trainer is an excellent driver and I was intimidated by his skill as we drove through and around Toronto on some of the busiest roads in North America, rush hour, hail storms you name it he never missed a shift or crossed a line but all the while mumbling just under the sound of the radio or wind rushing by the open window taking away the smoke from his cigarette. We weren't able to make the teacher pupil connection even though we both tried and I was hopeful when told I would have a different trainer for the next 2 weeks that I would do better.

Week 5 is a different story, much like what happened at school with two different instructors, one not so good to learn from the next way better. My new trainer has had me driving the first two days more than I had the previous 2 weeks and with hardly a peep. I'm back in the saddle and looking forward to next week with him because after that I'll be training over the road hauling steel coils and the like. The funny part is even though I'm sure my first trainer wrote me off and I didn't think I was learning anything, while driving with the second fellow I'm using much of what the first taught me particularly about handling the truck and the more relaxed I get the more I recall. I wish him well.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Way to hang in there, Garth. I wonder why trainers will stick with it, continuing to take on new drivers, when they are obviously burned out as far as the teaching goes? I figure they're still doing it to collect that extra pay carrying a student gets them. My experience with my OTR trainer has left me wanting to become a trainer, not because of the extra pay, but because (1) that's one less student going to him, and (2) I know I could do a much better job than he did. I think it's great you still wish him well, in spite of his gruffness. That's such a great attitude to have; it will serve you well in this industry/lifestyle. Looking forward to your next post!

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey Garth, that really was a very well told story and I really appreciate you sharing it. Congrats on getting as far as you have and it sounds like you're ready to step it up a notch into OTR and steel coils. Before you know it you'll be out there on your own doing it in the big leagues!

Your great attitude and your valiant attempts to keep learning, keep improving, and overcoming obstacles is serving you well and will continue to throughout your rookie year. It's the exact approach that people should strive for when getting started in this career.

Everyone is going to face all kinds of obstacles along the way. There will be trainers you don't mesh well with, equipment you don't feel comfortable in, skills you seem to be slow to pick up on; we all faced these obstacles getting started in this career. I've said before there's no such thing as a natural in trucking. There's simply nothing natural about driving a big rig. Shifting is clumsy and confusing, and backing these things up is like a Chinese Puzzle for quite a long time. It feels at times like someone's playing a joke on you.

I even wrote a light hearted article about learning to back up trucks:

The Backing Range At Trucking Driving School - It's Like Clown Soup For The Soul

Hang in there, keep a great attitude, and keep learning all you can. This is the most difficult part of a person's career right here - those first few months in the truck. It's not going to get a whole lot easier for a while I'm afraid. It won't be until you've been out there about six months or so that you'll start to feel like you're getting the hang of some of this. But it will get a little easier, especially if you're working hard to listen and learn from the guys and gals who have done this for a while.

Great job and thanks for sharing this story. I know a lot of people will learn some important lessons from it!

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Garth M.'s Comment
member avatar

I finished one week hauling steel coils and slabs, it was all local but that just meant loading and unloading up to three times a day so lots of practice. My trainer was a woman and I hope that someday I will be able to work as quickly as she does, I lost every race chaining and unchaining even though I'm sure she didn't know I was racing lol. This time i drove a 13spd and hauled some heavy stuff, 96,700 was the heaviest and negotiating in town made for some excitement but I learned a lot. Thankfully the trainer was very tolerant about my mistakes and positive about my overall ability so by the end of that week I knew I could work through anything she told my recruiter I was ready to go. After taking a week and a half off for family stuff my recruiter put me with the second trainer for the last two days to make sure and this coming Monday will be my first day on my own, I'll be driving locally using trucks of who ever is on holidays till the end of August as far as I know then hopefully I'll get my own truck. So far its been a challenging adventure for me overcoming my fear of failure after staking so much time and money to get to this point. I think back even only a month ago anout how nervous I was about some of tje simplest things and smile.

Paul F. 's Comment
member avatar

Garth.

Good story. I'll share my similar kind. Having a wmasful trainer. He was a skilled driver like yours, but had not one iota of patience. In less than 2 weeks with him, I got yelled at once before I started moving, once after I had made one shift, I was still in the parking area, and once for slowing down too early when ALL the cars ahead had their brake lights on. That was just getting out of bumper to bumper traffic. He kicked me off his truck for farting. No lie. He was a good driver, but didn't have the temperament to train.

Party on Garth ( see what I did there?)

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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