Just Another Trucker Training Diary?

Topic 20450 | Page 1

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Paul's Comment
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I have enjoyed reading the diaries so much that I thought I'd put my own out here for any of you who would like to follow along on my journey. smile.gif

A little backstory about me --

I'm originally from San Antonio, but my wife and I finally settled in Oklahoma City going on nine years ago after traveling around a bit. In that time we have had three beautiful little girls -- Willow, River and Aria -- and have led a pretty fun life. I took on a ministry in 2011 and ran a thrift store and sobriety house for men for a number of years before serving as the lead pastor of a small non denomination church for a little over a year. After that ended in 2015 I began driving a taxi, until a couple of months ago when I decided to lease my cab to my brother and take some time to refocus. The cab industry is dying and the job held little appeal to me. I could write a book about that...but I won't.

I went on an impulsive vacation with my family a couple of weeks ago. We received some unexpected money and so rented a car and drove from Oklahoma City to San Diego, then up to Hollywood and back home. It was incredible, and inspiring.

Most people would probably need therapy after driving halfway across the country with three little kids in the back seat, but it inspired me. I realized my passion, once again, to drive and see the country. I have always wanted to drive a semi-truck, but the thought of leaving my beautiful wife and three lovely little girls for such long periods of time has always been a deal breaker. After the trip, however, something changed.

I still am full of sadness at the thought of not being with my family for weeks on end. My wife and oldest daughter go through the day fairly well, with moments of sadness and tears, followed by hugs, in between. My younger two don’t quite grasp what is happening. I know it’s hard, I know I’m putting my family through the emotional ringer. But I feel it’s something I have to do, and I feel it will become more manageable if not easier with time--thanks to Old School for the advice on that in one of the articles here.

I love God and desire to serve him. I have often thought my place was in ministry, living a life of servitude, putting aside most luxuries and living on less in an effort to better serve God. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that life, and in fact lived it for years in utmost happiness–and in truth we live that life now and always will, regardless of how much money we make. But I have felt God pulling me toward a more secure lifestyle. I have felt God show me that my ministry is my family and my job is to be their provider, and the way I do that job is to find a stable career.

That, among many other reasons I won’t share here, has led me to pursue the trucking path. And so, in a little over two weeks I will be heading up to Springfield, MO, to begin the training period with Prime. I have been speaking with a recruiter out of Salt Lake and we wrapped up my paperwork. I need to wait for my birth certificate to come in the mail, and then I should be good to go.

I’m excited and scared and sad and nervous. So many things could go wrong. I could fail the physical; I have made some bad life choices regarding fast food and lack of exercise--which I am proud to say I am correcting with a complete lifestyle change. I could fail the tests--that pre-trip, man it looks rough. I suppose any number of things could happen. In the end, I know that if this is the right career for me, then all will be well. If it’s not, I want something to happen to prevent me from going down this road.

But, in truth, I feel confident more than anything. I am prepared, thanks to High Road Training, and am itching to get after it.

So I will keep a trucker’s diary of sorts here as time goes on. If this road keeps going, I imagine it will be therapeutic during the stress of training to sit and write it all out. I am a writer...tend to ramble on and on. Hope you guys don't mind

Phillyfan13's Comment
member avatar

Paul,

I can only imagine the difficulty in the separation from your family. I wish you the best and am sure God will lead you to where you need to be.

I look forward to your future posts.

God bless,

Scot

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Thanks, Scot. We are adjusting to the change, but I have to admit this morning I had a wave of regret over the things I will miss. Ah, I'm too sentimental perhaps. My wife and I have only spent a handful of nights apart in the last twelve years, and my kids have never been away from me--not even for sleepovers. So it will be an adjustment, but a healthy one I believe.

Well, I'll update this diary while I'm here --

My sister’s cat had kittens and for weeks now she has been pressuring me to take one home to my kids. I have resisted. Until yesterday, when we were over there to celebrate my wife’s birthday.

Side note — I have worn a beard for over a decade, so long my wife has never seen my chin, and even I forgot what it looked like. So I shaved earlier this year, my kids freaked out, my oldest broke her arm in an accident directly following it, and I quickly grew it back. However, we now know what I look like without a beard. Here is my picture with a beard.

JiSKLQ7PP43rVbRake1WNcgvvS3vk6-Ex5ipxd3KMrmefk9oK8qnuw5lekwaKsF6VzdnQ5fJ45R2QR1Tcc9575rQlswCLBYXnjHeCiMPi48CV8e9lna7wBmvcuna5azjQEJgxEGknMkElYB0-UrBDxBbl-0yqx53La8boiliN84Qad3DksJhfNf1S_gUzGbGLrR3vzGO3k3ygCTV449t8eSxcjL12iD26Y3nAM6l-5onSZogk_1loQSgtwMnFrwjt4FdVFzfNeg6kfdf15eiYf0xa2C9QYKr7pNjOh8Yk_XoH5cjJViVtTJ_CqA6hOmuBD8fe58DvkZ1ZAoc6LbWJO-Xo569CPFxMs_5_wLJGCQXkbHAfShndcLhF5phhy15WqXMFMFZHBm0Wp5FN_yF1OxpOO8KmnlaKaAOzLdcN6ergo62Dhf5M28ZKt2q4lBf6KIQduoGrB6EIjxXtl-dmDL8V3IXyJp4nOI8SAJop0WCr1HjNYc2t5yN-E9EfXE_ri4RTTGRrAM6Ri0jU85uxG3ypmvqUuOrdUTMC5_A6z2hZy_gNsOFSXqEqBtA2tMk1xH3DTBxGy2SxAUPnSpOl5cOL8yxKAUY71TGMKcgnSocOs_fqoj5=w434-h770-no

And here it is without.

4g_FC8WLqS3c9stb8dT7rZqh2o9VgZINHFTM617BIc7X_TN8qdDj2Fr8WvKy4K7rS-8QKV4nL7_mr3VMi_M54A7qDzpbKuddqdiC7gdb48CDzAQ1E_HbIp-El_WXkm4B35R6SkMv1pnwX-DqXL3uYKM9mWjAvcpSI_U9CNz7Hb0XuZ9zz-_E2eoo4VdLbU-FI_xDmnuT3w7U1bEJldZ0pTXK8Rq0Veywva2xevP7DHbxdonwQh8p2n3dJdezMajO2tmgyIE4vDCy_gLoLtfUIf1fVCed04T8v_PWGBrP15qlIoQCAL8FWmhHic7Ppa_DC8qHoOZqNorxme38fVEi7Sq_UqswWstTWUOtGeqCjOqjiSKN6UHyyxazqUzlv666OFyiwdm4D-477s_bWVCx-aWI7As429T-1xGakyMQDgfxj41CCJwJealEbLiqg_WkKGgbIM6JXOPj2Ftluc3ik4d0-P-7Td4v3f4IEPIJvqvlUoxOF7pXc6kdyMlq54PU_rVE8Omkwu_DVAKsjtJkxlF6lYjn601apXseXw6vgCjSWjHXUMOVezwAUjgGZ8a68melcxrW-supSvofqvb1Y5TVAaGwQvw33qpq3A-AIKyYkyvHDlv3=s300-no

Yes, I look like Gru. And I have three daughters and a red-headed wife. If only I was a super villain with cute little minions. Guess you can’t have it all.

I say this because, if you’ve seen any of the Despicable Me flicks, you’ll know that when my youngest daughter picked up the kitty and I–stupidly–asked her what she’d call it if it were hers, and she replied with ‘FLUFFY! IT’S SO FLUFFY!’…well, so we have a new kitten.

And it is currently hiding under the table next to me with my puppy, Tux, trying his best to get it. Poor cat.

Yesterday I jumped through another hoop in an effort to assure myself I’d pass every test to get my CDL.

qIiuMpKnBUnwhmpFaiaRaKi2BD4s9S6YUB5eY4XJzRD8HIh0XsnCvlwr7BKgCNua1a8lgf5MnntHN_x2_AsJnklKZ5fm1WjONUmXXvx3XOG5ttHqDIywQWH3aYju-Jzf9SBr5sDtnfPyFn5e43UqtQ8ldXR3eFY5DJ7gaHozM5-5TaD8fbEmVQXzdL2xT4g4_ihQ3F_5CRT_ccaobDINrmpxpU6SH3yvqasDCwbev7nduHNzauKJf4iPEY7fpAocNvedQv-AppFP1XKtd_221TJnypoLeaxu_fUqeypNvawWT0zyygAc-L7BivRS19oA6RAthfNAUWIXnF9nAXGbNA2PBKZdG83-ubBGu52zBtZ6-3qy-Kj5F-S2lCXiWAkrmuJS-3tw2GR5SzgSVVw6wx7D-0XCOMlbpzw3PwP0a3FAwz0WlpJtQJh87mEPwT02KfNi9oPW_Extc39htiFyt5I4N4L9TqiSANPnVHZ3L8gKiRnnCQpxhCBifUemgz5VQBv8qS7GP3H9laMohdZBSK8VloR42sMsfE-BPPd4GuAr62jXaXfaYL55_mAUM5D19ToDg8utFZk3MvwPIRnhrltyjzaU4ktIRtVeMbj0Y-j5aFE41CSp=w500-h400-no

I have always had low blood pressure for a guy my size, but being a large–fluffy–individual I knew there was a chance it would be above the 140/90 requirement by DOT and Prime. So I procured a home testing BP monitor and checked my blood pressure multiple times over the course of an evening and again this morning.

I’m not pleased. My blood pressure is reading between 148-151/86-95. From all I can gather if Prime takes it a number of times and sees that is is above their requirement they will send me home. DOT would write a one year med card for me, I’m not even pre-hypertensive, but Prime has their own policies, which I completely understand.

I’m going to be pro-active. I am doing two things. First, I’m starting a water fast for the next two weeks. Fasting, if done properly, is so good for a person, spiritually as well as physically, and I have been wanting to fast for some time…more for spiritual reasons, but again fasting also has had a documented affect on blood pressure.

Next I will visit my doctor today and take an official BP reading and ask him if it would be wise to get on a low dose of medication to bring it down before heading out to Prime. I have prepared myself for the possibility of not making it through the hoops, but I have always subscribed to the belief that if I take care of what is in my control then the rest will work out as it should

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Hypertension:

Abnormally high blood pressure.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Bmv:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Just a quick update -- I went to the doc this morning and had a full blood panel run just to make sure no surprises meet me in Missouri. The last time I did that was over a year ago, and I was healthy, but time does bring its share of problems. I will know tomorrow those results.

While there we checked my blood pressure and it was higher than the 140/90 Prime requires, so the doc put me on a DOT approved BP medication--thank God for insight in printing out a list ahead of time--and I immediately took a pill. 8 hours later I checked my BP twice and got 136/86. So that's working, apparently.

Does anybody have any recommendations on what documentation I should bring regarding the medication? Should I have a note from the doctor? I'm unsure of the process there. And, if I do have something such as Type II Diabetes, assuming it's manageable without insulin, will I be okay? I know the requirements, but the question I suppose I have is more that as we would have just found out two weeks prior, will I be okay or will they need a more extensive record of treatment?

Ahh...I knew this would be hard. But I'm up for it.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I had BP issues back in May when i started, cut out the salt watched what i ate and took my meds, i was so nervous when i went in for my physical so i can relate. I passed mine with a 117/76, ill say a prayer for ya brother. You got this and hope your journeys are safe.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

I had BP issues back in May when i started, cut out the salt watched what i ate and took my meds, i was so nervous when i went in for my physical so i can relate. I passed mine with a 117/76, ill say a prayer for ya brother. You got this and hope your journeys are safe.

Thank you, sir, prayers are always appreciated and I'm glad you passed. Yeah, my nerves are through the roof and I still have two weeks before I'm there...well, a bit under. Good news today, though! My blood tests came back normal, so no diabetes, and my blood pressure is testing below Prime's requirements. Next up is to secure the funding I'll need to keep my house in order during the time without pay. Options abound there, so I'm sure I'll be fine.

Going through High Road Training and man, not to brag, but I have been consistently getting 100s--except for the times when that word EXCEPT keeps popping up and I miss it. i.e. 'The following reasons are why brake fade occurs, EXCEPT.' I keep missing that word. But I'm at a solid 98% and am retaining the info, so I can't complain.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Hey, Ryle, I just saw that you're in OKC at CRST. I know it well, used to pick up drivers there in my yellow cab and take them all over the place. How are they treating you there?

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Just a small update. I did something foolish and began a water fast the day my doc prescribed me BP meds. There is something about fasting that, if you haven't done it before, you probably wouldn't get. But it is a wonderful time where you can reconnect with your body, become healthier rapidly, and really begin to feel great. Unless you just started a new medication. BAD idea. My body went all crazy and flushed its electrolytes and I got dehydrated despite the gallon of water I drank every day, and my heart rate went pretty high. I broke the fast and told my doc, and he chastised me and told me to drink lots of Gatorade.

He also prescribed a different BP med just in case the pulse rate issue was a side effect, and now I feel absolutely wonderful. My BP is down to acceptable levels as is my pulse rate and I have more energy than I know what to do with.

I leave on Sunday to Springfield, a 4 hour drive...well, eight hours. My wife and kids are coming to see me off, and kids need to pee about eighty times an hour. Still better than the bus! And we are happiest as a family when we're on the road together, so it will be a great sending off trip.

I spent some alone time with my seven-year-old yesterday and she started crying. She said she was going to be so sad when I left that she didn't know what she was going to do. I told her that yes, she would be sad, and the sadness would feel like it was going to go on forever, but it wouldn't. She would be happy again, and before she knew it I would be home.

Last night I laid in bed for hours telling myself the same thing. I knew this would be hard, but man sacrifices are important sometimes. We get stronger through such times.

Permit me this, not a preaching moment but simply something that has helped me.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, my wife and kids and I will head out for Springfield and Prime! A few nights ago I could not sleep for thinking about all I would miss with my wife and kids. My mind knew what would be involved in this sacrifice, I was absolutely aware of every missed tooth fairy appointment and every major growth spurt and all of the missed dinners at our favorite Korean restaurant, but my heart was slow to catch on. It was a hard night, but in the morning and from then on all of that was gone. It was as if my emotions caught up, sucked it up, and decided to soldier on. So now I am excited and prepared.

I'm even more prepared now thanks to an INCREDIBLE blessing. Some months ago my laptop's shift keys decided to stop working. No troubleshooting fixed it, so I adapted, uncomfortably, to not having shift keys. YOU try typing without shift keys. It ain't easy! -- That exclamation point, for example, would take me quite some time to put in.

But I was satisfied, because I don't care much for the finer things in life. Shift keys are a luxury. But then my kids decided to knock the poor old machine off a table, and it went on life support. I backed up all of my files onto flash drives--THOUSANDS of pictures!--and the next morning it had passed away quietly in the night.

And that was when an author I had recently published a book for contacted me and said she had a blessing for me. I met up with her and lo and behold she pulls out a Macbook Pro! Man this is the fanciest computer I've ever had! And...SHIFT keys!

So now I can continue to blog and Skype with my family and so on. God has a way of blessing his children, and I am thankful.

I'm aware this is not yet quite a training diary, so perhaps I'm posting too much personal stuff. If so, I apologize. The real training diary will begin momentarily.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Alright, made it to Springfield just fine. Had lunch with the family at Whole Hog Cafe, about a half block from the Campus Inn. Pretty good grub! I had a smoked chicken salad and Stacy split a combo plate with the kids...30 bucks to feed five people, or two people and three miniature people. Either way, good deal.

Got checked in, got the packet and said goodbye to the family. Met my roommate, Devon, a pretty nice guy. He was on his way out as he's in his second week of PSD and is doing a local dedicated route with his trainer, so he'll be back every night. Hoping our schedules don't clash. I usually hit the sack early and wake up early and he is just heading out at 1:00pm...well, it'll work out. He said "Welcome to hell week!" And I'm thinking, compared to what it took to make it just this far, I'm not concerned.

I dreamt last night that the toilets were lined up in the hallway with just a curtain to close them off from each other. I was relieved to see a real working bathroom here. In fact, it's an absolutely satisfactory room, much like any other half-rate motels you'd find along the interstate. I've stayed in worse, and the wifi is free and seems to work--so I'm happy.

So far so good. Now to fill out paperwork! :-)

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
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