Just Another Trucker Training Diary?

Topic 20450 | Page 2

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Paul's Comment
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Quick update: Went wandering around Campus Inn and met quite a few pretty awesome people, some just starting out like myself, some waiting for a trainer, and some vets just hanging out. All I met were friendly and helpful and mostly positive.

I wandered to the simulator room just when a training session was ending, and I hung around until everybody was gone save the instructor and two students. I talked to him for some time and then he let me jump on a simulator! My first time behind the wheel of a "semi truck" and it went well. Except for the poor stop sign my trailer hit. Learning to double clutch and memorize shift patterns is my biggest challenge, it seems. Trying to juggle that while paying attention to the road was disorienting. But it renewed my excitement. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Strongman Trucker's Comment
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Paul - I just got on my last bus transfer in ST Louis, MO.. looks like there is anywhere from 10-20 other people on this bus coming to prime orientation.. should be arriving around midnight. I'll try to find you at breakfast tomorrow morning. Awesome you got to try out the simulator already!!

Paul's Comment
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Paul - I just got on my last bus transfer in ST Louis, MO.. looks like there is anywhere from 10-20 other people on this bus coming to prime orientation.. should be arriving around midnight. I'll try to find you at breakfast tomorrow morning. Awesome you got to try out the simulator already!!

It was great to meet you today, if only briefly. Today was such an odd day -- a slow-moving whirlwind. We'll have more time to talk in a day or two I'm sure.

Paul's Comment
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Day one is all but in the books. I still have sim class in a couple of hours, but after that the nurse prescription is sleep--lots of sleep. And I got that because, yes, my BP was high. :-/

Today was like a slow-moving whirlwind. Oftentimes a non-moving whirlwind. I showed up to class at 6:15, mainly because I had nothing else to do and killing forty-five minutes there at least ensured I was on time. I wasn't alone, and soon more and more people showed up. The class lasted about two and a half hours and was a basic orientation class, including class schedules and class assignments.

There were just under 100 of us and we were broken up into classes -- A, B, C & D. I got C, and for me that meant the order of my day was to go to Agility Screening, File Review, Drug Test and DOT Physical.

Agility was quick. Even though I was likely behind twenty people it took no time to go through the screening, so I had hope the rest of the day would be much the same. My hopes were dashed in File Review. If you want to know more about the agility screening process, check out my post here, where I talk about it in depth.

File Review is...well, where they review your files. The packet of info give upon check in to the hotel is gone over in detail. The guy who reviewed my files was stern and kind of a no-nonsense guy, so when he asked me why I was fired from Sprint 8 years ago I thought I was in for it. But then we ended up discussing the horror that Sprint is and all of the problems he had with them. The review itself, for me at least, was nothing--but the wait to get there! It was my first taste of what the rest of the day would be. I got in line at 10:18 and finally reached the reviewer at noon.

Patience is a virtue, however, and if you don't have that virtue after your first day in Orientation...well, you never will.

The drug test was nearly as long, and the physical was quicker by a hair. I have been stressing about my blood pressure for weeks now, and finally the time came to check my vital signs. All was good--the vision, hearing, etc.--but my BP was over the 140/90 requirement. I asked the nurse, worriedly, what I could do, because I had no doubt it was a combination of a lack of sleep and nerves, and she reassured me. She said that I will sleep well tonight, eat no food with sodium, drink a lot of water, and come see her in the morning, that she will take my BP as many times as necessary to get it under the limit.

Next and last was the "doctor" -- a nurse, really. You go in a room and take off your shirt, shoes and socks if you are a guy--jacket, shoes and socks if you're a girl--and the nurse comes in and checks reflexes, makes you squat and waddle like a duck, and then unbuttons your pants and presses under the abdomen to check for hernias. Invasive, but quick and easy. Even the squatting was easy.

After all of that it was right about 3PM and I had a late lunch/early dinner. Now, off to sims in a couple of hours! I hope that helps answer any questions some who are thinking of coming here may have. It is a grueling day, but absolutely worth 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.

Paul's Comment
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Alright, day two is almost complete. Last night at Sim Lab we spent the bulk of our class learning how to shift and double clutch , followed by a few minutes of doing it while the "truck" was "on"--so no actual visuals yet, save the tachometer, speedometer, and gauges that show clutch amount and so on. It was enlightening. I was looking at the shift patterns with a car's shift pattern in mind and it made absolutely no sense to me. However, I was doubly blessed because I have a great trainer and one of the two guys who was teamed up with me drove a truck once upon a time and has the heart of a teacher. So two trainers got my head around it, and once I saw it it clicked and the three of us were shifting like it was going out of style. Double clutching and using the gauges, putting foot back on floor after clutching and hand back on wheel after shifting--it all came together pretty well.

Today I was anxious about my blood pressure, so immediately after Roll Call, Program Review and HOS Logging class I grabbed a big cup of ice cold water and got in line, downing the rest right before going in to get it checked. And I passed! 130/80! Whew!

Because I didn't get my med card today I couldn't actually get my permit, but I COULD test for it, so I hopped on a shuttle and went to the DMV. I was amazed when I got in about halfway through a new thread I was reading on here. Took all four tests--General Knowledge, Combination Vehicles, Air Brakes and Tanker--and passed all really quickly. Thank you Brett and High Road Training!

A tip for all coming to Springfield, use High Road Training, then follow it up by downloading the CDL Prep app -- the one with the steering wheel icon. Take those practice exams as the questions seem to be the closest to what you see in MO. But I would start with High Road as it laid a foundation that really was invaluable.

Now I'm sitting pretty, about to devour the CBTs (Computer Based Training) and do some more sim work in a bit.

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.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

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.

DMV:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
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Paul, glad to hear of the normal BP reading. Onward and upward...best wishes!

Paul's Comment
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Paul, glad to hear of the normal BP reading. Onward and upward...best wishes!

Thank you, sir! All is going so very well. Even my family and I are adjusting beautifully. God is blessing the endeavor. 😄

G-Town's Comment
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double-quotes-start.png

Paul, glad to hear of the normal BP reading. Onward and upward...best wishes!

double-quotes-end.png

Thank you, sir! All is going so very well. Even my family and I are adjusting beautifully. God is blessing the endeavor. 😄

Very soon it will get more difficult...be prepared mentally for challenges beyond anything you have ever experienced. My advice to anyone at this phase, stay laser focused, maintain a positive attitude, apply yourself and maintain an even keel not allowing the highs or the lows to distract your focus. You mentioned shifting...everything you know about shifting a car or light truck, try to erase that from your memory. As you have already begun to realize, completely different and extremely unforgiving.

Good luck!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Paul's Comment
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double-quotes-end.png

Very soon it will get more difficult...be prepared mentally for challenges beyond anything you have ever experienced. My advice to anyone at this phase, stay laser focused, maintain a positive attitude, apply yourself and maintain an even keel not allowing the highs or the lows to distract your focus. You mentioned shifting...everything you know about shifting a car or light truck, try to erase that from your memory. As you have already begun to realize, completely different and extremely unforgiving.

Good luck!

Thank you sir, excellent advice. I am happy it has been smooth sailing but under no delusion that it will be easy. I am focused and prepared for the challenges.

As an update, my roommate was up watching TV again at 3am, so I made the best of it and got an early start to my day and finished up my CBTs. With a mental note to buy some earplugs ASAP. I got my med card at the 7am class, went to a sleep apnea class at 9:30 and wondered how in the world I'd get back for sim class by 1 if I caught the 11 shuttle to go get my permit. Right about then somebody who brought their personal vehicle offered a ride to anybody who needed it, and off I went. Back for lunch, sim class--instructor is confident I'm ready to test out but too many others weren't, so we'll test out tomorrow.

A personal note: I had $2.50 left over after paying for the permit, and I needed to do laundry--laundry cost exactly $2.50. Lol...synchronicity is fun sometimes.

Tomorrow will be my first truly relaxed day. I have a class at 7, then nothing until a meeting at 3, then nothing until 9 for my last sim class. If I pass that test, and I am very confident I will, I'm done with orientation. I don't know what I'll do with myself tomorrow, but I sure am looking forward to it! :-)

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.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Paul's Comment
member avatar

I don't know what I was thinking when I said I'd have free time today! Free time equals Pre Trip practice. I'm currently cracked, bent, broken, abraised, bulging and cut. And my hinges are not properly secured.

But I'm getting it. :-)

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