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Just Another Trucker Training Diary?

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Paul's Comment
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Today was another whirlwind. We toured the Millennium Building and, man it's obvious I'm in the Facebook or Google of truck driving. I am more and more pleased at my choice for trucking companies.

Next, met up with my trainer and spent time on the practice pad, and right when we were to head out his APU began smoking. So it's going in the shop tomorrow, which will delay us leaving a day. Before we headed in I spent a couple of hours during rush hour going in a huge loop consisting of highway and road miles. I should be heading out on the open road on Sunday.

Exciting news--this trainer is from OKC and his son is scheduled to be born on November 4th, so I will have to take a week to 10 days off at that time. My oldest daughter's birthday is November 4th! :D God is smoothing the way. :-)

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Paul's Comment
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Today has been a much needed reprieve. I woke up at 5am after a blissful seven hours of sleep, tried to go back to sleep but it just wasn't going to happen. I had planned to head out with a friend to the Millennium Building to grab breakfast at six, then head over to use some of my $200.00 advance to buy supplies for my oncoming adventure. At 6:45 he finally called and apologized; he'd overslept. So we finally made it to breakfast, then grabbed all I needed at Wally World, then went back to the Millennium to go to the campus store. He bought something then went off to smoke, so I checked out the movie theater, then made my way to his pickup truck. I waited a while and finally he texted and said he'd met up with his trainer. By then it was eleven o'clock and I had to be back to Campus Inn at noon to meet up with MY trainer, so I jumped on the shuttle and told him I'd meet up with him later.

I said that to show how important it is to manage your time, especially when unexpected events happen. You can't always control what happens to you, but you do what it takes to make sure you keep your appointments and leave the things you can't control--such as my supplies in his vehicle--to God. I'll get my stuff, but being late is never good.

Went out with the trainer and bobtailed for quite a while before driving it over to the practice pad to hook up to a trailer. We went over the coupling process, then he took it out to a Flying J, where I took over and drove back to the practice pad. I spent time practicing backing--a 90 then an alley dock, then a straight back--and then bobtailed it back to the Campus Inn.

Now I'm free. Tomorrow his APU gets fixed, then we'll likely be on a load going who knows where. Pretty cool!

Not sure if anybody reads these--I know they're long and definitely not for everybody--but I'm writing the sort of thing *I* would like to read while researching this career. Hope it helps somebody sometime. :-)

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Susan D. 's Comment
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Your posts are definitely being read by many, though rarely commented on.

Please keep up documenting your experience because different perspectives is always a good thing.

Old School's Comment
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Hey Paul, I've been reading along. I just don't comment much in this section of the forum.

It's been a good read. You express yourself well.

Paul's Comment
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Thanks, Susan and Old School! I didn't mean to sound like I was pandering for votes of confidence, but it IS good to know that people read this. :-)

By the way, I had the BEST gumbo today. I came out of my room and found a trucker with a Coleman propane camp stove on a foldup TV dinner table, cooking gumbo with shrimp and pork and...well, not quite sure what all was in it, but he saw my Servants Church, said, "Come on over here, man of God!" and filled me up a bowl. Man, that guy knows how to cook!

This really has been an incredible experience. :-)

Blue Zombie Trucker's Comment
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Paul, keep up with sharing your experience! It's good to know what we're in for! ☺

Paul's Comment
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Today was an odd day. Relaxed and yet exhausting and...well, it may not even be over yet. On the other hand, it may be. My trainer's APU is still not fixed and he's fed up with it and ready to go out on a load without it. I told him I'm game, and he put in for the next available load, but it's 9PM and still nothing. So we shall see.

I spent the first bit of the day video calling my wife and kids. The roommate was asleep and the parking lot sounded like a truck stop, so as I had a key to the trainer's truck I climbed up in it and spent some time with my family. It was a pleasant start to the day.

After that I took the shuttle to the Millennium for breakfast--man I'm eating too good here! I need to get on the road!--then back to Campus Inn for some pre-trip practice. I had a couple of students from last week who have not even passed permits yet come follow along as I did it. Made me realize that I am getting it down pretty well, which is always a nice feeling.

After I was cracked, bent and broken I walked to Wal-Mart to pick up some gloves, envelopes and stamps, and walked out the door tired and really not wanting to walk back to the motel, and wouldn't you know it but here comes the shuttle! So I took it to the Millennium for lunch, then shuttled "home" and took a nice long nap.

I'm glad I remembered the envelopes and stamps. I want to pick up post cards on the road and send them to the kids, and I thought writing nice old-school (;-) letters to my wife would make her happy. So I got on that tonight, will put it in the mail tomorrow...or Tuesday.

After the nap, I jumped in the trainer's truck and we bob tailed it to the practice pad. I backed right into the trailer and coupled it like a pro on the first time, then took it over and practiced straight backing three times...all I needed. That was easy. Offset was easy as well, though it took more times for me to nail every reference point while backing. But I did nail it, and I feel confident on that one. By the time we got to parallel we only were able to practice a few times, and I am about 75% there. My trainer keeps raving about me, so I guess I'm doing it okay. I didn't hit anything, so I can see his point.

He put me on notice after that, told me to rest and he would call me if a load came in. Might leave tonight, might not...welcome to the trucking world, right? Hurry up and wait. :-)

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Paul's Comment
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I went to bed last night at 10, dressed and ready for the phone call that could come any minute telling me to head out on my first load, and woke up at 5 refreshed and feeling good, and still unattached to a load. So I loafed around for a while then headed to the Millennium building for breakfast. I hung out there for a couple of hours, enjoying the peace, quiet and good wifi.

My trainer caught up with me and said we had a load, a small one going to a Wal-Mart distribution center 130 miles away, but a load nonetheless. He said it'd snowball from there, and he wasn't lying. The load was due for pickup in two hours, so I went back to my room and relaxed and prepared. When we finally went to pick up our load we had a preload dispatched to us going to Wyoming—my birth place, actually, a place I haven't been to since I was six months old. I'm excited!

My trainer drove the first load to show me a few things, and here I sit in the distribution center, waiting for them to unload us. From here I drive, heading 158 miles to pick up our next one, then 800 miles to Wyoming. My first big test, and I'm nervous and excited. I'm confident I won't hit anybody, but that's about where my confidence ends. It's good enough!

A note on the beds, as I'm sitting on one for the first time. It's not extremely comfortable. Not sure how I'll sleep, but I shall soon see.

G-Town's Comment
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Paul, I definitely keep up with your diary. I pick my spots offering comments...its about you at this point. There are literally thousands of people reading the diary forum every day. Your words are helping folks in many ways... we appreciate you taking the time to document your experiences.

Good luck!

Paul's Comment
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Yesterday morning my trainer and I left off on a voyage across Missouri, then we thought we'd be heading to Pennsylvania. That trip was replaced with one to Wyoming, but by the end of the day it became clear that there was no way we'd make the 6:45AM delivery time on the 6th. We picked it up around 7pm on the 4th with most of our clock already out. By 11PM we realized that after our ten hour break, then 11 hour drive time, there would be no way we'd make the 850 miles we had left to travel. 

My trainer worked on it with dispatch all day today while I drove, and by Lincoln, Nebraska we had another Prime driver waiting for us about an hour down the highway. We switched loads with him and now we are on our way to Southern California. It's Tuesday and this one is due Friday, sixty hours from right now, so we should have plenty of time to drive the 1500 miles through Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and finally Cali. 

This is turning into the adventure I wanted, and it's exciting. It hasn't been all chocolates and roses, though. My trainer and I have butted heads a bit. I'm by-the-book and he is decidedly not, opting to break some rules here and there, and it bugs me. I want to learn to plan trips and he doesn't really do that (hence the Wyoming fiasco). But, all in all, he's a good guy and I can overlook little things. We actually do get along pretty well. In truth, I know how to plan trips and the negative things are simply examples of what not to do. I can handle that.

I'm eligible to test out next Wednesday, and I'm advancing very quickly, so there's talk of heading back by then. We shall see. 

An update on the bed: It was either very comfortable or I was very tired. I slept like a baby. It doesn't hurt that the idling of the truck is like a miniature massage while I sleep. I'm enjoying it. 

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