Just Another Trucker Training Diary?

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Paul's Comment
member avatar

Last night we stopped at a Wal-Mart somewhere in Colorado and I had no WifI or service on my phone (so no tethering, as I am now)--and I was too tired to care about writing anything anyway. It was a beast of a day. I drove the rest of the way through Nebraska then to Denver, wondering what on earth was wrong with Colorado. I always envisioned mountains everywhere, and up to Denver there was nothing. And then...boom, there they are! I drove about an hour down steep grades and back up and then back down again, learning how to use the jake brake and handle speeds. I did really well, but my trainer (and I, let's be honest) was on edge the whole time. Finally he took over and drove the rest of the day, and I was happy for it. I was worn out, absolutely exhausted, and I enjoyed sitting back and taking in the view. Colorado is a beautiful state!

This morning we woke up, grabbed some supplies at Wally World and headed out. He drove for about an hour and then I took over and drove the rest of the way through Colorado and then through most of Utah. The mountains in Colorado were beautiful, but Utah's mountains were stunning. We pulled over at a scenic spot and climbed up a hill and took pictures. I'd post some, but my phone is on 3g service and I'll be happy if it lets me post this.

Which brings up a point: Boost Mobile is seriously underperforming. I'm going to have to go with something better soon.

We switched off driving the rest of the day, running our clock down, making it through Arizona (I did not realize we'd be going through Arizona) and then finally into Las Vegas, stopping about 30 miles outside of Sin City. I never cared to see Vegas, so I wasn't oohing and ahhing over seeing the Bellagio and all those other places that are sucking people dry. Still, I can say I've been there--so that's cool.

So we're at Whiskey Pete's casino, parked for the night. When we got here we went over pre trip for about an hour, then settled in. It's 8:15 and we have about 8 hours left on our ten hour break. So we'll be up at 4am and out of here at 4:30. It should take us between 4 and 5 hours to get to our 90, which will give us about an hour window to deliver.

It is hard to live in a box with somebody! We have butted heads quite a bit. Small things become big when you're tired, and the reaction can sometimes be unfair and toxic. We had one instance earlier where he asked me to fuel, so I asked what order to do it all. He became snarky and kind of made fun of the fact that I didn't know, so I got angry and told him that if he thought I was having a hard time remembering things then he wasn't fit to be a trainer--he is going to get all sorts of students and best find a way to teach every one. (I am his first student and he is young.) Well, it escalated quickly, but it cooled down just as quickly. He realized almost immediately that he crossed a line and was wrong, and he apologized profusely then bought dinner. I apologized as well--this is a two-way street--and we agreed that we were both being pretty foolish.

Moral of the story? This is not easy. I am driving his home, his source of income, and trying to learn so very much in the process--and he is trying to deal with the stress of it all while teaching me so very much. On top of that we have our differences in music, politics, religion, etc.--and you may think that you just shouldn't talk about such things or listen to music, but sitting in silence for ten hours a day, or talking solely about trucking, is just not possible. Short story: Friction happens, and it happens often and frequently. But the problem isn't the friction, it's how we deal with the friction. In the case of my trainer and I, we have actually become friends because of it.

As far as the music goes...I try to find the positives in gangster rap, and he listens to TwentyOne Pilots with me. :-)

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Last night we stopped at a Wal-Mart somewhere in Colorado and I had no WifI or service on my phone (so no tethering, as I am now)--and I was too tired to care about writing anything anyway. It was a beast of a day. I drove the rest of the way through Nebraska then to Denver, wondering what on earth was wrong with Colorado. I always envisioned mountains everywhere, and up to Denver there was nothing. And then...boom, there they are! I drove about an hour down steep grades and back up and then back down again, learning how to use the jake brake and handle speeds. I did really well, but my trainer (and I, let's be honest) was on edge the whole time. Finally he took over and drove the rest of the day, and I was happy for it. I was worn out, absolutely exhausted, and I enjoyed sitting back and taking in the view. Colorado is a beautiful state!

This morning we woke up, grabbed some supplies at Wally World and headed out. He drove for about an hour and then I took over and drove the rest of the way through Colorado and then through most of Utah. The mountains in Colorado were beautiful, but Utah's mountains were stunning. We pulled over at a scenic spot and climbed up a hill and took pictures. I'd post some, but my phone is on 3g service and I'll be happy if it lets me post this.

Which brings up a point: Boost Mobile is seriously underperforming. I'm going to have to go with something better soon.

We switched off driving the rest of the day, running our clock down, making it through Arizona (I did not realize we'd be going through Arizona) and then finally into Las Vegas, stopping about 30 miles outside of Sin City. I never cared to see Vegas, so I wasn't oohing and ahhing over seeing the Bellagio and all those other places that are sucking people dry. Still, I can say I've been there--so that's cool.

So we're at Whiskey Pete's casino, parked for the night. When we got here we went over pre trip for about an hour, then settled in. It's 8:15 and we have about 8 hours left on our ten hour break. So we'll be up at 4am and out of here at 4:30. It should take us between 4 and 5 hours to get to our 90, which will give us about an hour window to deliver.

It is hard to live in a box with somebody! We have butted heads quite a bit. Small things become big when you're tired, and the reaction can sometimes be unfair and toxic. We had one instance earlier where he asked me to fuel, so I asked what order to do it all. He became snarky and kind of made fun of the fact that I didn't know, so I got angry and told him that if he thought I was having a hard time remembering things then he wasn't fit to be a trainer--he is going to get all sorts of students and best find a way to teach every one. (I am his first student and he is young.) Well, it escalated quickly, but it cooled down just as quickly. He realized almost immediately that he crossed a line and was wrong, and he apologized profusely then bought dinner. I apologized as well--this is a two-way street--and we agreed that we were both being pretty foolish.

Moral of the story? This is not easy. I am driving his home, his source of income, and trying to learn so very much in the process--and he is trying to deal with the stress of it all while teaching me so very much. On top of that we have our differences in music, politics, religion, etc.--and you may think that you just shouldn't talk about such things or listen to music, but sitting in silence for ten hours a day, or talking solely about trucking, is just not possible. Short story: Friction happens, and it happens often and frequently. But the problem isn't the friction, it's how we deal with the friction. In the case of my trainer and I, we have actually become friends because of it.

As far as the music goes...I try to find the positives in gangster rap, and he listens to TwentyOne Pilots with me. :-)

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

The life of a trucker is hitting me today. I don't mind but it is exhausting. We woke at 4 am and made our way to our 90, then got dispatched to pick up in Santa Maria heading back east. We got there and loaded with an hour left on our 14, so I dealt with an issue.

My side has been hurting for a week now and I attributed it to a pulled muscle. Until this morning when the worst symptoms of a UTI reared their ugly heads. So while getting loaded I used the live help online mobile app and face timed a doc who wrote me a script for an antibiotic and sent it to a Walmart half a mile away. And here I am. They can't find the prescription and live help is trying to track it down. Meanwhile it's seven pm and my ten hour is dwindling and I'm beat. But, it will be okay. ☺

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Paul's Comment
member avatar

I've lost track of days! The wait at Wal-Mart was excessive--took three hours and four phone calls with Live Health Online to finally get my prescription faxed in. The whole time I had to wait in the pharmacy, because the half mile walk was as the crow flies. It was more like a mile and I was not feeling like walking back and forth. Would I recommend Live Health? Well, if there's no other option, then sure--but make sure you have the right pharmacy (I did) and that you have a good contact number for the doctor just in case. I called the 1888 number and that was a slow process.

The next day we picked up a load headed to Ogden, Utah, and delivered that last night. We parked at a Flying J in Ogden and I tried out Flying J's wifi for the first time. We were parked in the very back, but I got a good enough signal to Skype with my family. Impressive!

We grabbed an empty trailer when we dropped off in Ogden and took it the next morning to Prime's Salt Lake City terminal , then picked up a load going 30 miles away (trainer was pretty mad about it), and three hours later we were unloaded. We headed back to the terminal and put in some time backing on the pad.

How is my training progressing? According to my trainer, my city driving is more than passable. In truth, I'm comfortable with city driving, so I agree. My pre-trip is about 95% perfect--I'm ready there. I have the parallel, offset and straight backing down almost perfectly and the alley dock we have not had an opportunity to practice, but my trainer assures me it's two steps and he has no doubt I'll pick it up the next time we get on the practice pad. We ran out of time today.

Tomorrow we head back to Ogden and grab a load going to TN. We will divert to Springfield and drop it at the terminal. Hopefully we'll be there by late Wednesday. Thursday we'll practice all day and Friday I'll Trifecta. I'm looking at some big incentives for passing the first time. Prime's $250 of course, but the trainer is going to pay for my CDL , give me a $200 bonus AND take me home for the weekend.

Two days ago I started getting homesick. I haven't been yet, so it hit me hard. I'm looking forward to seeing my family, so I will pass the first time.

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

I am writing this from the comfort of my home away from home, the Campus Inn in Springfield. We started off yesterday morning in Ogden, Utah, picking up a pre-loaded reefer full of vegetables, and made our way back to the terminal here. We pushed hard, forgetting the usual 58 MPH my trainer likes to drive (completely understandable; I'll be driving that speed too) in favor of 65 MPH. We made it with exactly 3 minutes on our clock!

So now I'm comfortable and relaxed, ready to start training hard tomorrow in preparation for the test on Friday. I'm ready, I think. More importantly, my trainer thinks I'm ready. We drove around 4,600 miles in nine days. I drove through mountains, down and up 6% grades, through cities at rush hour, and so on...definitely got my fill of practice. I'm ready to take this test and move on to the next phase.

One thing about cell phones: Boost Mobile is absolutely awful for truckers. I had no service for nearly all of the trip yesterday and today--absolutely nothing throughout Wyoming and Nebraska. My trainer has Verizon and had no problems. Definitely going to switch soon.

Last note: I got to see Cheyenne, Wyoming, finally! I was born there right before my father, who was in the Air Force, was moved to another base. I've had to list it as my birthplace frequently over the past thirty-six years, but knew it only as a point on a map. So, personally, it was really cool. Wyoming is a beautiful state.

21731239_366480660450173_6849334875365161036_n.jpg21762150_366480603783512_6211131140311307671_n.jpg

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Yesterday was a LONG day. We spent most of the day backing, tightening up the basics--straight, offset, parallel--and then started the alley dock. "The easiest backing maneuver," my trainer told me when I asked him over and over again to teach it to me. "It's three steps! You'll see, we'll get that one last."

Six hours later I was about 60% sure I knew how to do it. Completely bummed out, absolutely discouraged, and yet still scheduled to take the test today, I went to bed early. My trainer insisted we get up at 4am and practice some more before the 6:30 roll call to test. I told him it was a bad idea, that being rested was far more important, but he insisted. Before falling asleep I realized how important it is to give the stress to God and simply focus on the job at hand. I resolved I would do that.

4 AM came quickly and my trainer was MIA. I texted him twice and was going to call, but I was angry. At 6AM, right when I'm about to step on the shuttle to go to the meeting, he calls and says his alarm didn't go off. iPhones do not do that. At 6:40, with the meeting underway, he busts in the room and gives a lame excuse. His eyes are bloodshot. I'm pretty unhappy.

But I gave the stress to God and decided to calm down. We backed a few times on the pad in practice and every time he tried to tell me something I quieted him, told him I wouldn't have his help on the test so don't help me now.

Long story short, after meeting Cato real quick--she has a diary on here; check it out--I tested. I missed nothing on the pre-trip, got 2 points on the backing (no alley dock!)--and 18 points on the driving test. So I passed! Trifecta! Which means I get a bonus from Prime and my trainer and get to go home for the weekend! Which is the real reason I pushed so hard to trifecta.

And now my trainer is saying he'll give me the bonus later. And we may not be able to go home. I pushed and he relented, but tried to shorten the time home from 2 days to less than one. I pushed again and he relented again, but now is pressuring me to hurry through the DMV and new hire process, which I have no control over.

I'm frustrated with this guy, to say the least. I may consider going home and coming back on my own to a new trainer for the TNT potion. He has a ton of positives, don't get me wrong. I like the guy. But the negatives are hard to work through.

Anyway, it was a good day regardless!

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.

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.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

If I may Paul...

First of all, congratulations! Great job! dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif

In reference to your sleepyhead trainer, you had every right to call him, knock on his truck door, do everything possible to awaken him. In the future you will be faced with many difficult situations requiring discretion and finesse', IMO this wasn't one of them.

What exactly frustrates you with him? You seem to contradict a bit; on one hand he has a ton of positives, on the other there are negatives that are difficult to work through. Kinda the case with most trainers. However to his credit, he must be doing something right...you passed all three tests on your first try. Not trying to tell you what to do or how to feel...but ask yourself what is better; "the devil you know, or the devil you don't?"

Good luck and again, congratulations.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

G-town, you are very right. I often contradict myself, mainly due to contradictory emotions. I think that part of the human condition. Mine, at the very least. I apologized to my trainer earlier for not waking him. I should have. I think these stressful times can often put me in a less than friendly mood if I'm not careful.

Earlier my trainer told me dispatch would not allow us to go home, but he found a way. I went about the process of completing my new hire/CDL work, and halfway through it he blew up my phone, insisting if I didn't come right then he would leave without me. I couldn't leave my work unfinished, but I took a break to call him. He got angry and hung up on me, then texted me and told me nevermind, we weren't going home, were going on another load. So I went to the FM and we hashed it out, then worked with my trainer to find a compromise. We are now on our way with a load to our home town. We will be there two days, which is perfectly fine.

So in the end it worked out. You know, I think our faults and imperfections just get magnified when under such stress. The quest is, can you man up and look towards the big picture, understanding that this is temporary? If so, it all works out.

Not sure if that made sense. 😀 It has been a day.

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.

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.
Paul's Comment
member avatar

*question is

And, yes, the devil I know is far better! 😈I'm sticking with him. Thank you for the congratulations and the advice. It is very much appreciated. ☺

Cato's Comment
member avatar

Hey Paul! It was nice to meet you today and congrats on passing!!! I really am happy for you good luck on your TnT journey I hope its a better experience than tbe PSD phase. Keep your head up, l was watching you test out and you handled that truck like a pro ;)

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.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

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