Just Another Trucker Training Diary?

Topic 20450 | Page 6

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Paul's Comment
member avatar

Today is a good day, and I've learned to really enjoy good days, to never take them for granted. We didn't get a load going toward Springfield immediately. We got dispatched on a load going to Idaho first, then began working our way back. The day before yesterday I started my shift in Idaho and drove through Utah and most of Wyoming. When I ended my day it was 31 degrees outside, so when I woke up I blearily went into the Flying J, showered, and dressed appropriately--thick, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, etc., Came out and realized it's 80 degrees outside! Going through multiple climates in one day is odd to say the least. :-)

I made a quick delivery to Bartlett, Illinois, and after a very close call--I made a left turn way too sharp and came within an inch of hitting a pickup truck...shook me, strengthened my resolve to be more vigilant--headed to a Petro for breakfast while waiting on a new load. Our hope was to get dispatched to pick up close by heading through Springfield, and sure enough that's exactly what happened.

We arrived around 1 in the morning and as the Campus Inn was fully booked they put me up at the swanky Oasis Hotel. Man it's nice, but it took me forever to fall asleep and I could only sleep about five hours. The bed wasn't rocking me gently to sleep, and when I woke up I was bracing myself for the bumps and curves and stops that never came. I feel like a sailor who has been at sea for months and can't quite seem to get his bearings. But the hotel is nice, and my wife and kids will be here within the hour. Prime paid for the first night, and I'll pay for the next two...not even asking, even though I am here by their request--to do the sleep study. As my family's here it doesn't feel right to ask them to cover the room. I don't even care. I have today through Friday with my family. :-)

I'm estimating that I'm at around 12,000 miles to date. This week is throwing us off, but I still think I'll be done with TNT by my eldest daughter's 8th birthday, November 4th. If so, I'm taking a week off and spending it with her before heading out in my own truck.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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 14ยข 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

Paul wrote:

I feel like a sailor who has been at sea for months and can't quite seem to get his bearings.

Wait to see what happens when you attempt to drive your car...! good-luck.gif

In all seriousness,...I get poked fun of at the DC and on here for frequent use of a phrase: "Watch your wagon Driver,...watch your wagon!" That is something that was drummed into my head by one of the instructors assigned to my road practice,...he would repeat that phrase constantly whenever approaching any maneuver required a pivot of the tractor and trailer. He wanted me to say it out-loud when approaching a turn, so I did. It became a habit, a good habit. Remember in the beginning much of the learning curve is re-programming your brain and the involuntary response to a situation. Takes repetition and practice, but trickery like this phrase may actually force the transition to "think like a truck driver", faster.

I kid you not,...that phrase still goes thorough my mind as I approach a tight turn, and if really tight, I repeat it under my breath. Silly? I think not. Knock-on wood, it's never let me down. Watch your wagon Paul,...watch your wagon.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

That's a good one, I'll definitely use it. I have to "trick" myself into retaining information all of the time, so this fits in nicely with what I'm already doing.

You're not kidding about driving a car! It is so odd...my wife keeps saying "You don't drive like a cab driver anymore!" Man is she right. I catch myself going 30 in a 45 and taking curves as if my dodge caravan is going to off track. ๐Ÿ˜„

All in all a good thing, probably. My driving habits were borderline illegal as a cab driver. ๐Ÿ˜

Greg H.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm wondering why they don't have a training program for the trainers. :) Yeh, send them out for a few weeks with someone who does things by the book and tell them, ' ok, this is how you are to train all of your trainees. What you do on your own time is your own business. '. Ha ha, happy dreaming that this will ever happen.

I only wanted to comment a couple of things, to let you know that I read, eh, most of it anyway. I briefed through a few paragraphs. You're trainer did seem like a real dweeb though. I understand your explanation for his attitude though. Which is cool I guess if you can salvage a good working relationship with him.

I absolutely hate the thought of being expected to do things like putting yourself as on off duty, instead of what you are actually doing. I want G-Town to train me lol, I know he'll do things by the book. lol Then again, he may fail me, for being to diligent in following the rules. :) Anyway, kidding aside......

You smoke.... am I correct in assuming this. You said that your trainer came up front to smoke a cigarette, so I'm guessing that you smoke as well. Yeh, smoking can really mess with your BP... I quit a few years back and let me tell you, my BP dropped dramatically. I started vaping, believe it or not. Cigarettes are death waiting to happen. And enough about that.....

Oh, about the BP.... I'll check my sometimes, and it will be a little higher than I'd like. I take a 5 minute breather, walk around and take in some deep slow breaths. Believe it or not, this would drop my BP by 10 points.

Yeh, shaking my head at your training experience.... that just sounds like a mess. I know your defending him, but the guy is a real dweeb for either bad training, or the lack there of.

be good, God Bless

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Greg wrote:

I'm wondering why they don't have a training program for the trainers. :) Yeh, send them out for a few weeks with someone who does things by the book and tell them, ' ok, this is how you are to train all of your trainees. What you do on your own time is your own business. '. Ha ha, happy dreaming that this will ever happen.

Although it's different for each company their is an initial qualification that must be achieved before they'll consider a driver for a trainer position. They will then train for 3-5 days and a student trainer must "test out" before considered a certified trainer.

There is also an evaluation process, formal and informal that occurs. Do bad eggs get through the system? Yes. But there is a process that is followed. It's not perfect and never will be. There are no rules regarding personalities and chemistry. Sometimes it works, sometimes tolerance is the best you can hope for, and sometimes it just doesn't work and student and trainer part ways. Takes two, to Tango...

Regardless it's still up to the student to take ownership of their training, understand who they report to, how to handle issues, and when push comes to shove, advocate and stand-up for what they know to be right and wrong.

I think Paul has done an admirable job of adjusting and working through issues. He also understands how and where to "pick his battles". In the end, the training experience is minutes when compared to the big picture.

As far as me training you Greg,...perhaps a subject to explore in your diary. I'll leave you with this; "careful what you wish for". LOL!

smile.gif

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.
Paul's Comment
member avatar

Greg, thanks for reading...even most of it. I often think back to what I've written and cringe, realizing I really wrote way more than necessary. Then I'll go on and do it again the next time I write something. So skipping over some of it...don't blame you in the least! :-)

Yes, he is a dweeb...but then again, I do understand the core reasons behind his attitude problem, and once I understand somebody I find it hard to dislike them. I realize the red flags that people such as G-Town saw were not necessarily the attitude issues but rather the lack of training issues. I narrowed it down to a few issues and discussed them with him, and we have come to an agreement on how to proceed. We have settled into a routine that really has begun to be decent. I'm at 12,300 miles, so a little more than a third of the way there...the rough times are easier to overlook now that a bit of a light has begun to show at the end of the tunnel.

I DO think that there should be a training for the trainers--well, there is, but it's cursory at best--but that won't happen, so we do the best with what we have. Today I was talking to somebody who was in my class and he told me his trainer has had two accidents since they went on the road together--tore a door off a trailer while docking and somehow hit a fuel island concrete barrier. He said he's scared. That helps me...mine may be a dweeb...a thug is more accurate, actually...but he's a safe driver. That's something.

No, I don't smoke. I quit seven years ago, actually. I knew my trainer smoked when I accepted him, mainly because he promised to smoke as little as possible and eventually buy a vape. He smokes a lot and never did get that vape. But in the TNT phase his smoking is primarily while I'm sleeping or on the rare occasion he gets up in the middle of his sleep shift.

I realize that my training fiasco may put some people off. At first I thought this negative, but you know if you can't take a bad training experience then I think this job may not be for you anyway. I'm realizing more and more every day that being capable of handling anything that comes your way and overcoming every time is central to success.

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 14ยข 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.

Greg H.'s Comment
member avatar

It wasn't your fault in the writing of this, I just didn't have the time yesterday to read all of it, so I sort of briefed through some of it.

No, he's an *ss for making you change your log book. Yes, you may be able to forebear a lot of it, but personally, I probably wouldn't have tolerated it, at all. Back when I first went into trucking, I over looked a few things, my fault for doing so. Now days, I'm just to tired....

But you did confront him on some things, so that's that. Still, know that he was an *ss for putting you in that situation to begin with. No if ands or buts about it..... and for not training you properly.

As for you G-Town, we'll see. LOL And yeh, I figured that they did go through some kind of training. But, to actually go out on the road with them, and catch them on stuff that they are doing wrong. And to do it for a few weeks, it would tend to weed out the wrongs. Then they can go out with a trainee. :)

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Greg, I'd take G-Town training me over this guy in a heartbeat. I'd take him over just about anybody...save Old School, probably, but Old School is flatbed if I remember correctly. Would likely switch to flatbed if I had the chance to have him train me. :-) Anyway, yeah I'm too nice and too non-confrontational. Lots I would do differently, but I've taken control of my training. Right before the break last week I laid out what I was missing and we made a plan to work on it following the break. So far all is well in that regard.

Well, I passed (or failed) my sleep study, so I am the proud owner of a DreamStation CPAP device. ;-/ It's annoying, but in truth I sleep pretty darn good with it. I can't say I feel better or worse yet. One thing I was hoping it would fix is my intense drowsiness while driving nights, but if anything that has gotten worse. I can drive all day long and be fine, but get me behind the wheel for about five hours at night and I get tunnel vision and my thoughts try to sweep me away. I've dimmed interior lights, made sure to not look at oncoming headlights, etc., but the only thing that works is to pull over and take a power nap.

It's frustrating, because the last day of my break last week my trainer wasn't communicating our schedule. I had assumed (yeah, bad idea) that I was still driving nights as for him to take the night shift would have meant he would have to stay up all night and sleep all day. I didn't think he'd do that, so I texted him and told him to let me know the plan, and I made plans to stay up all night. I had driven back to OKC with my family and we grabbed a babysitter and went out to make some extra money--we have a blind couple who love my wife and I and take taxis everywhere. My taxi is now out of service, but my wife has made herself available for them regardless. They love haunted houses, so we spent the evening taking them to haunted houses all over the city. And then, wouldn't you know it, in the midst of that my trainer texts and tells me to get some sleep because I'm taking first shift. This, late at night. wtf.gif

So I thanked him for trying to get me into driving the day shift but told him I couldn't do it, that I had assumed we were keeping the schedule as it was when we went on break and, as he hadn't communicated otherwise, I had no way to get anything more than two hours of sleep. So I missed out on getting my day shift back. In the end, I should have communicated with him, not expected him to communicate with me. I know better.

So I'm on nights. We got a load from Springfield to Fort Worth, then Cactus, Texas, to Riverside, Ca -- then a tiny one from Riverside to Bakersfield. Finally we got a load from Salinas, CA to Maryland--3,000 miles total! I'll be up to 18,500 by the time this one is delivered tomorrow morning. :-)

A huge blessing was my paycheck today. I expected to lose out on the four days I took off and not be reimbursed for the 3 days' hotel costs, but I got a full check and full reimbursement, and finally got reimbursed the cost of bus fare--as I provided my own transportation to Prime for orientation, they promised to reimburse me...I gave up on it. So all in all, a great check, finances are in good standing, and all is well.

One good thing about driving at night is getting to see beautiful sunrises. Check out this one I took at the edge of the Mojave Desert. :-)

1507817861.8368.jpg

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Paul wrote:

Lots I would do differently, but I've taken control of my training. Right before the break last week I laid out what I was missing and we made a plan to work on it following the break. So far all is well in that regard.

This is pure gold. Absolutely pure gold. Exactly what I mean by "take ownership of your training". Mission accomplished. Please...everyone take a moment and dwell on what Paul wrote,...it's a valuable lesson in communication on professionally re-directing the focus of your mentor/trainer.

Great job Paul...!!!!!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Paul's Comment
member avatar

Now, G-Town my head is already far too large. But, thanks. ๐Ÿ˜„

There is one aspect to this adventure I possibly have not written enough about: leaving my family. My father was in the military and was stationed in far off places for lengthy periods of time. I always wondered how he did it...why would a man leave his family? For service to the country, okay I get that. But when he left the military the lifestyle continued in the public sector and I never understood how money could be a large enough motivator to leave a family.

This has been good for me in that regard, to understand motivations and so on. But it has been very hard. So many times I've wanted to pack it all up and go home. Money is nice but man late at night when I'm tired I'd rather flip burgers and see my wife and kids every day.

My reasons for continuing are personal and valid. But I would absolutely caution those with a family to do some serious soul searching before starting out in this life. It is so very, very hard at times, and you will find the allure of money fades very quickly.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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