TMC CDL Program

Topic 21452 | Page 1

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Ithel's Comment
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Dec. 17th: TMC provided rental car arrangements, and I left my wife and daughter at 6am this morning, picked up two guys in St. Louis, and arrived herein Des Moines about 13 hours after departing We lost about an hour driving back to one guy's house for his wallet. Note to self: never be that guy.

One guy I picked up had just finished his five weeks with a trainer and was going to Des Moines to pick up his truck. The other had his CDL through a private school and was going for TMC's orientation. I've got a good 20 years on them but I'm clearly the square one newbie.

Tomorrow is an early start and a long, physically challenging day. We'll be doing a number of strength and agility tests, as well as actual physicals and drug testing. I'm out of shape and vaguely concerned I will be able to adequately perform the necessary tasks.

As I'm laying here about to sleep, pecking away at my phone, thoughts of my wife and daughter are hitting hard. So much depends on this going well. And if it goes well, its going to take significant effort to make sure that deep bond the three of us share isn't weakened.

I feel very much out of my element. What are you doing here, I keep asking. I've got very few other options, is the only answer so far.

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.
Reyn R.'s Comment
member avatar

Keep those negative vibes as few & far between as possible. You have to focus that negative into positive motivation. My daughter was my motivation when I quit smoking 23 years ago. As in this decision also, by doing this, I can drastically reduce my expenses thereby saving as much as possible to give her the opportunity to have a leg up on what was available to me at her age. I’m 55 years old going into a very demanding career that will allow me to get out of my current existence. It’s not about the grass being greener in trucking, it’s about shoveling the manure into my “patch” of green & keeping it fertile. How else will we learn & grow.

There’s opportunity for you to spend plenty of time back home with a regional or even local gig should that be a concern. A little sacrifice today with a ton of reward tomorrow. Btw, I’m not saying this to you, I’m reinforcing this for myself when it comes time for me get cracking. Just think, you’ll be hauling solo by the time I get started. Good luck & God bless sir.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Dec 18: The day began waiting for a bus, 26 guys standing in a hotel entrance. I decided to wait outside. The training facility is a 15 minute ride away. The 8 of us getting CDL training went to a classroom for paperwork. Having spent the first half of my working life in academia and the second half as a selfemployed professional, it was a bit of shock to hear the instructor's initial interactions. For example: "I don't like people from that state. My ex-wife is from there and I hate that *****. " It was an eye-opening half hour--then we boarded the bus to go get physicals.

The physical went well even with 26 guys, very efficient, and a few hours later we were back to the lunch room and then class.

The first computer assignment was about 8 attestations of having received instruction or watched a presentation on a variety of things. None of which had been done. "Just sign them." I asked if we would be receiving these presentations later-"We've been doing this a long time. Just sign them." Well I signed--and I suppose I am trusting they come through. Even when they do, I think bending paperwork on day one gives the wrong impression of the corporate culture's attitude about rules.

We took three computer tests after this. One was a 60 question math test. The instructor seemed a bit more approachable and I felt less out of my element. I'm on the bus now for day 3

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.
Rob's Comment
member avatar

Glad to hear things are going good so far. looking forward to following along with this as I was pretty close to going through TMC for schooling. Hope ya brought warm clothes, supposed to get cold next week!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Ithel's Comment
member avatar

Dec. 19: Before I get too much further in this journal, I want to remind folks that this is a new situation for me, my emotions are mixed, and I can guarantee they are coloring my experiences. I'm quite sure my in....terpretation of what is going on around me will change as I begin to adjust to the circumstance and gain some distance from the anxiety. I thought about waiting a few weeks after the training to write the journal, but I guess I am hoping that expressing things real-time may be of use to someone else one day. Just please keepin mind that what you're getting here in this journal is subjective

Case in point: Is my instructor any less crude in his expressions today than yesterday? Maybe a touch. But I think I'm seeing someone trying to establish rapport with a bunch of guys who are probably more used to it than I am. So I ignore those bits when I must and laugh when I can.

Today's training was entirely classroom. And we've made good headway on those items we attested to yesterday. I am pleased. We had an excellent session on Hours of Service followed by a rather difficult test. A few questions were not covered in the session but could have been inferred from the discussion. We met a few other personnel and some familiar professionalism came back.

They are sending us home for Christmas, amazingly, on their dime. The downside is they aren't adding the three lost days to the end--it's just compressed.

The 8 of us getting CDL's have begun to call one another by name. - I.still feel overwhelmed-but as of today I am not feeling alone. The instructor even asked me to confirm a tax related question.

They also told us today we would be the last class NOT getting paid during the 3-week orientation period prior to the 5-week trainor period. So futureTMC trainees can look forward to that. They didn't say what that pay would be.

Thanks again for the encouraging words.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Sounds like you're doing great! Thanks for posting your updates.good-luck.gif

Ithel's Comment
member avatar

Dec. 19: From 7 this morning until 6 tonight we were in class. I believe we've now caught up with all the items we signed off on Monday. We spent sometime plotting routes with our atlases. Starting today, from now on we keep paper logs so we can get in the habit of changing status. Because class went late their little cafe was closed, so no supper-- but I still have food in the room fridge.

Tomorrow the bus leaves the hotel at 6....the trainers have shifted the schedule a bit because our class is going to be 3 days shorter than usual....and we're finally getting out to the yard and in a truck. I have a lot more to write but I'm exhausted and have to be up early.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Ithel your diary is excellent.

In response to part of your last post, here

Because class went late their little cafe was closed, so no supper-- but I still have food in the room fridge.

...there is a subtle yet important lesson here. Always be prepared for the unexpected. Plan ahead. As you progress through school and road training the relevance of your above experience will become far more obvious.

Good luck.

Reyn R.'s Comment
member avatar

Keep at it Ithel! Great diary! I'm still deciding which company paid training I'm going to sign up for. It's down to Knight, Swift & CFI. Good luck going forward & enjoy your home time with the family!! Also, from my experience, those off the cuff comments you were referring to are more of icebreakers than actual mindsets. Glad you saw a difference in delivery from one day to the next. Looking to forward to your future posts. God bless!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Dec. 21: My last entry should have said 20th. They said yesterday we'd be driving today. I'd figured this would mean crawling around the parking lot--well I couldn't have been more wrong We did some brief pre-check conversation with the older instructor who will be working with us on that, then we were paired off and assigned to a truck. So the 8 of us went of in 4 trucks with 4 instructors. My instructor drove about 10 minutes and talked about the particulars of shifting. Then the other student took over, driving on 2-lane country roads between Des Moines and Altoona. The instructor had him work up to 8th, backdown to 3rd over and over. Eventually he had my partner park at a truck stop where we took a shortbreak. He asked if I wanted to take over right from there or wait for him to take us back to country roads. My first thought was to wait since it was a very busy lot and I wasn't sure I could even shift. But after the break, I heard myself saying I'd like to just give it a go. So my first moments behind the wheel were in the truck stop. I drove 90 minutes, and he had me drive back to the terminal through city traffic at the end--AND had me back in next to the parked trucks. I got into the spot between the lines but the trailor kicked out a bit near the end, so hot perfectly straight. But he said it was fine for now.

So.... THAT was exciting. The most difficult aspect of the driving itself for me was remembering to get the RPMs back up when downshifting. And I felt like I was starting to downshift in anticipation of stop signs about a quarter mile too soon.

After lunch we had an afternoon of classroom training on load securement. They showed some pretty sobering pictures of securements gone bad. Almost enough to make me wonder if I'm really wanting to take on such a heavy responsibility. But I'm still here.

Then late afternoon half the class went to do simulators and my half went back outside to do straightline backing. For this we were by ourselves in 3 parallel trucks (4th person rotating every 20 minutes or so). The cone path to back down was about 4 truck lengths long. I won't be winning any speed-backing competions but I didnt hit any cones the half dozen times I got to do it. After this we went to the simulator. They have 4 of these in a room. Don't expect these to approximate the real thing, but they do allowTMC to evaluate in a limited way how you deal with unexpected driving scenarios. Will you notice the pickup backing toward the road? Will you slowdown for the kids at the playground? Will you downshift for the steep descent just as it begins to snow? The value of these assessments Seems pretty limited to me for two reasons: first, the simulator controls may look like a truck's but they do not feel like one. Someone who could be an excellent and considerate driver in "real life" might not necessary perform well when looking at fairly splotchy graphics. Second (and this was me), after a minute of every-potential-hazard-will-in-fact-BE-a-hazard will make it so that nothing is unexpected.

Anyway, I get up at 5 again tomorrow so I need to sleep. Oddly, the last 3 mornings I've awakened about 10 minutes before my alarm.

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.

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