Profile For Derrick M.

Derrick M.'s Info

  • Location:
    Sanford, NC

  • Driving Status:
    In CDL School

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  • Joined Us:
    5 months, 1 week ago

Derrick M.'s Bio

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Posted:  4 days, 12 hours ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Sorry guys, bad news. I had to miss class last weekend because I was really sick. Unfortunately, missing those hours combined with also having to miss hours this past Friday and Saturday due to a work emergency, I'm over the limit of hours I can miss. It sucks, but I'm going to try again next semester. May even look into some training somewhere else. Not really sure yet. But I haven't given up! Just a temporary roadblock!

Thanks to everyone who was following along and helping out. I'll be back!

Posted:  2 weeks, 3 days ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 15 - Sunday, October 3, 2021

I was late for the first time today. Only 5 minutes, but that counts as 15 minutes on our total time. We are allowed to miss 39 hours for the course. I had to leave early today due to personal reasons.

Today was just another Sunday on the yard all day, rotating through the stations. I believe some of the stations are going away for next weekend though. We are going to start working on the alley dock, and a 1000 foot straight back I think. So the yard is going to be changed up.

Still bummed about my driving yesterday. Shouldn't let it eat at me like it is, but I know I can do better than that. After thinking about it a lot (too much), I really think I may have had my seat too far up. I think that was screwing me up on my clutching. Or, I'm just trying to come up with an excuse :)

Oh well, hopefully next week is better. There's a lot of rain in the forecast for next weekend, so I'll get to add that to the mix! Should be fun!

Sorry not a lot to talk about, it's just been more of the same. Plus since I left early today, it was a shorter day. And honestly, between working during the week and doing this on the weekends, my body needed to leave early. It's been over a month without a day off and I'm starting to feel it for sure. Physically and mentally wearing me out. Going to be taking a day or 2 off from work in the next couple of weeks just to get some rest and reset.

Thanks again for following along. More next week!

Posted:  2 weeks, 3 days ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 14 - Saturday, October 2, 2021

Wasn't scheduled to drive first thing in the morning like I have been in previous weeks. So started the day on the yard doing the forwarding/obstacle course drill. Trying to get that nailed down before testing. Other than getting my trailer tire to hit the yellow paint next to the tire (curb), I think I've got it down pretty well. I keep missing that paint by about an inch!

For my 4th day driving, I was paired with an instructor that I haven't driven with yet. I've worked with her in the yard, but not behind the wheel. She's really cool, but she doesn't hold back and will let you know how she feels! Which I respect. What followed was my worst day of driving since I've been here. I don't know what happened. I kept missing gears, couldn't come of the clutch smooth, kept forgetting what I needed to do....just a complete cluster. The more I messed up, the worse I got. I couldn't wait for it to be over. When we got back to the school, I told her that was the worst I've driven since I've been here. I thought it was worse than my first day! She downplayed it and said it wasn't that bad. Said I was doing better than most in the class and not to worry about it. That being said, I wasn't happy with myself at all. Serious blow to my confidence. Bothered me for the rest of the day. I can't believe I was that bad!

Finished the day back in the yard. Worked on some coupling, trying to get the steps for that test down and in the proper order. Simple stuff, just need to memorize all the steps in the order they want them done. Did a little bit on the straight back station and then drove the course again a couple of times. Nothing of note to really discuss. Getting better at all of that, just need to keep doing it.

The rest of the class voted to come in an hour earlier tomorrow so we could leave an hour earlier that evening. So instead of coming in at 8am, we are starting at 7am. That's all fine and good for everyone else. I have an hour and 15 minute drive to get there though! So now I have get up around 5am instead of 6am. Blah...not a morning person! Oh well, it is what it is. I'll survive.

Posted:  2 weeks, 3 days ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 13 - Friday, October 1, 2021

Classroom night. Went over defensive driving techniques. Watched a couple of videos about it as well. Had another recruiter come and talke to us as well. This one was from Covenant He gave us the fastest recruiting spiel I can imagine and then left. Felt like he had somewhere else he would rather be and was in a hurry to get there. Basically just read to us what was in their little brochure he gave us and that was it. Nothing about them really peaked my interest.

Nothing else about tonight to talk about!

Posted:  3 weeks, 1 day ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

I have never, ever heard of downshifting this way. It is completely counterproductive to rev the engine up in order to slow the speed of the vehicle. The only way I can think this would be useful would also involve the engine compression braking (Jacobs brake), where the higher RPMs are an asset.

Just to clarify, we are holding the RPM at the required shift point. Not at a higher RPM.

Posted:  3 weeks, 2 days ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

I thought maybe I was misunderstanding, but the instructor in the truck with us will literally say out loud, "Hold the rev, hold the rev, hold the rev..." while you are doing it. I've even been "dinged" on my evaluation (we get a short eval after each drive) for not doing it every time. It's not easy to hold it there! What you described is exactly how I would think it would need to be done and seems to be the way I've read and seen it done everywhere else.

Obviously I'm going to do it the way they tell me to. I'll definitely be asking in class Friday about it and try to understand why we have to do it that way. I'm assuming they have some reason to teach that way.

Posted:  3 weeks, 2 days ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

In my school, this is how we are taught to downshift:

- Check the RPM and clutch to N

- Press the accelerator to rev up to the required RPM (dependent on the operating range of the truck)

- HOLD the rev at that RPM

- Clutch to gear while still holding the rev through the entire shift

Now, every video I've watched and everything I've read is basically the same except for holding the rev through the shift. Everything else says/shows just tapping the accelerator to get the revs up and then shifting when you catch the RPM you want as it drops. In other words, not holding down the accelerator. I hope I'm making sense?

Is there a reason we are being taught this way? Is this the "proper" way?

Just curious everyone's thoughts. I'm going to ask about it at this weekend's class as well.

Posted:  3 weeks, 2 days ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

I have a question regarding downshifting. Should I ask here or would it be better to start a new post?

Posted:  3 weeks, 2 days ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 12 - Sunday, September 26, 2021

Same Sunday schedule as usual, all day outside on the yard. Thankfully it wasn't quite as hot as it has been. Still hot, but not as miserable as the last couple of weekends.

More of the same for me today. Started with some pre-trip stuff. Then drove the obstacle course. Only part of the obstacle course that is kicking my butt is on one of the 90 degree right turns where you have to get your trailer tire to go over a 12 inch (I think?) painted spot. I'll try to explain... So right at the 90 degree turn, there is a tire laying on the corner of the ground to simulate a curb. There is a painted yellow stripe about halfway around the tire on the ground, sticking out about 12 inches. Your goal is to get your trailer tire to go through that yellow paint without hitting the tire. The idea is getting as close to the "curb" without hitting it. If you don't hit the paint, you lose points on the test. I don't think I've hit the paint yet. I miss it by an inch almost every time it seems! It's kind of an ongoing joke now about how I can possibly keep getting so close and not hitting it. Guess I'll get it eventually!

I then did some more backing. That's still coming along. I want to say I'm getting the hang of it, but next week I wouldn't be surprised if I can't even come close. So I'm just going to stay with... I'm improving.

Worked on the coupling station more today. Not hard to do, but for our test we have to complete a set of specific steps in a certain order to couple and uncouple within 10 minutes. I can do all the steps no problem, just need to work on memorizing every little step they want us to do and the order and make sure I do it quickly. I'll get there.

We went back in the classroom for the last hour or two of the day. Which was a welcome change to just get off the yard for a change. We had to finish up some more of the classwork that we didn't get to on Friday and we also had our first written test. I think I did fine on it, nothing hard.

Also, the class size is now down to 8 students. We started with 11 signed up, but 1 hasn't been at all. So it's really been 10. One guy didn't show up at all last weekend and then again this weekend. That puts him over the 39 hour limit, so he's out. Another lady has had to drop out due to her work schedule. Hopefully everyone else can stick around! But I get the feeling we'll be losing a couple of more before it's all said and done. Either by their own choice or by the school's choice!

More next week! Thanks for reading my babbling!

Posted:  3 weeks, 2 days ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 11 - Saturday, September 25, 2021

Road driving day! Started the day driving first in my group with the instructor. Had a different road instructor today than I've had the other times. Nothing wrong with that, different teaching methods, different personality, etc. You never know what style of teaching you'll "click" with, so it's good to not always have the same instructor I think.

I drove for an hour and 15 minutes or so again. Nothing new really, still just getting used to the truck. Working on upshifting, downshifting and skip shifting mostly. Also tried to make sure I got more right turns to practice. I drove all over the place... In towns, in the country, small 2 lane roads and 4 lane highways. Getting exposed to lots of different things which is good. I just wish I could drive longer. Seems like that hour-hour and a half just flys by too fast!

I felt I drove well. Shifting is coming along fine. Just overall starting to feel a little more relaxed and not quite as nervous. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not getting so relaxed that I'm getting complacent! I'm on my toes the entire time for sure.

Things I need to work on... Making sure I watch the tach on every shift and holding the rev on the downsift through the entire shift (which I have questions about actually). Obviously I need to work on everything, these were just the things pointed out to me.

After driving, it was back to the yard for the station work again for the rest of the day. I helped another student with her pre-trip for a while, which in turn made for good practice for myself. I feel comfortable with the pre-trip. I'm not anticipating any issues there, just lots of memorization.

Next I went to the backing station. Still just straight line at this time. But I'm getting a lot better at it finally. I can get it in without struggling too much now. Still need to work on getting it in the hole more straight though. I keep getting crooked right towards the end of the back. But it's coming along. My brain and body are starting to actually work together instead of fighting each other!

Finished the day driving around the obstable course a few times. We started timing each other since we'll have 5 minutes to complete the course on our test. I've been between 3:30-4:00, so I think I'll be ok there. Still not hitting anything or having to reposition any, so I'm getting better and better at the obstacle course.

Back at it tommorrow!

Posted:  3 weeks, 2 days ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 10 - Friday, September 24, 2021

We started Friday evening with a visit from a recruiter with Howard Transportation . She gave us their company pitch and answered any questions we had. I know it's her job to make it sound like a great place, but it really did sound like a decent company. Based in Mississippi, but they have a terminal a few miles down the road from the school.

After that, we spend the remainder of the evening discussing pickup and delivery, shippers and receivers, proper paperwork, etc. Interesting stuff, but nothing exciting.

Posted:  4 weeks, 1 day ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 9 - Sunday, September 19, 2021

Today just sucked. No other way to put it. It was insanely hot outside. Our Sunday's are on the yard all day, 8am-7pm. Just rotating the stations all day, obstacle course, backing, coupling and pre-trip. Everyone was exhausted after a couple of hours because it was just so hot. A few just decided to go home early and use up their hours (we're allowed to miss 39 hours total). I stuck it out all day. I believe we ended the day with 5 or 6 students (out of 10) left.

Not much to add. I'm getting better at each thing. It was just hard to keep my head in it today because I was just too hot and too tired. Was more than ready to call it a day and go home.

Thanks again for following along. We'll see what next weekend holds!

Posted:  4 weeks, 1 day ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 8 - Saturday, September 18, 2021

Started the day driving with the instructor today. I felt I did a LOT better today and the instructor agreed. I was shifting a lot smoother and didn't miss many gears. What helped a lot I think was I finally found that sweet spot on the clutch. You really don't have to push the clutch very far. I was definitely pushing it in too far last week. Once I got comfortable with the clutch, shifting got a lot easier. Still some work and practice to do though, but I feel better about it.

Drove around for about and hour and 15 minutes or so. Through town, back country roads and the highway. Practiced some downshifting and started on some skip shifting as well.

I'm still pretty nervous driving around. I keep hoping that will fade so it will be a little more comfortable and enjoyable. Just focused on not killing myself or anyone else at the moment! I know I need to relax more, but that easier said than done! Have to remind myself that this is only the 2nd day of actual driving.

When we got back to the yard, it was back to the practice stations the rest of the day. I started out at the backing station again. Still struggling like crazy with that. I know what to do, but no matter what I do my brain and my body aren't working together to keep that trailer straight. Took me forever to get it backed in. When I tried my 2nd time, I went right in with no problems or even a pull up. What??? Then my 3rd time, it was back to having trouble. But only had to pull up a couple of times. Hopefully this whole thing will "click" soon. I'm getting discouraged by this backing stuff. It seems so simple and I get the concept of what I'm supposed to do, it's just putting it into action that's the problem.

Next I did some coupling. That's pretty easy I think. I just have to remember all the steps that they want us to do and in the proper order for the test. But I'm not worried about that one at all.

Went on the obstacle course for a few rounds. Not really any issues there. I'm getting better and better at that. For the testing, we have to complete the course in 5 minutes. So I need to work on that and start timing myself to see where I'm at. Obviously without hitting anything either!

That was about it for today, back at it bright and early tomorrow!

Posted:  4 weeks, 1 day ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 7 - Friday, September 17, 2021

All classroom tonight (as is every Friday). Tonight we went over defensive driving techniques and watched some videos on the Smith System. Interesting stuff. Not really much more to say about tonight!

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

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If I hooked up a trailer to a pickup and played around with that, would that offer any backing help whatsoever? Obviously it's not the same thing, but would I gain any benefit at all? Does any of that skill carry over to backing a tractor trailer? Or am I better off just not messing with it?

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Haya, Derrick;

I've been following as well; wife of a 20yr / 50 y/o driver, haha! You are amazing with your details, I gotta say. Takes me back to 2003 when my guy had to get that 160 certificate, too...LoL.

I used to pull boat props and underwater shafting (zincs & shafts, actually) behind a 3/4 ton Chevy, 3 on the tree, with a 28' trailer toting the goods. General Propeller/Miami Propeller and Sea Ray Boats, in Florida.

Under 26,000K, so no CDL necessary. Fun times, though !!!! Very dissimilar to 18 wheelers, however.. at least IMHO.

When I went driving with my guy, back in 2015 pulling tanks, nothing related (much) to what I'd learned. Not 'MUCH' is key. Directionally, sure....hands on the bottom of my wheel, watch your wagon, etc.... turn 'into' the problem, sure. The short wheelbase is SOOOOO different. I've even pulled a 48' Wellcraft behind the bossman's van back in the day.. still, different. I'll let the 'vets' of TT expound, but again, this is MY experience. It almost made me feel 'over confident,' TBH...thinking I 'knew' something. Overall....IMHO I don't 'think' so.. but I'm not a driver yet again these days; maybe the pro's will say otherwise.

YOUR DIARY IS AMAZING; I'll always be following & recommending it, for sure! And hilariously .. I didn't answer your question, whatsoever. Apologies; just relatable info..from my POV~!

On a final note, if you go to WalMart and buy a die cast (1/16"?) rig ... THAT helps. Just my two cents. Many trainers (Past, present, and future) still suggest this. Erroll V. has mentioned this in many posts, as well.

Best wishes; excellent reading!

Anne

Thank you for the kind words! I actually have a couple of old die cast trucks packed away from when I was a kid. Guess I have an excuse to tell the wife that I have to play with trucks now! :)

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

I would not rely on that for much help. My reasoning being that after I drove for a few years, when I was back in any standard transmission car, I could barely shift the gears. To me, the trucks were that much different. Same thing happens now with my parking and backing a car or a pickup. I'm much worse than when I am behind the wheel of a semi.

Yeah, I figured it probably wouldn't be much help. Just looking for any advantage that I can!

My daily driver is a manual and even after that one day of driving the 10 speed truck, it felt weird getting back in my car that night to drive home. Very strange!

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

If I hooked up a trailer to a pickup and played around with that, would that offer any backing help whatsoever? Obviously it's not the same thing, but would I gain any benefit at all? Does any of that skill carry over to backing a tractor trailer? Or am I better off just not messing with it?

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 6 - Sunday, September 12, 2021

Today we spent the entire day on the yard. We now have 4 stations setup to rotate through. The backing, the obstacle course, the coupling and 2 trucks for pre-trip practice.

I started out at the backing station. Still struggling keeping that trailer straight. I think I may have done better than last weekend? But probably about the same. I get the concept, I know what I need to do, the trailer just doesn't want to cooperate! I think my main issue is after I make a small turn on the steering wheel, I'm either not giving it enough time to correct itself or I'm waiting too long. Just got to find that sweet spot and keep practicing.

The obstacle course was next, which I absolutely nailed last weekend. Got a dose of reality today as I didn't do as well. I may have felt too confident. I didn't do bad, just had a little trouble with the first section where you have to weave through the barrels. I had to stop and backup to keep from hitting a barrel. Had the same issue 2 or 3 times through the course. Again...just need to keep at it with more practice!

Went to one of the pre-trip trucks next. Not much to say there, you all know how much fun a pre-trip is. Just went through everything and working on memorizing it all.

The coupling station was fine again. I don't have any issues there. Unless I'm getting ****y about it and next week it kicks my butt!

That was literally the whole 11 hours today. Outside rotating the different stations. It was super hot and being on the asphalt made it hotter. My face and arms are sunburned and my feet are killing me. According to my phone I walked over 10K steps and over 4 miles today. I was TIRED! Home, straight to the shower and straight to bed!

More next week! Thanks for reading my long, drawn out updates :)

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 5 - Continued...

Overall, I think I drove pretty well for my first time. I've been driving a manual transmission for as long as I can remember, but I think that actually may be hurting me. Completely different beast for sure. I need to unlearn some habits that don't translate to a big rig. Making sure I only push the clutch halfway when shifting instead of all the way down, making the shift at the same time I push the clutch, etc. But I was getting the hang of it and I'll get it down after some more practice. I definitely need to work on my braking. When slowing down to stop I was keeping it nice and smooth and then BAM! Every time. I need to get that last little part of stopping smoother. Can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, but it will come with more practice. The only thing the instructor dinged me for on my paperwork was that I needed to make sure I kept looking at the tach through the entire shift. I kept taking my eyes off of it after the first clutch in and not following it to see where it was before the second clutch. Again, just need more practice.

Back at it tomorrow!

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

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NC Truck Driver Training School

Day 5 - Saturday, September 11, 2021

Started the morning going over some class safety rules for the yard and while driving the road trucks. Our instructor split us into 4 groups and gave us our truck assignment. Since the same guy that didn't show up last night was a no show again today, there were 9 of us. So 3 of the trucks had 2 students each and the 4th truck had 3 students. I was assigned with the group of 3. We went to the yard and met our instructors that would be going out with us. Went through a quick pre-trip on the truck and then the instructor went over some stuff in the cab with us. Just reiterating the shifting stuff we went over the previous night, some safety stuff, etc. We buckled up and off we went with the instructor driving first.

We made our way out of the parking lot and out to the road and the instructor was showing us the way to shift, watching the tach, etc. If there was a camera facing us in the truck all you would see was 3 noobs with terrified looks on their faces! It's real now!

The instructor drove for about 30 minutes or so demonstrating double clutching, upshifting/downshifting, etc. and then pulled into a gas station for us to take a quick break before it was our turn. The other 2 guys and myself were deciding who was going to go first. Nobody wanted to, so I was going to volunteer but one of the other guys beat me to it. I said I would go next. The 3rd guy was perfectly fine with that because he said he wanted to go last.

First student drove out of the parking lot and hit the highway. We were on a 4 lane highway with a grass median/divider out in the middle of nowhere with very little traffic, so a good place to have our first drive. He did well, missed some shifts here and there as expected. The instructor was very good at explaining, teaching and helping when needed. He made us feel comfortable and calmed us down quite a bit. We drove for a little over an hour, then pulled into another gas station to take a break and switch drivers. It's my turn!

I got in the driver's seat, adjusted my seat and mirrors and was ready to get this going. I drove out of the parking lot thinking we were going back to the same highway we were just on. Nope! Instructor has me turn the opposite way to head into this little town we were in. My first big turn in a tractor trailor was a left turn across a four lane road with cars coming from what seemed like every possible direction! Not really sure about how much time and space I would need to pull out, I let the instructor be my copilot and tell me when to go. Pulled out and didn't hit anyone and nobody hit me, so I guess it was a success. Drove through this little town trying to get a hang of double clutching and shifting. Definitely going to take some time to get it down, but I think I did ok. The intructor took me to a back country, curvy, two lane road that I swear was the exact width of my truck. I got up to about 45-50mph and was just cruising. All my focus was on keeping it in my lane. Had to make some turns at a couple of stop signs. Getting used to air brakes is something I need to learn for sure. No matter how light and soft I thought I was pressing the pedal, I would end up giving everyone in the truck whiplash when I came to a complete stop. Definitely need to work on that!

We ended up on another 4 lane highway so I could practice downshifting. I found this to be a lot easier for me that upshifting. I think it's because you can do that at your own pace and you aren't racing the tach to shift in time like you are with upshifting. Just keep the revs up and steady and you can shift when you are ready. Anyway, it was time for lunch so the instructor guided me to where he wanted to take us for lunch. We ended up at the Kenly 95 truck stop. I'm sure some of you that have driven on the East Coast probably know about it. It's the largest truck stop on the East Coast. So I pulled into the truck stop and got to maneuver around the lot to find a good (and easy!) spot for me to do a pull through. Found one and pulled up to complete my driving for the day. It was a little over an hour driving, but it felt like 5 hours! That was fun, scary and intense all at the same time. Went inside and had lunch before heading back out with the last student driving us back to the school. He had a rough go at it though. Could not shift to save his life. He finally started getting the hang of it in the last 10-15 minutes of his drive. But he was really frustrated. Hopefully he'll get it figured out.

When we got back to the school, we went back out to the yard where and two of the instructors went over the coupling process with us. They did a demonstration and walked us through all the steps. I feel like I've watched enough videos on YouTube that I pretty much have that process memorized. Now I finally get to actually do it! We all rotated through the different "stations". The backing station, the obstacle course and now the coupling station. I was at the coupling station and I didn't have any issues at all with that. Got the tractor lined up perfectly on my first attempt. Made sure I followed everything on their list of steps. No problems at all with any of it. After I did that and the other guy in my group did it, it was the end of a day and I headed home!

(Continued...character limit)

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