Comments By PPGER

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  • PPGER
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Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Phox, I live in Phoenix. I think the hotel rate is 52 a night

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Bungy cords can be dangers

Thanks for your post. I will take it to heart. I hope you have a full and speedy recovery.

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Hardest Part of Being Out Here

< big hug>

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Driving truck in windy conditions?

I hesitate to respond since I only have about 1500 miles under my belt, but it all depends on if you're loaded or not. If you're empty or light or top heavy, it'll make a big difference as compared to carrying a heavy low centered load. Our last load was 43,600 and we had winds of around 30 mph and they not bad. But earlier we had a load of only about 22000 and lighter winds pushed me around a lot more.

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Sorry for the absence.

I met my trainer Tuesday afternoon. We had a load of batteries from Auto Zone in Phoenix to El Paso. My trainer drove from Phoenix to Lordington(?) NM. Then the next day, Wednesday, I drove the load to El Paso. After dropping the load, we went to Saint Theresa, NM and picked up a load of cardboard going to Salt Lake City. I drove about 8 hours total that day and then he drove the rest of the way to Albuquerque where we stopped for the night. On Thursday I drove around 7.5 hours and then he drove the rest of the way to Salt Lake City. The load was scheduled to be delivered Friday morning so we parked at the receiver when we got there Thursday night. As it turned out, they accepted the load that night, so after unloading we went to Knight's terminal and spent the night.

On Friday we got a late dispatch to pick up a large 44k pound load of hay going to Tipton CA. I drove around 8.5 hours and then my trainer drove. We stopped at Primm, NV for the night. Then this morning I drove the rest of the way to Tulare where we dropped the load at the yard. I've gotten a little exposure to some 5 and 6 percent grades and learned to love the engine brake on an International! The automatic transmission on it needs some tweaking though! It over revs going up the hills and wants to hang around 1800 rpm before it finally shifts. I try to catch it and go to manual mode and hold it in 8th. And I also don't like how it lets the truck roll when you start out in drive. At least with a manual I knew how to work the clutch and bake so I didn't roll back when stopped on an incline. And if you are making a slow turn and let your foot up from the accelerator, when you want to give it has again, it likes to go to neutral and nothing is happening for what seems like forever while it decides what to do. Meanwhile my trainer is saying,"give it some gas!" And I say I am! And going up one of the inclines today, he's telling me to accelerate and I have it floored!

I was glad that the load of hay was so heavy because we had some really strong crosswinds going south on I-15. We got buffeted some but it wasn't too bad.

I think we have put on around 2000 miles so far. During this first week, their goal is for me to drive 8-9 hours a day. On Thursday our DM called and wanted us to deliver our load in SLC early and then do a team driving delivery. He told them that, one, there was no way we could get the load to SLC by then, and second, we were NOT a team truck. he told them that I only had less than three days under my belt. Anyway, I think that ticked off the load planner since we do not appear to have any more loads right now. My trainer told me that we might be running as a team in a couple weeks which does not really make me happy since that is why I didn't go with Swift--i didn't want any team driving while in training.

So far, I'm getting along okay with my trainer. We hadn't yelled at me yet even though I know he gets frustrated with me sometimes. He's been driving over twenty years so he does know his stuff. He said that you can be a trainer after only six months! I'm sure happy I didn't get a newbie like that for my trainer! He REALLY impressed me our first night out. He backed the rig into a spot at the truck stop that I didn't think it was possible to get into!

At the SLC terminal he worked with me on backing like you would in a row of spaces like you have at a truck stop. There may be hope for me yet.

It looks like I'll be out until the Friday after Thanksgiving. I think we'll get in sometime on Friday and then go back out on Monday.

I haven't gotten notice of a load yet, but I did just get a message on my phone giving me directions to the Target DC in Shatter CA so that may be our next run.

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Well...... I HAVE MY CDL!!! Woo hoo!

I was the third guy to test today. Of course, everything ran late. Anyway, I missed three out of 90 on the pre-test. DOH. Things I knew, but it is still passing, so on to the skills test. I had a score of 2 on that -- cut the wrong triangle on the parallel. But made it through that. On to the road test. As it turned out, that went easier than the skills test which is the opposite of what I anticipated. I think I only missed one shift and only ground a couple of gears. I think I got dinged for cutting one left turn back in too quick, turning off my signal too soon once on a lane change, missing a gear, a couple of ground gears, one traffic check, and missing what one road sign read. On my LAST turn to the road to the terminal, I was a little fast, braked a little harder than I wanted, and then had a terrible shift trying to go to third with the selecter still up for the high range, but finally recovered and got it in there... LOL -- I think I got 2 or 3 of my points on that one turn. But the instructor was really laid back about it. As we pulled into the terminal, he said, "well, you passed." I replied, "Wow, you mean even after I almost put you through the windshield (actually it wasn't that bad...). He laughed, I laughed. It was all good. Anyway, after we got back to the terminal and while he was doing the paperwork I asked him what I needed to work on. He said, nothing really. He said that I was cutting my turns properly -- only cut a couple left ones back in too soon. I asked about whether I was slowing down too soon or too late for red lights/stop signs or signally too far in advance or not soon enough for turns and he said that was all okay. So, over all, I was really happy with my road test -- more so than with my brain farts when it came to my pre-trip inspection and parking.

After all that, I drove down to the DMZ and got my CDL!!!

I am supposed to meet my trainer tomorow morning at 6 a.m. I think we'll be out until Thanksgiving since the DM said that my trainer planned to be home for Thanksgiving.

I can't believe how quickly CDL school went. It was certainly an emotional roller coaster! One day I did well. The next day I sucked. Next day okay. Next day great. Anyway, that part is over and now on to the real training! Thanks to all the great encouragement and advice on here.

I'll keep ya posted.

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Video: More Than 40 Trucks Involved In A Pileup.

Knight just gave us a class a few days ago on chaining up, so I guess they require them.

About the CB though, if you were driving and wanted to hear a warning go out about weather or crash ahead, what channel should you be monitoring?

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Day 10

Well, today was just okay. My parking was okay and my road trip was okay -- not as good as yesterday, but okay. I missed a couple shifts out on the road. That normally would not be too bad, but by the time I drove the instructor was well out of patience. The first guy to drive in our group of three students was the same guy who was almost crying last week. He finally got off the shouder onto the road a couple days ago but he is not doing a whole lot better. He still waits for the instrutor to tell him everything to do. "Shift, signal, downshift, slow down, speed up, etc." And his shifting is terrible -- missing or grinding most every gear and jerking the tractor with every clutch release. He likes to talk loudly to himself (I guess to coach himself). "Okay, I'm shifting to third," "Come on now, get in there!" etc. The instructor told him numerous time to be quiet. He would be quiet for a few minutes but would start talking loudly to himself again within a few minutes. (If reminded me of that line from Shrek "You have the right to remain silent, what you lack is the ability.") Then he jumped a curb. Continued to grind gears and jerk us around (literally) in the tractor. Normally, the instructor we were with is pretty laid back and patient, but after that, he was exasperated and didn't have any patience left by the time I drove. I didn't do anything that would fail me so I did alright I guess. Except for the few missed shifts, I think it went well.

Anyway, after we finally got back to the terminal and were leaving for the day, he asked me and the other guy who was out with him how he did -- if he was better than last time. I told him that, well, you hit a curb, so that is an automatic fail. He said, yeah, okay, but how was my shifting? Was it better than last time? Then the other guy said that it wasn't, that we were being jerked around every time he shifted. He told him that he need to not pop the clutch and be smoother. Then he got mad that he was told that. Then the other guy said, well, if you didn't want to know you shouldn't have asked. He is doing much better at offset and parallel, but I don't see how he can pass his road test. He is scheduled to test Tuesday around 8:30 a.m. so we shall see what happens -- unless they decide he's not ready and reschedule him.

It's hard to believe that it's been two weeks already and that I'm testing Monday. Wow!

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Thanks for keeping us all informed, sounds like your doing great. The one thing that no matter how well you perform your off-sets or anything to do with backing I think that G-O-A-L is a very good habit to get into even though you are lined up perfectly. If the others ask you why are you getting out to look, you could respond, well how do I know if you or somebody else is lying down in the path of my trailer. Pretty sure your trainer would agree. Anyways sounds like your doing very well.

I agree. The only reason I did the offset without a GOAL is because I know the area is free of obstructions and people since its the training backing pad. But yes, in the real world, I absolutely must GOAL every time.

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Day 9

A good day. This sure is an emotionally up and down experience. Before lunch our class had the pad to ourselves to work on offset and parallel. Hopefully, yesterday was a fluke, because I was back in the groove for both of them. Did offset with no get outs and one pull up. Did parallel with a couple get out and looks, but didn't need any pull ups.

After lunch two others and I went for a long road trip. I did MUCH better than yesterday. I think I only missed two shifts the whole time. Now if I can just keep my foot off the clutch between shifts! The only other thing I got dinged on was not being able to tell him how a particular sign read after I drove past it. When we were on the interstate, he told me to get off at a certain exit. Then he asked me how far it was to that particular exit. DOH. I wasn't really paying attention to the exit mileage so I didn't know. I said 3/4 of a mile... of course, it was 1.5 miles out. I guess that's my big thing to watch for tomorrow.

We also got our CDL test days assigned. Originally, I was assigned for 6 a.m. next Tuesday morning. But one of the guys originally scheduled for around 11 a.m. on Monday got his testing time changed because his son is having surgery next Wednesday so if he tested on Monday, he would still not be able to go out with a trainer until Thursday. Plus, they said that they already have a trainer lined up for me but need to find him a trainer who also smokes like he does. Anyway, they switched our testing times so now I am testing on Monday around 11 a.m. and he's testing at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. It doesn't really make any difference I supposed because I wouldn't really get in any more practice time if I tested at 6 a.m. on Tuesday as compared to 11 a.m. Monday. I am in no hurry. I told him that I would mind if they pushed it out to Wednesday so I have more training under my belt. But if my testing on Monday can go like today, I should have nothing to worry about.

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Day 8

Wow. What a day. I am wondering if I am the same person from yesterday. Started out with a road trip. Yesterday I rarely missed a gear. Today it was back to the old me -- grind, miss, grind. Actually got on the interstate today. After we were done the instructor went over our evals. He told me that I was too slow getting on the interstate and too fast on the off ramp. Then he was shocked to find out that it was my first time on the interstate. He thought an instructor last week had me drive on the interstate. Nope. Today was my first. One of the other students drove like a seasoned pro -- a hard act to follow. So, I got dinged 1 point for each ground gear and missed shift, plus one point for missed traffic checks, and a couple others for something else for a total of 25 points. We are allowed thirty so he said I could pass with a 25. Still, I was not happy, especially since I did so well yesterday. The student who aced it said he was wanting to smack me (good naturedly) and say WTF since I was so unlike myself yesterday. At least the instructor didn't yell at me. I know what I was doing wrong, I just couldn't seem to correct it. Yesterday, I was grabbing the lower gear as I was clutching in. Today I was back to clutching first and then trying to grab the gear--that, and taking to long to get to the lower gear. A couple of times I braked, clutched to neutral, and then promptly forgot what gear I coming from and then it quickly became a cluster trying to figure out which gear I was supposed to be going into. At least I didn't go over any curbs (like two others did) or run a red light (like another one did) which were automatic fails.

Then after lunch, they finally evaluated us on parking. My luck from yesterday again failed to show up today. I nailed the straight backing (duh), but needed both of my pull-ups on the offset and touched the line for a 2 point penalty. I managed the parallel with no penalty points. Of course, YESTERDAY, I was doing offset backing without any pull-ups or any get out and looks. Ah, the ebb and flow of CDL school.

I think three guys out of five were told that they would have flunked the road test. One of the one who flunked the road eval also flunked the parking eval--he tanked on both the offset and parallel.

The third instructor was still out sick today so that also caused us to miss some training time.

But we should go back out on the road tomorrow and hopefully I will remember again how to downshift properly!! But there is so much to remember all at once. Constant traffic checks, mirror checks, coming up for a turn, signal, brake, downshift...and of course it's the tight right turn, at the light, at the busy and congested intersection when you miss your downshift!

Based on my evals I could have passed the road and skills portions, but I certainly want to get in more reps before the test next week. I told them that since one of the instructors has been gone for two days, that I would not mind pushing up my testing date one or two days next week so I can in more time behind the wheel before testing. We'll see what happens.

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Day 7

A good day. The three students from the prior class all passed their CDL exam. A couple from the Phoenix area already got their trainers. One I spoke to is headed out at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning to Flagstaff and Sacramento. The other guy has to go back to his home terminal near Denver to hook up with his trainer.

After pre-trips, I and two others went back out for another drive. It's kind of funny how you have good drive one day and not the next and vice versa. One guy who nailed it last time couldn't catch a downshift right today to save his life. My down shifting is getting a lot better. My one problem today was when I lost track of what gear I was in and when it came time to downshift, I went to neutral and then couldn't remember fast enough which gear I was going for. But the road driving is feeling a lot better.

Then after lunch we did a little backing. I did a couple offsets and only got to do one parallel. Yesterday I was cutting it in too shallow (too small of a triangle) and today on the one parallel I got to try, I made it too big and came in too sharp. After that we were told to help the new students with their backing so I didn't get to practice any more myself. One instructor was out sick today so we only had two instructors for all of us.

I am feeling 100% on the pre-trip inspection, straight-line and offset backing. I need some more reps in on parallel before I start feeling confident with that. I am feeling better too about the road driving too. Today, our route took us to a place where we had to make a right turn into a single lane construction zone. One guy rode the curb a bit, but the instructor didn't seem upset because it was very tight. When my turn came at that same intersection, from the driver's seat, my first impression was "There's no way this big truck can make this turn!" It momentarily freaked me out. But I pulled up, cut it hard right, hugged the cones with my left front bumper and made it around without riding up on or rubbing the curb. I pleasantly surprised myself.

It is interesting to see the new students going through the same feelings and mistakes that we were making last week. I guess it's the same for everyone. The head instructor asked me and another guy to help a new student with the offset. After making the first two turns and straight line backing toward the off set lane, we are to get out and aim up the lane cone toward the right rear tandems to gauge how much more to come back. We were both telling him where to come and look, but he just sauntered down the passenger side of the trailer from the tractor and glanced down at the tandems from that angle. We told him again how to gauge his distance and he just told us, "No, I'm good.. I can see it from here."I threw up my hands and walked away "You're on your own.." Then he backed up a little more and finally came and gauged his distance from where he was supposed to.

Instead of getting 10 more new students, only six ever showed up, that that makes it better as far as having to wait around for a truck. With our class and them, it is only 11 students which isn't too bad, and they all seem pretty decent. One of the student's husband is already driving for Knight. She is training so she can team drive with him. That started a discussion bewtwen me and another guy from our class. We concluded that it would take a pretty strong relationship to survive team driving. I don't know if I could take being with my significant other 24/7 in such close quarters!

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Day 6

Well, today was pretty easy. We were supposed to get in 10 more new students, but ended up only getting in 6 or 7. The three from the week before us test out tomorrow.

Two from our group went for another road trip. The other three of us will go back out tomorrow. So, spent the day doing a pre-trip inspections -- one at the beginning of the day and one at the end. The rest of the day was rotating in and out of the offset and parallel backing lanes.

Offset is going well. Two out of three times I can do it without any get out and looks or pull ups. Then one out of three times I need to do a pull up before backing into the lane. On one of them that I did without getting out or pulling up, I was off to the driver's side -- I had about twice the space on the passenger side than the driver's side. I was not over the lines or anything, but the instructor said I should have done a pull up and gotten more even into the lanes. I thought, I suppose so. I get two pull ups and to get out and looks so may as well use them.

Blind side parallel parking is about 60/40. The last two times I tried it I was just over the box on the driver's side. I think I am making my triangle too small when I first begin backing into the spot. I was doing better on parallel on Friday than I am today -- maybe something leaked out over the weekend. LOL.

Anyway, a lot less stressful than last week. It is starting to feel like it's coming together. I am confident on the pre-trip, straight backing, and offset backing. I just need to get more consistent on the parallel.

Downshifting in the yard is better, but we will see how it goes in the real world on the road tomorrow.

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Sounds good, thanks.

I forgot to mention my most panicked moment at school: I was parked in one of the backing lanes. A truck next to me started moving forward. I glanced up from my paperwork and thought I was rolling backwards! I quickly push on the brake in a panic, thinking that maybe I forgot to set the parking brake, only to realize that the other truck was moving forward... and I was indeed parked with my brake on...

And another strange effect. When I get ready to drive home from school the last few days, I've caught myself starting to beep my car horn before I back up... LOL. That, and trying to push in a clutch that isn't there... :)

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Day 5

How does that old song go -- "What a difference a day makes.."

Started out doing a bona fide pre-trip for a truck going on the road. Someone hadn't been checking it very well though because all the tires were low. The drives were down to 80 and the rest at 90-95 instead of 100 psi. I must say though, that air hose you attach to your emergency line to air up your tires is pretty nifty!

After that me and two other guys went for a road trip. WAY better than last time. We had one of the other instructors who makes you feel much more at ease. I think I only missed one down shift this time (not counting the three I caught with a little grinding action...). It was like night and day between the two instructors. Much more relaxed. No yelling or screaming. A great confidence builder.

I do feel bad for a fellow student however. One of the other students in the truck today was the same guy I drove with a couple days ago. However, the other student along with us today was one who never made it off the shoulder of the road last time because he couldn't get his shifting down. We are required to drive along the wide shoulder of the road and go up through the gears 1-2-3-4, selector up, then 5-6. Then down again to gear one (it is an eight speed Volvo). Well, today, he couldn't downshift again. He had to go back to the rear seat with getting on the road again. I think he was almost in tears. This coming on top of him getting the worst score (flunking) on his pre-trip eval yesterday. He wants this so badly and it just puts more pressure on him. The instructor kept telling him not to worry because he is "salvagable" and would work with him next week to get him up to speed. I hope that happens. I told him what really helped me with downshifting was realizing that the clutch doesn't work when it pushed all the way to the floor like in a car. That after he clutches down to neutral, rev to 1500 rpm, and then slide into the lower gear as he is pushing the clutch (not neutral, rev, hold in the clutch, and then try to shift). He was also trying to rev to 1500 rpm while clutching which also can't happen with that motor apparently. I also told him that it really helped me a lot to dry shift. At the end of each backing maneuver, I ran through the pattern, 1-2-3-4-3-2-1. It helped me get used to the feel and position of the gear pattern. Anyway, I hope he is able to get it together.

After the road trip, we worked on some more backing. I was thrilled to finally get my offset down. The first time I tried it today, I got out and looked and I needed to come back about two feet. Then I figured out where my right rear tandem was and saw where it needed to be in order to be in the right position. After then I was able to do my next two offset backing maneuvers without having to get out or pullup. If I can get it down without having to get out or pull up, then hopefully, during the exam when I am allowed two pull ups and two get out and looks, I will be okay in case I get a case of nerves.

The blind side parallel is going much better too, but I only got in two reps of it today. The first time time I forgot and referenced off the big triangle instead of the smaller one so I had to pull up and reset. The second time I remembered to go off the smaller one and it went well. It seems that just getting those consistent reference points down is most of the battle. Do a good backing manuever and remember what your reference points were. I was talking to another student who is doing well at backing. He said he is referencing off the rivets on the trailer -- I may have to try that next week and see if that helps too.

Next week will be interesting. The group before us was only 3 people and our group is five for a total of 8. The next class on Monday will have ten people so that will be 18 -- more than double our current number. The prior group of three test out on Tuesday, but that will still leave 15 of us on the range with only three trucks. Sounds like a lot of waiting around next week.

It is amazing the difference between today and Monday. A lot of progress. It is nice to see the abilities of most all of the students progress throughout the week.

Well, two days to rest over the weekend!

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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FYI: U.S. House of Representatives Approves Highway Bill

I also read that this bill will close public access to CSA scores.

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

People learn in different methods .... the fact that you cant fathom that

You sir, are unreal. First, even though you don't know me, you make a blanket statement questioning my ability to teach. Then, you say that my brief comment in reply to your insult proves that I can't fathom the fact that people learn in different methods. I am not sure how you make such a quantum leap in logic.

I am well aware of different learning styles and the different instructional modalities employed to teach students according to said learning styles. I have taught basic and advanced NCO school (demonstrate the skill and then instruct it). I have owned a martial arts school and taught these skills as well (demonstrate the skill and then instruct it). I have also taught criminal justice courses at the university level (did the job as a police officer and then taught it). This is both/and, not do or teach. And, yes, I have certainly heard the well worn adage of those who can do, do, and those who can't teach. Just because it is oft repeated does not make it true.

Sure, I have had students with whom I did not connect and vice versa. Sometimes that is unavoidable.

But the subject at hand has nothing to do with learning styles and teaching methods. Insulting students, demeaning them, and being short-tempered has never been an effective teaching modality for any type of learning style for any subject matter. Telling this instructor that such comments are unnecessary and counter-productive is not telling him how to teach because such comments are not teaching. In addition, it is not just me who is having the problem with him.

And now I will take the advice of Tyler and ignore you.

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

.... just because you have experience as a teacher or in education doesn't mean that you have any ability to teach

Wow. Really?

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Day 4:

My day started with a reward for almost acing my pre-trip -- train other students. :) No problem.

Then the rest of the day was backing. Straight line is going very well now. I got in a couple of more reps in off set and parallel. They are going better but still need some work -- still trying to get some consistent reference points.

I am still biting my tongue with one instructor... When students misinterpret his hand signals, yelling and insults ensue. Then instead of assuming that we are merely confused or not understanding what he wants, he commences to tell us to stop trying to read his mind, to stop thinking we are the instructor, etc. Hmm, well, if ALL students are having the same problems following his hand signals, the problem likely is in his hand signals, don't ya think?

So, toward the end of the day, I'm leaning out of the driver's window, looking back at my drive axles to see how far back I'm going on my parallel parking. He yells, "You're not a professional driver!! Stop hanging out of the window and use your mirrors!" Okay, if you don't want me to "hang out the window" and "use my mirrors" instead, just tell me to not lean out of the window and to use my mirrors instead. But, don't assume that I think I'm a professional driver just because I put my head out the window.

I have a master's degree in education and this is no way to treat students. If he directs one more condescending or insulting comment my way, I don't know if I can continue to bite my tongue.

Or maybe I should just pull him aside and explain to him that his comments are inappropriate, etc; or mention my concerns to the head instructor; OR just not say anything until the end of the course.

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

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Knight CDL School Diary

Day 3

Well, day 3 was a LOT better! I got home last night and took a nice long bath and just relaxed. Then I calmly thought through the backing ordeal. Today I nailed over half a dozen straight back ups. Feeling good about that. I didn't get a chance to do offset or parallel today.

We have been reviewing pre-trip inspection a fair amount. I read the four page printout from Knight a couple of times and it pretty much coincided with what I've read on this site so it wasn't too new. Yesterday morning I did a pre-trip inspection with another student while he watched. I guess some others noticed that I wasn't using my written instructions on it and made it through it. Then they started asking me to coach them through it. The schedule showed we were supposed to be evaluated on the pre-trip inspection on Thursday (tomorrow). Well, anyway, an instructor asked me this morning if I was ready for my pre-trip inspection. He seemed surprised when I told him that I was. So he told me to go get my student folder and meet him at the truck.

I went through my pre-trip inspection evaluation and asked him how I did. He said that I only missed two items -- I failed to mention that the fuel cap was secure and not leaking and, for some reason, I failed to mention the brake drum/shoe on one axle. DUH! Anyway, it felt good getting that out of the way. After the instructor said that I only missed those two items, I asked what my score was and he said it was 88 (out of 90?). I asked, "Is that good?" He said, "That's exceptional." That made my day getting that out of the way.

After lunch another student and I went out with two instructors to actually drive on real roads!! OMG! The other student drove first and then I drove. While I did really well with shifting on the pad and around the yard, it all fell apart when I was actually driving at speed on a real road. All of a sudden I could not down shift properly to save my life! The first student was driving pretty much out in the country on backroads. I was lucky enough to get to drive all the way back into Phoenix and to the terminal. Oh joy. Except for the repeatedly botched downshifting, it went okay. I didn't jump any curbs and hit anything so it went well over all I guess (plus I couldn't stop thinking: WOW, I'M ACTUALLY DRIVING A SEMI!!).

Anyway, when we got back to the pad, the senior instructor came up to the front of the cab and asked me if I knew that the clutch did not work when it was pushed all the way in and that it did not work like the clutch in my car. I told him that I was not aware of that. And that would explain why I was having such a hard time down shifting. I was clutching in, going to neutral, hitting the gas, then depressing the clutch and trying to grab the lower gear with the clutch to the floor. Instead, I should have been putting the selector in neutral, gas it hard and then go to the next lower gear WHILE DEPRESSING the clutch. Now I am anxious to go back out there and try it again.

So, today I came home feeling much better about all of this -- despite my embarassing shifting performance.

Oh, and BTW, after my bad day yesterday, I came home and read Brett's article about how backing is the Clown Circus. That really helped my mood!

And one other thing, the student who I thought was out of the program was back again today -- late to class again, but there.

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