Comments By Kolibri

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  • Kolibri
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Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day Nine

Morning Session was backing review, Smith System, driver fatigue, and pretrip. Lunch was fried chicken, potato salad, and dinner roll. Afternoon session was driving in the world. The truck we got needed fuel, so our trainer drove us to a local truck stop and showed us how things worked. It seems drivers are given a debit card which accesses two accounts - our individual payroll account, and a company account for fuel and other expenses. Tip of the day: Shutting off the driver-side pump shuts off the passenger side as well, so make sure to fill the passenger side first.

Learning to properly shift is a challenge for me. All the rest is coming very easily. • Pre-trip - Memorize 4 “parrot phrases”. Identify component, and recite the appropriate phrase. • Air brake (part of pre-trip inspection) - Memorize 6 steps. Recite the step, perform the action. • Smith System - Memorize 5 key concepts and two captions for each. I am internalizing this as well. It is a very good thing, my potential employer likes it, and so I embrace it. • Backing - I have a good handle on this • Road test - My weaknesses include: coordination of clutch and shift lever, keeping track of what gear I am in at any given time, and downshifting.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day Eight

Morning session classroom lessons were backing, smith system, driving in adverse conditions, and trance busters.

Lunch was the same as Thursday’s mammoth sub sandwich and choice of chips.

Afternoon session was either on the road or on the range. My group of four was on the range. First we reviewed pre-trip inspection, and then each of us performed all three backing maneuvers with liberal instruction and coaching from the instructor. I went first this round. Straight line backing was a breeze. Then blind-side offset. I did it easily by following the instructor’s directions, but had little real understanding of how my actions were affecting the vehicle’s position. I just did exactly as I was told, and paid attention to how the vehicle responded to my control inputs. Similarly for the 90° alley dock. After completing my turn, we three remaining observed from the tarmac, discussing what the current driver was doing/not doing/should be doing to complete each task. Surprisingly, this was equally as educational as doing the task myself. In order that everyone get another turn, we selected one of the three maneuvers to perform with instruction only to help us out of a tough spot. I selected the 90, and I am very pleased with my performance. I wasn’t perfectly straight, but I was inside the lines, and the DOT bumper was in the box. I would have passed if it were test day. I think we four would all pass were we to be tested right now. It would not be the prettiest to watch, and we would certainly accrue a few points along the way (this test is like golf - lowest score wins), but I believe we could pass, even if by a somewhat narrow margin. We are improving with every session behind the wheel (our own as well as our fellows) and should have this thing licked by test day.

Class begins at 0800 all week, and it’s time for me to put in some study time.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day Seven

Class convened at 1245, but met with a classmate at 0900 to study with. We studied, had chicken and potato salad for lunch, and convened for class.

We were divided into three groups to rotate through each of three learning stations: pre-trip, driving, and classroom. My group started on the range first. We were 3 students in the truck with one instructor. Straight-line backing is so easy it hardly deserves to be considered a ‘skill’. Shifting: I am new to double-clutching, but sure to pick this up with a bit of practice. Downshifting will take more practice, especially when going from 6th to 5th. I’ll get it.

Before the pre-trip lesson, we did the (one time only) agility test. The proper methods were demonstrated, and we each boarded and exited the tractor cab, “duck-walked” beneath the trailer, then entered and exited the trailer. Our instructor for pre-trip is also a DMV examiner, and so he is telling us what he is looking for.

Next, it was back to the classroom for Smith System lesson. Smith System is a defensive driving course, and I am finding it quite good. Class at 0800 tomorrow. I can hardly wait to get to drive on the road :)

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day Six

Began at 0745 with more administrative paperwork and spent the rest of the day lectures on pre-trip, safety, three-point entry/exit, shifting, and backing. We get behind the wheel tomorrow  Lunch was hot dogs and choice of chips.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day Five Lunch was fried filet of chicken sandwich and choice of chips. Class started with about 60-65 people. After medical exams, there were over 50. Now, with the combined effects of: 1. Failed drug screens, and 2. People to attend next week’s permit class again for another try at the test, we are 35. We convened today at 1400 to enroll at NADTA. We were assigned and had no choice in the matter. We were given a welcome/what to expect/encouragement lecture and will meet next tomorrow at 0700 at the school building/range about ½ mile up the road for classroom work. My recruiter told me to expect a 70% pass rate, and this was re-iterated during today’s lecture, with the note that very few of the 30% leave for academic reasons, but rather of their own volition for any of a number of reasons. We were encouraged not to give up and to stick it out to completion. They really are committed to passing everyone, to wit: -My roomie is being given extra truck time in the evenings to practice for his backing test -One of my classmates was given an advance for prescription eyewear to pass the vision requirements -Instructors stay late after hours, off-the-clock to assist students Barring disaster or the Second Coming, I am virtually guaranteed to pass.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day Four - Continued

Lunch today was a slice of a mammoth submarine sandwich. It was that heavy bread, and had at least a third of a pound of cold cuts. With usual choice of chips, this was the most satisfying meal yet, even if it wasn't a "hot" meal, it was very good. That they have different things every day is a very good thing.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day Four - A Little Break

Since I passed yesterday, all I had to do today was sign in at 0900 and take the day off while others sat for their second attempts at the exam. I report tomorrow at 1400 to enroll in driver training school. As far as NADTA vs.Waterloo, I'd as soon stay as go. Here, I'm in a first floor room, and settled in, there I will have to pack, chance of an upstairs room to haul my junk, but there will likely be wi-fi in a hotel room as opposed to a dorm room with wi-fi only in the common area. For me, it's a toss-up. I think I'll try for Waterloo, but wont be disappointed if not selected to go.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

The BANANAS!!! I almost forgot the BANANAS!!! dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day Three - Iowa State CDL “A” Learner’s Permit Test

Hat trick - passed all three on the first attempt. I signed up for the first testing session, so I’m now free until 0900 tomorrow - WOOT!

Nachos for lunch today consisted of round corn chips with beef, liquid yellow cheese, and choice of other toppings - jalapeños, lettuce, pico de gallo, salsa, and sour cream.

Impressions so far:

Accommodations - very adequate, 3 to a room, much like a college dormitory. It’s not the Waldorf Astoria, but it’s not tents and campfires, either.

Food - As described in the website, 2 meals provided each Monday through Friday, adequate and varied enough to not be too monotonous. Food and coffee are provided, but you buy your own beverages otherwise. Industrial refrigerators and freezers are provided in the common area. Refrigerators and freezers are cleaned out weekly. No eating in the rooms, but storage of non-perishables in the rooms is permitted. My solution is simply to not buy perishable food. There are restaurants nearby, and as well, we may order delivery to be eaten in the common area.

Academics - also very adequate - I could have passed the test even if I had not studied the ‘High Road’ program. As well, having studied the ‘High Road’, I could have passed the test even without the classroom time.

Overall - Everything is exactly as described on the website or as my recruiter said it would be.

The weather here has been beautiful since I arrived. Roomie in his third week said it has rained since he arrived, but only at night. Fingers crossed for three more weeks of the same. I think I picked the perfect time of year to attend. I would hate to have to be here for a wintertime class, or during spring rains!

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day Two

Convened at 0800, and spent the morning session with lectures on the Combination Vehicles and Air Brakes test modules. Lunch was a hot dog, potato salad, chips/fritos/cheetos. Afternoon session was spent with more General Knowledge lecture and we signed up for exam slots. Mine is the 0900 session. Class convenes at 0730. Tomorrow’s test is the CDL “A” Learner’s Permit Written Exam, and consists of three parts: General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination Vehicles. This works much like the ones for automobiles - permitting me to operate a vehicle but only with a fully licensed trainer in the front passenger seat. I am ready.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Day One Woke up bright and early this morning, and had a light breakfast of cold cereal and 2 cups of coffee. They also had toast/butter/jelly and apples and oranges. I understand it’s the same thing every day. I can’t complain since it’s free, but will probably get old rather quickly. It will certainly do, and I can surely live with it for the three or four weeks I will be here. We convened in the classroom in another building at 0645 where we were given a packet of materials to study and medical forms to enter our names and birthdates, and a medical history questionnaire. Next we were separated into groups to get our physical examinations and give urine samples for testing. First were the height, weight, vital signs, and vision tests. Then urine sample. Lastly were a cursory physical exam, forced whisper hearing test, and review of the medical history questionnaire. I received my certificate of health and was released for lunch. All this took the entire morning, and by the time I was released, that cereal was LONELY! Lunch was a hamburger and a bag of Fritos or Cheetos. The afternoon was spent first with reading practice questions to the class, Miss Judy lectured the General Knowledge section and we finished up with more practice questions. Class was dismissed at 1630. Some very small number of the questions disagreed with ones from the ‘High Road’, but while it would be nifty to ace the permit exam, I am completely confident that I shall handily pass.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Upon Arrival,

we convened in a classroom to receive our room assignments. Caterers were set up for (what I am told is every Sunday) evening meal of fried chicken, potato salad and a dinner roll. Not bad at all for the cost to me - $0.00. :D Returned to the classroom after eating for some initial paperwork (re-iteration of electronically-signed application forms, acknowledgement of rules, permissions to investigate background information and release authorization for this info). Anything considered a weapon was surrendered for shipment home or recovery on departure from this location. After that, we were released for the day. Tomorrow starts at 0645. I have met my two roomies, who seem quiet, laid-back and easy-going, and like myself, here for exactly the purpose of completing the program. I have been warned to avoid people who treat this time as a “party”, who do not take this thing seriously, and who have poor attitudes, of which these guys are neither. We will get along just fine. :)

*I have heard stories of bedbugs here, so I examined my bed, mattress and box springs. The mattress and springs had bedbug containment covers, but I found no sign of them anywhere I looked.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Begins - continued OK, so I’ve discovered that it is next to impossible for me to get decent sleep folded up in a cramped bus seat limited in how far it reclines. I think I’ll do OK in a moving sleeper cab where I can lie properly. Today concludes my travel, with a 2-hour layover in Burlington immediately prior the final leg. I have met two of the dozen or so other prospective students and best of all had the blessing to meet Kenny, a trainer for CRST returning to the company after a hiatus as an independent O/O. He has put to rest all of my fears, told me how things work once I get on the road with a trainer and as a team co-driver. He got his CDL by attending a private school some years ago, but he was a wealth of information about the facilities, the workings of the company and the OTR part of training. I took the opportunity to pick his brains, asking questions and listening attentively. My brain is pretty much mush just now for lack of sleep, but the biggest golden nugget was when he said, “If they weren’t a good company to work for, I wouldn’t be going back to work with them again now, would I?”. From all I have gathered from every source including him, I agree that for him and me both, “The only downside is the teams” (we both prefer solo work). So, I will run teams for my first year or so, and then consider other options. I am very confident that I will do well, and that school will fly by in a blur. I am committed to my intent to be the kind of trainee that my instructor will ask to partner with instead of moving on to another trainee. Perhaps I might someday become a trainer myself, in order to similarly choose a future partner. Last time I spoke to my recruiter, he said there would be a meeting at 1630 when we arrive in Cedar Rapids. He mentioned the word ‘dinner’, and Kenny says any time they say food, it will be on the company’s dime. So Woo-HOO - possibly a free meal :) Works for me! :)

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Ex-Navy, so I guess I am no longer a trucking school wog :)

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

I only slept a couple hours last night for being excited and anxious about today. Arrived at the bus depot a bit early, waited for it to open at 0800, checked in with my confirmation number from my recruiter and got my ticket without a hitch. The bus was about 45 minutes late, though once underway given a great ride with an excellent driver. Made me want to consider a career with Greyhound should I get tired of trucks. The itinerary has me going from North Carolina to Iowa by way of Atlanta. I imagine I will be doing similar things once I get behind the wheel, so they are getting me used to it early.  Travel by bus sucks. Seats are cramped, an older bus rides rough, and it’s not like air travel where you check your bags and never see them again unless they happen to arrive at the same destination as you. You get to hump your own gear at every bus change. Granted, I did it like this when I was in the service, but I’m just not twenty anymore!  One nice thing about bus travel, though, is the free wi-fi provided on the bus so I can post this and try for a cat nap between Chattanooga and Memphis. I’ve traveled 13 hours so far and another 18 still ahead of me. Till next time, safe miles everyone!

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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In need of some beta testers for a new ProDriver GPS Navigation Device

I wish to participate - I'll be starting my OTR with trainer in 3 weeks. Kindly sign me up :)

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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Soon to start at CRST - Training starts next month - WOOT!

Tomorrow's the big day. Got my bus ticket confirmation, packed my bags, I'm all studied up from the 'High Road', and ready to hit the rough and dusty trail to the wild world of trucking.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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Soon to start at CRST - Training starts next month - WOOT!

Started trying to understand HoS today (in High Road and elsewhere) - I get the feeling that these are going to be the bane of my existence for my entire trucking career. I know that both the company and I are going to want to run as many safe miles as possible, and I will likely go over due to a miscalculation on my part, an overzealous dispatcher, or a gung-ho driver (me - pushing myself too hard) or some combination of these. Right now, the rules and cycles seem like so much random noise to me. I fully understand the point, the spirit of the laws, but trying to work with them feels to my brain like I'm trying to put a pair of gloves on the wrong hands. Taking a break from studying now. I'll pick it up later tonight or tomorrow. I am sure it will click for me by the time I need it to. :)

Posted:  2 years, 12 months ago

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Soon to start at CRST - Training starts next month - WOOT!

So go in there with the approach that you're going to prove to them you're one of the keepers. Work hard, have an awesome attitude, learn all you can every day, and listen closely to what they tell you. Take advantage of every opportunity you can to learn something new or practice something they've taught.

And just as importantly, avoid the classmates with bad attitudes. Find a few students who are taking the same approach you are and work together to help each other out. Avoid the lousy attitudes as if they have a contagious disease, because they pretty much do.

If you want it bad enough then go make it happen. Our forum is filled with stories from people who have done exactly that.

You'll see that people have a lot of ups and downs and the challenges are endless. But if you'll take the right approach things will work out great. Go in there with the wrong attitude, like many will, and you'll be on the bus home in a couple of days with a much worse attitude and of course without a shot at a new career. It's totally up to you. Seize the day.

smile.gif

Thanks, Brett! I shall take your advice to the letter. Safe miles!

Posted:  2 years, 12 months ago

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Soon to start at CRST - Training starts next month - WOOT!

I'll refute your claim. Just when I read you stopped at "Ripoff Report" I knew the claims you copied were written by a loser.

The only parts of your quote that are believable are the "100 degree Iowa heat" and maybe that pre-trip exercise with a stick.

Maybe you misunderstood the log book practice (this is only a guess) where you got 1/2 hour driving but you had most of the day On Duty Not Driving for class.

As you mentioned, if someone is dropped from a school, "who's REALLY at fault"? Trucking is a tough game, and it's good to find out on the third day of class rather than in a driver-at-fault accident.

Thank you for the reply, Errol - your last statement pretty much says it all. I couldn't agree more!

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