Comments By K.R.

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  • K.R.
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Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

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Update (on the road!)

Welp.

Yesterday we bobtailed in search of an empty trailer to Edwardsville, IL. There was a DC that we got sent to that might have had one— but it didn't.

And so, here we sit, waiting for an empty trailer.

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

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Truck Fleets with automatics transmissions

Since we're thread-necro-ing in the first place, I might as well pitch in that Werner is largely automatic at this point.

Their schools (at least Roadmaster not sure about the other few) offer training with an automatic option, and they have a majority of auto transmission trucks these days so even having the restriction on your license at least for Werner is no longer a problem.

Honestly, I'm glad that the tide has turned and is changing regarding automatic transmission trucks. It gives a lot of people who might have not been able to do this for one reason or another a chance, and that chance is at taking a job seriously and making a life for themselves.

While I was in school there were still a few instructors and drivers who nay-sayed automatic transmissions and were all "real truckers drive stick hurr hurr hurr" but I also got to see a guy who had been driving stick for twenty plus years and finally switched to an automatic transmission singing the praises and swearing that he would never go back to a manual truck again if given a choice.

(/my (a few more than) two cents)

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

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Off the cuff comments

(Usual disclaimer: I am trans/gender***** and use masculine they/them pronouns most of the time; but I present female because of ease of clothing and such, and not wanting to take the time to educate every damn person I run across while trucking. Also, I signed the co-ed papers and am out with a male trainer and not making a big deal of gender identity stuff right now because the more important thing to me is to just get the training done and over with so that I can go solo and be assigned to my own truck.)

Anyway, so I'm posting this in this category because I figure that some of the women probably have the best advice and reassurance for what happened.

I'm out with my trainer right now and he was making a phone call while I was driving (pretty standard, we both do make phone calls where the other can hear what's going on). Anyway, he's talking with his buddy and I overhear him saying, "Did you hear about what's happening in California how they're making it illegal to use the wrong gender pronouns now?" pause pause "Yeah the world's going to (h - e - double hockey sticks put in for the censor) in a handbasket" etc etc. They go on about this for a few more minutes and there is some variously more inappropriate comments about trans people and such that make me really uncomfortable, but I didn't say anything at the time.

And that's the thing. Although it does make me uncomfortable, I don't really want to say anything. I certainly don't want to confront him, and I don't want to tell the student department Right Now because that would be making too much of an issue with it, and as I said before, I just want to get this over with…?

I don't know. And on the other hand from my previous experience holding supervisory positions it's a super uncool thing to be saying and let alone to be saying in the hearing of a coworker. So.

Help, thoughts, advice? Do I just shut up and deal with it and hope that I get the rest of my 200 hours logged as soon as possible, or do I make some noise?

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

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Frequent Urination

Also, I hate to be the one to say it but if you're having too much of a problem with that sort of issue it's also important to get to go see a doctor. Sooner than later. Especially for men, I've been told that can be a sign of some fairly serious problems.

Really though, it all comes down to trip planning. Rest areas where you can get out and use a restroom without having to detour too far away from the highway are your friend.

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

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Update (on the road!)

Today has been an exercise in playing the waiting game. We started out in MO, went to Ottawa, KS to a Walmart DC where we were supposed to pick up an empty trailer, only to be told that they had no empty for us. From there we went to Kansas City (on the KS side) to a truck stop, waiting to pick up a trailer that is (still is?) inbound to the drop yard (on the MO side).

Preassigned trips got shuffled around some, and then we were supposed to pick up an empty trailer from here and then go to somewhere in Illinois to pick up our next load, but lo and behold there's no empty trailer here either. So now we're waiting for a response to our message asking "please advise".

I'm trying very hard not to be frustrated with this, because for one, I'm still getting paid regardless, since Werner pays students a daily rate. And for two, I know that a lot of trucking is the waiting game in the first place, so getting frustrated now would be a bad precedent to set for my future in this career. Plus, I've had plenty of experience with hurry up and wait while driving buses in the past.

However, we have a requirement of driving hours to log before we can promote to solo, and the biggest thing about hurry up and wait is that I'm definitely not getting any driving in. Oh well. There's always tomorrow.

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

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Update (on the road!)

Every palce I've been to that has showers on the second floor have elevators. You should ask.

Thanks, I will. Because yeah. Stairs are an additional stress on my knees that I don't need while driving.

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

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Update (on the road!)

Yeah. Not really really bad but bad enough, and stairs are just the wrong motion that it hurts a lot. I use a crutch to get around and help me walk and for the most part can do pretty much anything but heck I hate stairs, lol. My left knee is worse, which is one of the reasons a manual was out of the question. There are so many companies with automatics now that even having the restriction on my license doesn't bother me.

And yeah, absolutely. The thing has been learning what warm clothing actually is. We're in Bloomington this morning, and it's raining, so that should be fun. Rain at least I have a lot of experience driving in from when I drove city buses. Which when it comes down to it, especially the artic buses aren't that different to drive from a truck.

I tend to eat more stuff I buy from the grocery store than truck stop food in the first place.

Posted:  3 years, 2 months ago

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Update (on the road!)

It's been a while since I posted, so a brief-ish update. I'm typing this in the sleeper while my trainer gets us started towards Ozark, MO where we deliver tomorrow.

I took some time to myself before the summer, and then a summer job unrelated to trucking in order to get some money saved up. I'd never given up on trucking, but it was pushed back while I regrouped. Along the way, however, I ended up buying a house in Albuquerque, NM. That kind of accelerated my plans a little bit, and then I went back to trucking school in September at Roadmaster in Fontana.

There are good and bad things to be said about any program, but overall, things were pretty great. Being able to have that automatic transmission available made all the difference in my ability to drive, and more importantly, my ability to back. I will say that calling the program three weeks is a little bit misleading, because it took more like five weeks before I had gone to orientation (I ended up going with Werner) and then got a test scheduled and all that. Nailed the pre-trip inspection the first time, skills took a second attempt, road was never the problem in the first place.

Then I took stuff to the DMV and found out that I had some additional written tests to take that they had not made me take when I got my permit back in February. Additionally, of course, California's identification requirements for CDL holders have changed, and needing my social security card, birth certificate, and two forms of proof of residence was a pain and a half. Then came the most fun part of all, waiting for Sacramento to process my DL-170 so that I could get back to work. In the end that waiting took almost all of October and a lot of calling the DMV— pro-tip here, if you're getting bad customer service and you want your problem resolved, just complain loudly on the internet and on Twitter.

Anyway, then I went back and sat in the motel for a few more days, and then two Thursdays ago I was assigned to a trainer and we hit the ground running. Everything has been great so far, although I also got to experience sitting around in a truck stop all day in Hudson, WI waiting for the shop to get our trailer tires fixed because we got a flat overnight (moreover, it was a flat that I missed during my walk-around inspection; my trainer didn't, and then I felt really silly).

Starting to get into the routine of things. Being paid is nice too, of course, and has helped because I'm finding that I need all sorts of winter gear that I just don't have and couldn't buy at home, being from California. We stopped at a Wal-Mart a few days ago and I bought long underwear, which is helping me cope with the sub-freezing temperatures without nearly as much complaining as there was otherwise. I need to buy a few more the next time that we're at Wal-Mart, too. What's the etiquette for how much clothing one should have on on top of long underwear? Is it a terrible fashion faux-pas to put shorts on top of thermal leggings? Eh, either way. I've been very grateful that I'm out on the road with a trainer while we encounter winter weather of the sort that I've never seen let alone driven in before, but I've been handling it rather well. Natural caution serves me well when the roads are occasionally frozen over, I have to say. In ideal conditions I may occasionally still go slower than necessary but I don't overdrive my capabilities.

The other thing that I'm noticing and really the only thing that I'm disliking so far is that there are a lot of places as we go through the upper Midwest where the showers are on the second floor. This is rather bad in my case, since repeated stairs are difficult at the best of times and I try to save the bit of climbing for getting in and out of the truck. It's just something that I guess I'll have to get used to asking, and if the showers are on the second floor making extra certain that I don't have to drive afterwards.

Anyway, things are good. So yeah. And it's looking like I'll be solo by mid-December and then the real fun begins.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Swift Fontana 4/11

Did you talk to them about testing in an auto? Swift has them in their fleet.

Another option, since you've gone through school, is to rent a truck and do the test on your own. It would be cheaper than fronting the cost up front for another school.

Best of luck going forward.

Thanks. Yeah-- I'm looking at all of the options, but.

When I talked to Carlos about doing the testing in an automatic, they're not able to do that right now, not even as a reasonable accommodation, because of the way that they are set up with the employer test program through which they do the license testing.

As far as renting a truck and testing on my own, while I would potentially be qualified for Swift after I did that, most of the rest of the companies that I have inquired with have said that they require having the certificate from a school or something like that. Which of course, I don't have, because I didn't complete and test out through TDA. And I want to go into this with a job lined up on the other end if at all possible. Going through the school allows me to do that in a more manageable way.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Swift Fontana 4/11

Not an ending, just a pause and such.

Today after backing— or rather less successfully not being able to deal with the clutch during backing— I decided that there's no way I'm going to be able to get my class A without an automatic restriction. My knee just won't hold up to it and my health in the long term is important as well, so I'm stepping back and reevaluating. I'm looking into Roadmaster (also in Fontana) & through that Werner and being able to get my CDL that way.

In the mean time I'm going to see about picking up some local work of one variety or another so that I don't burn through the rest of my savings.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Swift Fontana 4/11

Orientation was… well, orientation.

And then today I did my CDL test— or part of it, at least.

Checked out of the motel in the morning, hung around the yard until it was my turn to test (nearer the end of the tests). Passed my pre-trip with absolutely no problem. In fact, the instructor doing my test several times told me 'next' because I was being a little bit too verbose.

Got through the first two of the skills with no problem, but then I went to do the parallel (sight-side) and four days without having touched a truck caught up with me, and I just screwed it up beyond my own ability to fix it. All twelve points on the parallel pretty much and lacking the ability to fix it, so I'll be repeating skills and hopefully moving on to road on Sunday.

I'm not letting it get me down, though. Watching a lot of videos about how to do the skills that I've been having trouble with. Both parallels and alley dock. Tomorrow I'll be spending time in the skills yard hopefully getting to get some more practise in, so that come Saturday I'll have it down and be able to just knock it out of the park.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Automatic transmission CDL schools or Company sponsored schools

Swift's CDL schools are currently NOT able to accommodate or train on an automatic transmission (to the best of my knowledge, just finished orientation today). At least, not in California and not anywhere else as far as I understand.

I was trying to pursue this route (different disability that affects the use of my knees for long periods of time) but was told that because they train on manual transmission trucks and have no automatics available etc etc. I have a doctor's letter and everything documenting this but they remained that they would not be able to test or train me in a vehicle with an automatic transmission.

They will hire someone who gets their license elsewhere and has an automatic/E restriction though.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Swift Fontana 4/11

Orientation tomorrow. Better get my sleep so I can put on my people person mask, or something like that…

I'm feeling pretty confident about this whole thing. Still not great at alley dock, and not much I can do about that from here, but I was able to successfully get it in the box once (with some help so I could find my reference points, which I have now memorised as to what it should look like at each stage). Also, because you are allowed 11 points for the skills section and I feel very good about the rest of the skills I'm not worried about needing to take extra get out and look or extra pulling up for the alley dock if I do in fact get it on the skills test.

Feeling pretty good about the rest of things, too. I did really good during my road time on both Friday and Saturday and didn't stall, didn't need help with the shifting pattern or being told when to shift or the shifting itself, drove on the freeway, and was getting a real hang for the feel of things, and that confidence and comfortableness goes a long way to contributing to overall feeling good about this process.

Got my clothes set out for tomorrow, going to chill out and play games on my phone for the rest of the night.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Legit?

Kirk is unimpressed:

double-quotes-start.png

As sub-par as the training was all 4 of us in that class got our CDL.

double-quotes-end.png

98% of trucking schools have one goal: get students ready to pass the CDL test. In your case, 100% of your class did "graduate", so the school did it's job with flying colors.

I also considered that my Swift Academy did not teach us enough "trucking". But most of us made the CDL examiner happy and we got it licenses. That was, and is, the goal of trucking schools: get students past the CDL skills test, and not much else. That's why it's a regular thing to put recent grads on a truck with an experienced trainer.

Yeah. Every time I mention something about school not teaching us enough "trucking" they basically tell me, that's what your time out with your mentor is for.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Any tips on parallel and offset backing ?

What we're being taught for parallel and offset backing is that the turns should be until you make a triangle between the nearer drive wheel and the farther leg of the landing gear.

This worked fine for me to figure out offset but I still haven't figured out parallel yet.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Swift Fontana 4/11

How is it going?

It's going pretty damn well.

I'm still having some problems with the clutch and my knee, because that's definitely a lot more than I was necessarily expecting and with my knees it's taking some time to adjust. But it's getting better every day, and I think I'm actually starting to understand how shifting works— whereas yesterday with road time I was just pressing the clutch when the road instructor told me to and having a lot of help with shifting.

My legs are still sore enough that I'm relying a lot on my crutches at the end of the day, but I'm really a lot more confident than I was at the beginning of this week. Not less tired, though. This is the first day in a few days that I've done more than just get back to the motel room, lay down and go to sleep. I'm also really glad that I'm doing my road time in the morning and skills in the afternoon because it's the skills backing that's getting my knee the worst.

I went to the library over in Upland, got myself a library card, and checked myself out two books, because one of the things that is being constantly told to me is that I need to relax, and one of the best ways for me to relax is to read a book or get my mind a little bit off of the training. There's only so much I can study before I start going in circles and feeling like it's counterproductive.

I've pretty much got straight line backing down, and offset backing, but no matter how much I tried today I couldn't quite get the knack of parallel parking. More practise on it tomorrow, driver's side, and then after I get that it'll be on to conventional/blind side parallel.

Anyway, onwards. Time to go read my book.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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First time hauling this

It's good he was able to retreeve the load for you…

(sorry-not-sorry, couldn't resist.)

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Swift Fontana 4/11

Passed my pre-trip mock no problem at all. Definitely looking forward to skills on Monday, although I'll admit that after all of my experience being with vehicles with an automatic transmission I'm nervous about the manual transmission. Anyway, time to get some rest tonight and tomorrow so that I'm well-rested for Monday.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Big T's Swift Adventure

Good luck! I'm sure you'll make it and get this sorted out, and it was great to get to talk to you while you were here.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Swift Fontana 4/11

Pre-trips, pre-trips, pre-trips… what can I say other than that it's the part of driving that we all love to hate?

Swift does a mock pre-trip test that I believe is this weekend, basically to prepare us for the pre-trip section of our license test. Not so bad, right? 70 points minimum on the mock test, and 67 for the actual test, and of course getting more points is better than getting less.

For me at the moment it's just a matter of getting a hang of the verbiage— I've always found the verbosity required by the dmv pretrip section to be kind of a thing that trips me up. Currently I'm working on narrowing it down into a numbered list of steps in order, so that I can get a better handle on the additional parts of the pre-trip from it being a combination vehicle.

And tomorrow it continues.

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