Comments By Cobalt Cyborg

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Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

I was finally able to contact my driver development coordinator on the third day of trying. Once I explained my situation with my mentor, she explained my options and the consequences of exercising those options.

I then asked to be assigned to a new mentor.

After 5 hours or so on the road, we received a message on the QualComm to get me to a terminal, citing personal reasons.

My mentor started digging at me for the reason, and after an hour or so, I finally reminded him that the first story that he shared with me was about an altercation that he got into with a previous student, during which they shared threats of physical violence, and I also pointed out that his displays of anger made me very reluctant to confront him. He agreed that those seemed like good reasons to keep it bottled up.

Anyhow... I then *did* proceed to spend quite a bit of time and effort explaining that I'm not an idiot, but feel I've been treated like one by him. I pointed out that I felt I must be doing very poorly, since he had not once, in almost three weeks, mentioned a single thing I had done correctly.

I pointed out that his cynicism was taking a heavy toll on me.

I was polite but firm and pretty thorough. His response was surprising. He agreed with every single point and didn't argue a single one. He also spent the next 5 hours doing what he should have been doing for the last three weeks: teaching.

Should I have confronted him earlier?

Remember: a student driver is very isolated, and basically 100% dependant on the mentor driver.

I had been trying to reach my driver development coordinator, unsuccessfully, for days. (I had called her number many times, and didn't even get voicemail. The way I finally was able to contact her was by relaying a message through my recruiter. )

My mentor had told me about making threats of physical violence against a previous student,  followed by threats of abandoning that student on the roadside.

Did I handle it perfectly? Maybe not.

Did I handle it in what I considered to be the safest way possible, given the circumstances? I did.

Are people going to play arm chair quarterback and tell me how I should have handled it differently? Yes. They are.

Were they there?

I was.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

We picked up a load of sugar in Idaho this morning. My mentor told me that this shipper is very particular about the dry van trailer must be very clean inside, as its a food product. I swept the trailer out very well. I was on my hands and knees, prying wood splinters out of the corners with my pocket knife. I thought I had done a pretty good job.

When we got to the sugar mill, their shipping supervisor inspected the trailer very thoroughly with a flashlight. Once finished with his inspection,  he came out and said "You're rejected for being too clean"!

Pretty high praise, I thought.

My mentors response: "They're usually a lot more thorough than that. "

Seriously? Not "well done". Not "good job".

Later, I drove from Boise to Salt Lake City, while he slept. Then we had to get diesel and DEF. He told me to key in for DEF first, so I did. Well, this pump (which he's used hundreds of times over the last eleven years, and which I have NEVER used before), require that you pump the diesel first, so he chewed me out. For doing exactly as he told me to do.

I have contacted my recruiter and my Driver Development Coordinator to begin the process of getting a new mentor.

This sort of crap has been going on since Day One, but I had decided to just take it, get it over with and get on the road.

I am done being treated like an idiot. This mentor is a fantastic truck driver, no doubt about it, but teaching is simply not his forte, and I feel I'm way behind where I should be in my training.

So I'm doing as I was advised by G-Town weeks ago, and owning my training. I just hope I haven't waited too long, hoping it would improve. It only got much much worse.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

We're in Portland waiting on a load. It's a load from a major comic book based show.

I had never considered the logistics behind how big shows like this move from city to city. I don't know how many 53' trailers they're using on this show, but I've seen about a dozen, and I'm pretty sure there were more than that.

Over the last couple of weeks I've seen glimpses of the back end of our consumer society that I really hadn't given much thought to, before this.

I've seen four "fulfilment centers" that take up entire city blocks and a manufacturing plant far, far larger even yet.

The sheer number of trucks, trailers, and people required to keep the vegetables and cans on store shelves, to keep us entertained, fed, clothed, informed, trendy goes far beyond enormous.

I saw an article a few weeks ago which stated that over ten million American jobs exist in the shipping industries. I now have no trouble believing that figure. I'm going to do more research because now I'm curious about whether that number included indirect and support jobs too.

MONDAY- Salt Lake City. Dropped that load, waiting on the next one. Got a much needed shower at the terminal. Going to nap for a bit.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Portland.

I drove in the dark in very very heavy rain last night for about two hours. Believe me out seemed like a lot more. Most of it was mountain highways so a lot of twisting turning highway. It was pretty scary and I don't mind admitting that.

I get frustrated with my mentor but at the end of the day I must admit that I'm learning a *lot* from him, and he's being as patient as he knows how to be, so it's working.

I'm surprised at how different it is to back a rig in The Real World, as compared to doing it in CDL school. No comparison at all.

Waiting on getting a Bill of Lading signed. Waiting seems to be a common theme in trucking. :)

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Great posts Blue Zombie Trucker! Thanks so much for sharing! Nicole

Thanks Nicole!

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Ok. Well I've been on the road for twelve days now. I've done something like 21 backs and I have over 80 hours behind the wheel. Almost halfway.

I would have been over halfway but we lost a ton of road time due to various SNAFU's. Sometimes it's best to just smile, laugh and say "aw, what the heck!"

We've been running around Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio for a couple of days. We're now back in Columbus, at the terminal, trying to get that 50K mile B Service done, and the windshield replaced.

We get a reminder (on the QualComm) for the B Service at least daily. It seems like three times a day, but I'm sure it's only once a day.

It looks like we'll be second into the shop in the morning, so... fingers crossed.

It has definitely reached the point where I'm basically overthinking EVERYthing.

On a good note, my mentor gave me something that could probably be very loosely considered a compliment on my backing tonight. I'm sure it's as close as I'll get to actual positive feedback, so what the heck: I'll take it.

So far, I have yet to meet or deal with a single crabby person on the road. I've seen a few but haven't had to deal with any. Every single shipping/receiving worker, forklift operator, security guard and trucker that I've dealt with have been a pleasure to deal with.

I guess I'm just lucky, and I'd rather be lucky than good.

dancing-dog.gif

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Sort of a crazy day. There was a problem with the address on a load we were supposed to deliver today so we lost about half a day (or more).

We were supposed to take a load to Denver after the drop this afternoon but had to decline that one due to the scheduling getting all hosed up.

We really are on safety hold now for the tractor needing service, so once again it's all up in the air.

My takeaway from today:

1- Don't take any of it personal. It's not personal. It's just business.

2- Smile and laugh. It helps.

3- Remember that the foul up is ruining the day for all those other people too: the receiver, the driver leader... everyone's day just got ruined, not just your day. Everyone's day just got ruined.

4- Be flexible. Be willing. Be cooperative. It will be appreciated.

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Cattletsburg, KY. We still don't have a b- service nor a windshield replacement solution.

Our drop in Jessup, MD went well. Very tight area for the pickup but it went well.

I drove about 8 hours after the pickup; from Jessup to Cattlettsburg, KY. Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are very pretty. Lots of green rolling hills and mountains. And no forest fires!

It's sort of challenging spending so much time with another person in such a small space. I really don't see how mentors do it, time and again, student after student.

But I'm very thankful that they do.

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Well we ran across Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and to Columbus. I slept through Iowa. Sorry, Iowa. These other states are pretty and green. LOTS of cows and corn.

When we got to the Columbus terminal it was a little weird. One computer showed us in safety shutdown status due to needing a b service (50,000 mile) on the tractor, but another system said no, good to go. We lost an hour or so getting it figured out.

Bottom line: we are headed for Maryland and I'm out of hours! So I get my first 34 hour restart. I'm sure my mentor did this on purpose so I'd have an awesome paycheck next week.

I love this job. There's so much to learn! I'm going to come clean: I thought I was pretty hot **** out of the academy and feigning humility. That lasted about 5 minutes until I watched my mentor do a angle back in traffic like the pro that he is. That was day one before I was even on duty, and it made me realize what a small fish I really am.

Anyhow, he's been very patient. I did my best back last night at a pretty freaking busy truckstop and it went well. A few pullups but no crunching metal or fiberglass and our rig is straight and almost centered in the hole. I'll take it.

And... truckers are awesome people.

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Thought this might put some perspective on your stone bruises...Gone a fowl...turkey for Easter

Just so you know...up to a thousands people read your diary every day...keep up the good work.

Um. Wow! Glad you only got very minor injuries, G-Town!

And yes... you can do everything right, and still, when you least expect it!

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Long haul across Wisconsin. Lots of rain. I think we're near Kasonga (?) It's very green and no smoke from forest fires!

Got a fleet message saying it's snowing in Montana. As in: at home!

I reached a milestone: 50 hours behind the wheel. My mentor says they'll try to push us into super solo status now, meaning we'll have to start really pushing it.

We're not sure what's going to happen with the tractor v-service and windshield replacement. We're going to push for the Columbus terminal tomorrow to try to get them done, but it's likely to cost us a couple days downtime.

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

You'd be surprised by how many people read this stuff.

I'm glad to hear you're enjoying Swift and seem to have gotten lucky on the trainer.. I did too at my company.

Yeah, terminal rats are everywhere lol. Avoid them like the plague and you'll do great. RE: Swift. You could do a heck of a lot worse. That's what an experienced O/O told me about my own company right before I left for Iowa.

I firmly believe every company is exactly what you make of it. Embrace it, work hard and be justly rewarded. Never look back because the grass is seldom greener elsewhere.

Congratulations. Keep us posted on your adventures.

Thanks Susan.

I know Swift trucks are slow, we get passed constantly. But... slow == SAFE.

First windshield casualty already. A sidedump dropped a golf ball size rock south of Havre, MT and it got us just left of center leaving a star the size of a half dollar. Then less than 5 miles on, another one. My mentor tells me this windshield is less than 2 weeks old.

Hot showers again tonight in Bismarck, ND. I never thought a hour shower could feel so wonderful!

A near miss: some clown on a car nearly clipped my left front after passing me. I guess big white Kenworths are hard to see from 15 feet away?

The backing is definitely improving.

Now if I can just remember: Swing Wide It's a Fookin' Trailer!

;) dancing-dog.gif

Stay safe.

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Where's the edit button? LOL!

That's supposed to say a very challenging profession, not position. :-/

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Shelby, MT. Just t-dropped a load headed for Canada and picked up a trailer headed for Maryland, right between Baltimore and DC.

So far I've driven from New Meadows, ID to Salt Lake City to Denver to Billings to Shelby.

It's going really well. My trainer/mentor is very intense. He's an excellent trainer, but it's easy to see how someone with thin skin might take it personally.

I'm here to learn a very challenging position, so my tender little snowflake feelings are stowed safely away. Far far away.

Coming out of CDL school I thought I knew how to drive and back. The ONLY thing I knew was how to pass my state CDL test. Training drivers are a gift from heaven.

Learning this profession is... Awesome. I never thought the driving would be the easy part.

I'm loving this.

dancing-dog.gif

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

My mentor is excellent. We get along very well.

Truck is a 2017 Kenworth T680S automatic transmission. Very nice truck.

We're hauling a heavy load of paper.

Sounds like I'll be driving to Salt Lake City tomorrow. We made it almost to Boise today. Tons of road construction slowed us way down.

It's Most Excellent!

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

I don't know if anyone besides G-Town is reading this but... if any new academy students are reading this, please take heed:

Do Your Homework, starting from studying for your CLP and then just keep on doing your homework.

I just finished Orientation and I *still* have homework! Please do yourselves a favour and Be Proactive About Doing Your Homework!

There's SO much to learn and it doesn't stop when you get your CDL: HOS, Trip Planning, QualComm macros, different tractor familiarizations... on and on.

And yeah: the forum needs an Edit button.

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Well, Swift Transportation has a new driver trainee: ME! Woohoo!

Ahem. Sorry. I'm pretty jazzed.

My mentor is on his way here. He's got a load to drop at a local ammo manufacturing company. I talked with him on the phone and honestly I think we're going to get along just fine. A lot of that confidence comes directly from being prepared by reading a lot on these forums.

Example: I came with one duffle, my sleeping bag, my camelback, and a zipper portfolio for my paperwork. That's it. The other trainee in orientation, (there were only two of us), had to use a luggage cart at the motel this morning. Wow. Good luck with that one.

Anyhow my mentor wanted to make it to the terminal to pick me up tonight, but HOS said nope. He'll be here around ten a.m. He's going to have me drive right away, and we're going to take a heavy load down 95. I'm pretty jazzed about it because that's where my night driving was: I drove back from Winchester at night. He's going to take over for the long downhill near Grangeville, which is fine with me.

He's driving an automatic, which will be a new experience for me and I'm looking forward to it.

This particular mentor is spoken of very highly around this terminal, so I think maybe I got lucky.

I told him that I know that the hard part is coming now, and he said naw, as long as I can get the hang of the QualComm, no problem at all. He said that mostly, he uses about half of the macros, so I'll be studying macros, for sure.

I'm spending the night in a tractor sleeper at the terminal. The local motels are full up due to a rodeo, and also a local paper mill is in its twice yearly maintenance, so a lot of out of town millwrights and such are in town too.

It's pretty funny: everyone around here is all apologetic about me "having " to spend the night in a truck. My response: hey, I signed on to live in a sleeper, please don't apologize for making me live in a sleeper! OMG I'm having a blast!

Anyhow, tomorrow, the rubber hits the road. :-)

dancing-dog.gif

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Downloading so not foreclosing do. Ugh.

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

View Topic:

Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

Thanks G-Town! I'm foreclosing do I can read it in my free time.

It's going a little slow due to system issues but it's going. :) Here we go!

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

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Just finished training at Swift Academy, Lewiston, ID

**Sumner. Not Summer.

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