Profile For Kim S.

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    1 year, 12 months ago

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Posted:  8 months, 3 weeks ago

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Middle Aged Couple - Part III

Just popping in with an update. My injuries healed, I finished training, and my husband and I have satisfied our one-year with Prime to cover our training. We are taking some time off for the holidays and in January we'll start fresh. We plan to stick with Prime, as Company drivers, for at least another year - maybe more. There have been a few hiccups, but overall, we are very happy with Prime.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

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Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

Wednesday Night November 22

It feels to me like it's been ages ago since we got our CDL permits, rather than less than two weeks.

If you've seen our FB page (www.facebook.com/nickandkimsasso) you know that I went out on the road with a trainer, did kinda okay for a day or so, parallel parked a semi (!!) - - - and then had a Crisis of Confidence/Hatefest(targeted at the clutch) while driving in rush-hour traffic last Friday afternoon in my hometown, Atlanta. After a consultation (code for "hysterical phone call") with my fleet manager, I was routed back to Springfield.

When I got here yesterday, I met with a training division VIP and got some personal experience with the Genuine Concern For Drivers for which Prime is so famous. It was a little nerve-wreaking going in, but I felt pretty good once it was over. My original trainer and I said our goodbyes, and I returned to Campus Inn. I was really grateful to have a room to myself - an evening of TV, Facebook, and video calling my husband gave me a chance to relax and "get my mind right" to try again.

My old trainer was great to be on the road with and very good at what she does - my problem was not with her. But today I met my new one and I am oh, so glad that I made that phone call! This guy's approach is just perfect for my temperament. Although we will be continuing my PSD in an automatic, he wisely insisted that I "get back on the horse," and today I spent four solid hours on the road driving a 10-speed!

After all the stress of the Sim lab, and the stress on the road last week, today was - dare I say it? FUN. ...Well, almost! I STILL do not want to drive a clutch in rush hour ever again, but now I can feel like that is a preference and it's not because I CAN'T do it.

We are hoping to pick up a an outgoing load in the morning, and I suppose it will be another week or more before I can come back and test for my CDL. After that, it's out with yet another trainer - this time kinda Team Driving but also still learning. I am disappointed that my new trainer doesn't do that phase of training. I've gotten lucky twice-over when it comes to trainers I can "live with," and it might be asking too much to get a third! But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it...and I will be a CDL-carrying driver at that point so maybe I won't be so skittish about the whole scenario.

Nick is documenting his training experiences on Facebook at GrizlyNick OTR Trucker (www.facebook.com/GrizlyTrucker) but his phone is on the skids so he posts infrequently. He's driven a lot more miles than I have, and now that he's not worrying about my predicament anymore, I suspect he'll be back here to test-out sooner rather than later.

I'm missing him terribly but after today I have renewed excitement about our decision to do this, and better equipped to stick it out the next several weeks apart. At this particular moment, I mostly feel badly that he's missed out on the free food at Prime's main complex this week. Today I enjoyed an early Thanksgiving Dinner at lunch AND dinner...and depending on when I head out tomorrow, I might have a bit more turkey tomorrow!

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

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Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

We got our Purple Cards today! Green Trim, of course, but Purple Cards!

And I am meeting a possible training-match in the morning - had a brief, awkward phone call with her tonight. I had just woken up from a nap (new C-Pap machine is AMAZING) so I was not very articulate, and I am looking forward to a more clear-headed evaluation of our compatibility. This is such a strange situation to be in!

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

Friday Morning

Last night's TT diary entry didn't transmit for some reason. If you are dying of curiosity, you can see it posted as a "Note" on our Facebook Page www.facebook.com/nickandkimsasso

As for status today....HOORAY! We passed our Sim tests last night AND today our C-Pap machines arrived via Fedex. (Mine has flowers on it, cause it's "for her." LOL) The people at Georgia Clinic and Gwinnett Sleep were so wonderfully responsive and appreciative of our circumstances. So now all that remains is to hear back from Trinity Healthcare about what is required (I guess they need to inspect the machines?) for us to get our medical cards. Once we have those, we can fork over our money to the state of Missouri and get our real live Commercial Drivers Permit License!

Later today we'll do a dry-run on the pre-trip, but I don't want to get too far into doing it "on my own" before I have an expert to guide me. It would sure be embarrassing to find out that I'm pointing to the wrong thing when I'm speechifying. I talked to the Inspection Guru, George-of-the-Beard, and he said he'd try to pair me up with a good Inspection instructor over the weekend. Not counting on it right away because (reportedly,) our class has an unusually high number of students lasting all the way through to the end of Orientation, so the training department is in high gear right now. They are bringing in more instructors off the road, but that big batch of people who went to Millennium this morning will have to be matched up before we get at shot, and we won't even be on the list until we have a Permit. Unless Trinity calls us back pretty soon, I'm thinking that won't happen until Monday.

We are kinda bummed about missing the Friday festivities at the fancy building, but it's hard to complain about having a little time to relax before the insanity of PSD begins. I still have to get over to Wal-mart to get replacement stuff for the bedroll that got lost on Greyhound; a nice walk will do me good.

Feeling a broad mix of excitement, anxiety, anticipation, bewilderment and pride...but mostly at this moment, I am feeling sleepy! (Maybe I should try out that C-Pap!) I fear that my metabolism is already sinking into Trucker Driver mode, but I am intent on following the Prime Wellness Dude's counsel and do my 4-minutes of supercise at least 3 times a day....starting tomorrow??

Not sure if I'll stay on TT diary once things are underway. It takes a lot of time to do it here, then copy it into FB, and I've GOT to do the FB version 'cause all my friends back home are living vicariously through me! Our public page is www.facebook.com/nickandkimsasso .

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

Wednesday, Day Three of Orientation

Hard to believe this is just day three! I have gotten plenty of rest, technically, but my brain and eyes are exhausted from the endless classes and Computer Based Training. My eyes are so red and weary, I switched off from contacts to my eyeglasses today. And I am seriously contemplating a nap before lunch and Sim Lab!

My dear husband is shouldering the burden of getting things worked out regarding the sleep study our doctor ordered prior to us arriving here and coordinating that with Trinity, Cardinal and Prime so we can get medical clearance to drive with C-Pap machines. At this point we're pretty confident that will happen and we can get our medical cards and pick up our permits. We've finished our CBTs , and even got the laundry done and have our shopping list for things to get at Wal-Mart before we level up to a truck.

The only hurdles left before we get to Final Clearance and the coveted "purple card" is Instructor Sign-offs on "passing" all four segments of Sim Lab is still on the To Do List. We've got one more lab this afternoon and one tomorrow night. I'm still not a smooth operator, but I'm thinking I can at least get it to the point where I've got the green light to start training on the real thing with a PSD trainer.

So now I am thinking about the qualities of my Dream Trainer...

I'm thinking I want them to be as calm and patient as Dean in the Sim Lab, and encourage me to shift exactly the way he likes to see it done in real rests. I want them to be as committed to thorough Pre-Trip inspections as George, and willing to work with me on learning to do them, since I've only ever been under a hood to check oil and water.

If they could be as cheery as Gabby and warm and friendly as Jay, that would be awesome. Oh, and as helpful and informed as guys like Rich and Nick and Brian and Tammy on Facebook. I definitely want a Prime Cheerleader! I want a total koolaid drinker who will follow all the same rules I promised to follow when doing my CBTS, and who NOT rush me through learning or try to teach me stuff like floating gears or faking logs. In return, I promise to respect their truck, listen carefully, try real hard, and share my snacks.

And finally, while I am slowly but surely weaning off the Diet Coke, but my bladder is still getting used to this new world order; I would like someone who will be patient about the fact that at least initially, I might have to pee a lot (and I'd really, really, really rather not do it in a bucket while I am on a stranger's truck.)

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

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Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

Encouragement from you guys really helps so much! I am a little concerned that we might have to skip out on the Friday morning fun if we have to make-up something from Sim Lab, but we made good progress tonight. Not having full medical clearance will be a bigger issue - still waiting for confirmation that our doctor submitted the paperwork Trinity requested.

Otherwise, we're feeling pretty good. We've met a lot of really nice people here. And I've "met" many more of online. My husband is blowing through the CBTs and I'm about to get to work on them myself.

Cheers!

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

Hooray! We both passed all four Permit tests!

My husband got them all on the first round. I had to take two shots at the Combination test. There were some unexpected questions....no necessarily ones I hadn't seen at all before, but ones I truly hadn't anticipated would be on the test. And, of course (just like in high school) I did NOT get asked about the things I knew forwards-and-backwards! The examiner commented to both of us on our solid scores (except for me and my Combo test, natch!)

Overall, there were far more questions & answers I felt confident about than there were "close my eyes and hope I'm right," ones, and only one or two that I completely blanked on.

SO MANY people are headed back to the DMV tomorrow for re-tests! As expected though, the ones who passed were the ones who studied before getting here. (And of course, Trucking Truth was mentioned by quite a few of them.)

Newbie Note: The shuttle to the DMV only holds about a dozen people, so if you want to use it when you are here, don't lollygag! Get out the the shuttle stop well before the scheduled time or you'll be one of those sad people who sees the door shut before they can step on.

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

UPDATE - MONDAY P.M.

Struggled a bit Sim Lab and had a hard time holding it together. I'm tired and hormonal and I overthink everything, and that overshadows my coordination, which my instructor said was very good.

Funny part is, I wasn't all that worried about struggling a bit with the gears, I just needed to get the hang of it. But I got self-conscious, and I started feeling like my lack of progress was slowing Nick down, because as a team we were not on par with the others (even though I know better than to worry about what the other people are doing!!) And my anxiety made me feel teary and once I started feeling teary, I got even more worried about feeling teary, which made me actually BE teary, and it went downhill from there. I was watery-eyed and red-nosed before it was all over, and I knew it looked bad, and that just made me start worry that that the instructors would think I was too anxious to be a safe driver when really all I need was a little more time to get used to it.

Gawd, how I wish I'd inherited a stoicism gene!!!

And also? It was about 1000 degrees in there. It's extra hard to "keep my cool" when I am not literally cool. Better to wear shorts tomorrow than to get all weepy again.

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

Day Two in Springfield Monday Orientation & Paperwork Stuff

I am still enamored of Prime, but, HOLY COW! There has got to be a more efficient way to do this! Standing in line for 2-and-a-half hours to pee in a cup is a just silly. And the musical-chair system of processing us for the file review and physical isn't much better. That being said, it was nice to swap Greyhound War Stories and Permit-Test Tips with other new students. And I took particular pleasure in observing all the Alabama shirts I saw today; I am pretty sure that "Roll Tide" was the first sports-related phrase I ever learned to say.

I was particularly concerned about the agility test and rumors of a "duck walk." The agility test was a piece of cake since I am not going Flatbed....I gave the tarp test a shot just for the hell of it, and although I could lift it, I could not pick it up high enough to put it on the shelf. The duck walk is actually just a quick "crouch down and take a step" scenario that is part of the doctor's physical. Not a big deal at all. Several people were having minor complications - a few apparently couldn't pee (drink LOTS of water your first Monday, lol!) and some had blood pressure issues. I think there is another diary on here that discusses how much Prime works with PSD prospects to resolve blood pressure issues.

We are all curious to see what tomorrow brings, what with widely-reported tales of class sizes dropping by half after the first day. Even as an unaffected observer, I can tell you that Dave the Security Guy delivers a pretty clear reality check for anyone who might be trying to hide a sketchy past!

To sum things up....HURRAH! We got all four on-boarding segments done, so we're set to get our Permit Tests done tomorrow. Even if i pass - wait, make that - EVEN THOUGH I WILL PASS, - I may have to wait for my actual in-hand permit. The healthcare people need some reports from the doctor before releasing my medical card. Here's hoping the doc's office responds quickly!

Sim Lab appointment at 6:30 and then hitting the sack! Lots of nice people here, and except for the crazy on-boarding, Prime's way of doing things is very impressive. A promising first day!

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

I remember reading your diary! (How could I forget a name like "Turtle"?) You helped me to prepare, and I thank you for that!!

Looking forward to hearing about your journey through training. It seems like yesterday that I went through Prime orientation myself. Good luck, and don't forget to write!

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Middle Aged Couple Part II -

Continued:

We made a Wal-Mart run Sunday and it's true that it's quite close. And you can tell it's located near a terminal - lots of "hardwork" clothing and convenience products for life on the road. Back at the cafe for lunch, we were also able to get dinner "to-go," since they close early on Sundays. We have enough (more than enough, really) food back at the room to get us to breakfast.

Our day-early arrival means we have plenty of time to rest and relax before what everyone assures us will be a stressful Orientation week! (They also assure us it gets better.) My husband returned the rental and I've "nested" in the hotel room to make the week a little easier. Falcolns football is on screen and the afternoon stretches before us!

It's just after 2 p.m as I write this, so I can look forward to a nap, study time, filling out my paperwork, and maybe even checking out that on-site "movie theater" before an early night.

Not sure that I'll update this Diary every day. We'll be posting on our "Travel Page" for all the friends back home - www.facebook.com/nickandkimsasso

The friendliness of the people here has done a LOT to take the edge of my anxiety about this crazy plan we have to become OTR truck drivers!!

Posted:  1 year, 10 months ago

View Topic:

Middle-aged Husband & Wife Becoming Team Drivers at Prime

Training Diary of a middle-aged former "workkamper" wife embarking on a new adventure as my husband and I make a move to OTR driving with Prime, Inc. of Missouri.

Sunday 11/5/2017

First day in Springfield. Even with the time-change and going to bed around 9, I slept until at least 8 a.m. I can't imagine how I'd feel if we'd kept the original schedule and arrived at 11 or later the night before our first 5:45 wake up call!

So, that's my first bit of counsel for new folks coming for training: If Prime has you set to arrive late Sunday, consider asking to come in a day early. I don't know if they can arrange it for everyone - but it's worth considering.

Greyhound wasn't so bad - that is, the bus ride itself wasn't. If we were younger and thinner, it might even have been comfortable. But we passed through two major cities, so our bus was packed with the sights, sounds and smells of weary travelers - and whatever they decided to eat along the way. (Thank heavens, I thought to bring my sound-suppressing ear phones!)

Another tip: go ahead and fork over the money to check two bags if you need to! Especially if you will be changing buses en route. We would have been much, much happier carrying reasonably-weighted bags - and checking all of them - than we were managing our crazy-heavy duffle bags and overstuffed "carry-ons." And when others advise, "buy it when you get there," do consider it!

The terminals were crowded (but reasonably clean, to Greyhound's credit) and layovers are killer - we had two hours of standing-room-only in Nashville. Our bus schedule had a six-hour wait in St. Louis, but we decided to call Enterprise and rent a cheap car for the last leg of our journey. Even with stopping for amazing ribs at Poppy's, we beat "our" bus to Springfield by several hours.

We arrived at Campus Inn around dusk. The very friendly desk attendant, Jay, welcomed us with copious amounts of information and a boxed dinner. We also encountered other friendly Prime folks - including a trainer-in-training named John who appointed himself the Prime Welcoming Committee for the evening. He entertained us all with exhuberant welcomes for everyone who passed through the lobby.

My husband was thrilled to see the box meal included a packet of Miracle Whip instead of mayo. I was thrilled that the sandwich was not pre-made with condiments. The ample portion of meat was packed seperately from the very fresh bread, and the meal also included bottled water, chips (or in my case, Cheetos) and a sweet - we got candy bars but apparently the norm is a cookie. It all made for a surprisingly satisfying meal after a tiring day.

Granted, we had gorged on barbecue at lunch! Incoming students might want to consider bringing snacks to avoid a late night walk to the convenience store or Wal-Mart. The rooms do include a fridge, microwave, single-serve coffee maker (and coffee packets) and ice bucket. Ice machines are on the first floor. I did spy vending machines near the training rooms, but if they are like the coke machine in the hotel, you will need coins to get goodies. No dollar bills or debit cards.

The room itself was a pleasant surprise. I half-expected a stripped-down dorm room atmosphere, and the bare-floors and lack of air conditioning in the hallways do feel dormish. But the room is an ordinary discount hotel room. We have two reasonably comfy beds, a desk and chair, mid-size cable TV, private* bathroom (water pressure is okay, good volume and temperature.) It is big and clean; linens, bath towels, and soap/shampoo are provided. They also furnish an iron, ironing board, landline phone, and wi-fi. They even do housekeeping rounds and make the beds. (*Reminder that incoming solo trainees may have a roommate.)

Another benefit to our day-early arrival was a lazy meander to the Campus Inn Cafe for breakfast. The very cheery young lady behind the counter, Gabby, explained everything we could expect for the coming week so far as food service. I suspect that Monday mornings are a lot more hectic and more confusing for newcomers!

Free coffee and iced tea are available whenever the cafe is open (no dinner hours on weekends,) and packaged food is available as well as hot meals to eat there or to-go. The meal provision from Prime is quite sufficient, but - another reason to bring cash - if you want anything that exceeds the allotment, you'll need cash (or, eventually, your Prime comdata card.) No debit cards are accepted.

At breakfast we met Bill, a long-time Prime employee, former driver and current trainer. We plan to drive refrigerated box trailers - and he assured us that being married team drivers, reefer was likely the best choice (financially) even though he himself had been a flatbedder.

We also met another new student this morning. He said he'd just started reading the Permit Manual this weekend! THAT is definitely not something I myself would recommend. In addition to using the TT program to study, we tested ourselves using several other phone apps and practice tests online, just to ensure we were not relying on memorization of any particular terminology.

I took some tests on the bus and on most, I scored in the comfortable high 90s range...but on one of them I flat failed! True, we can take the real tests several times, but I want to have a solid grasp of the material whether or not I am "testing." I have a suspicion the knowledge will come in handy when learning to inspect and drive a truck!

Posted:  1 year, 11 months ago

View Topic:

TNT with Prime mean trainer need advice

John B - Now that you are a year down the road from this thread...are you still driving? How did things end up? My husband and I head to Springfield later this month. Hope your nightmare trainer is long gone!

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