Profile For Professor X

Professor X's Info

  • Location:
    Columbus, OH

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:
    Professor X On The Web

  • Joined Us:
    5 months, 2 weeks ago

Professor X's Bio

Former international teacher/instructor/instructional designer, now moving into the trucking industry. Ironically, to pay off the abhorrent student loan debt accrued for a degree that does not command a high enough salary to pay back said loans. Xavier hails from the Phoenix metro area and is looking to go OTR, then possibly Owner/Operator. Starting off with Roehl, he will join their flatbed fleet upon the completion of his Class A CDL and training with Roehl.

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Posted:  3 weeks, 2 days ago

View Topic:

Final Recap and Impressions of Roehl and Their Get Your CDL Program

Hrmmm...

Seems I went too far into the nuance of what I experienced, and should have just kept it simple. Especially since some of the audience seems to have really missed my point.

Yes, I signed a contract understanding there would be consequences for early termination. Yes, I plan on honoring the part of leaving early, paying back every penny owed (with a smile on my face). No, I was not under ANY delusion that paying back $7,000 was optional. No, I am not complaining at all about the money I owe, or will owe. However... Yes, I am very upset that a company would leave someone with the equivalent of minimum wage on their final check. Yes, it was a consequence in the verbiage of the contract, and I accept it (begrudgingly). No, I did not remember that part (about the final check), and that is my fault.

As for Roehl as a whole: I have no problems with them. Still don't. I would still highly recommend their program to anyone. Rather, the point of the original post(s) being that they practice taking that large of a portion (would be even more, had I made more that week) is what left me distraught. I am not attempting to give anyone the impression that Roehl is bad. They're not. Their program, as I have mentioned tirelessly through all of my postings, may be difficult, but it is excellent. Were some of the instructors *******s? Yup. Were some of the dispatchers and management rude? Yup. Not changing my opinion there.

For myself, I am in no way looking to make trucking a long-term career (pretty sure I have mentioned this in previous threads, but if not... well, now you know ^,^). I know many come into this business with the opposite in mind. Maybe doing what I did is not the best move for others. However, after going over the details of my new position exhaustively for about 6 weeks, I came to the conclusion that the payoff was far better for me to switch. I have always kept in mind that I would owe Roehl $7,000 (possibly more, due to legal fees).

As an aside, if my posts are enough to derail and affect in any way, "What we are trying to do here", then what you are doing is shaky and fragile, at best. I do not see it that way, and instead, my contributions, I feel, can help others make better decisions for themselves:

Maybe NOT switching companies is a better idea. Maybe there ARE better offers which can work to a driver's favor. Maybe foraging their own path, branching off of the paths others, is what will be their story. Maybe not EVERYONE has the same goal, but can relate to a small minority. Maybe the whole Roehl training experience, as well as staying with the company, is the best thing that will ever happen for someone.

Again, no company - or person, for that matter - is perfect. They have some things they can work on, so do I... and clearly, so do many of those who responded with such ire and disdain to my posts.

It is truly dissuading yet funny to see the snowflakes in here melt from this one post, where I shared my experience; shared my feelings about the process; and left it for others to make their own decision. Had I known this would have lit such a fire under so many behinds in here, I would have been more sensitive (I guess), and really pulled back on the details. What I listed earlier in this response is the gist of the message I tried to convey, but I seemed to have failed some of you with it.

As for attacking my professional background, and educational background. Cool! Doesn't change what I have earned, nor what I have accomplished ^,^ Keep on flaming, if that helps you sleep easy ^,^

Finally, I make no apologies for my disgust towards those who tailgate; those who brake check with 40 tons of rolling death; those who fail to yield right of way; those who fail to use turn signals; those who leave the rest of the public to think that, just because they had a horrible experience with a ****ty trucker, all of us are.

Trucking is supposed to be a profession represented by professionals (at least that's what I hear). Good luck to all, new and old. My decision to switch has been truly rewarding, I enjoy my new position and schedule. I will try to remember to check back in three years on this post... Just in case ^,^

-Professor X

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Flatbed First-timer, from Teaching to Trucking

I want to both respond, and alert. I did make a new thread regarding my departure from Roehl (and the consequences of my actions). I recommend to those looking for a program to read and consider what I did, and if the overall program will work for them.

PackRat - It probably did, but he was off to the side. Not sure if it would have caught his trailer number, but I sure as hell did on my phone ^,^

Matt W. - It was not a concern for me since they were from long before, so I am not too sure what to tell you. I did take time (back then) to get documents from these institutions which has an authority figure confirming my time at the institutions and their recommendations of my work. I would suggest you do the same and save those documents, hard copy and digitally.

Avvatar - Things seem to just fade into the background, really. I reported it... the door and mirror were eventually fixed... nothing was ever spoken about it, again. Don't get me wrong, the follow up had its own adventures (like getting caught in the stupid Polar Vortex during the time I spent on the road trying to get the door fixed, and my heater stopped working), but it was never really spoken of after then. As for my FM, she seemed a bit shocked, asked me how I was, and we just moved on.

TexanTwoStep - Thanks ^,^ However, I am no longer a flatbed driver. I decided I wanted to make things a bit easier on myself, plus get paid significantly more... I made a post mentioning it, but the topic was more about the consequences of me leaving Roehl too soon (before I completed my 120,000 miles obligation).

-Professor X

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Final Recap and Impressions of Roehl and Their Get Your CDL Program

Continuing from first post...

I completed the interview that evening, giving a 9/10 for recommending the program to others. Had I known about this charge and withdraw from my final check, I would not have rated so high.

I must make another point very clear. I did in fact sign a document that clearly stated, "Deduction of Amounts Owed From Wages. By signing this Agreement you agree to allow Roehl to offset and deduct any and all amounts owed by you pursuant to this Agreement from any pay owed by Roehl to provided that any deduction will not contravene state or federal law or reduce your wage to an extent prohibited by any state or federal law."

Yes, I am an English teacher... Yes, this is me copying exactly as it is written... Yes, the grammatical errors and typos drive me crazy (I even hate it when I look back at my previous writings which have errors >,<). I digress...

So, am I obligated to surrender nearly 80% of my final paycheck? According to this, it seems so. However, $800 is a massive cut. It does go towards the $7,000 I will owe, but I was not anticipating this large of a chunk. The rationalization of this by Roehl is that it's the equivalent of minimum wage for a typical work week (244.05). They said that federal law will support them on this.

I am not too sure about that, but I am also not a lawyer... buuuuuut, I am now purchasing Driver Legal through JB Hunt, maybe I can get some advice from them on this matter.

Where does this leave me? Well, it leaves me living in a truck for another two weeks. One of the other reasons why I took this position with JB Hunt was because I get two days off a week. I do not have to be out on the road for 25-35 days (which is something they don't make very clear, but it is what you sign on for with national flatbed division, with Roehl). I was looking forward to renting a place and finally enjoying the occasional downtime, NOT in a truck. Sadly, that will have to continue to wait another 14-21 days (need to get paid, first).

Why do I share all of this so transparently? Why not?... If I can help someone else make a more informed decision on where they receive their training, then all the better. If I can also alert/warn others to the ramifications of their own actions that may not have been made very clear, then all the better. I got burned, on part, from my own doing. Though, I would also lump part of said responsibility on the shoulders of Roehl not taking the time to clearly outline the consequences. They do produce the documents and have you sign and read them, but they do it quickly. My guess is so that you do not try and read things and understand them fully.

Sounds familiar... Sounds just like the very reason I am sitting here waiting to get my next truckload. I thought I knew what I was getting into with student loan debt.

... Nope. No, I did not.

As an aside, the orientation and training with JB Hunt went quickly and smoothly. I am already on-board and ready to take on my next assignment ^,^ And so far, they have treated me more like an adult, here, than what I previously experienced. Here is to hoping that, in a few weeks, I will feel like a human being, again ^,^

Also, this position should feel like a vacation, since I will never had to strap/tarp, and the loads are 90% drop and hook, 10% live load. Zero touch freight. I can finally purchase nice gloves that will last longer than two weeks ^,^

-Professor X

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Final Recap and Impressions of Roehl and Their Get Your CDL Program

This is not a fun post to write, but it is one that will be my final post regarding Roehl. I feel it needs to be shared, since I was shocked at what transpired at the end of my employment with them (as of 3/8/2019). It is related to their Get Your CDL program and my time there, so if you are considering this program, please be sure to consider what I am sharing in this post, too.

Let me start off by saying that the actual program is good and worth the time and effort. It may seem like a steep hill to climb, but it's both a recognized program by a number of other companies, and is one that will take a true beginner (like myself), and develop the skills needed to be a new, yet worthy, Class A driver on the road. Ultimately, it is up to you and your real driving habits to demonstrate that you can be a professional in this industry, but they do provide insight and tutelage that can help you make the leap. I say this because not every person is a good driver (as I have learned in greater detail over these past few months. Some of the other big rig drivers on the road leave me with a poor impression of the overall industry (STOP TAILGATING).

Next, Roehl as a company overall is fairly reputable and attempts to remain as professional as any company out there. That is to go with saying, they also have some issues that need to be hashed out from time to time. You cannot judge an entire company based off of your interactions with one, two, or even three coworkers, you have to take the whole pie and examine the pieces. I had some bumps in the road; some of which I mentioned in the beginning, as the instructors tried to strong-arm me into signing documents that I was no obligated to sign (they cannot force you to give over the permission to use your photo/image in their advertisements. Period.) Also, never sign a document that says you received something you never actually received. Period.

I will never forget when they tried to use the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum (if everyone else believes it, it must be true), that everyone else who came before just signed the documents. Well, that's all fine and good, and that is their problem. However, you now have someone who has actually -read- what is in these documents and does not agree with the verbiage. "You never provided me with these books or information. Why would I sign this?"

Anyways, this would also come back to haunt me, because I was not prepared (financially) for what would happen when I found a much better, higher paying position with another company very recently, and decided it was worth the money to jump ship (before completing my obligation to Roehl).

I want to be very clear, you are not their slave, nor are you bound by blood to complete their 120,000 promised miles; there is a second option, even after signing the contract. I was just unaware of how vicious Roehl would be about it. You will owe them $7,000 for the training received. Was the amount worth the training? I absolutely believe so. They pay you for each week (they claim $500 a week, but it is actually $90/day, with Saturdays being a half day, equaling $50). There was Thanksgiving Day which passed while I was there, and we were short $90 on that paycheck. C'est la vie. You get a hotel room (shared with another student), and they provide lunch. They claim breakfast, too, but it was the hotel's breakfast and it was to be desired... Blegh! Finally, you are trained in a great location that gives you a chance to deal with a number of recurring scenarios when you get started on the road.

Back to what I will owe...

Since I first started driving solo with Roehl, I racked up around 27,000-30,000 miles. That leaves me about 1/4 of the way to being freed from owing $7,000 for my CDL training. I found a position with another company recently that had me wondering if switching would be worth it. This position is no secret, you just had to find it on their website. I will be moving over to Van on a DCS account for JB Hunt. I am going from 0.435/mile to 0.520/mile; over the course of a year, that is a massive difference! On top of which, I get a $10,000 transition bonus! Shazam! There are additional perks and payments that will add up, plus weekly guaranteed pay. All of these things totaled up to a great move for myself, so I decided to take it.

Just the transition bonus, alone, will help cover the costs of the Get Your CDL program... Got my ass covered!

This brings me to what was shocking, and I was hit with last night on my final paycheck from Roehl. I did try to plead with them that this was rather harsh and it places me in a position where I have to continue living in the truck for another two weeks - they showed zero sympathy. Basically, my final paycheck should have amounted to $1,049.65 (for 2,771 miles, plus extras). Instead, I was given just $244.05 (payable Thursday). They took out over $800 from my final paycheck... That felt I was knifed in the back as I was walking away by a malicious and resentful friend. When I left on my final day, everyone was very kind and wished me well. It felt like I was leaving on good terms.

Now, I feel like that was all a ploy. More importantly, they had someone call to conduct an exit interview. The caller was quite persistent that it be completed that day (Monday), which I had no issues with. They just called while I was in orientation with JB Hunt.

To be continued...

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Flatbed First-timer, from Teaching to Trucking

Wow, it has been a while since I have had time to be on here ^,^

Thank you for the replies... I am currently driving across the country (in my car), and will update as to the reason why, hopefully tomorrow night. Also, I will try to touch base with the comments. Sorry for the delay ^,^ I am just super tired; too tired to respond at the moment.

-Professor X

Posted:  3 months ago

View Topic:

Paid cdl training that still uses manual trucks

I attended Roehl's Get Your CDL program. Was paid and we trained on manual transmissions. One of their locations (in GA, I believe) only does automatics. I went in November 2018 to train in Marshfield, WI... Only ever drove stick-shift. Good luck and I hope you find what you're looking for. However, as the others have already mentioned... Nearly all major fleets are switching to automatics.

-Professor X

Posted:  3 months ago

View Topic:

Flatbed First-timer, from Teaching to Trucking

So, it has been nearly two weeks, and so much has happened! I have only been a driver for a little over a month, and I have countless stories to share... I cannot fathom what a 5-year, 10-year, even 20+ -year veteran has seen. People are absolutely crazy on the road! Additionally, so are many of our fellow truck drivers >,<

What I experienced just a few days ago was the one of the most terrifying moments of my life, and I wasn't even behind the wheel when it happened.

While deep asleep, I was suddenly woken up because my room was shaking and rattling, violently. The scream-like sound of metal grinding against metal and plastic, breaking glass... My room, tiny and pitch black, gave me the sense that I had been placed into a death trap with no escape.

Not once in my life did I ever consider what I would do in that kind of situation, until now.

First, I sat up faster than I think I have ever done so in my entire life. I tried to figure out which direction the sound was coming from and backing away (I couldn't see anything at that moment, and thought I was being crushed in a trash compactor. For about 5 seconds, I really thought I was stuck in my truck while it was being demolished). Once I figured out I wasn't being killed, I quickly opened my blackout curtain, pulled aside my window curtains and spotted someone pulling away. I jumped out of my truck, phone in hand, and wearing only my boxers. Bare foot, I ran up to his trailer and grabbed photos as quickly as I could.

This guy... This f**kin' guy... He finally stops, gets out, walks up to me says, "What's wrong?"

You just f**king hit me! That's what's wrong... sheesh! He grinded severe damage to the driver side door and completely ripped my driver side mirror off. Not the best way to be woken up 45 minutes before your alarm >,<

As a flatbed driver, there is something about most of our trailers we never have to be worried about, unlike most van drivers (which he was). That the tail extends out past the axles, and he obviously had not considered enough distance for his turn. Additionally, I can only imagine at the moment that when a trucker hits someone accidentally with a trailer, we may not even realize it, depending on how the collision occurs. That said, I can understand why he might jump out of his truck confused.

However, his braking and slow going away from me made me think he knew he messed up and was trying to see if I would have noticed. Oh... I ABSOLUTELY noticed. I am glad I didn't have a damn heart attack!

I also want to mention that, during this same delivery, I was cut off by a 15-passenger van as it dive-bombed in between me and a school bus while passing me on the right and tailgating the school bus. I am guessing there was maybe a foot or two on either end. Hit my brakes to avoid any impact which I think inadvertently shifted the top tier of my load. I hadn't noticed for maybe 30+ miles! When I did, I immediately pulled over for an emergency stop and got on the phone with my FM.

After some testing and inspecting over the course of the next 90 miles with multiple stops along the way, it never moved again. Not even after getting the s**t scared out of me at the rest stop the next day >,<

-Professor X

Posted:  3 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Flatbed First-timer, from Teaching to Trucking

So, I will try to make this a twice-a-month thing where I come on and talk about my experiences as a first-time trucker (in his early 40's). I never pictured myself being in control of 25-40 tons of rolling death, but here I am. Placed in a situation that may be quite familiar to others just joining the industry; maybe even relatable to those who have been in the trade 5, 10, or even 20 years: I needed a better income.

Before now, I spent the past decade in higher education. I taught at some very notable schools in the US - including Arizona State and Ohio State - as well as spent nearly a year in both Japan and Saudi Arabia, teaching those who want to learn English at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I love teaching... I mean, I truly have a passion for it. It is where my heart is. I even started my career teaching college level phys-ed, then later was inspired to do even more, eventually earning my master's degree in TESOL & Bilingual Education.

But, that degree came at a price... about $84,000. I felt that I could work my way up to a level within higher-ed that would help me pay back the $850 bill that came each month. As each year passed by, the opportunities were there, but the money simply was not. It would take a long tenure to build up a reasonable income (and most schools do not offer tenure to those with master's, especially in my field). Then, if I was lucky, I would be stuck paying my loans on top of everything else just to survive.

I had to find a different solution, and quick. My loan has since ballooned to over $100,000.

After much debate and rationalizing; and, after more than 200 job applications with ZERO job offers... I surrendered myself to the simple fact that trucking may offer a situation that nothing else can: I could live in the truck, eliminating some of life's most exuberant costs. No rent, no electricity, no gas or fuel, no water, and no cable bill. All of which I could funnel into what I need to manage, my student loan debt. I just received my first payday from driving last week, and it was WAY more than anything I ever made teaching a college level semester.

Now, sitting for a 34 at a Denny's in a Flying J in snow covered Ogden, Utah, I am happy I have made the career move. Not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. I have taken the time to make a financial plan to get out of debt in the next 3 years. If I stick to it, and if the trucking industry in kinder to me than higher-ed was, it will be no problem. By kinder, I mean have job opportunities that I can actually apply for and get.

Some readers will remember me from my thread on Roehl Transport's Get Your CDL program review. I bring this up because that is where this all began, and I am still with the company in their OTR flatbed division. Quickly after graduating, I was placed with a trainer and have since completed the internal qualifications and have driven more than 6,000 miles in just over two weeks, solo. By Wednesday, when I drop off this load, I will be around 7,500 miles.

Getting here was an adventure, and it did involve two different trainers. The first of which left me with the impression that he didn't much care to actually teach. Oddly, he directly said that he didn't volunteer to become a trainer, they just asked him and he (supposedly) reluctantly agreed. Either way, he definitely did not have the air about him of being someone who wants to teach or train.

I still learned a great deal from him in those 11 days, but was left with just as many, if not more, questions before we were separated. We shared a fleet manager, and that person didn't want to have any blow-back, so I was dropped off at a nearby terminal and flown home to finish out my training with a local driver in Phoenix, AZ. All in all, I feel I was able to get a strong enough foundation to get the ball rolling; I have a strong feeling that learning will be in the terms of months and years, not days and weeks. I will need to learn so much more while on my own on the open road. And, so far that has been the case.

If I were to give any advice, as a greenhorn, it would be: Never be afraid to speak to other truckers on the road. However, do so with great scrutiny and some speculation. Remember, you are asking someone for their opinion and anecdotal advice. Listen to what a seasoned trucker has to say, compare it with what else you have heard... Mix in your personal experience, and grow!

I will do a follow-up post later this evening (most likely) and share some of the stories I already have from crossing the country almost three times in two-and-a-half weeks, as well as some of the adventures from training, both with the OTR and Local drivers.

-Professor X

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Wow! 3 Weeks, 4 Days Ago...

That was the last time I updated this blog. So much has transpired since then, maybe I should update what has happened ^,^

Currently, I am sitting in my truck. That's right, the truck issued to me by Roehl! I was not expecting everything to move as quickly as it did. However, by making myself available and not turning down any opportunities that came my way, I feel that I made all the right moves and have gotten my career going.

The last thing I spoke about was the classroom session that was indoors all day. The next day (Day 26, the final day), we went to the practice area where we were able to do some mock load securement. There was an old spindle for coiled steel on a flatbed, as well as some other products we ship regularly. I think that they had received those real products from loads that were a bust. Really doesn't matter, we were able to get some faux-authentic practice in. We learned a few different techniques for tossing straps, and we were given challenges to complete the best possible load securement using the required minimum. We also learned about the various tools at our disposal, as well as tools we could invest in for ourselves.

The day ended with a final exam (scored a 90% and finished nearly 30 minutes before anyone else - I am a nerd at heart). Then, it was me racing out the door to check out of the hotel as soon as possible. Not because I wanted to get out of there (... mostly ^,^), but rather, I was trying to beat a storm that was coming in. Thankfully, I got ahead of it - or rather, below it - and rested up in Des Moines before making my way back to Arizona. We were asked by the instructors to get our printed CDL as soon as possible and submit it to Safety. They wanted to get us with a trainer as quickly as possible with the upcoming holiday. Typically, it takes about a week to get setup with a trainer and they tend to give 6-7 days off after the CDL program.

I wasted no time and arrived in the Phoenix area Sunday night. The very next morning, I stood outside the doors to the BMV and patiently waited for them to open. Once they did, I waited my turn (it was NOT busy, which was really strange). I sat down with one of the workers, and about 10 minutes later, walked out with my paper copy of my CDL! The hard plastic version would be sent to me a few days later.

Once I left, I sat in my car and took photos to send to Safety at Roehl. I called shortly after to check to make sure I did it right. Nobody answered, so I left a voicemail...

About 15 minutes later, I get a phone call from Wisconsin...

"Hey, we just received your CDL. We really appreciate that you did this so quickly. You are the first one from your start week to submit it. Could you possibly start your training tomorrow?"

"... Wait, whaaaa? Um, yes! Of course. I was expecting to spend this week just relaxing, but would be happy to get the ball rolling!"

I had setup an AirBNB for the week, but managed to get it cancelled and refunded (kudos to AirBNB ^,^). I pulled everything together and prepped my bags. I visited with some friends, briefly, then arrived Tuesday morning at the Roehl terminal in Phoenix. I met up with my trainer around 11am, after which we hit the highway for my first trip OTR.

Here is the irony... I am doing the exact same delivery (slightly different product) that I did when I was in training ^,^ Guess the shipper and consignee are regular customers ^,^

If there are some of you that have read this who would like to hear about some of my experience with the trainer, please let me know. I will share as much as possible in a different thread (I can't disclose everything, I really like working for Roehl ^,^). Other than that, I hope this accomplishes what I had set out to do nealry 2 months ago. I will check back from time to time to see if any new comments have been left. I will respond to all who have questions and give you the best possible answers I can ^,^

Thank all of you for taking the time to read!

Sincerely, Professor X

(Yes... that will be my CB handle)

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

My journey to Roehl

Very nice! I just noticed this thread ^,^

Thanks for the shout-out, I hope my experience helped, and I hope what Aubrey contributes here can be a benefit to many more. I am now a solo driver in the Flatbed division! On my first load cross country right now. Going to do a 34-hour and deliver on Thursday (unless I am told I can drop off early ^,^).

Cheers!

-Professor X

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 25 - Indoors

Pretty boring, yet productive, day. We sat inside all day - awesome to be in from the cold - and worked on load securement.

That's it. Tomorrow, we go outside to work more on load securement. Should have much more to add, beyond just sitting in a classroom >,<

Really have nothing else to say... Officially the shortest post ^,^

Oh, one last thing. Tomorrow is supposed to be my last day, and I will be doing a post for that day, then a final synopsis when I grab a hotel on my way back to Arizona from Wisconsin.

-Professor X

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

I also want to thank all of you who took a moment to send a congratulations ^,^

Additionally, thank you to those who have been reading ^,^ I am very happy to share with others, as it helped me in advance of all of this. I hope it offers the same to those who are looking at their options. If you would like to talk more directly about Roehl, just let me know. If you couldn't tell already, I am pretty open to discussion ^,^

Again, thank you all for reading!

-Professor X

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 24 - A Day to Enjoy

Today was truly unique and well worth all the hard work over the past three+ weeks ^,^ Myself and the two others who passed their CDL exam yesterday were put into our own truck for the day. Instead of the typical Freightliners we have been using, we were given an International to tool around and practice some different techniques. It was a bit nicer and roomier than what we were accustomed to. Sadly, it was also just getting out of the shop, so it brought our day to an end about 20 minutes early. No big deal, ultimately ^,^

We worked on 45 degree backings and truck stop pull-throughs. We practiced more shifting around the yard and watched as others were given their shot to earn their CDL, too. I will get back to those others shortly, but I would just like to wrap up how things went in the truck with all those who passed.

Just the three of us with an instructor (not my usual one). We had a blast ^,^ What was even better, I learned some of the things we worked on today from my former instructor, so I was able to reapply share those skills with my colleagues. The instructor with us even got behind the wheel and showed off ^,^ In the afternoon, we took off on a long ride and just enjoyed being out on the road for a bit. We stopped at a couple truck stops, joked around, and discussed the business.

Just before we returned, during my drive, the engine light came on. Maybe 10 miles from the yard, we jumped off the next exit, and brought it back home. Docked our trailer, parked the tractor, then stopped by the mechanics to place a service call on the truck. We still did our post-trip and helped out, or hung out, for the last 30 minutes. My original instructor gave me an extra side duty to make sure the testing rig would be post-tripped and prepped for tomorrow.

Gotta say... it was an honor to have him throw that responsibility to me ^,^

I mentioned that I would talk about the others who were testing. I will not go into details, but it was a rough day for those who tested. One person passed... That was about it. I think most, if not all, will get another shot. However, I cannot say for certain, as it is none of my business. I hope the best for all of them, regardless. I know that if they get another shot, they will have to stay another week, or so.

More testing tomorrow for the final four who have yet to do so, and it will be load securement class for the rest who passed, and maybe those who are getting a second chance. Like I said, it was a good day. A well earned reprieve ^,^

Will continue posting until I am completely done with the Get Your CDL with Roehl course.

-Professor X

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 23 - CDL Exam

I made sure to get to bed early last night, but I laid awake for a bit. I would like to say it was because I was nervous about how things would go today... Sadly, I was crushing candies and clashing with clans. Okay, not sadly. I was quite content and enjoyed my evening, yet still made it to sleep at a very reasonable time.

Arrived to work at my usual time, about 20-30 minutes early. Sat in my car and reviewed my pre-trip in my head. I parked right in front of the rig I would be testing in, so I scoured the tractor and trailer, going over the various parts; picturing different aspects in my head, listing and labeling: "Properly mounted, not damaged, not leaking..." It was like an echo.

I also envisioned the numerous times I backed in for my offsets and 90 degree/alley backings. Remembering when and where to turn the wheel, when to keep it straight, when to stop to be "In the box". I also kept reminding myself to stay off of curbs and make sure my turns were wide enough, with no hesitation. We were told the tester typically doesn't like drivers who proceed with TOO much caution.

6:25 am comes about and my instructor comes walking towards the truck. I begin my pre-trip inspection and he assigns me and a fellow classmate to make sure the truck is in tip-top shape. We go over every little detail: check under the hood, around the tractor cabin - inside and out - the coupling, the 5th wheel and frame, the trailer and its various components. Finally, we run a light check and I run an air leak inspection to ensure we have a fully functioning rig for the day.

Although all trainees testing today)were using the tractor my group had been using, I was not first. Instead, one of my cohorts from a different truck went first, and I would soon follow. The waiting was the toughest part. I tried to keep myself busy (for 2.5 hours) by going over sheets, reviewing aspects, reliving drives around the area. Then, while waiting inside the garage, they returned. I waited until I was signaled over and, in passing, my cohort says, "I passed! You got this!" Although happy for this person, I kept my game face on and headed towards my fate.

I should mention right here that: we were informed not everyone would be doing a full pre-trip. Only one would out of the four testing today, while the others would have to inspect coupling and one major section of the rig.

So, guess who got the full inspection? Yup. Me. >,<

No worries, though. I passed with flying colors, but did miss a few things here and there. I actually saw this as a boon because I had more parts to identify, it gave me more room for error. All in all, this part of the exam worked out nicely. With the backing portion next, I figured, No Problem! I got this!

For straight line backing, that was pretty much the case. I only had one small hiccup, yet easily recovered from the tail going too far to one side. Easy peasy! The offset had me doing only one pull-up. I knew I was in and could have finished the backing without the pull-up, but I figured why risk anything. I get two free pull-ups. Just use one ^,^

Then came the 90 degree/Alley backing. It started off quite well. Made some adjustments, got the trailer end to align with the cones. Then... I stopped. I was too deep! After two pull-ups, I found myself in a better position, but facing a new conundrum. I was uncomfortably close to a front cone. I almost couldn't see the dirt between the tire and the cone. I wiggled around and past it and had a tough angle to correct. Never went out of bounds, but did two additional pull-ups to make things easier. Although less than 4 inches from the right side of the cones, I comfortably let off the clutch and backed her in. I stopped where I felt was right for placing the ICC bumper in the box. Jumped out, walked back (the tester had a wonderful poker face >,<). Leaned over... Perfect!

I turned my head with a huge smile, and said, "Beep, beep". The tester giggled and we took off for the driving portion.

I won't go into too much detail, but suffice it to say, my shifting was smooth (only two clunks), I missed all the curbs, promptly made my way through intersections, rolled windows down and never shifted over the tracks, and kept my speed nearly perfect in every area. Lane changes were a breeze and I even recovered from and kept myself from running a red light. I looked at the tester and said, "You can mark me down for stopping in the crosswalk, no problem. I will take that any day over running a red light." The tester said, "You made the right choice." We smiled and kept the test going.

It was towards the very end when the WORST. POSSIBLE. THING. OCCURRED.

I Stalled. No clue what the hell happened since the splitter was down and I was in 3rd. I damn near lost it (i.e. cried), but the tester told me to keep going. We went for about 3 more miles and a few more turns and stops.

We pulled in and finished the test. The examiner tells me, "I am a common sense, practical tester. The stall was NOT indicative of your driving skill and ability. Don't worry, you passed."

I would have jumped across the seat and given the tester a huge hug, but I kept my composure and just smiled with an epic sigh of relief! I later found out the rig almost inexplicably stalled on the previous driver. That may have played a big role in the examiner's decision.

Thank you all for the well wishes. I passed ^,^

-Professor X

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 22 - CDL-eve

Walked in to work/training today with the same attitude I always do: ready to learn, ready to work. Not that it really mattered, as I performed with great aptitude all day (yes, ego in full bloom.... look out ^,^). We were back on the simulator to start off the morning. Faced with adverse weather, we dealt with trying to get out of potential jack knife scenarios, as well as typical sliding, skidding, etc. Fared well, then my instructor tried to place me in fog. Handled it quite well, if you ask me ^,^

If you ask him, he found some room for improvement ^,^

After a short break, we went out for some backing with a different instructor. Seems our instructor was staying inside to run the simulator. Maybe they were short-handed with those who have the skills to run the device. No matter, we got out there and I just killed it! Taking me less than 5 minutes to hit both backing maneuvers: Offset and 90 degree. More importantly, if score was being kept, I would have scored 0 on two different attempts ^,^

Actually, one was a 10... I got ****y and honked my horn to signify I was in the box for the 90 degree... was about 6 inches off, lol.

After lunch, we made our way out to the roads. The first trainee ran into some very familiar issues they have been dealing with. I noticed that our instructor kept quiet for a large portion of this person's trip. It seems that whether our instructor is talking or not, this individual needs to work on consistency. I wish them luck! They will not test until Wednesday, so there is an extra day to smooth out the rough parts.

I was up next. I felt like I was in my element. I was in the zone! Smooth shifting, progressive shifting, flow of traffic, easy merging, and even doubled down at will. If my test was today, it would have been a done deal ^,^ Good news is, my test is tomorrow! 9:30 am, to be precise. My instructor had me running around for a good 45 minutes, dealing with roundabouts, congested city streets, and near-blind turns. Even my cohorts complimented the smooth ride ^,^

I was on cloud 9 ^,^

The other two trainees went after me, and for the one, it was the same old story. Grinding gears, poor shifting, near misses, almost off the road, etc. It was a tad bit nerve racking, but I am almost used to the chaos... not that I want it to continue, by any means. The other trainee did well, but is still making some habitual mistakes. I know this person can fare quite well when need be, so it will just be timing when they test on Wednesday.

We finished off the day with one more backing exercise, and it all just came together, once again. Tomorrow is show time! I got this!

Time for some rest. I want to feel fresh in the morning ^,^ Wish me luck!

-Professor X

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Doubling Down...a great skill to learn and a necessary one when ascending a steep grade under a heavy load.

It’s getting real now. Good Luck!

G-Town,

I agree! It was actually a nice treat, and it lent some validation to the hard work I have put in. He made it a point to say that for all of us to use it, we need to have the other skills down. He then looks at those not doing so well and tells them to not use this for now. It was something that really helped me know that he appreciates the effort I have been putting in. It will make me work harder in the coming days, for sure.

Thanks!

-Professor X

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Sheesh, I missed two days of story time. Professor X, I am thinking of attending Roehl's school and I wanted to know do they have cabin facing cameras and do they have team driving positions.

Hey PacMan,

They do have cabin facing cameras. They preach a high level of safety on part of the drivers, but also to cover our butts when someone does something bad to us. There is an option to fire up the recording, say if someone cut you off, raged, or tried to run you off the road. When it comes to working for companies like this, I embrace the cameras. I worked for a different company in a different industry prior to this, and that camera was absolutely crucial. Additionally, when you are in sleeper berth, I guess I have heard that covering up the camera is what most drivers do. The camera is only supposed to activate when certain events occur (sudden jolts, accidents, tipping).

As for the team driving, it wasn't something I was interested in, or considering, so I never asked. You could always just ask the recruiters. I think I heard some asking about it, so maybe it's possible (shrug).

Good luck with whatever you choose!

-Professor X

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 19 & Day 20

Sorry about Friday. I had gotten into bed when I remembered that I did not write a blog, but I was too tired. Not too much to discuss, as far as differences go. Actually, it brings me to the point to where I have to say, there hasn't been much difference, so it is difficult to really discuss my experience, other than the direct, first-hand stuff. Guess that is why I have been feeling increasingly narcissistic with my posts.

It is what it is.

That said, Friday was more of the same. Driving and backing... but, that was a very good thing, because our CDL test is next week. I am not too sure which day I am testing, but I do know I will be one of the first to go. I have stood out and above, so they try to get those out of the way early. Also, it gives the others who are not as adept to get a couple more days in. I expect to test on Tuesday, but will not know definitively until Monday.

Our regular, hard-nosed instructor had the day off. Although it is always good to have his tutelage, some of the others breathed a sigh of relief with his absence. I have grown fond of his rigid teaching methods, as I feel they have gotten myself, as well as the others, to the point we are. It should be noted that on the day of pre-CDL tests, another truck had our instructor for the whole day. Some of them nearly quit, but from what I understand, that one day with him made a HUGE difference. On Friday, the instructor who was assigned that group said that all of those trainees made improvements. He went from wanting to fire them all, to tolerable and potentially capable of passing.

Sure, a rough instructor may suck, but you will learn the most from them. I would argue, though, that there is tough and rigid; then, there are bullies. At least we didn't have to deal with a bully the whole time. However misplaced with odd sarcasm, he got the job done, IMHO. I would do it all over again with his lead if I had to.

As for the driving and backing, the instructors implemented a time limit and "you're out" rule, where if you go out-of-bounds, the next person gets to go. I couldn't have been happier to hear this. For so many days now, I have had to sit by and watch as some of my colleagues would spend 20, 25, 30 minutes, even more on a whole backing exercise. This had left me with days where I had only gotten one, maybe two, chances to practice backing. Luckily, I picked up on this skill very quickly, but that does not change the fact that I could always use more practice; we all could.

With the time restrictions and out-of-bounds rules in place, I actually got to go three times! Usually taking me no more than 6-8 minutes to complete an offset and 90 degree. That included setup and prep time. I feel that I would be to the point of no-stop backing had I gotten more time behind the wheel (... maybe ^,^).

The backing was in the morning, and he driving was in the afternoon. With a substitute instructor in the lead, we were given a whole new place to travel. I am not sure how they select routes, but we got out into the open roads for a while. Not that there are too many -open- roads in rural Wisconsin (I am thinking huge highways), but we were countryside on county roads. We passed through a number of small towns, but had long stretches where we could just coast along at 55 mph. It was really nice to have that chance. Also, it allowed for more opportunities to downshift suddenly, since cars opting to turn left could force us to bring things down to a halt. Then, progressive shift that rig back up to 10th as efficiently as possible! All in all, it was a fun day.

At the end, the instructor wanted to help a couple of the trainees out who were struggling with the basics of straight-line backing. So, the end of the day consisted of myself and the other trainee who was performing well standing off to the side watching the others follow the concrete landing pad for a few hundred feet. One picked up on it quickly. The other... I think they will need more time. Even with that, I have my doubts.

Anyways, as for Saturday (today), we covered reading our road atlas and planning our hours, as well as estimating if trips were possible. It was a bit bland at first, but by the late morning, we were having a good time with the instructor who was there.

Have to admit, I am glad I put these two days in one post. I would have had almost nothing to say about today ^,^

Next week is the big week (CDL test), plus hands-on training for load securement!

-Professor X

Posted:  5 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 17

Really, not all that much to say. We are getting closer to when we will test (next week), and so each day is just about jumping through the right hoops and keeping things consistent; or improving upon the skills we should be honing. One of my fellow trainees in the truck came down with a hell of a flu. Hope that person feels better soon!

Actually, I could talk briefly about the expanded, and slightly new, route our instructor took us on; also, that I was the first to go. It was a bit stressful, as we took new roads that had unexpected twists and turns. I was caught off guard a number of times with road signs that I was not expecting, awkward speed-limit changes, as well as stumbling across non-truck routes and how to handle them. I was able to avoid any major mistakes, other than forgetting to roll down my windows at the first set of train tracks I was headed past. It was interesting, and the added stress helped me find my weaknesses. It also helped me identify where I have become stronger ^,^

I am very confident that my shifting will continue to sharpen and fine-tune. My backing is getting better and better, but I still need to trust myself and stop second guessing my large angles. I know what I am doing, I just need to trust that I did things right and that I put my trailer in the right spot. Limited, if not just shy of zero grinds on the gears, and I learned how to properly double down... Actually, that was a great thing to learn today! Doubling down is a real treat, and super helpful ^,^

We do have tomorrow off and I would like to wish all a happy holiday! Roehl is doing something special for all of us who attending training (those who are far away from home), so tomorrow should be eventful ^,^ Although, we do have the day off and are free to do whatever. All around, a good day ^,^

Be back Friday evening... Cheers!

-Professor X

Posted:  5 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 16 - Pre-CDL Test

The day kicked off as normal, nothing really new to report. We got to our truck, conducted pre-trip, set off to get a flatbed trailer, and then...

INSTRUCTOR SWITCH!

Okay, so we already knew this was coming, no big surprise, there. However, it was a shock to another group of four trainees, as they were facing off with our leader. I guess there was some ball-busting and a bit of high anxiety that made its way to another truck throughout the day. Whereas, our truck became much more relaxed. Sort of.

Thing is, I have grown so accustomed to the hard-nosed attitude of my instructor, it is now a part of me. This is a good thing, and I fully embrace it. I am here to become the best I can possibly be before hitting the road and honing my skills for the foreseeable future. I have taken my intensity to the road, where I passed my pre-CDL test with flying colors ^,^ So much so, the instructor with us didn't even pull me aside for notes. He just said, you made this simple error, which you already know, and this other on a super hard turn.

That was it. plus, with my backing, I scored zero points!... For those who are unaware, and I am really speaking to those not in the industry: the CDL test, when scoring, is like golf-ish. You cannot get fewer than zero. However, you want as close to zero as possible. I did one pull-up on my offset and one pull-up on my 90 degree. Booyeah!

Sorry for the over-excitement. I am very proud and know that, even through that hardened exterior, my instructor is proud. Now, he is only going to find ways to make me even better ^,^ Which, I am sure will come with more challenges! Bring them on!

As for the rest of my cohorts in the same truck, one did fine and as expected. Another struggled a bit, but again, as expected (or, as I would come to expect). Plus, this person also scrapped the curb... Ooops! Auto-fail, although it was the second to last turn of the route. The instructor with us said this person would be fine, just to avoid ever doing it during the actual test. Then there was the one who has been struggling greatly. This person did not fare so well on the backing. I do not want to go into any further details, but suffice it to say, it did not go well at all.

It was interesting to hear from the truck who got our instructor, though, that a couple of those drivers actually appreciated him being with them. They learned about things they had not learned earlier! Kudos to my instructor! Again, hard-nosed and unforgiving, he gets the job done ^,^ Plus, it was great to hear another trainee made improvements with their shifting from just one day with our instructor. He may be mean, but he helps everyone who wants to learn and get on the road.

My tone has definitely switched from two weeks ago. It is even evident in the truck with all four of us... Mostly. Those who struggle may seek out others to blame. Just saying. Also, as I mentioned, as much as I gripe on here, there are things that occur from which I do not divulge on here. It is what has made this all work very well. Tomorrow, I believe we find out when we will test, and also, unfortunately, who will be cut (if any). I am not sure what will happen, but I do know it is possible some will be asked to leave. Again... Hope it is nobody!

Not much else to report. I will say this, though: With all of my experience with Roehl so far, I highly recommend giving this place a shot. Especially if safety on the road is an outspoken trait you wish to have in your truck. For me, it seems like a great fit! When all of this is said and done, I will try and reconfirm my opinion and would be happy to speak more with anyone interested in learning more.

-Professor X

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