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Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 15 - Flatbeds

Today brought about a change up in our normal routine. Instead of working with a traditional trailer, we moved over to using flatbeds. This was exciting for myself, and many others, since this was the fleet we have been recruited for. Out of the 12 in my group, only 3 were going for reefer. The rest of us have been eager to explore what would be new when working with an open-air trailer.

Last week was a bit of the kickoff to get this ball rolling, as we were issued our load securement books and told to being reading the many chapters. We don't need to read every single chapter, but must cover the load-types we will be dealing with while working with Roehl. The appendix was first, since there were a multitude of unfamiliar terms we would need to know. Plus, the various regulations that are detailed were located in the back of the book.

I got that started and am looking forward to learning more as the week progresses. I am also looking forward to driving around and practicing more backing with the flatbed, as it gave a very different feel and perspective. More so on the backing. I should also mention that hooking-up was a bit odd. I had become used to the weight of the full trailer not allowing for too much movement when getting the jaw around the kingpin. This morning, I could feel the trailer give quite a bit, as it was lacking much of the weight one with sidewalls and a roof would have.

As we hit the afternoon, we set-out for backing maneuvers. I watched as my three other colleagues took their turn. I tend to wait, but am always ready to go if the instructor requests me to step-up. I could hear some comments about a different look, and that it felt awkward... They were right about that.

When it was my chance to get behind the wheel, I took on the advice my instructor gave about judging distance and doing proper setup procedures. It helped, but then it came to the moment of adjustments. I started to get myself tucked in when, all of a sudden, it looked warped. What I mean is, I had trouble seeing the angles I had grown used to when backing a full trailer. I had to sit there for a moment and really take it all in. It got even more awkward as I got into my straightback. I used my technique of watching the rear tandem, but it almost threw me out of whack! The trailer seem to get off course much faster, and I really had to tighten up my game!

My small adjustments became quite fickle, and if I let myself go on too long, I would come close to hitting those $70,000 cones. Not too long after getting myself aligned, though, I managed to see what was wrong and made the adjustments needed. Had to pull up twice, but it helped me get things back in order. Then, it came to the 90 degree. Nothing too horrible, just the same finicky and delicate movement from the offset and straightback earlier.

We took a break, got another go, and I made some improvements, while making some new mistakes and learning from them. It felt like quite a productive day ^,^

I also want to mention, it was the best day yet with my instructor. He came in with his most humble attitude ever, had a nice morning greeting; we shared a good chat with one another about our weekends and general life stuff; went about business as usual; and worked as an instructor and trainee should (IMHO). Again, I hear (read) the suggestions being brought forth. However, there is additional context that I do not always share on this forum that I think would affect the perception given. Again, thank you for the various insights and mentoring.

I am sure I will make him proud to know that he has put a safe, responsible, charismatic, and thoughtful driver on the road.

Pre-CDL testing tomorrow. Wish us luck!

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

I'm starting with Roehl December 10th possibly and I'm nervous as hell.... Sounds like they train you decently though just gotta be sharp.

I would argue that, nervous is good. You should be coming into it with an attitude consisting of understanding and tenacity. Understand that it there is going to be a lot to learn. That said, have the tenacity to push through and not quit. If you have those two things, you should be fine. It seems overwhelming, but remember... you have 4 weeks to figure it out. Most guys who were panicking in week one are doing just fine, now.

As I have told my own students (when teaching them how to write essays and their thesis): Stop looking at the mountain. You know it's there. Instead, focus your attention on the path in front of you. The mountain is big and scary, but the path is small and manageable. Trust me, as your instructor, to get you to the top. Just do the tasks I ask you to do along the way.

Those who focused and did not quit... They succeeded ^,^

Good luck! Roehl has a great program, IMHO. Even if my instructor is a pain in the rump from time to timerofl-3.gif . I wouldn't have it any other way! good-luck.gif

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 13 - Sick

Saturday's are short days. These are days where we sit inside, exclusively, and work on book skills (logging, Hazmat, personal matters, dealing with shippers and consignees, etc). We were learning some really standard things, such as Bill of Lading, detention time, tarping fees, etc, but then... I started to slowly shiver.

I went to Dunkin' Donuts this morning for breakfast and grabbed a coffee and breakfast sandwich. Although they did put creamer in, when I did not request that, I still drank my beverage. I think that, unintentionally, they may have given me food poisoning. I say this, because at first, it seemed like the flu. However, I had no fever. I had a stomach ache and my skin became hyper sensitive.

As I sat there, the shivers were building. Initially, I looked at one of my colleagues and commented, "I think I will go into the hot tub tonight. Not sure why I am so cold, but it will probably be nice." Well... I would not make it to the hot tub, nor have I made any effort to go there as the evening came in. Instead, I felt my body getting colder... and colder... and colder. I put on my super heavy work coat convinced that would fix the problem. I was only there in a t-shirt and jeans, along with the coat and my baklava. When I started to realize this wasn't really helping, I stepped away to the restroom for a bit of relief (no details, but deuces ^,^). The entire time, I was shivering worse and worse. The bathroom was horribly cold and I had to remove my jacket to take care of business.

I felt increasingly weaker by the minute. Made my way back out to the meeting and continued listening. Though, as I shivered more and more, I was losing all focus just trying to stay warm. Eventually, I had my jacket and baklava on and I was tucking my hands and fingers under my armpits. Some other trainees looked at me occasionally as I made more and more stutters with my shaking body. Eventually, I stand up and go to the back of the room. While standing there, it got worse. Soon, my toes were in pain, and my fingers could not hold on to any warmth at all. Not even coffee helped.

We took our last break and when the instructor came up to me, he asked if I was okay. Now, I try to be a tough guy most of the time. I will suffer through a range of things, including standing outside in 5 degree weather in shorts... Never get sick, as people think I am crazy. I stand outside in blazing heat (in Arizona), sweat coming down... I don't budge, unless my job calls for it. But this... I looked at my instructor, as what felt like death was slowly taking me over descended upon every part of my body. I grew colder and colder.

He said to go back to the hotel and get better. Took me much longer than it should have to grab all of my things and stumble out to my car (good thing I parked close by). I then headed back to the hotel where things grew worse every second. Keep in mind, I have not considered anything else other than the flu. I thought I would be down for 24 hours, or so, that I just needed to make it through the illness.

I burst into my room (more like staggered and nearly collapsed). I remove all of my clothes, take a quick bathroom break, and jump in bed. Oh, I also took out my Advil from the car and popped three of them. As I began to doze off, I woke after what seemed like 9 or 10 hours. I felt better, but just wanted to sleep more. I noticed the sun was out... which made no sense, if I had slept that long that is. After fighting with myself for about 15 minutes, I sit up...

I feel just fine, except now I am sweating because I upped the temperature in the room. I sat there for ten minutes just to make sure, then got my clothes back on and headed back to Roehl. The class had ended about 30 minutes prior, but I caught the instructor and apologized. For me, I was embarrassed. I never quit, I never give up. I have a tendancy to push my way through illnesses and discomfort all the time. Today, I was just defeated.

He was shocked that I came back, but told me that it would have been perfectly fine for me to have just spoken with him on Monday. After some light chat, I took off and haven't felt ill since (aside from a small headache). I contacted Dunkin' and informed that that I believe they should check their food stock because I think I got food poisoning from them. The manager tried to offer me some freebies, but I turned them down and clarified that, "I didn't call to get some freebies. I just wanted to make sure you were aware so you can check your foodstock. Just in case." She thanked me and I went about the rest of my day ^,^

Kudos to Roehl for being understanding, and for this instructor (first time I have ever met him) for being understanding. Hope Monday gets going with energy and fervor!

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

I want to thank all of you for taking a moment to chime in on what I have been discussing. You're right, he is making sure we have the skills that will keep not only us, but also the public, alive. I understand what is being said, and I will do my best to put the right foot forward and humble myself. My concern, I feel, is placed in a different scenario, but I have bitten my lip every single day so far, and I will continue to do so moving forward.

As I have also mentioned in various other posts (during week 2), I do appreciate my instructor. I really do; and so do my cohorts in the same truck. Well... most of us, but I am not discussing that any further, it does not involve me. That said, I will be taking what he teaches me to the road and I hope to be a strong representation of what a person who has changed professions can do. Coming from higher education as an instructor to going OTR.

I will "salute" my instructor at the end of this, but it will come with a touch of disdain. It will be greatly appreciated. No matter what happens at this point going forward, I have learned so many of the skills, and practice will push me towards mastering them. I will never be satisfied and will be looking for ways to make myself better every single day. For the multitude of industries I have worked - higher ed teacher, DJ, body piercer, body guard/security, manager, etc - I have always tried to take myself to the next level, or to the top levels. I plan on being acknowledged for safety, as well as timeliness and courteousness to our customers.

I will make my instructor proud I was his trainee.

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 12

The day kicked off the way it used to: Bad. Our instructor comes in, we already finished pre-trip, all inspections, and had the truck ready to go hook up. It had snowed the evening before, so there was a light, yet wet, dusting on all the tractors. As I mentioned, we did a thorough inspection of all parts. He comes in and asks, "Did you do your pre-trip inspection? All of it?" We replied with an affirmative. He asks us if we're sure. Stunned, we all looked at each other in confusion. He then proceeds to say, "Did you check the tires?" with that typical sarcastic, yet demeaning tone. One of my colleagues says that he did, and I assured the fact that I watched him do it.

I hate ANYONE who says what he said next: "I don't believe you. There is still snow on the tire." He straight up implied I lied, like the way a child would who didn't want to do their chores. He comes back in and I explain that snow on the tires doesn't mean anything, as it is wet, packing snow. He then says, "Yeah. That snow isn't going anywhere." He then proceeds to just go about the day. no apology; not even a acknowledgement nor thank you for actually doing our job.

Great. Glad to see we are back to this point.

Anyways, the rest of the day went as it usually does. Me and colleague 1 do just fine with city driving. Colleague 2 struggles and keeps slamming the gears, thinking when it's going into 7th, it accidentally (more than 15 times) goes over to 9th. This has been going on for days... Not sure what to say to that, nor what the instructor can keep saying to help and try to fix the problem since it has been addressed for over a week. As for colleague 3, it was a terrifying run, as usual. What makes their day worse - and this person really does it to them self - they "stir the pot". I mean, it is relentless! I cannot understate how bad this really is. You would think the shifter had something on it, and this person was determined to shake it off in between gears.

Missing gears, grinding gears, slamming and t*******. I was starting to think the gears from the transmission were going to come flying through the floor board, tearing us all to shreds. Couple all of this with slow turns in front of oncoming traffic. Taking more than 20 seconds for a turn across two lanes... I did my best to watch, but had to look away at times.

Eventually, the instructor had to throw down some tough love and explain that this cannot continue. Next Tuesday is Do-or-Die time. So, we will see what happens then. However, the instructor is at a loss as to how to help colleague 3 out. I don't blame him (the instructor); this trainee simply cannot perform regular tasks without having their hand held, or being told each step along the way. I cannot feel pity any longer - not that I ever did - but, when should someone finally say to them self, "Maybe I don't have what it takes."

Again, this is a profession for professionals who can do their job with a high level of skill. Skills which can be taught, but some of those skills require certain innate abilities. I would argue that spatial awareness is paramount, on top of no-look shifting. Can't be staring at the shifter at 55 mph.

I was able to work on my offsets and 90 degree backings, today. It was a good day, plus the instructor allowed me to make errors and correct them. I can finally see what is going on, how the trailer will move, and what I need to do to start correcting the movements depending on the situation. The day ended well with the instructor. Just wish we could have that kind of attitude from start to end.

C'est la vie. I am learning and will be motivated towards greatness in the field of trucking. Keep on keepin' on!

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 11

Back on the road to start the day. I would like to say there was something important that occurred, but not really. Other than some of the typical daily routine and snafus that pop up, it was quite uneventful. We went out, to start the day, to the city streets, finally! We had to negotiate a multitude of challenges, including steep grades (inclines and declines). We faced off against the challenges of dealing with train tracks, terrible drivers, and a wide variety of road signs and situations. It was a lot of fun, plus it upped the ante on how much we had to know and be able to handle.

Speaking of which, it was mentioned to another trainee in the truck that, this is the week of do-or-die. Those of us who are not up to par by the end of the week will most likely not be around next week. I am far from surprised, but will wait to see who is still here next week. I can see a slight panic in the eyes of some of my colleagues, and I do not blame them. There is also doubt rearing its ugly head, as those who feel they are not performing they way they should are walking around with their heads down. I am trying to be a cheerleader and positive voice, but it can difficult. This has not been an easy road, but it has definitely been an informative one.

I commend my trainers for showing us the ropes, so far, and for dealing with the various challenges that fell upon their shoulders. From missing a fellow instructor for the day, to upset and combative trainees, to making do with limited space, to facing upper management and their demands. I can relate in some ways. Actually, that brings up something that DID happen I feel that should be mentioned. My instructor made it a point to let some of us know to not offer suggestions to our fellow trainees unless the instructor is around. This makes perfect sense to me. Personally, I had no issues with complying. Actually, one my colleagues, after we were told this, asked me to help them. I just placed my hands over my mouth and shrugged... I also apologized, but I really didn't want to make my instructor's job any more difficult.

I was only able to do the backing maneuvers once, today... That sucked. However, the typically time-hording trainee took forever to complete some basics in backing, which I had to lose out on my turn for. C'est la vie. I am excited to keep this training going. I am finally feeling my place with Roehl developing and it has raised my optimism for my future career.

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 10, part 2 - An Unforeseen Change-up

As I mentioned in the previous post, there was quite the tension build occurring with this other instructor from a different week. For a brief moment, I thought it was just me, considering he nearly chased me down across the yard, trying to stop me from working with the instructor I was actually supposed to be. It should be noted that these instructors were a bit stressed with the cramped learning areas and the fact that my actual instructor was out sick for the day.

I do not feel it excused any on this person's actions. Moreover, I had come to find out later, he was being brutal with others, too. He actually just about put another trainee into tears from the stress of yelling and screaming at them. Dude... this isn't boot camp. We all know lives are at stake, but this really isn't helping anyone improve.

So, if you read from Part 1, I mentioned how there would be some kind of providence that occurred; a realization that things weren't so bad. Moreover, I came to appreciate my (sick for the day) instructor even more! Given someone to compare him against, I would now say that, although rigid and restrictive, my instructor has done great things for me and my fellow trainees. Actually, I would say he has done us a great service, although I know not all in my truck would agree with that statement. I just know that, for myself, I am fortunate to have him pushing me to my limits.

It is because of my instructor, I have pushed myself to be a perfectionist. Because of him, I understand the importance of double clutching; of trusting the tachometer; of noticing road signs of all types; of maintaining a heightened sense of awareness with my surroundings. I may not like his approach, but it has worked hella-good.

Good news, though, getting back to today, I never had another encounter with the bully after lunch ^,^ Sweet! albeit, I will be keeping an eye out for him in the future to avoid any further conflicts.

The other big thing that occurred today had to do with someone who -is- in my truck. I have brought up this person before, as they are the same person who is on the fringe, the one who has struggled the most and has left me with a near ulcer and high anxiety when that person is behind the wheel. Thing is, this person monopolizes the drive time. This was amplified today, as they spent nearly 45 minutes between a single offset and 90 backing.

I am not kidding... 45 minutes for two maneuvers. I had only completed one offset, and they spent a total of well over an hour for two separate times working on straight-back, offset, and 90 degree backing. It reached a point in the afternoon where I had to express my disdain to our instructor (who was handling two groups, mind you). The instructor said he understood and that after we returned from driving on the streets, I would have a chance to do one last 90 degree.

It wasn't just me that this trainee was affecting. Another person in our truck only performed two offsets, but no 90 degree backings. The instructor had the one who also had not done a 90 degree get theirs out of the way before hitting the streets. I would get mine later. I was the one who drove us out to the streets, which meant I had the opportunity to drive first. I think the instructor, feeling bad, let me take an extra loop around our route. Everyone else took just two trips around. I was given a very nice compliment at the end of my turn (nice!).

Upon returning to the yard, I was able to get my 90 degree backing completed, with a touch of adventure. It was good to gain some perspective from this other instructor, and the observations I did all day gave me a chance to really meditate on how I would perform my own. All in all, it was a great day for learning, observing, helping, and reflecting.

Never thought I would say this, but I am looking forward to working with my instructor tomorrow... Let's just hope he doesn't kick it off with some off-the-mark, non-humorous sarcasm. I will be crossing my fingers he gets our day going right and with a positive vibe >,<

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 10, part 1 - An Unforeseen Change-up

Arrived to work, as normal. Stepped out to the truck for pre-trip... as normal. Find out just a few minutes after arrival... our instructor is out sick. Now, I know he has been hard on us, and his approach, from my perspective, has been one that needs some serious fine-tuning. However, I do not want anyone getting sick, and if they do, I always hope they feel better quickly. Nonetheless, this made today quite interesting.

The other two instructors for our class/groups had to make do and provide instruction for 12 trainees. This is no easy feat, and I felt bad for these two, but I feel that, in the end, they did the best they possibly could, considering all the hiccups that occurred along the way. It gave us a chance to really knuckle up and work on some aspects... some of us, that is. It also presented the opportunity for our truck to get some different perspectives and means of instruction. I think it was helpful to some, but you can't fix everything.

Shortly after learning about our instructor being out, we were asked by another instructor who we all thought our best driver was. I was humbled by my colleagues when they all quickly pointed at me, "Xavier!" I made sure to show my gratitude to them later by offering a humble thank you. It really made my day when they did not even argue, discuss, or even give second thought. I really feel like this is coming along well ^,^

I was instructed to follow behind another truck to the portion of the yard we would be training in. I did so with the utmost of safety in mind, considering I just had the trust of both my cohort and my instructors placed on my shoulders. Maybe I am making this out to be a bigger deal than it is, but I refuse to ever let anyone down, if I can prevent it. As we made it to the "Backing" area, we were given instructions, and I took initiative to do my offset first. Sadly, I would not get a chance to do any more backing until the end of the day. Instead, I made sure to help my fellow trainees, namely the ones who were really having a hard time with the concepts.

I would like to say the whole day went without a hitch, but that just wasn't going to happen. Instead, I think it was strange providence that wiggled its way in, since the encounters I am about to describe made my instructor seem like a saint. It was as if fate wanted me (and the others in my truck) to have a staunch comparison to what could have been, had we been placed with this one other instructor. By the way, this person I am about to discuss wasn't even one of our main three. He was with a completely separate group/week.

The instructor from our group, however, did send me to ride alongside for positioning with another trainee. We bring the combination vehicles around an extremely large yard, so having multiple eyes is important. What was also going on, which demanded extra attention, was that in lieu of testing, other groups were forced to share areas with us. Typically, it would not be so crowded, but it seemed like Murphy's Law wanted to rear its ugly head for the day.

Anyways, we were told to wait, if need be, until an space cleared to pull through to our staging spot. We did so, I suggested to the driver that we wait off to the side while the other trucks finished their maneuvers. That was when a person approached the truck. He signaled to roll down the window. What came out of this person's mouth next floored me: "YOU DO WHAT YOUR INSTRUCTOR TELLS YOU TO DO! GOT IT??!?... PULL YOUR TRUCK INTO THE SECOND SLOT!"... This instructor(?) storms away. Both the driver and I look at each other with a WTF expression.

I just gave you the actual full flow of that interaction. Nothing prompted him... he just came at us as if though someone told us to do something, and we refused. That is the furthest thing from what actually happened. We did exactly what we were told, and did so being as safe as possible. I made sure to tell our instructor what happened, then we went about the rest of the morning. Later on just before lunch, I would have another encounter with this same individual. This time, he actually asked me to assist him with a trainee who was doing an offset, as he stepped off to the side to speak with a bobtail rig that pulled up near us.

When he returned, I went back to observing. It was then that some individuals were switching out, and there was a small bit of commotion. He seemed to ask me to tell a truck to turn a specific way, so I went to let them know. They then accidentally turned the wrong way. I yelled out and got them to stop and correct it. It was then that this bully comes up and says, "What's your name?" I reply, "Xavier..." He then proceeds to stare at me as if to try and intimidate me, then says, "I'm the instructor! GOT IT, Xavier??!?"

What in the absolute hell...

I just laughed and walked to the other side of the Backing area to where my instructor was. I don't think the bully liked this, because I thought I heard someone say my name as I was walking away. He then demanded I return to the area he was in. I just smiled and said, "Don't worry. I am going over to where MY instructor is." Oh... he did NOT like that. But, he decided to not pursue. I informed my instructor (by this time, it was the other of the two) of what transpired. After which... we went about training.

Looks like I need to extend this post to another response... Part 2 of Day 10 to follow.

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 9 - The swing of the gavel has begun

I wanted to give today a title in lieu of what appears to be happening within my group. I will get to that in a moment, but I would just like to recap the day. It was very straightforward and consisted of street drive-time, the simulator, and backing up procedures. The lion's share of the day was really spent in the simulator, but I do not think it was because we needed to, per se. Rather, someone in our group took 37 minutes to complete their simulated run.

In the simulator, we were all given different scenarios. We had complete freedom to drive around, but had to obey all traffic laws and face all consequences. For myself, and one other in the group, we spent all of 6-8 minutes in our scenarios. The other two spent about 18 minutes for trainee, then 37 on the other. I was surprised at how long it was taking the one, but the instructor said he would not help us for any reason. When it reached about 32 or 33 minutes, though, even the instructor caved and said something. What made it really bad, the scenario had this trainee drive around one block and park. Suffice it to say, it was pretty bad; in the middle of the road, jumping curbs, and even blaring the horn demanding others get out of the way. The simulator was about as forgiving as real life...

Anyways, for me and my one other classmate, we were able to get our city driving completed during the early part of the day. We strolled around, presented with different actions and scenarios. All around, it went well. My shifting is getting better each day! I gave full focus to watching and learning the tachometer. It paid off in dividends!

Only the two of us city-drove before we headed off to the simulator, pushing the other two to the other half of the day. This is when things turned for the worse. Just before returning to the city streets, we worked on a bit of backing, 90 degrees. Our instructor had to do something else, so we were lucky enough to work with another instructor for about 45 minutes. It was refreshing to get another point of view (plus, it was far more relaxed). We learned quite a bit, plus received some quality feedback, not just cryptic messaging and drawn out non-answers loaded with poor sarcasm.

I really have to take a moment, though, and applaud one of the great aspects about my instructor: he is rigid and thorough. He does make sure we do things properly. I know it is extreme, but those of us who have taken the heat will be forged in steel, ready for the CDL test. But, stopping us constantly, not allowing us to really see the mistakes happening, it is causing frustration. On top of which, we really don't get a clear understanding of how we are doing things wrong. When I taught in colleges, I would let my students make mistakes: it is how we all learn best. If we have nothing to compare the correct actions against, we may never understand why something is done a certain way. Now, I am NOT saying he should let us hit a concrete slab, or run someone over. Rather, cones are in place. During our early trials, let us hit the cones and suffer the mistake, rather than putting us on edge, wondering when the next moment will come that we get yelled at.

I digress. So, we hit the afternoon city run; actually, more like industrial park and small highways run ^,^ We were told the city - i.e. small city streets, tons of traffic lights and vehicles - is tomorrow (I am excited... and terrified). The second run out, today, was exclusively the two who did not run this morning. Now, they both have some key things they need to work on. However, as I mentioned earlier, one of them is not doing so hot. Actually, they have most, if not all, of us on edge. Grinding gears, throwing in the the shifter, not completely depressing the clutch into the shifting range, not double clutching, missing engine revs during downshift, jumping 2, even 3, gears, driving 10mph in a 55mph zone... Stalling in an intersection.

It was bad. So bad, we returned to the yard where this person was given some opportunities to fix the problem. Long story short: I am far from optimistic for this person. The worst action this person takes, though, is that they stare at the instructor while driving. I am not kidding. This person is looking at the instructor, NOT the road. I have had to hold my breath, and my comments, on multiple occasions. I hope for their sake, and the rest us, that they figure this out very soon. To be brutally honest, I am surprised they are still being given a chance.

If my grammar seems a bit off, please keep in mind I am trying to not disclose the gender of this person, so as to keep some modicum of anonymity.

So, we will see. I personally think that this job might not be for everyone, and rightfully so. There is so much going on with 80,000 lbs at play. Couple that with the unpredictability of real life drivers distracted with their phones, make-up, beards, kids, friends, etc, and the harshness sinks in (for me, at least ^,^ and I am sure many, many others). Let judgement rear its head and determine who can actually handle this profession. Because, that is exactly what this is...

A Profession performed by Professionals.

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 8

My weekend kind of disappeared on me. Ran into a former driver at the laundromat, he ended up monopolizing my time inadvertently. I appreciated his insight, but I remember mentioning that I had work I needed to get done, but it seemed to go over his head. C'est la vie. I will try to find time later to reply directly to comments. I do read what everyone says, and I am super grateful for others chiming in and sharing thoughts on what has been going on for me at Roehl.

So, we did have a half-day on Saturday, and will have two more of those during this week, and next. Added bonus, though: we do get Thanksgiving off ^,^ During our half-day (technically Day 6), we covered Hazmat topics and handling for Roehl's internal procedures. Pretty standard, from what I could gather. I already have a Hazmat endorsement set for when I get my CDL, but there was another card that was required for internal standards... meh, whatever.

Today, though, was a bit more exciting. Spent more time out on the city streets, and I was even able to take the rig out onto the highway for a couple miles. I was able to merge on, then off the highway, and brought the speed of the tractor-trailer up to 63/64. Very interesting being in 10th gear. Also, downshifting has been much easier, although my perception of how soon I need to downshift is a work in progress. I tend to think I have more room than I actually do... then, I feel like I am slugging along to get to my lights and intersections. However, when I get there, I realize how important it was to slow down much sooner.

That was the first half of the day. The second has was all about backing. We started off with standard straightbacks and offset-right and -left. This portion was extremely easy for me, since I already had exposure, but I noticed for others, over-correcting was haunting their every move. I remember being told that, "... a little can mean a lot with the trailer. Make small movements." I took that advice and share with my colleagues, "A dab will do ya." It seems to resonate when they actually use it ^,^

Later, we worked on 90 degree backups, again. This time, in a more challenging scenario with strict boundaries. The amount of movement that comes from the rear of the trailer happens quite suddenly! I still have issues with understanding how it all works. I wish we were given chances, with cones, to make mistakes. I feel that if I could make errors and see them happen, then I would understand what it is I am doing wrong. Unfortunately, our instructor just seems to yell, "No. Stooooop." Not actually yelling, but halting us in our tracks before we can understand why the mistake is occurring. He does correct us, but with limited explanation, or exploration. Additionally, maybe it would be more helpful with better diagrams... Ugh, I think the former teacher in me is trying to analyze how to improve the learning segment.

I should also mention, a bunch of pre-trip in the beginning of the day, along with mid-trip inspections and post-trip. Our pre-trip was slow, though... I mean SUPER slow. So slow, all the other teams were out and about while we were still getting around the driver side of the trailer. We were almost 2 hours in before we hit the road. One of my fellow classmates really is struggling, and seems to regress quite a bit. This person also likes to call out aspects that are not relevant to what we are doing at the moment and will shift blame for not knowing things; doing so, this person blames others, or events for the lack of understanding or knowledge. Unfortunately for this person, they were present when the material WAS covered.

My point is... If you are here to learn, Pay Attention!

I digress, as I do want to go to sleep. They days are long, and horribly cold. If you are reading this and are deciding if training with Roehl is right for you. Please, consider the time of year. It is Really. F**king. Cold. If you do decide to take the plunge, get the appropriate gear needed to handle sub 20 degree weather; standing outside for 30+ minutes waiting for your turn to take the wheel.

More tomorrow ^,^

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 5

First day that felt like an actual full day of training. Since we had no special meetings or classroom items to cover today, we spent pretty much all of our time in the yard, and... around town!

It was an exciting day, which started off slow, then later built into what I have been most excited for: the chance to apply my newly found skills on the road. We got to our trucks without having to go inside the training building at all. Immediately doing pre-trip inspections, all four of us began rattling off the long list of aspects covered around the tractor. We had not, at that time, hooked up to a trailer, so we just covered what was present.

As our instructor walked up, we continued through each portion, from the engine, to the 5th wheel and frame, to the reflectors and DOT tape, etc. All of us calling out and pointing to/touching the parts were were discussing, "Properly mounted, not damaged, not leaking..." Then, we headed off to the unloaded trailers and snagged the one we would be using for the day.

I was the luck one who was chosen to drive the tractor and make the connection (it was my first time, as I had observed a number of others doing this part). Not sure why, but I always find this a bit exciting. I think I mentioned it before in an earlier post, so if I am repeating myself, sorry. Anyways, we get hooked and then complete our pre-trip. One of my colleagues missed out on a large portion of the trailer the day prior. that person had to do an additional physical, but, after all was clear, he was right back with us. So, we covered many parts in detail once again.

We took the rig out into the yard and practiced a few turns, each of us. Later, it was 90 degree backing. I wish we spent more time on this, and had more than one go. I am sure, though, over the next three weeks, it will happen again. We also worked on 45 degree backing... THAT was a challenge!

Part way through the backing, and just prior to lunch, we went into the supply hanger where we were issued our cleats. I guess they are company issued for safety reasons. It became a fun talking point, though, in lieu of my foot size. It was being debated in the truck, prior to walking over, if they would even have something that would fit my size 16 foot. Good news, they did, and barely >,<

After another great salad for lunch, we completed our backing portion then headed out to... City streets! This was our first real moment applying skills we learned in the yard. Nervous? Of course; Excited? Absolutely! Our instructor took us around a typical area for trucks (with a truck stop close by) and all of us sit up front with him as he showed us how to navigate the slightly chaotic terrain. Going from a controlled environment (the yard) to an area where unpredictability reigns supreme was a steep learning curve.

This, of course, highlighted and exaggerated any of our weaknesses. I even had some personal demons (might be too strong a phrase, but I feel it drives the point home) come to the surface. I commented, after my turn, that I felt like I was back at day 1. Although I had acquired new skills, it was like hitting a reset button and starting over from level one. Ultimately, that makes sense when you look at it; throwing in the new variables to consider.

Some of my crew members did not fare so well. As I mentioned, faults were amplified on the city streets. I actually found myself grasping on to what I could in the back seat at times, as we neared ditches and electrical lines. At some moments, the truck almost didn't stop when approaching other vehicles. I actually would quietly be grateful for the hard, jerking stop, rather than a collision I can't see coming being in the rear cab. Please, DO NOT take anything I just said as a criticism of any of my colleagues, i am just sharing how it felt. I know they are also learning, and as one of those who replied said, there is a bit of a vetting process going on. I am starting to think not all of us will see this thing through... And rightfully so.

We still have to go in for a half day every Saturday, so I do need to be up in the morning. From what I understand, we are going over internal Hazmat procedures. Although I already have my endorsement set, it is a qualification I must get, internally. Not too worried about it ^,^

-Professor X

Again, THANK YOU for all of the comments!! I will try to reply to each one this weekend, when my time has finally freed up, Saturday or Sunday. Cheers!

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 4

I would like to start this post by first acknowledging and thanking those who have replied on here. It is great to know that my experience is helpful for others. As I mentioned in my original post, it was what others shared on here that helped me move forward; it helped me make better decisions for where I am, now. Thank you, again ^,^

Today started off with a rather important meeting. We were at first waiting around for a bit, but utilized that time to get some reading done in our book. The book, by the way, is somewhere around 28-30 chapters (I may still be off by a couple), but covers many of the core and crucial topics for trucking. I see it both as a benefit and a potential point of confusion for those who are already lost.

I transition there, because confusion is something that seems to be permeating throughout some of my cohorts. Roehl made it very clear in the beginning: This will not be easy, also, it will be fast. They were right, and I feel I am lucky to have had the minimal exposure to some of the key concepts weeks prior (at the other trucking school in AZ). Whereas, those with me it seems they are expected to know some things that were never mentioned early on. I am not sure if it was supposed to be something intrinsic, or part of one's background knowledge, by those trainees coming to Roehl, or if the instructors maybe bypassed the information (intentionally, or not). Regardless, something important came up this afternoon; a concept which, had it been laid out in detail and thoroughly explained, would have helped with shifting for those struggling three days into driving.

Particularly, down shifting. The idea of revving the engine between the double clutch was not very clear to everyone (and, to a bit, myself). I was able to watch and learn as my instructor showed us on more than one occasion what we should be doing. Again, showed, but did not explain. This may have made it incredibly difficult for those who need to see what is being taught from another perspective. I am talking about the math behind the RPMs. He used the windshield as a white board while we were stopped and parked, and I could see the "light" pop in the heads of my colleagues once this was done.

But this goes to a further point that beleaguers me: there has been so little actually explained. It seems that maybe some of the instructors are hell-bent on demonstrating, "Do it the way I am doing it." So, when the trainee tries, they are highly likely to fail. I am a fan of trial and error, but if the concepts are not being acquired. Maybe a different approach, rather than repeating the same mantra which was ill-effective before, would benefit the sanity of both the instructor and trainee.

I watched as one of my fellow group members struggled through the in-cab inspection and brake test. We were only ever shown this once, last night, quickly, at the end of shift. Then, instead of "escorting" the fellow trainee through the steps, everything became some cryptic, "Well, what do you think is next?" Dude, seriously... this is their VERY first time doing this, and only ever saw someone else do it once about 16 hours ago. Maybe a bit more help, and laying off the sarcastic remarks would help them through this difficult and time consuming part of pre-trip.

Again, I think that maybe this has to do with the hard and fast concept thrown at us in the beginning, but being a former teach/instructor myself, there is a TON of room for improvement on behalf of those trying to impart their knowledge. I would be happy to make suggestions, but feel it better to keep my mouth shut so I can get to driving without any added hassle.

Personally, I made some great strides this afternoon driving around. Worked on left turns (with a trailer) as well as right turns. The challenge with the right turn is real! Regardless, I am the only one in the truck, at the moment, permitted to take them in 4th gear. Towards the end of the day, we moved on to straight backs. A major difference between now, and the trucking school prior, is about 300 yards! The small school I went to before had nowhere near the room Roehl has. It was actually really nice taking the trailer about 350-400 yards in reverse, aiming for the sweet spot by the cone.

We didn't get to city streets, today, but I am hoping it will happen soon >,<

Oh yeah... Salad was delicious ^,^

More tomorrow.

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 3

I would like to start off by saying, going to the local restaurant which opens at 5am is far more desirable than trying to stomach a ton of carbs in the morning, IMHO. Marshfield Family Restaurant is just a 2 minute detour from my regular commute to Roehl, which is absolutely worth the trip, every morning. If you come to Roehl and struggle like I do with putting down nothing but carbs in the morning, put this on your must-visit list.

As for training, today we started off in the simulator. We were faced with straight-backs and offset maneuvering. I was about to say parking, but it was much more than that. We were placed into a simple scenario, at first. Take the simulated rig and trailer down a long runway with straight lines. If, during the backing up, you were doing well, the instructor would have you offset while in motion (there were multiple lanes to utilize). My colleagues had a difficult time, as I am sure I would have to, had I not already gone through this with a real tractor.

My instructor quickly had me doing the offset, both left and right. The great thing is, I picked up some new skills doing so. When I first learned, I was told to keep the rear axle tires out of my mirrors. This helps so much! As for the offsets, what I learned at the previous school only helped so much, only because many of the reference points we were given only related to that school's equipment and trailers. Today, I was taught so much more, and how to use additional reference points; more importantly, ones that are far more universal... Good stuff!

We also used the simulator to back up from a mock accident. It was in a heavily wooded area, along a winding road. This naturally challenged our newly learned concepts on backing up. Having the added knowledge and experience assisted me greatly, as I was able to put in the clutch and never touched it again until I reached my destination. I noticed something else... something that would come up again, later in the day... my instructor stopped talking to me in the middle of my exercise and was speaking with the other trainees, instead.

Just before lunch, we were able to finally attach a trailer to our tractor. I find this a bit entertaining and fun for all the most childish of reasons. If you're wondering if I feel awkward about it... Nope. Not. One. Bit! After hooking up and inspecting, our trainer pulled us out into the yard for our loops. After demonstrating a number of right-hand turns, I was the first on deck. Not only did I pick this up quickly, I was given the chance to make the turns at a higher speed (4th). Also, since we were already running out of time, I was the only one before we ate to take the rig around turns. I was able to take the combination vehicle from the yard to the parking area, where I successfully got it between other rigs (going through forwards, and a tiny back up for straightening out). We would be returning to this, again, after lunch.

Salad... Delicious... Happy...

The afternoon did not start as I would have hoped, unfortunately. We worked on our pre-trip. We worked on it so damn slowly. So slow, my fingertips were in unbelievable pain from the piercing frostbite I was sure that was taking over my flesh. One of my classmate kept asking drawn out questions, which, in any other situation where the temperature is above freezing, would be perfectly fine. It was just so damn cold, everything seemed to be taking forever. If you come here this time of the year, or through March or April... BUNDLE UP! this should go without saying, but I was not expecting it to be this bad (as being originally a native of Northwest Ohio).

After scarping by pre-trip with my body temperature a respectable 49 degrees Fahrenheit, we got back in and took it for another spin. However, this time, it was right turns with a trailer attached. Since we have absolutely no street markings in our yard, we were taught another VERY useful skill: how to utilize the turn light on the side of the trailer as a reference point. Get to the apex of the turn, and crank her over. For veteran drivers, I am sure you know the rest, but it was very helpful. I should mention, this was demonstrated to us before lunch, but it was great to know it was effective for left and right turns.

This time, though, for myself, I was given the chance to take the turn (at a yield sign) in 5th gear. More importantly, after my first stop sign, the instructor stopped talking to me, and just let me go through the motions with no assistance. It wouldn't be until the end of shift when he would mention how that is a sign that you're doing exactly what you need to in order to move on to city streets. I am hopeful my cohorts can ALL get to that level tomorrow, that way we can get a very realistic experience. More time on actual surface roads with real obstacles and situations, the better we can all become ^,^

Big meeting, tomorrow, in the morning. Then it will be us back at the turns until the instructor thinks we are ready. Fingers crossed!

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 2

Some semblance of a routine is beginning to develop. I prefer this because, when it comes to something I am passionate for, I want to know what to expect AND what is expected of me every day. This new career can be my best shot for getting out of debt, as well as being able to build a little nest egg for myself. I have many choices that will emerge in the months and years to come. I am mentally preparing myself for anything.

Today, we received our trainer assignments, as well as tractor assignments. I was placed into a group of 4 people (3 plus myself) and, just before heading outside, we completed our travel logs from the day prior, up until 6:30am, today. Although we are for sure going to be getting rigs with electronic logs, Roehl wants to ensure we have trucker logging skills in place, just in case it ever becomes necessary.

After some shuffling around, we made our way out to the vehicles. My group was assigned one of the grey colored tractors, which I guess is mostly used for solo drivers. The red ones have the taller sleeper area which allows for the double bunk. Honestly, the color didn't matter, since these were training trucks. They were all equipped with the traditional row of three seats in the sleeper area. While one person was operating, the others sat back and observed.

I want to say that I am quite proud of my team, so far. None of us were on our phones and we were all paying close attention to the person driving. We took in the advice from our trainer and attempted to apply the comments to our own attempts behind the wheel. Our trainer was quite descriptive and detailed, as he walked us through each step of the shifting process. He did take us around the yard a couple times before anyone was allowed in the driver's seat, but after that, it was all us.

I quietly sat back as each of my colleagues took their turn. I intentionally waited and delayed my start. I feel that I can learn from others as much as I can learn from my own mistakes and blunders. I took every bit of commentary to heart, as if though I was the one behind the wheel each time. Then, when it became my turn, I was able to collate the plethora of information into a solid first attempt. My previous experience behind the wheel at my previous school consisted of, "Get in there and pull her forward."....

Wait... What??? Isn't anyone going to get in here with me??

Back then, I was glad that I had at least some experience driving a standard vehicle, so I sort of fudged my way through my first time ever driving a rig. Again, let me make it perfectly clear: I was placed behind the wheel with zero experience at my PREVIOUS school. Roehl, on the other hand, had the instructor right there with me, and my group, the entire time. It also helped that the day prior, we were able to get our first experience on a simulator. Big difference!

Anyways, we spent the early part of the day, prior to lunch, driving around the yard, working on shifting. Then, an hour before lunch break, my team was brought in to work on right- and left-hand turns on the simulator (with a trailer attached). This simulator is wonderful! It allows us to muck up our first few tries on a device with zero real-life consequences. I think all of us will benefit from it. I actually went a little maverick, and pushed the tractor in the simulator, flying through my gears... Of course, I made some rather big mistakes, but again... No actual consequences. As I proceeded, I took it more seriously and feel like I made some great improvements.

Lunch rolled around... Salad again... Delicious again ^,^

After lunch, there was some major changes to the schedule. All of us 1st Week-ers were asked to stay in the study area while some others went through testing with our rigs. We used this time to work on our log books and get some reading done. Then, around 1:00pm, one of the other 1st week teams was collected to run the sim, while the other group waited with mine for a some time. Eventually, the group that was waiting around with us was taken back to the yard... Me and my three teammates were stuck in the study area... for an additional 2 hours >,<

That really sucked. I considered going out to the yard to begin working on pre-trip (which will be worked on tomorrow), but couldn't find any trainers to get permission from. I didn't want to chance getting chastised for being out in the yard like that, so I just stayed in and barely stayed awake, cranking out 4 more chapters in our book. I did find out later that it would have been fine if I had gone out to do such... >,<

From around 3:30pm, and on, we made it back out to our truck for more shift work. It went well and I could feel myself improving each time I was placed behind the wheel ^,^ I am feeling more confident each passing minute spent in the driver's seat ^,^

Pre-trip and more shifting to come... I am actually excited about it ^,^

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

Day 1 ***officially

Woke up around 4:30am to get myself together for the day. I was a little excited to see what kind of breakfast to expect from the hotel we were staying at (thinking eggs, maybe some meat). I was informed the night before that breakfast would be ready by 6:00am, so I sat outside the dining room door around 5:35am and met some of the others who arrived just the night before, too.

6:00am rolls around, and a very sleepy-looking kitchen staff member painstakingly opens the door, allowing myself and other truckers-to-be to flood in. I quickly made my way around the counter to find... Bread. More bread, and sugar (doughnut holes). Cereal and, of course, more bread -_- After this, I will be searching for a regular breakfast restaurant for the rest of my time here. I typically am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but there was pretty much zero protein options.

As a side note, I primarily eat meat and veggies. I minimize simple carbs, so this kind of meal is something I would do anything to avoid. Let me transition by putting aside my personal tastes and simply say, it was a nice little breakfast. Apple and orange juice, as well as coffee, were all available, too.

We were all informed by our recruiters to be ready by 6:30am for the shuttle over to Roehl. We were waiting until about 6:45am when the shuttle finally arrived. There were far more of us than could possibly fit into the van, so about three of us drove separately and followed in a convoy. It was a rather easy trip over, and I realized I passed it on my way into town the evening before. We followed into the yard and found where we will be parking during the duration of the training. From there, we made our way to the "classroom". They make sure to reinforce that this is not a school teaching us how to get our CDL. Rather, it is preparation for working with Roehl. I am completely cool with that concept, as it fills me with the notion that I am already welcomed and on board for my new career.

As we met our trainers, I came to realize that I accidentally left my CLP and Medical Card back at the hotel. This left me with accepting the walk of shame. I quickly drove back, collected my things, and rushed back (safely and at the speed limit) to Roehl. We completed numerous forms, finished online training items, and completed our I9, as well as some other items. I should say, before any of this, they stressed the importance of selecting our lunch items. We filled out what we wanted for the entire week. There was an exceptional selection, but I opted to keep it simple and consistent: salad.

At 11:45m, we had a Zoom meeting with our sister terminals who also had new trainees beginning. We were audience to the head of the training program: Get Your CDL (GYCDL). Since Marshfield, WI is the home base for Roehl, the head was there in person. After some niceties, we broke for lunch and when the food arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much salad there was! Not the best salad ever, but far more satiating than the breakfast back at the hotel. I will be looking forward to lunch each day ^,^

The afternoon had a bit more paperwork, and we studied our chapters "assigned" from our book. We also completed a physical exam, consisting of strength related movements. Five movements in total, and the challenge was real. One trainee failed twice, but I think that person was given an additional chance (since they were not leaving when we completed that portion). We were told that passing the strength test was mandatory.

We also had a chance to work on some shifting. Roehl has a trucking simulator with the standard tractor chair, as well as gear shift and pedals to expect in all Roehl trucks (10 gears). It allowed us to get a feel for what to expect without placing us behind a few thousand dollar piece of machinery. Smart move, in my humble opinion. There was much grinding to be had by many of the students. I think I was fortunate to have had minimal experience in the real thing a few weeks prior.

We finished the day with sexual harassment policies and driving logs. Things became increasingly more comfortable and easier throughout the day. It will be good to get back on the simulator for more practice, and actually begin pre-trip inspections tomorrow.

It is pretty late... I should hit the sack. Back up at 4:30am to get ready for breakfast at an actual restaurant. I should also mention that, after Day 1, it is our responsibility to get to Roehl each day (carpool if necessary). My plan is to get to the restaurant by 5:15am to make sure I am at Roehl by 6:30am.

-Professor X

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, by Professor X

I remember a few weeks ago finding this site and benefiting greatly from the contributions made by others. So, in the manner of paying it forward, I feel like I could help others by sharing my personal experiences with joining Roehl. My training begins tomorrow morning and as I begin settling in for the night, I would like to recount my journey up to this point:

I was laid off from my job June 1st, 2018; a mass layoff of 300 workers. From that moment, I applied to more than 175 jobs within my industry and found absolutely no luck with obtaining gainful employment, full-time. I was at my wits end, when a friend of mine suggested switching careers and getting my CDL. I have a master's degree in a branch of linguistics and education, though nothing stateside would hire me, I discovered that the trucking industry would actually work in my favor (with the massive shortage of drivers nationwide).

Nearly seven weeks ago, I was told I was accepted into a government assistance program that would help me financially with attending a trucking school in my home state of Arizona. After 6 days of training, which included getting my CLP and 3 days of straight-backs and offsets, I was told I had to stop until further notice. A week later, I was told that I would receive ZERO funding and that the government agency would no longer assist me in any way. They cited my degree as a qualification where I didn't actually need their help... 175 rejections, I would wholeheartedly disagree.

I then looked into a loan from the trucking school itself. ***disclaimer*** I will not throw the school under the bus on this blog, so please, do not ask who that school was. I was shocked to see how much additional money they added on simply for getting the loan (an additional $2500 +19% interest). I get it, they are a business, but I wanted to look for an easier way. I explored other options (as I did not have enough in my savings to pay outright, was damn near broke by that time), and was at my wits end when a friend of a friend told me about training with a company. I looked into a few (especially ones where I was already pre-hired), one of which who told me, "Because you have already attended a trucking school, you will need 3 months experience and blah, blah, blah." I pleaded with them that I had to stop because of funding being pulled, but they were rather stringent of their policy: No trainees who have already started with a different school.

So, with that, I narrowed down my choices to just two companies. The one rejected me because I did not have forklift experience... Yeah, found that a bit weird. Anyways, Roehl was more than happy to bring me on, as long as I made it out to Wisconsin on my own dime. Considering my options were dwindling, and the fact that the government agency basically placed me in the worst possible position ever (was almost broke and homeless because I thought I was covered when they pulled my funding), I was very happy to make the 1,800 miles drive from Phoenix, AZ to Marshfield, WI.

As far as recruiting goes, Kevin at Roehl has been awesome. Very helpful, informative, patient, and knowledgeable (and if he didn't know, he quickly found the answers). We got everything settled and arranged, then I hit the road Friday late-morning, heading Eastward. Made my first stop in Guymon, OK. Rested up and made it to my next stop, Saturday, in Clive (Des Moines), Iowa. Sunday, finished off the rest of the trip and made it to the Woodfield Inn, where we are housed for the next four weeks. Met my roommate, who seems cool, we grabbed food and are settling in for the evening. Breakfast at 6:00am, then off to the yard/training facilities by 6:30-6:45am.

My goal will be to blog each day, or close to that. If you would like to follow, just check out this thread daily. I will be happy to answer questions, but always willing to share in my experience with Roehl. Again, I am grateful to those who have also shared their stories... and, here is mine ^,^

-Professor X

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