Profile For TexanTwoStep

TexanTwoStep's Info

  • Location:
    Lindale, TX

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    11 months, 1 week ago

TexanTwoStep's Bio

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Posted:  6 months ago

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CB Antenna

That really looks.....different? Unique?

Hey, as long as it works well, it’s a hit!

You know what they say; If it's stupid and it works, it's not stupid!

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

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Signed on with McElroy Truck Lines -- Starting School March 4th

Hey everyone,

I've decided that I'm going to try to do weekly updates, probably on Saturdays since that will me my day off. Today I'll go ahead and recap what training has been like since last week.

Thursday: Last Thursday (3/28), we did a LOT of classwork. Route planning (using a road carrier's atlas), computer-based training and videos regarding safety, the SMITH system of driving, and talked a lot about safety. At McElroy, if you are in an avoidable accident or it was due to faulty equipment that you knew about, you get remedial training which is unpaid. This can last for up to 8 hours, so you'll be stuck at the terminal, so safety is definitely number one here. We also went to the Lowe's DC and tarped/strapped loads that were leaving with driver/mentors. I found out I'm able to strap/tarp a load in around 45 minutes!

Friday: 3/29 - Orientation is officially over and I am now a probationary employee at McElroy Truck Lines! We did more CBT's, tarp-folding, and yard skills. Because there were two of us, we got to head home early for the weekend (1300). After our weekend, we were expected to check into the hotel on Sunday NLT 2100. I got to the hotel at 1400 and went fishing with my buddy from class (and only classmate, lol). Over the past week, we've been fishing every day and have caught 47 keeper crappie and 40 sand bass! We have been cleaning them in the hotel parking lot and had a fish fry. Beats the hell out of eating microwaved food!

Monday: 4/1 - We did a lot more CBTs and SMITH system videos regarding defensive driving. More route planning, yard skills and road test. We also began packing the old terminal for the company's move to the brand-new terminal in Alma! It's absolutely gorgeous and state of the art. Operations will be moved by the weekend.

Tuesday: 4/2 - Computer-based training (CBTs, noticing a trend here?), yard skills, preventive maintenance skills, pre-trip inspections, and we checked tire pressure/tread depth in some trailers and filled them with the gladhand hose if needed. All in all, a decent day. We also went to the new terminal and checked on how the backing range was coming along (the contractors are setting concrete barriers for the backing range, definitely not for the feint of heart!), and they hadn't even started. More on this later. We also took four loads (in the sleeper) of Safety Dept's things to the new terminal.

Wednesday: 4/3 - CBT's, more safety videos, then we went driving. Both of us got about 100 miles through some pretty tough areas, which helped with my trailer awareness and up/downshifting. We put the smith system into practice by aiming high in steering, leaving ourselves an out, getting the "big picture", keeping our eyes moving, leaving ourselves an out, and making sure they see us. After lunch we checked on the backing range again, which was coming along nicely. We backed a bit (45s/straight/an "L" back which is like a hybrid parallel park), then were done for the day.

Thursday: 4/4 - CBT's, then we spent the entire day at the backing range while our trainer/safety manager took care of business at the Alma terminal with the director of operations and director of safety, who flew in from Alabama to sign off for the move. Myself and my classmate were able to get A LOT of practice done because it was just us, and were able to get through the entire course at least 5 times.

Also, I found out today that I'm having to go to Montgomery, Alabama for five weeks for my next phase of training. I'm a little bummed about that because I won't be able to be home weekly (one of MTL's selling points), but I'm also excited and ready to get it started. Thankfully, because I'll be away from home for so long, they're upping my pay and providing me with a hotel on the weekends while my driver-mentor is off. I was in the Coast Guard and on a ship for a while before this job, so five weeks away from home is nothing. My wife may disagree.

If anyone has any questions, let me know! I'll try to be as active as possible, but I'll be on the road with my driver mentor starting Sunday morning.

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

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Automation and the future of trucking

Someone may have stated this already, but I usually compare it to aircraft. Besides takeoff and landing, they are basically computer-driven, yet they still have two pilots.

Even if trucks do get automation, drivers are still going to be there for the "oh crap" moments, and for redundancy. Truck driving isn't going anywhere.

Posted:  8 months, 3 weeks ago

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Signed on with McElroy Truck Lines -- Starting School March 4th

Hello Everyone!

We're midway through orientation week here in Ennis at McElroy Truck Lines (MTL), and it's been great! For those of you who do not know, MTL treats it's first week orientation as an interview, which means that you're NOT hired until they decide if you're a good fit for the company. I'm pretty confident that I won't have any problems and will get the invite back for next week.

Monday we started with only three people (myself and two others), and it was a day filled with videos, computer-based training, and PowerPoints. Also paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! We went over the rules, how we are not officially employees until we pass the official observation/orientation week, and general safety things. We were also issued a MTL Driver's Manual, FMCSA rules/regs book, and a packet of 100 questions to quiz us over the two manuals (That's due Friday). Other than that, it was a slow day. The other two prospects had hair follicle and urinalysis.

Tuesday morning rolls around, and just myself and one other guy showed up for the next day. We had more CBT's, videos, and my classmate had his agility test / physical. While he was doing that, I took my road test with the Safety Manager in MTL's truck. Holy CRAP what a difference from the beater school trucks I've been driving the past month! I did fairly well (passed with an "85", according to safety). After that, we went over to MTL's new terminal in Alma that is under construction and measured/marked the new backing range! Sometime this week, the contractors will be setting the concrete barriers for all the maneuvers that we'll be doing next week. I think it's cool that we got to do this because every time we pull into the Alma terminal, we can say that we helped in constructing that and helping future MTL drivers. Plus (hopefully), we'll be the first drivers to use the new backing range! After that, we did CBTs and met a driver-mentor who gave us some good info about the company and what it's like to be a driver. We were also issued our PPE.

Today (Wednesday), we learned about Federal regulations regarding HoS, logging, e-logs, and got our accounts set up for logging our hours. I think that's a good sign they want to keep us! That took up most of the morning, so we went to lunch with a driver (the same driver from Tuesday) and after lunch, went to the Lowe's DC with him where he showed us the ropes (literally, ;) ) in tarping/load securment and coupling/uncoupling. I really enjoyed this because I'm a hands-on learner, and this allowed me to see HOW it was done instead of being told how to do it. Then, we went back to the Ennis terminal and my classmate took his driving/road test while I did more computer-based training (CBT).

All in all, I think this was the best decision I've made in my life in a long time. Everyone I've met at MTL have been super friendly, welcoming, and honest. The company itself takes pride in it's work, and as a military veteran, that is important to me.

I'll update in a few more days to keep everyone in the loop!

Posted:  8 months, 3 weeks ago

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Signed on with McElroy Truck Lines -- Starting School March 4th

Thanks everyone for the well-wishes! I'm checked into Ennis at my hotel (very nice hotel!), and I'll be starting orientation with McElroy tomorrow! Nervous/excited about it! Expect an update tomorrow.

Posted:  8 months, 4 weeks ago

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Flat-bedding Is Easy!

Can't wait till I'm out there doing the same thing!

Posted:  8 months, 4 weeks ago

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Signed on with McElroy Truck Lines -- Starting School March 4th

Early update. It's been one HELL of a day.

Today was my appointment for my re-test in Kilgore. I had already passed the pre-trip inspection and was scheduled to do my skills test (backing) then the practical road course, so as usual, I went in at 0700 to Career Trucking School at 0700. We decided to do some pre-trip drills for the first part of the morning, go get a minor part for the truck (one of the hood latches was frayed), then head over to Kilgore to help me drive around until my test at 1400.

Everything went well, until we got to Kilgore. I was driving on the interstate, and my instructor was in the passenger seat. Four other students were in the back of the truck. As usual, my instructor was telling me what turns to take, what the speed limit is, what gear I should be in, when suddenly, he started slurring his words and seemed very confused. We continued off the interstate and onto a major highway, while myself and another student (with prior healthcare experience) casually continued to talk to our instructor while I was driving.

That's when we realized that he was exhibiting all signs of a stroke.

We immediately pulled over when it was safe to do so, and I dialed 911. This is slightly ironic, because less than a month ago, I was a 911 dispatcher in Kilgore. The other medically trained student took the instructor's heart rate and ran him through basic questions and skills, where he was still confused and was showing obvious signs of a possible stroke / cardiac distress.

Less than 2 minutes after the initial call, the fire department and EMS were on scene and 10 minutes after that, our instructor was taken by ambulance to the hospital. By then, we had contacted the school (which is 35 minutes away), and they had another instructor enroute.

While waiting on the side of the highway for the other instructor, I had a realization. Two weeks ago, I failed my test because I was nervous and made a mistake backing. No other reason than that. I've been kicking myself for not passing on the first time, wondering why I "blew it", and today I found out. Now I'm not much of a religious person, but I believe that it was my destiny for myself and the other medically-trained student to be in that truck today. If we weren't, who knows if anyone else would've recognized the signs and got him help as quickly as we did. We grew together as a team on our truck more than we ever have.

Thankfully, our instructor is doing much better (I talked to him earlier today), and seems like he will make a full recovery. He thanked us for "not listening" (he was telling us that he was fine), and getting him medical attention. It broke my heart a bit because I could hear genuine thankfulness in his voice, something I seldom heard while working as a 911 dispatcher.

Oh, and one more small thing. I PASSED MY TEST AND NOW HAVE MY CLASS A CDL! I start McElroy orientation in Ennis, TX on Monday.

Posted:  9 months ago

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Signed on with McElroy Truck Lines -- Starting School March 4th

Hey ya'll,

Just wanted to give a quick update about my training. In short -- a lot of the same. However, I got REALLY lucky and got a shot at my CDL test on Tuesday (with less than 12 hours notice!). I passed my pre-trip part, but failed on my dang parallel by about 18 inches.....just the tiniest bit of the DOT bumper wasn't behind the back cone, so she failed me. I get to try again on April 5th, unless they call the school sooner and inform them of a cancellation.

The sad thing is, after my test, we went to the backing range and I nailed the entire course without any pull-ups or looks. I just let my nerves get the best of me.

As far as school goes, we had another guy fail his test on his pre-trip (we've been telling him to really study it, but he didn't listen), and one pass on Friday. The school is getting very crowded with 8-10 people per instructor. On our truck, we've been doing pre-trip in the morning, driving around towns in the morning, then backing in the afternoon. In all reality, it's a lot of the same every day and I'm ready to be done!

One thing that is aggravating is that every CDL testing center in my area is backed up 60+ days on appointments. The school is only four weeks long, and I got my last paycheck from my old job on Friday, so financially, I need to get out there and start driving.

Posted:  9 months ago

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Signed on with McElroy Truck Lines -- Starting School March 4th

I woke up Monday morning at my consignee surrounded by ~8-9 McElroy trucks. Those that got out of their trucks early in the morning were very nice. 1 guy helped me with one of my tarps, stating that I wasn't allowed to be the only one having fun. After I was unloaded, another helped me with my 2nd tarp...as it was pouring down rain.

Good luck!

Glad to hear that drivers are helping other drivers! I'm really excited about starting

Posted:  9 months, 1 week ago

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Flatbed First-timer, from Teaching to Trucking

Looking forward to your updates! As a new flatbed driver starting out with a similar background, your posts are great!

Posted:  9 months, 1 week ago

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Side effects from cancer treatment: Radiation

I would suggest CFI because we don't team train. You and the trainer sleep at the same time. Then you can discuss with him how you would do it. On my truck we would have a way for you to use a P bottle.

McElroy also trains this way, but it's flatbed and therefore, you'd have to strap/tarp/secure. If you think you can do that, check them out!

Posted:  9 months, 1 week ago

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Spring Forward Drivers

Ha!

Serious question -- how does this affect logs? Could you theoretically lose/gain an hour of drive time and/or bunk time?

Posted:  9 months, 1 week ago

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Signed on with McElroy Truck Lines -- Starting School March 4th

Sure thing! I plan on doing a weekly post until I'm in my own truck. I'll try to get some pictures along the way!

Posted:  9 months, 1 week ago

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What did you do before becoming a truck driver?

Ten years in the US Coast Guard and three years as a 911 dispatcher. I've hated the past three years and now I'm happy and at peace behind the wheel!

Posted:  9 months, 1 week ago

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Signed on with McElroy Truck Lines -- Starting School March 4th

Hey ya'll,

Sorry for the long delay. I've been busy at school! I started school on Feb 27th and honestly? It's been an amazing, eye-opening experience. I'm going to CDL training school at Career Trucking School in Tyler, TX and McElroy Truck Lines paid for my tuition in exchange for a two year contract.

Keep in mind while reading this diary that I'm 32 years old, a 10 year military vet, and have never even seen the inside of a tractor. I went into this competently blind and to be honest, I believe that has helped me tremendously. I started school with my Class-A permit (Texas) that I self-studied for and got prior to enrolling in school. However, if you need assistance on earning your permit, CTS has classroom instructors for that from Tyler Junior College.

Since I had my permit, I was in a truck from day 1. The first day I was put on the shifting truck (named "Blackie" due to the color and 3.5 million miles on it..lol) with three other students and the instructor. Every morning, we all do a pre-trip inspection on the tractor and trailer, and after we get in the truck and get to driving.

If you're considering CTS, let me tell you that the instructors are fantastic. I started shifting on a Tuesday and was out of the shifting truck and assigned to a backing/road instructor the next Monday morning. Since then, I've driven over 500 miles on the road, and have had two full days on the backing range. I've also driven the on-road course where we all test and have received a "passing" score by my instructor. Today, I nailed all aspects of backing (straight, left/right offset, and parallel). In all honesty, I feel ready for my CDL test, but I'm not scheduled until April 9th. McElroy wants me to get 160 hours of instruction anyway, so that's no problem...I'll come every day and refine my driving and backing skills and perfect my pre-trip inspections.

The only complaints that I have of the school is that it's a little crowded and the Texas Workforce Commission and Texas Department of Criminal Justice send people over who frankly, shouldn't be in a vehicle. I'm all about giving people second chances, but when someone shows up 45 minutes late, smelling like alcohol and marijuana, it's hard to get into a truck with them and trust them behind the wheel. It also takes up a seat for people who are dedicated to starting their trucking career, and waiting on them takes up time for other students behind the wheel.

Posted:  9 months, 3 weeks ago

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One Death, 131 Vehicles Involved in WI Crash on I-41 SB in Winnebago County

Good Lord, that's terrifying. As a 911 dispatcher, I've worked a multiple-vehicle pileup, but I cant imagine anything on this scale. Wish all involved the best.

Posted:  9 months, 3 weeks ago

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Is four weeks really enough?

Thanks Big T. After I get out of CDL school, it's immediately followed with 6-7 weeks of training/orientation at McElroy.

Posted:  9 months, 3 weeks ago

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Is four weeks really enough?

TTS, the truck driving school will be spending four weeks preparing you to pass the CDL exam: Pre-trip, backing, and skills test (on-road driving with DOT examiner). At the end of the four weeks, after you've passed the CDL exam, received your diploma and new Class A license, you still won't know much about driving a big truck. You'll have learned the basics: shifting, backing, not taking out light poles while making a turn, but the vast majority of learning will come from McElroy as you ride with one of their trainers for several weeks and tens of thousands of miles, and then on-the-job training/learning as you evolve into a solo driver. So, don't look at it as you have to learn everything you'll need to know about truck driving in four weeks; those first four weeks are more or less an introduction. The real learning comes after. And never really stops. Don't worry, you'll do fine.

Thanks for the posts and encouragement, everyone! I do agree that I'll never stop learning! I'm excited about my new journey.

Posted:  9 months, 3 weeks ago

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Is four weeks really enough?

Hi all,

My last day of my job as a 911 dispatcher is Monday morning, and I start school at a private trucking school (Career Trucking School in Tyler, for what it's worth) Tuesday morning.

I have never even seen the inside of a tractor. I've driven a manual vehicle (all my vehicles have been manual), pulled a few trailers (boats and what not, never a 5th wheel). I have my permit and understand the gist of it, but I'm nervous that four weeks of training simply isn't going to be enough to learn.

So, ease my mind for me? I'm definitely not getting cold feet, my anxiety is just starting to rear its head because this will be the first time since I was 18 that I've been "unemployed" (I have signed on with McElroy, but it's contingent on me passing school).

Posted:  10 months ago

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Page Turners?

I have a Kindle so I read whatever is cheap or free.

If you're a prime member, they have a whole Prime Lending Library with a bunch of really good books. I "borrowed" 1984 and didn't pay a dime!

I'm really into any interesting books. I just finished reading Into Thin Air by John Krakaeuer. It's about the 1996 expedition to Everest where six people died after getting stuck on the mountain during a blizzard.

I've been reading a lot of Grisham (finished A Painted House and The Testament recently, now reading The Brethren). After this I plan on reading The Hunt for Red October because I've seen the movie but have never read the book.

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