Profile For Wild-Bill

Wild-Bill's Info

  • Location:
    Minnetonka , MN

  • Driving Status:
    Company Driver In Training

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    2 months ago

Wild-Bill's Bio

After a 30 year career as a retail manager, I've decided its time for a change in career and lifestyle. I've been on the road for much of my career as a District manager covering up to 5 states, so I'm no stranger to being away from home. A combination of burnout, midlife crisis and just plain being tired of relying on others for my success have led me to this move. It's getting tougher and tougher to hire good self motivated people to staff the stores and the competition from the online world has changed everything about the business. I've lived through three companies going out of business and I'm not about to wait around for a fourth one. I've always loved to travel. Everytime I get behind the wheel of our motorhome I realize how much I love driving that thing down the open road. I cant wait to see what's around the next corner as I put together a strong work ethic, love of travel and passion for excellence into this new career.

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Posted:  20 hours, 28 minutes ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Oh, and I forgot to mention, thanks for the kind words Appalachained. I really appreciate the encouragement. I'm glad your're enjoying my ramblings.

Posted:  20 hours, 34 minutes ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Week 2 day 3 Having only two drivers in the truck today was outstanding. We got a ton accomplished. After hooking up the trailer and doing our PTI, We got to do the offset and 90 degree back maneuvers. We each got two drives through town, a few roundabouts and on a limited access highway. My truck partner developed a stalling problem from dropping the clutch too hard. That's pretty scary when you're out on the road. I think he wasn't getting into the working clutch enough. Hopefully that problem gets resolved tomorrow.

I was feeling pretty controlled through most of my drive time. Downshifting is feeling pretty smooth, but I need to work on how to use the gears to my advantage to maintain momentum better. Had a few curbs that were too close for comfort, but I didn't hit any. Got several fist bumbs alont the way which is about the highest praise you can get. I had one major snafu where a stop light that I knew was getting stale changed too quick for me and I had to stop in 6th. I forgot to move the selector down when I went into my start up gear, I ended up starting in 8th when I though I was in 3rd. See if you can guess what happened next, yep stalled it and panicked a bit. Like I said, pretty scary to stall in traffic. That's the first time I've stalled since last Wednesday. Thankfully I have until next Tuesday for my pre-test. Just need to work out a few kinks and get more practice with the backing and I think I'll be testing in the group next Thursday.

On my backing, I have a tough time giving the correction enough time to work. In my offset i was getting too close to one side, but every time I corrected, I ended up in pretty much the same spot. My instructor finally said hey you got yourself into it, you get yourself out of it. Which is what I told my kids all the time. I mad it through but I was withing inches of the cones and blocks. the 90 degree was better, but I'll need to write down the actual moves to be able to understand them.

Now that I know enough to be dangerous, my manager hat is slipping back on again. In trying to be encouraging to my truckmate. I tend to try to correct a miss before or at the same time as my instructor. Now we have this secret code where he shoots me the stink eye and I throw up my hands and say, yep, sorry I'm doing it again, I'll shut up now. It's hard to break habits that have ingrained over the last thirty years. During one of those exchange he put his arm around my shoulder and told me that I'm doing great and that I have the potential to go far and become a trainer and/or instructor which was a real confidence boost.

At lunch, I talked to one of the people that were moved to another truck and it sounds like things aren't going any better for him. Shifting is still a struggle (he used more colorful words). With only 3 driving days left before the pre-test, I don't know how he's going to possibly catch up.

The weather is still ridiculously cold. High near zero with a wind chill of -25. Standing around during the backing was just brutal. The good news is that it's going to warm up to 30 tomorrow. the bad news is that we're getting another 2-4 inches of snow. Hopefully they let us out on the road. I need to firm up my skills before next week.

Posted:  21 hours, 53 minutes ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Appalachained, It sounds like you are in a similar situation to what I was. I left a high paying job and 30 year career to take this leap of faith. I simply got to the point where I knew remaining in that career for the next 10-25 years was going to eat me alive. I was terrified of failing in the training and being left with few options to support my family. In the end, I became convinced that if I worked hard I would get through it. The opposite fear started to weigh on my, What If I never make the leap? I'll never know what I may have missed out on.

Here's a link to some of the questions I had going into it. Making the leap

I can tell you from my perspective, the folks that are struggling for the most part are either not listening closely to direction or not working hard or both. I can also tell you that the instructors WANT everyone to succeed. As I've said. They're giving every opportunity to get people the help they need. one on one training, switching instructors etc. Making sure they get access to new teaching styles. At the end of the day, they just cant put an unsafe person on the road. It's a short program and you'll need to work hard. If you apply yourself you'll get it done. out of 15 people there are only a couple struggling and a couple others that just decided it's not for them. The odds are in your favor.

Posted:  1 day, 20 hours ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Week 2 day 2. I'm having a blast so far this week. I'm still being pushed outside of my comfort zone which is a good place to be for learning. I was looking at the day one folks on their first day on the driving range and it hit me how much we've learned and accomplished in one short week. I know there's still a ton to learn and the learning will continue for many months (years) to come. It feels good though to take a minute to look back.

We lost 3 people so far this week. One came in Monday morning to resign. One had a family issue and needed to go home. My roommate left after lunch yesterday with a personal issue. he packed up all his stuff and wont answer calls or texts, so, I guess hes not coming back. These changes made for some truck movement today. In the morning, our most under-performing truck mate went to another trainers truck. After lunch our other truck mate that was behind the curve went to another truck as well. That leaves two of us. Our instructor said we were being held back with him spending time trying to get the others up to speed. He wanted to get us some intensive time to catch us up to where we should be in the curriculum. I'm happy to get more drive time. It's hard to believe, but we do a pre-test next Tuesday and if we do good enough on that we will test next Thursday or Friday. it's a high bar for the pre-test. if we get more than 12 points, they wont let us test at the end of the week. They want the pre test to be harder than the actual test.

It's unseasonably cold here. It barely got into the single digits for highs and it's going to be even colder tomorrow. They wouldn't let us on the road until after lunch to give the roads some time to clear up from yesterday's snow. It's so cold though that the salt isn't working. After we hooked up the trailer, we spent the morning backing (still straight line). by the time we got on the roads they were still very slick. it was near dusk by the time I got out there. We did a few roundabouts and it was getting pretty dark by the time I got back to the terminal. It was a whole new level of "pucker factor" driving on darkening icy roads at speed but we'll need to learnt to drive in all conditions. I'd rather learn it now under controlled conditions than have to figure it out on my own when I'm solo.

My shifting this morning was all screwy, I don't know what was wrong with me but my rhythm was way off. I was forgetting gear locations. I got it back together quickly. I didn't sleep well last night so hopefully I can do better tomorrow morning.

On a personal level, My mother in law fell and went into the hospital over the weekend. It's been hectic on my wife getting back and forth to the hospital and my teenage sons are having to fend for themselves to make dinner. I felt like this was muddying up my mind today. I hope it doesn't get worse over the next couple weeks. I'd hate to lose this opportunity. I guess the warning here is to be prepared for emergencies while you're away.

Posted:  2 days, 21 hours ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Rob D. I forgot to answer your question. The straightaways aren't huge. You have to push pretty hard to get up to speed, but, it forces you to get up to traffic speed quickly and safely. I'm not great with judging distances but I'd guess it's somewhere around 3/4 of a mile by maybe 1/4 mile. I'll ask someone in the morning. Now I'm curious.

Posted:  2 days, 21 hours ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Week 2 day 1 We started out the day with pre-trip practice as usual. I have the exterior of the tractor & trailer down pretty well. I need to polish up my in cab, Brake checks and light checks a bit I'm like 80% but I still have time to get it down with no errors. My instructor said there is a standing challenge for a steak dinner for any student that passes the CDL test with no errors. Challenge accepted! I want to double down my effort to be the first.

It was a little foggy in the morning and we had a winter weather advisory for the afternoon. Out instructor wanted to get me ant the other student that were ready for the road to get out and back before the snow started. I knew I wasn't 100% ready but I knew this was about getting outside of my comfort zone again, so I was all in. I went first. I asked if I could take one lap around the range to work out the nerves. True to form, my instructor said no and pushed me out of the nest so to speak. He too one lap around the block narrating what he was doing then pulled back in and it was my turn. I was nervous as hell, but took a deep breath and got on with it. The job is to drive and this was the next step. It's funny how much the reality of traffic and the realities of the danger of a wrong move hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm glad he pushed us so hard on the track, because it helped me to slow down my thinking and focus. I got out of the corners briskly, got up to speed and back down smoothly. Overall, I had a good run. We went with all left turns, then all right turns. I over-revved before shifting a few times. I also messed up one downshift and had to go through gear recovery to get to the right gear. But overall, I felt on top of the world when I was done. I actually drove a truck on public roads and kept it under control. That's a big deal for someone who had never been inside of a truck less than one week ago.

After our trips around the block, our instructor worked with the other two driver for the rest of the day on basics. They're just not road ready yet. The one struggling the most got another one on one session with a different instructor. One of the people on another truck dropped out this morning, So, my guess is that they will move him to that truck. On a very selfish level, that will give me more time behind the wheel with only three in the truck which is a big win. Apparently the two that are struggling got the "you need to show improvement or you might need more time than this program allows for" talk this morning. That rattled them up a bit. Hopefully it helps them to step it up a bit tomorrow.

We had simulator time scheduled for after our second break which was a good thing because it started snowing pretty hard after lunch. In the sim, We worked on straight line backing and lane changing in reverse. I'm not sure what the "lane change" maneuver is actually called as he didn't name it. I was the only one to be able to successfully do both. He then had me do a backing maneuver simulating a curvy road closed. It really helped me figure out the angles and getting back under the kingpin. It's still tough to think backwards like that. I'm going to need to buy a toy truck to practice which way to turn as I'm having a tough time working it out in my head.

Overall a great day that kept me just the other side of my comfort zone all day. We got 4 inches of snow today with more coming tonight. The high is going to struggle to get above zero for the rest of the week. If they cant get the roads clear tonight we may not be able to get on the road tomorrow. Hopefully we can at least get some backing maneuvers done on the range. if not, I'm sure they'll find something for us to do. Might be a chance to perfect the pre-trip.

I haven't written much about the hotel life. I brought along a small foreman grill, some sourdough bread, lunchmeat, brats, burgers etc. I've been cooking up something every night to save money. Most of the folks are going out to eat every night frankly, I'm not sure how they afford it. I've had some pretty good paying jobs and I certainly don;t have the funds to eat out every night for the next couple months through phase 1 & phase 2 training. I did go out and re-supply over the weekend. I also picked up some salad fixings as all of the sandwiches and burgers are getting old.

That's it for now. I need to get through more chapters in the J.J. Keller textbook. It's due Friday and I'm a bit behind on that one.

Posted:  2 days, 22 hours ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

As usual, Old School is spot on. My research boiled down to all of the major carriers being roughly the same. Every company is going to have drivers getting good miles and drivers struggling, the difference is the driver. It's been made clear to us that if we're not getting the miles we need we need to work with our fleet manager to understand the reasons. Be careful though, the answer may not be what you want to hear. My career of 1 week has shown that you will always get a brutally honest answer to your questions. I'm not sure about other companies, but our training department is always open for drivers to ask questions on route planning, productivity, close quarters maneuvering etc. You just need to ask. But again, be prepared to not like the answer or coaching. It will make you better but it wont be an easy street.

Our trainers also talked about the fact that Swifts safety rating ranks right up there with Roehl. They simply have so many trucks on the fleet that there are more total accidents, not a larger percentage of accidents.

Training on manuals was a bonus for me but not a deciding factor. It's almost certain that I will be issued an automatic when I get my own truck. It was more about a well respected training program, variable home time options, opportunities to move to different types of freight and opportunities to move into local or dedicated routes in my area at some point.

Posted:  3 days, 23 hours ago

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My Roehl training adventure

Saturday (week 1) & Sunday (start of week 2) After being frustrated all day Friday, I was able to regroup and hit the reset button. I've been a retail manager and District manager for the last 30 years. It's hard for me to not feel some responsibility for people that are struggling. My whole career has been about measuring my success as a direct result of my teams success. In the end I realized this time, it's all about my individual training and career. I can encourage and help the others on my truck, but, I'm not responsible for them. I'm not going to let them hold me back from challenging myself to get better and more consistent every day. I'm going to measure myself against me not anyone else.

On Saturday we had a 1/2 day class session on route planning and understanding and using the atlas in combination with google maps & trucker path. It was really informative. Some of the things I've read here about clock management started to all come together for me. I've been using atlases all my life, but I had never noticed many of the tools that were pointed out in the class. Great info. The Saturday classes go on a 4 week rotation. so, if anyone misses one for whatever reason, they need to come back to catch up on whatever they missed. I can't imagine why anyone would miss a day short of a hospital trip...

After the class, Our trainer met us at the truck as promised for some extra driving practice. I was the last to arrive, but we got there before the trainer. The other three were sitting in the truck to stay warm. I poked my head in and said, Hey, I'm going to practice my pre-trip if anyone wants to join in. I think they were all content to just hang out until the trainer arrived. I just cant understand the mindset why anyone comes to a class like this and doesn't take advantage of every opportunity available to learn or perfect their skills especially when they know they're behind and their job is on the line. Anyway, We drove on the range from 12-5 with a trailer practicing turns and going up and down the gears at road speed. To get the jitters out for the other three he had them take the course at high speed. He was pushing them HARD outside of their comfort zone to try to get their nerves under control. Some of them had barely gotten the truck up to 6th gear. Now they were taking turns in 5th and bumping up to 8th. Overall the exercise seemed to help. They all improved. I was the last to go. I didn't get to do the high speed thing, because my issue is more about using the tools of the speedometer and tachometer for gear recovery and controlled downshifting as we slow to a stop. I'm also struggling with finding the right point to start my turns. He had me take a turn in 1st and stop at a few key points so i could GOAL and see where I was compared to where I needed to be. That helped a ton. He also worked with me on downshifting to the stop. After those tips, I felt really confident (at least on the driving range). I had 4 nearly perfect laps where I was hitting the proper RPM's getting up to speed and getting back down to 4th for the stop with smooth controlled shifting. Corners were tight and controlled. It felt GREAT.

We then uncoupled the trailer and took the tractor to the wash bay. He must have some trust in me as he had me pull into a pretty tight parking spot to drop the trailer. He also let me drive the tractor in and out of the wash bay (which seemed like an impossibly tight fit when I looked at it). I know it's no big deal for an experienced driver, but those tight spots had a big pucker factor for me.

On Sunday I was able to sleep in a bit. It seems the continental breakfast isn't set up on the weekends, so be prepared for that. Not a big deal for me as I haven't been going down for breakfasts most mornings anyway. I went back to the terminal to do some laundry in the drivers lounge area. I'm really glad I went there and didn't just stay at the hotel. Everyone there was super nice and helpful. I got to meet several drivers. All of them said they're very happy and getting all of the miles they need. I even talked to a driver in his second week solo and he had done 2600 miles in his second week. that seems pretty solid to me. I talked to two others that were 6-8 months solo one was getting 2500 - 2800 consistently, but he was doing more home time and the other was getting right around 3,00 on average. Income potential was a huge concern of mine going into this, so, it's good to know people are getting the miles they need and there's not a huge ramp up period. I went downstairs to the maintenance bays to check things out and again, everyone was super happy and helpful. After some light conversation, I was going to go walk the lot a bit. The guy I was talking to noticed I didn't have cleats so right away he got someone to grab me a pair so I was safe. Walking the yard I had some conversation with a couple other folks that were the same way. It was all feeling like some sort of cult until I got back to the lounge and met my very first terminal rat. He said something negative about the company and the worthless steering wheel holders and everyone basically shut him down until he crawled back to the hole he came from. It was kinda cool to see the culture.

Overall, it was a great weekend even if I didn't get to go home to the family as I had planned. The drive time and meeting people around the terminal was worth it though.

Posted:  4 days, 1 hour ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Thanks all for the encouragement. I really need the pick me up after Friday. It's good to know folks are reading my ramblings. I'll recap the weekend in a bit.

thank-you-2.gif

Posted:  5 days, 21 hours ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Thanks Rob & Old School for the encouragement. I read about every diary I could while I was thinking about this career. I know they helped me know what to expect. That's why I'm taking the time to write this. I hope it will help someone at some point. I'll tell you what, It's also helpful for me to just debrief the day. I'm Sure I'll look back on it on one of those bad days to see how far I've come.

Posted:  5 days, 21 hours ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Day 5. It's hard to believe the first week is almost over. Today was a frustrating day. I need to clear my head this weekend and start Monday with a fresh perspective.

We started as usual with pre-trip. My partner and I almost have it down 100%. We practiced last night and it helped a ton. By Monday, I should be able to do it in my sleep. We got on the driving range and everyone took turns dialing in our shifting. I took the first turn because everyone seems reluctant to go next. That started my frustration for the day. I get a bit snippy and said *&%$ people, we're here to drive. You guys need the practice the most, but if none of you want your turn, I'll be happy to take it. Probably didn't make any friends there, but damn, if you don't want to drive or step out of your comfort zone, why the hell did you come to school.

For the most part my deep clutching is getting better. Double clutching is more natural (I think I only forgot once). I'm more confident in quickly downshifting to slow the tractor in a shorter distance. My downshifting still needs work. I forget to rev too often. All in all though I got solid laps in with little or no correction. But I want to move on to the next steps. I've been pushing hard all week and this was the first morning that I didn't feel I was being pushed out of my comfort zone and frankly I didn't like it. I was watching all of the other groups working with trailers, doing backing maneuvers and getting out on the road in the industrial park. I'm very frustrated (to put it mildly) that I'm in the group that is struggling to make progress. I'm extremely nervous about getting out on the road, but, I know we'll never get to do the job if we can't get off the damn driving range.

We have two on our truck that are still struggling with basic shifting and space management. They're letting their nerves get in the way of their thinking. I'm trying to be supportive, but, it just plain ticks me off that we're being held back by our weakest link. On the other hand, It's encouraging to see how much time and attention they give to people that are struggling. They keep trying different techniques and methods to get them up to speed. It seems like they give every opportunity to be successful. I was very concerned about all of the stories of people getting sent home. Now that I see how much attention people get when they're struggling, It makes me feel much better about the program. No question there's pressure and it's a short program. Some people will need more time than a short company training program allows and there's nothing wrong with that. I know there are many successful drivers on this forum that struggled in school. You'll need some thick skin as is talked about many times here. But the caring part of the tough love is evident at least to me.

Just before lunch, we hooked up to a trailer for the first time. I was the first one out with the trailer. Unfortunately, I let it get into my head somehow and made some stupid mistakes; Missing shift points, Cutting corners too close etc. I had a tough time judging distance in the mirrors. I just couldn't see where my tires were in relation to the corner and that would throw me off until I got to the straightaways. After a few laps I felt a bit better.

We did a cool exercise called "heartbreak Hill" where we had to find the sweet spot in the clutch to hold the truck on an incline using only the clutch. After a few tries, I was able to do it in 4th gear. For my money that was the best lesson of the day. It really helped my deep clutching habit.

Before we broke up our instructor announced that he was willing to come back Saturday at noon to give us some extra time behind the wheel. Saturday is usually a half day and I really appreciate him taking time out of his day off to help us out. I was planning on going home for the weekend, But, I cant miss out on the opportunity for extra practice time. My family will just have to practice being understanding of the new lifestyle.

Ok that's it for now. It feels good to vent that. I'm going to go have some dinner and clear my head to start fresh for tomorrow.

Posted:  5 days, 22 hours ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Thanks for the words of encouragement Cowboy. I was beginning to wonder if anyone is reading this. Either way its helpful to me to spend a few minutes to think about and write down the days events.

Posted:  6 days, 19 hours ago

View Topic:

Preparing for a Trucking Career with Roehl

Sorry for the lack of clarity. Yes, you are correct. They are NOT required. The only thing you NEED is your CLP. Like I said, all the rest are helpful at some point but not needed to do the GYCDL program.

I got a ton of help from this site, so, It's good to share the little bit of experience i have so far.

Posted:  6 days, 19 hours ago

View Topic:

Starting on my path to a career in trucking!

I'm glad you posted an update. I was wondering how it's going for you. I'm two weeks behind you in Marshfield. Believe me I feel your pain about taking the time for anything but studying & resting for the next day. Best of luck with the pre-test. I was talking to some other students and they said week 2 is much more intense than week one. Was that the case for you?

Posted:  6 days, 22 hours ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Day 4 down. We were in or on the trucks almost all day. As I expected yesterday, the wheat is starting to be separated from the chaff so to speak.

Pre-trip in the morning. Then on the driving range until lunch. Two of the four truck teams were pulling a trailer. My group is a bit behind as two people are still struggling with shifting. I Know they wont let us fall too far behind, but I'm pretty jealous that some of the groups are going to ride the roads in the industrial park and we're almost certainly going to be stuck on the driving range tomorrow. I fell like I'm getting more and more comfortable every time I get behind the wheel. Double clutching is getting more consistent. I'm still deep clutching, but I found that if i move the seat back a couple notches, I was more consistent about using the working clutch rather than burying the thing. I'll have to remember to set the seat up properly tomorrow. The downshifting is still a struggle, but that is getting better.

After Lunch, the trainers had a meeting, so we got some good pre-trip practice in. After studying the pre-trip last night in the hot tub (helps me think better). I was able to go through it without using the cheat sheet. I got about 75%. So, I know I'll have that part nailed down by early next week.

We had a different trainer helping us after the meeting as our trainer was running the simulator. We each got to do a few laps with him. It was my first time backing the tractor out from the parking spot and that felt pretty smooth. I know it'll be a completely different animal once a trailer is attached. Anyway. we learned a few different tricks from him that I think will help us. Our truck mate that is struggling the most got the "this program is fast and some people may do better with a slower paced training" talk. It was made clear that you can't go backwards and if anyone has three days of little to no progress they will get some one on one time with a different trainer to try to work out whatever they're struggling with. It's good to know that they will give you the opportunity for one on one time before any next steps.

After the break, we got a chance to get on the simulator to try some turns with a trailer. I don't really like the simulator. It just doesn't have the feel at all. Two of the folks that are struggling in class (one on our truck and one on another) got the promised one on one time. I hope that help for them. It seems like the company does everything in their power to help people be successful.

Well, that's about it for today. I'm heading off to stucdy with my pre-trip partner. then some hot tub time before bed.

Posted:  6 days, 22 hours ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Cowboy, I haven't heard if you get a choice on transmissions. I think you get what's available. I'm pretty sure like every other company, they're moving to all automatics. I like that we're training on manuals even though it add a huge amount of difficulty to the process. It seems like it will make me a better driver either way. Keep us posted on your progress.

Posted:  1 week ago

View Topic:

Preparing for a Trucking Career with Roehl

Congratulations on your decision. Having a plan for the finances is absolutely the right start. To answer some of your questions, My recruiter said none of those things (passport, Hazmat, Doubles/triples TWIC etc) were required before starting with Roehl. However, all of those things would help with load availability. Since getting more loads is the name of the game I decided to get the endorsements and TWIC before starting. Not required though. I think I'm the only one in my class with all of them. The only thing they need is the CLP. You don't want to do that too far out though. They expire in 6 months. I studied with the High Road training program and the CLP written exams were a breeze.

Roehl will pay for and schedule your DOT physical & Drug tests. You will need the DOT physical prior to testing for the CLP. You will need to take the General Knowledge, Air Brake & Combination vehicle tests.

As for timing, The start a new class every week. If there's class availability, you could theoretically apply on a Monday and report to training the following Monday especially if you're open to traveling to any of the training terminals. You would need to be ready to do your Physical and take the CLP test quickly though. My guess is 2-3 weeks is pretty typical.

Posted:  1 week ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Good luck Cowboy. If you have any questions ask away. I know this was the right choice for me. The company has been great so far. The program is fast paced as I mentioned, But, the training is excellent. I just need to double down and get a little better every day.

Posted:  1 week ago

View Topic:

My Roehl training adventure

Day 3 down and I got to drive a truck for the first time ever today. It felt great to be behind the wheel!

We started the day with a pre-trip. There is a ton to memorize here. We'll be practicing it in the morning and again after lunch. I will need to practice repeating the proper phrasing in the hotel at night. Between that and the J.J. Keller book. there is plenty to do. This is an all day, all night commitment. Definitely no time to coast. I can see already that the pace is going to separate the men and ladies from the boys and girls.

After the pre-trip, we got to get in and drive. My truck has 4 students. Everyone was nervous and our trainer did a great job of getting us used to the working clutch range and idle shifting through the lower gears. He kept adding in shifting, lane management, space management etc as much as each persons skill and comfort level would allow. One of the 4 hadn't studied the shift pattern the night before and had a very rough time. The instructors don't have a lot of patience for folks that chose not to study. Everyone else progressed pretty well. I feel like I did pretty well other that I have some bad habits to break; Keeping two hands on the wheel, and the double clutching cadence. I keep wanting to go right from gear to gear and forget to release the clutch in neutral. Need to practice double clutching.

After lunch was another pre-trip then more driving. We picked up right where we left off and continued to add more nuance to the shifting and following traffic signs. On my turn in the morning and afternoon, our instructor seemed relaxed and ate an orange. I take that as a good sign that he was comfortable enough to eat while I had his life in my hands. I can see now why everyone struggles with the downshift. I kept forgetting to release the clutch in neutral, so my rev bump was not getting the rpms I needed. Just need to practice that. I had a couple laps that felt great, then on the next lap, my brain would disconnect from my feet and everything was bass akwards. Hopefully tomorrow I can have more good laps and less bad ones. I keep telling myself it's only the first day of driving, but I want to be better now not later.

Apparently, We're hooking to trailers tomorrow and they're hoping to take us on the road Friday if we're ready. Tomorrow is going to be a BIG day. Time to get the books out and study.

Posted:  1 week, 1 day ago

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Survey: Your biggest worries and most important questions

I had many many questions. Some have been mentioned already. Here's are a few:

Will my family be able to deal with the unpredictable schedule and being away?

Can I still schedule vacation time at some point?

Can I make enough money to make a career switch viable? Will I have enough saved to get through the low income training period?

What's with all of these stories about people getting sent home from training? What happens if that's me?

Can I pass the physical capacity tests?

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