My Days At Trucking School. Page 1

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Joe S. (a.k.a. The Blue 's Comment
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This is going to take up several posts since we are limited to 5000 "spaces" but I want to keep everyone updated on my progress here at Celadon. For those of you that want to follow.

Where to begin. Well, I guess at the beginning would be a good start.

First and foremost, I want to say I don't blame Celadon for any bad points I posts. Things go wrong in everything we do. Sometimes things just don't fall into place like we would want them to. And with Celadon, this schooling thing is new to them. They only started this last October. So they are having some learning and growing pains.

I have met some wonderful people here. Matter of fact, I have only met one really sour apple. But you look hard enough in a barrel of apples, you will eventually find a worm in an apple.

I spent over an hour Saturday in the driver's lounge talking to about 7 different truckers. And everyone of them had nothing but good things to say about Celadon. They only real complaints they had were the benefits. While they were good benefits, they felt they were very expensive. Such as health care, dental, vision, etc.

And the only other thing they complained about was the new equipment that Celadon was getting. They are using the International Pro Star.

One has had a truck broke down in VA for over 2 weeks. Another one had a truck in CO for 4 weeks and had not been able to get back to it to get it. And 2 had trucks in the shop here.

But back to my life in trucking school. Coming up to Indy for school was a bit of a mess up.

Here on TT a lot of newbie's, including myself, have asked the question "What questions should I ask my recruiter?". Which is a great question. And there is a great post here with a list of questions to ask. But from my experience on the first few days here, the most important question to ask your recruiter is

How long have you been a recruiter? or How long have you been doing this?.

Several months ago, as many on here know, I was having issues with my recruiter. I finally went over her head and talked to her boss. I should have stood my ground when I requested a new recruiter, but he said he would talk to her and please give it another try.

Well, to my regret, I did.

The next time I talked to her, she was friendly. Joking. And very talkative. Little did I know that in the end it would backfire.

To make a much longer story short, I will hit the highlights.

Stepping back in time for a bit. Tuesday Sept. 2nd. I have 4 days before I head off to school and I have heard nothing from my recruiter about transportation or anything. I have to head up early due to transportation issues. So I have to pay for my hotel room for at least 1 night.

About midday my phone rings. She wants to know what time I want to leave. The Greyhound lady wants to know what time, there are several times listed. I have already looked. There is only one time that leaves from where I have to be picked up. So I tell her. She will get back to me.

No more on Tuesday. Nothing Wednesday morning so I call and leave a message. Wednesday afternoon, I called again. She answered the phone. She had my ticket and times. She will email it to me.

Later that day I got the email. She had the wrong date. I called Greyhound and they told me that the person purchasing the ticket had to change it. So I called my recruiter back and told her. Later that day I got the correct ticket.

Earlier I had asked her what hotel the students stayed in so I could get a room there an not have to move later that weekend. She told the the wrong hotel. She told me a hotel almost 20 miles away from where I should have been. When I got here, I was told to call Celadon for a ride.

I got here Friday night. I called Celadon. They had no idea I was coming. I told them I needed a ride to my hotel. The lady that answered the phone said I didn't need to pay for a hotel room there were rooms open in the dorm. I was told, no rooms were opened. I had already paid for my room, so I was stuck.

Well after several mix ups, I finally got to the correct hotel the next day.

The first day was a bit rushed and confusing. New person in a new place. Learning the ropes. And finding out what all we needed to do. And the paperwork. Watch out for it. LOL

Right now, the students are housed all over town. The big dorms are not finished at Celadon, so they have us in hotels around town. Which in itself is confusing as heck.

Do not be late for class or miss class. You are only allowed to be tardy 3 times and miss class only twice. Then you will be asked to leave. Well that is what the rules say, but....

Continued on part IIsmile.gif

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Joe S. (a.k.a. The Blue 's Comment
member avatar

There are a few confusing things here so far but the big one is, if you are from out of state, you have to get a state license before you can take your CDL tests. Only a few states require that. Most states allow you to keep your own state license.

We are told this on day one. And they are not teaching it in class because they don't have time. Well, they did have time, but that is another story. It would have been nice to have this information before we got here. We might have been able to do some studying at home. But oh well.

It is now Sunday and there are some that still haven't passed the state test.

Celadon picks up the whole tab. Room. Eats. Everything. They even give you a gift card for $50.00 for the weekend. No, you can't cash it in for cash. The food at school is not the greatest, but it is free. You have three choices for lunch (not everything is free at lunch). And so far, dinner, you can get anything on the menu free. I don't eat breakfast. I eat at the hotel. Be prepared to wait in line when you get here. With 3 classes going on at the same time, there is a ton of people to feed at meal time. Plus drivers that stop in and employees.

As I said, they will learn in time. This is new to them. Several in our class are really there to learn and want to make something of themselves. Others there seem to be there just to have fun. And it is taking away from the class and they just keep moving forward. They don't crack down.

Like I said. The Celadon and Quality people are really great. Always greet you with a smile. And best of all. I have seen it first hand. When you are a driver, you are actually a name. Not just a number.

I am really looking forward to getting out there on the road. I start yard and road practice next week.

I will keep everyone posted as I can. It is Sunday morning and it is the first time I have been able to set down at the computer for any length of time. Even now, people are waiting around for it's use. So time for me to sign off.

More to follow.

Keep it safe out there. Joe S

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey Joe - I moved your "Part II" thread here as you can see. You can simply reply to your own threads if you need to make more than one comment.

Yeah, the biggest thing right now is just take it one moment at a time. A lot of students drive themselves insane because they always want to know the plan or they think things should be done differently. Over time they get more and more frustrated with the company and before you know it they're miserable. Things quickly unravel and they never wind up finishing the schooling. I've seen this happen a million times.

So try not to worry about Celadon. Just focus on yourself and doing what you have to do to get by each moment. Approach it like an adventure or like you would the military - one moment at a time.

And try like crazy to avoid those in class that aren't taking it seriously. Every class has a group like that. Most of them have no chance of being successful at anything so avoid em like the plague.

Hang in there! Don't let any of it get to you. Just roll with things and take it one moment at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Aces-N-eights (Dale)'s Comment
member avatar

Joe, I want more more more.... I had chose Celadon and look forward to any advice you may have.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Joe S. (a.k.a. The Blue 's Comment
member avatar

Well, end of week 2.

First and foremost I want to say. If you don't have any kind of driving experience, do not come to Quality Drivers (Celadon) for your schooling.

The school is new and packed with students. The "advertised" length of school is 3 weeks. 1 week in class and 2 weeks training in a truck. After that you are told you will go out on the road with a trainer for 4 to 6 weeks.

Well, the truth is, there are people that have been here for over 9 weeks. Just training. They only have 3 trucks and three trainers for the "newbies" for range training. And 3 trucks for road testing. You are lucky if you get one try a day to back and park. And maybe, just maybe you might average 2 days a week out on the road driving.

I was out 3 days last week. I am way ahead of the curve but only because I have driving experience behind me.

The trainers have already hinted at the drivers with no experience that they might be here "a little longer". They don't tell them for sure they will be, because they were told only three weeks.

Even if you have experience, it is almost sure, you won't make it out in three weeks. Next Friday will make my three weeks and I am pretty sure I won't be out by then. You have to drive so many hours and practice backing so many hours. Well with no more trucks and trainers that they have, and the amount of students they have, it takes a very long time to get in those hours.

Right now, I would guess the student to trainer ratio is about 15 to 1. WAY too high.

The testing is done by another company. Which seems to me a conflict of interest, but we don't have a choice. Schneider does all the testing for this area. They are the only ones that are the only authorized testing site in the area.

And when you go to test. When you get that far. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row as the saying goes. It seems like they look for ways to fail you. For example. When you get out of your truck, you have to back out. With three points of contact at all times. Last week a student was failed because they looked down before they stood up and turned around. The tester said they were getting ready to exit the truck forward.

You can't make a mistake and back up when you are going through testing levels. Such as your "4 point brake check". The air brake test. It has to be done in the exact order. If you miss a step and catch yourself, you can't start over. You just fail.

Right now, I am starting to study my pre-trip test. All they give us is a few study guides. And they aren't right. They have pictures and the pictures are of an older truck. Things are different in the newer trucks. And of course we don't have any instructors to help us along. It is a "do it on your own thing".

But that is almost everything here. Even the classroom training. He almost reads word for word right out of the book. I could have stayed at home and done that. When he comes to an important point he says, that might be on your test.

He hands out practice tests. And fact sheets. I studied them all. If it had not been for TT and me reading the book here on my own, I would not have passed my tests. The tests and fact sheets he handed out, didn't help me a bit.

Then after all of that. When you do get your CDLs, you go back to Celadon for more training. You are given another road test. Yeah, you just passed one for you CDLs, but Celadon makes you take another one. You also start training to do a 45 degree back. They call it a 90, but it is not a 90.

After you train for a bit and they think you are ready, you are given three tries to make a successful back. If you do a successful back, you are moved to the next level. Next you go for a week of orientation. At that point you are hired. However, you are still not making any money. You don't make any money till you actually go out on the road with a trainer.

When I first contacted them, I was told I would be three weeks in school, without pay, then 4 to 6 weeks with a trainer getting paid. Nothing else was even mentioned. I did ask because I wanted to know how much time my family needed to budget with only one paycheck. Well, what I was told and what it has turned out to be is not the same. wtf-2.gif

If you are really, really lucky, you will be out and on the road with a trainer in maybe by the end of 6 weeks. If you don't have any experience, who knows how long you will be here. Like I said, there are people here that have been here now starting on their 10th week. In school. Without pay.

I still think Celadon is a great company to work for. And I hope that once I do get there I won't be disappointed. But the schooling here. Well I will be a gentleman and won't post how I really feel about it. But think long and hard before committing to the Quality Driving school even if you have experience.

And if you don't have any experience driving big vehicles, driving a standard transmission, or anything like that, stay away from Quality Driving school. At least for now.

There needs to be tons of improvement here.

Well enough for now. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to send them to me. I will answer as soon as I can. If you do send me something, please be patent. It is hard to get much time on the computer around here.

Keep it safe out there. Joe S

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rickey G.'s Comment
member avatar

Are the ones over 10 weeks still getting the $50.00 gift card? I am thinking of going there in January.

Joe S. (a.k.a. The Blue 's Comment
member avatar

You still get the gift card. You get that as long as you are here going to school. But that don't pay the bills back home.

January might not be the best time to come. You are out on the practice range in all weather. Except for lightning storms. Indy can get hammered in the winter. Not to mention the cold.

Rickey G.'s Comment
member avatar

Former USMC so not worried about the weather but I do understand how the Navy would worry...LOL Semper Fi!!!

Light bills at home so that will not be a problem. Thanks for all your info and please continue to post.

Stay strong and focused. You are former Navy so I know you can make through driving school.

Joe S. (a.k.a. The Blue 's Comment
member avatar

I am not worried at all about the weather. I was stationed in Maine for three years. It is the whimpy Marines that took basic in the warm weather that I would worry about. rofl-3.gif

Just joking.

Not too worried about getting through school. More worried about "Momma" having only one paycheck at home to pay bills with.

But for now we are making do. We shall see how long we can make it stretch.

Keep it safe out there. Joe S.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hang in there Joe, don't let the negatives cloud your vision of the goal line. I'm still convinced Celadon is a good match for you. We all have issues and struggles at the first while breaking into this field, but what comes out of the struggle is a very rewarding career that most people can only dream about. Do what you've got to do to make it happen out there - I'm pulling hard for ya!

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