CRST Company-Sponsored Training - The Adventure Begins

Topic 15073 | Page 1

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Kolibri's Comment
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I only slept a couple hours last night for being excited and anxious about today. Arrived at the bus depot a bit early, waited for it to open at 0800, checked in with my confirmation number from my recruiter and got my ticket without a hitch. The bus was about 45 minutes late, though once underway given a great ride with an excellent driver. Made me want to consider a career with Greyhound should I get tired of trucks. The itinerary has me going from North Carolina to Iowa by way of Atlanta. I imagine I will be doing similar things once I get behind the wheel, so they are getting me used to it early.  Travel by bus sucks. Seats are cramped, an older bus rides rough, and it’s not like air travel where you check your bags and never see them again unless they happen to arrive at the same destination as you. You get to hump your own gear at every bus change. Granted, I did it like this when I was in the service, but I’m just not twenty anymore!  One nice thing about bus travel, though, is the free wi-fi provided on the bus so I can post this and try for a cat nap between Chattanooga and Memphis. I’ve traveled 13 hours so far and another 18 still ahead of me. Till next time, safe miles everyone!

Cwc's Comment
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Nobody likes the bus ride but think of it as a rite of passage.

Not unlike hazing for say Shellbacks depending on which branch of the service you were in. Be carefull while at some of the Dirty dog terminals as they tend to be located in the less desirable parts of town.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Kolibri's Comment
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Ex-Navy, so I guess I am no longer a trucking school wog :)

Kolibri's Comment
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The Adventure Begins - continued OK, so I’ve discovered that it is next to impossible for me to get decent sleep folded up in a cramped bus seat limited in how far it reclines. I think I’ll do OK in a moving sleeper cab where I can lie properly. Today concludes my travel, with a 2-hour layover in Burlington immediately prior the final leg. I have met two of the dozen or so other prospective students and best of all had the blessing to meet Kenny, a trainer for CRST returning to the company after a hiatus as an independent O/O. He has put to rest all of my fears, told me how things work once I get on the road with a trainer and as a team co-driver. He got his CDL by attending a private school some years ago, but he was a wealth of information about the facilities, the workings of the company and the OTR part of training. I took the opportunity to pick his brains, asking questions and listening attentively. My brain is pretty much mush just now for lack of sleep, but the biggest golden nugget was when he said, “If they weren’t a good company to work for, I wouldn’t be going back to work with them again now, would I?”. From all I have gathered from every source including him, I agree that for him and me both, “The only downside is the teams” (we both prefer solo work). So, I will run teams for my first year or so, and then consider other options. I am very confident that I will do well, and that school will fly by in a blur. I am committed to my intent to be the kind of trainee that my instructor will ask to partner with instead of moving on to another trainee. Perhaps I might someday become a trainer myself, in order to similarly choose a future partner. Last time I spoke to my recruiter, he said there would be a meeting at 1630 when we arrive in Cedar Rapids. He mentioned the word ‘dinner’, and Kenny says any time they say food, it will be on the company’s dime. So Woo-HOO - possibly a free meal :) Works for me! :)

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Kolibri's Comment
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Upon Arrival,

we convened in a classroom to receive our room assignments. Caterers were set up for (what I am told is every Sunday) evening meal of fried chicken, potato salad and a dinner roll. Not bad at all for the cost to me - $0.00. :D Returned to the classroom after eating for some initial paperwork (re-iteration of electronically-signed application forms, acknowledgement of rules, permissions to investigate background information and release authorization for this info). Anything considered a weapon was surrendered for shipment home or recovery on departure from this location. After that, we were released for the day. Tomorrow starts at 0645. I have met my two roomies, who seem quiet, laid-back and easy-going, and like myself, here for exactly the purpose of completing the program. I have been warned to avoid people who treat this time as a “party”, who do not take this thing seriously, and who have poor attitudes, of which these guys are neither. We will get along just fine. :)

*I have heard stories of bedbugs here, so I examined my bed, mattress and box springs. The mattress and springs had bedbug containment covers, but I found no sign of them anywhere I looked.

Kolibri's Comment
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Day One Woke up bright and early this morning, and had a light breakfast of cold cereal and 2 cups of coffee. They also had toast/butter/jelly and apples and oranges. I understand it’s the same thing every day. I can’t complain since it’s free, but will probably get old rather quickly. It will certainly do, and I can surely live with it for the three or four weeks I will be here. We convened in the classroom in another building at 0645 where we were given a packet of materials to study and medical forms to enter our names and birthdates, and a medical history questionnaire. Next we were separated into groups to get our physical examinations and give urine samples for testing. First were the height, weight, vital signs, and vision tests. Then urine sample. Lastly were a cursory physical exam, forced whisper hearing test, and review of the medical history questionnaire. I received my certificate of health and was released for lunch. All this took the entire morning, and by the time I was released, that cereal was LONELY! Lunch was a hamburger and a bag of Fritos or Cheetos. The afternoon was spent first with reading practice questions to the class, Miss Judy lectured the General Knowledge section and we finished up with more practice questions. Class was dismissed at 1630. Some very small number of the questions disagreed with ones from the ‘High Road’, but while it would be nifty to ace the permit exam, I am completely confident that I shall handily pass.

Kolibri's Comment
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Day Two

Convened at 0800, and spent the morning session with lectures on the Combination Vehicles and Air Brakes test modules. Lunch was a hot dog, potato salad, chips/fritos/cheetos. Afternoon session was spent with more General Knowledge lecture and we signed up for exam slots. Mine is the 0900 session. Class convenes at 0730. Tomorrow’s test is the CDL “A” Learner’s Permit Written Exam, and consists of three parts: General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination Vehicles. This works much like the ones for automobiles - permitting me to operate a vehicle but only with a fully licensed trainer in the front passenger seat. I am ready.

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.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

Kolibri's Comment
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Day Three - Iowa State CDL “A” Learner’s Permit Test

Hat trick - passed all three on the first attempt. I signed up for the first testing session, so I’m now free until 0900 tomorrow - WOOT!

Nachos for lunch today consisted of round corn chips with beef, liquid yellow cheese, and choice of other toppings - jalapeños, lettuce, pico de gallo, salsa, and sour cream.

Impressions so far:

Accommodations - very adequate, 3 to a room, much like a college dormitory. It’s not the Waldorf Astoria, but it’s not tents and campfires, either.

Food - As described in the website, 2 meals provided each Monday through Friday, adequate and varied enough to not be too monotonous. Food and coffee are provided, but you buy your own beverages otherwise. Industrial refrigerators and freezers are provided in the common area. Refrigerators and freezers are cleaned out weekly. No eating in the rooms, but storage of non-perishables in the rooms is permitted. My solution is simply to not buy perishable food. There are restaurants nearby, and as well, we may order delivery to be eaten in the common area.

Academics - also very adequate - I could have passed the test even if I had not studied the ‘High Road’ program. As well, having studied the ‘High Road’, I could have passed the test even without the classroom time.

Overall - Everything is exactly as described on the website or as my recruiter said it would be.

The weather here has been beautiful since I arrived. Roomie in his third week said it has rained since he arrived, but only at night. Fingers crossed for three more weeks of the same. I think I picked the perfect time of year to attend. I would hate to have to be here for a wintertime class, or during spring rains!

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Kolibri's Comment
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The BANANAS!!! I almost forgot the BANANAS!!! dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif

Cwc's Comment
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So... not so bad huh? Soon you have the choice of NADA or Waterloo... If you come up in line last you get to go to Waterloo..

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