Roehl 2018 Training: My Blog, By Professor X

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Professor X's Comment
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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

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
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Here is a thought Professor;

...struggling with shifting a while creates the mindset where the explanation will have far greater meaning with some experience doing it badly than never having experienced it at all. It humbled everyone. If they brought the cart before the horse (so to speak), the information would not have near the impact.

The absolute best teacher is repetition, repetition, repetition... The other fundamental aspect of trucking you are quickly realizing is that it’s all performance based, highly competitive and Roehl is weeding out those students who for whatever reason, cannot keep up and are being outperformed by folks such as yourself. It’s by design.

It may not seem fair, but in the end it’s right. You’ll begin to realize this when out of the total students you began with, only 30% graduate.

Good luck.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Professor X's Comment
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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!

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Big Red (Mike)'s Comment
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Thanks PX. You bring up a great point about the value of understanding the background or "why" behind a certain task. I clearly remember learning to drive a stick-shift with my mom who told me to "slowly let up on the clutch until it starts to engage then start applying the gas pedal." I would sit there for what seemed like 5 minutes SLOWLY letting up on the clutch and then applying gas with the result being an uncomfortable lurch, a stall or a roller-coaster of engine rpm changes. I finally got it, though. In the following years when I learned more about auto mechanics, I wished my mom would have been able to explain how the clutch worked so I could have saved some time and wear and tear. Fast forward to me teaching my kids to drive: I explained each of the systems first before giving them hands-on and (as G-town wisely suggested) it appeared to have gone in one ear and out the other. However, after a few "false starts" of hands-on, I re-explained the system and the lightbulb came on.

There's tons of research on different learning styles and how some people respond to visual, others auditory, and others hands-on. I think a good instructor has a repertoire of different approaches that he can pull out as he reacts to each student's learning style. The problem is often that there isn't time or capacity (think high-school) to teach each person individually according to their learning style. That's the balance between efficiency and effectiveness that every learning institution has to struggle with. Sadly, some people will get weeded-out even though they may have become excellent truckers/doctors/engineers/pilots, etc. if there was a little more time or resources to try a different approach to teaching. But...that's business and you have to draw a line somewhere.

Personally, I like repetition, repetition but with a background of "why" because the real world rarely looks like school so I need to be able to adjust my actions to each situation. Otherwise we'd all be watching self-driving trucks do the job, right?

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Professor X's Comment
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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

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Professor X's Comment
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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

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.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Professor X's Comment
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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.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Combination Vehicle:

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

Professor X's Comment
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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

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Professor X's Comment
member avatar

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar
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.

Your job right now is to be a professional student.

When I attended Swift’s Richmond Academy, there was a student who regularly intervened to the point some thought he was an instructor’s assistant. Funny thing is; his outwardly focused effort left him unprepared to pass the course. He flunked out. Not suggesting that’s going to occur with you, just sharing a personal experience.

Although you are not asking for this advice, I’m going to offer it to not only you, but others reading this. The instructors do not want competition. Be careful not to overstep the fuzzy boundary of being helpful. Remember, the job interview has already begun.

Professor at some point in the future, perhaps a year or two of safe and efficient solo experience, Roehl will be more than happy to offer you a position as a trainer. All of the major carriers need motivated and qualified trainers. Until then...I’d exercise some control on following your inner-teacher instincts.

It’s a really great diary. Keep it coming!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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