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Uncle Rake's Comment
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Thursday, September 10

At the end of the long day yesterday I decided to set my alarm for a later time and so I set it for 0600. As usual though, I woke up about 0540. In preparation for sleeping in the top bunk of a truck with all of my gear, I placed my gear on one side of the bed and have slept on the remaining narrow side the last two nights.

Thursday morning I had to check in at 0800. Since I had finished all of my computer based training on Wednesday, I did not have anything to do until simulator lab at 1545. We had two groups in the lab so individual time was not as much as it could have been. I did get to go through a route through town with intersections that only allowed trucks in one direction. I made it to the end of that one. Then we had a route in the snow on interstate. The roads were really slick, but I made it to the end of that one. The assessment was on the interstate but with quite a bit of traffic, including a wreck at one point. I was in the right lane but could not see the wreck until I was almost to it because of a vehicle in the left lane ahead of me. When I did see the stopped cars, I had to break hard in order to allow traffic to pass so I could move over into the left lane. That gave me a hard braking deduction as well as a deduction for following too close since I changed lanes behind the traffic. I believe my score for the assessment was the lowest driving score I have ever received: 80%. But I passed and that is what matters most.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Uncle Rake's Comment
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Friday, September 11

This morning I had to be at the Plaza by 0830 for a class. I did not want to be late and so I was there by 0800. I did not know what we would be doing but we were told to wear closed toe footwear and our yellow vests. We were also told to be sure and bring our permit, license, and medical paperwork.

The fIrst thing the instructor told us was to be sure our phones were set to maximum volume. She said we need to be sure we hear a call from a trainer. Then she stressed the importance of knowing all 10 pages of our pre-trip. She said that pre-trip is the hardest part of the CDL exam. This was a thought she repeated several times. She said the earliest people can test is 15 days after they begin drive training, and that how well they know pre-trip determines when they will test. She also said there are two primary reasons people get sent home:
1) Being late and having a bad attitude. She said the shuttle is never an excuse to be late. Better to be waiting on a trainer than having a trainer waiting on us.
2) Drinking alcohol. She said if alcohol is necessary during training, this is probably not the job for you. She also emphasized that alcohol cannot be present on the truck either open or closed.

After class we went outside and begin practicing our pre-trip checklists. Some people seemed to be completely unfamiliar with the process. At least one had no idea how to identify the different parts of the truck necessary for the pre-trip. I emailed her a link to Daniel B’s checklist but I also emphasized the importance of using the checklist we were given as the primary resource. I paired up with a young man I had met when I first arrived. He said he was familiar with the checklist but it seemed that he kept reading from it too much. I took it from him to see how he could do without that crutch. I think I was pushing him too much, so I worked with a few others. We later had a class on how to check tires during pre-trip. As we were coming into class I heard someone who sat down behind me say, “They ain’t playin’ ‘bout that pre-trip, boy!” In all, we spent five hours working on pre-trip today.

Just before I got on a shuttle to go from the plaza back to Campus Inn, I got a call from my trainer. He sounded very friendly and energetic. I am going to meet him Saturday morning at the millennium building where we will have breakfast and visit. It appears that orientation is over and drive training is about to begin.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
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Nice reading your updates, Raif.

Good luck meeting that trainer tomorrow morning.

Uncle Rake's Comment
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Nice reading your updates, Raif.

Good luck meeting that trainer tomorrow morning.

Thanks, PackRat.

Saturday, September 13, 0525

Was tired last night after all of the pre-trip time and classes yesterday. Went to bed around 2100 and went to sleep directly. Woke up only once in the middle of the night but was awakened at 0425 due to someone’s unceasing alarm. It took probably ten minutes for them to turn it off. After that I tried unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, and finally got up. Prepared to take my prescriptions but the container was empty so I had to refill the weekly container (this comment was primarily for my wife to know I have been taking my meds 😀). I did not have much time yesterday to work on my memory work and today only got through the first six verses. Read The 10 Lists for day 77. Proverbs 15:1 is always a good reminder: “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (NLT).

I had thought of some questions I wanted to ask my trainer such as: How many students have you had? What are your primary expectations of a student? Absolutes? Schedule for next few days? Are you a lease operator? I met him for breakfast and the conversation sort of flowed naturally. He is very easy to talk to and the questions were answered in the course of normal conversation. After breakfast we talked for about four hours in his truck. I went back to my room for a bit and returned to the practice pad at 1700. He did the backing maneuvers to show me, and then I tried them. Straight line backing was very simple and I have no problems with that. I did one of the offsets and got it into the box. Then I did a parallel to the other side and got it into the box. I only tried alley dock once or twice and have not yet gotten gotten my angle correct.

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.

Uncle Rake's Comment
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Sunday, September 13

My trainer has a few issues with his truck such as the APU not cooling as well as it should. He said that would make it really warm on the top bunk where I will be sleeping. He got it into the shop late last night and so I did not expect to hear from him this morning. Once he eventually contacted me, I learned that he had been up until very late and then slept some this morning. We have another scheduled time at the practice pad at 1700. I am working on my pre-trip and have it all down except a few phrases and words that I say slightly differently. I recorded myself going through it from memory and then listened to the recording and watched the checklist and highlighted sections where I was not perfect. I think I could pass the pre-trip now, but I will do my best to correct the areas where I am not exactly consistent with the checklist.

We returned to the pad at 1700 and I did more backing today. I did an offset right and got it into the box with no issue. I tried an offset to the left and I got to looking at my tires and overthinking it. That led me to let off on the prescribed movements slightly and I ended up going out of the box a bit. That would cost me two points on the test. I did the rest of the maneuvers exactly as prescribed and they all went well including alley dock. I had to do one pull up on alley dock and then backed just past the boundary. That would be another two point deduction on the test. As long as I don’t have more than 12 deducted points, I will pass. On each maneuver I used my GOALs (Get Out and Look) to verify that the truck was in the right position as I prepared to adjust my turn. I still need some practice, but I think I have learned where to make changes in reference to my view of the landing gear. After that I drove for a while on the highway. My trainer was giving me ideas of what to remember for the test as I drove. When we finished I asked him if I had scared him any and he said no, so I guess that’s a good thing. When we got back to the pad he had me back the trailer into a space beside another trailer. I had to do a couple pull-ups but I got it into the space without hitting anything (except the curb).

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Uncle Rake's Comment
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Monday, September 14

Awoke about 530 this morning and prepared to do laundry. Had to use two washers and two dryers in order to wash three pairs of jeans and my other clothes. The washer for my jeans did not have a final spin, so I ended up having to do two cycles in the dryer to get them dried. Did my 10 lists for day 78 while clothes were washing. Went through memory work and got through verse nine pretty well and through verse 12 with a little assistance. Perhaps I will have time to relearn Philippians bit by bit.

My trainer called and said we would be getting a load today. I spent some time getting all my stuff organized and prepared to leave. On Saturday evening one of my children had a collision with a concrete barrier. She was not injured, but I have been talking to an auto body shop friend about what it would take to get the car safe to drive. It does not look good at this point. His words were, “It looks pretty hurt.”

Trainer called just after 1100 to let me know he is on the way to pick me up. He came to Campus Inn & we got my stuff loaded. Then he bought lunch for us at Cracker Barrel while we were waiting on a load. We got our load assignment to pick up a trailer from the terminal. Just as we were preparing to hook up to the trailer a yard dog came by and told us that the trailer had to go to the shop. We backed it into the shop and my trainer asked them to call him when they were finished. By 2030 we decided to get some sleep and I slept from then until 2230. After going to the restroom I slept from 2300 until 0430. I have a huge Columbia duffel bag on the outside edge of my bed running parallel to the bed. At the far end it is kept in place by the overhead storage bin. I have my legs running down beside it. It is a little tight but apparently did not affect my sleep at all.

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.

Uncle Rake's Comment
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Tuesday

Awoke at 0430 to trainer’s alarm. Got up & went to millennium building to go to restroom. Went into the gym & shot five free throws & made all five. Guess the reason I have struggled to make free throws in recent years is because I was not doing it early enough in the day. We left Springfield at 0630. My trainer drove the first couple hours, then I drove from 0930 to @ 1900. We took 400 through Kansas and then 54 down to Stratford TX.

Wednesday, September 16

We continued traveling west on 54 at 0900 with the trainer driving, coming into New Mexico around 1035. Continued down 54 to I-40 & headed west. Not sure where I started, but I drove through a good bit of NM, including Albuquerque. Driving through the hills and curves with other trucks on both sides can be somewhat unnerving. In addition, I am learning how to use the cruise control and the engine break to slow the truck in the hills.

Read Ten lists day 79 today. In memory work I’ve been struggling to remember verses 10 & 11 the past couple days. Went through two time zones today. I have an analog watch and I decided not to change the time displayed by the hands as we travel. That way the hands will always show the time in Springfield and at home. Went to sleep just before 2300 (Home time).

Thursday, September 17

Woke up today at 0545, finally obtaining a good block of uninterrupted sleep. Got up and went inside to use the restroom and brush my teeth. Sometime around 0600 I realize it’s actually 0400 here in Arizona. Need to figure out how to handle frequently changing time zones. Not really an issue, I guess, as long as we’re using electronic devices which keep up with the changes. Anyway, went back to sleep and slept another three hours until 0715 local time.

Remarkable how God designed the human body to recover so well with a good night’s sleep. After driving yesterday my entire back was sore. This morning it’s completely renewed. Think I finally got Philippians 1:10-11 down. Next section is very familiar, so I hope to learn it quickly. Will try to get ten lists read this morning while trainer is driving. Probably not too much to learn watching him drive through western Arizona. Shortly after I decided there was not much to learn, we passed mile marker 213 and got into the hills where I started learning more about the cruise control/engine breaking system. Eventually finished the Ten Lists for day 80 & encountered several memorable passages, including John 12:24-25, Romans 2:4, & 2 Timothy 1:9.

Romans 2:4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
2 Timothy 1:9 For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.

Coming down out of Flagstaff I continued learning about the cruise control system. It doesn’t just set speed, but it manages speed based on a number of factors, controlling accelerator and engine breaking. I began driving in Arizona and into CA on I-40. I drove down to Ontario where I had the opportunity to learn about the truck systems while I was behind the wheel. I have no interest in driving in the mountains using a standard transmission as long as I have the opportunity to use the automatic transmission and breaking systems on this kind of truck. Drove to the prescribed fuel stop & refueled truck, reefer , & DEF. Then I drove to the overnight location & backed into a parking spot.

Well, it’s 2130 here, & I have to be up by 0340 for our delivery. So, goodnight.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Uncle Rake's Comment
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Friday, September 18

Miscellaneous Notes

Yesterday I learned about parking in cities with limited areas. In the place we stayed in Ontario, California, parking is $25 per night. But if you purchase $25 worth of merchandise, that covers your expenses for parking. I am trying to build a list of areas to park in different cities across the country.

Another note relates to the comfort of the driver’s seat. My first two days were almost unbearable because of discomfort to my back. I kept thinking it would get better but finally I mentioned it to my trainer. He told me about an additional way to adjust the seat. Since then, the only discomfort I have is on the bottom and I don’t know that there is a great solution for that.

Our delivery today is 3/10 of a mile from our location. I looked at the receiver’s location on Google maps to see if I could identify where to enter. Once we got there, I found that the area for the gate that I had seen on Google Maps was accurate. I will try to make this a regular habit. Our appointment time was 0500. We arrived at 0440 and they started to unload us about 0520. They finished around 0720. In my 10 lists for the day I read day 81 (The Ten Lists). It included the following meaningful passage:

Job 19:25-27: But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last. 26 And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! 27 I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

I know all Bible verses are meaningful, but on certain days certain ones seem to stand out more. Memory work is pretty strong now through verse 13. After reading I slept another hour and then read trucking truth for a while, trying to learn about split sleeper.

We got our hours back about 1420 and delivery time was 1630. We had to get through a busy area of Los Angeles to the Carson area so my trainer drove. Despite the QC routing us through an exit we did not need to take, and all of the rerouting necessary to reach our destination, we did arrive just in time. We dropped our trailer there and picked up another one headed for Sumner, Washington. I began driving as we left. I gained additional good experience driving in the mountains and learning to manipulate and trust the cruise control system during descents. I drove until about 2120 when we were in the Bakersfield area. I began to get sleepy and then realized I had been awake (except for that one hour) since 0340. My trainer took over and I got some sleep.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
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I'm following along on your training journey, Raif.

smile.gifgood-luck.gifsmile.gif

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Tortuga 's Comment
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I'm enjoying your diary Uncle Rake! Safe travels!

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