Wilson Logistics Training: Start Date: 12/13/21. A Librarian Learns Trucking!

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Mountain Matt's Comment
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Day 2 (12/14/21)

Today, we spent the first two hours having time with a truck to work on pre-trip. I partnered up with a guy who doesn't know the "script" very well yet, but is pretty mechanically astute. We made a pretty good team. We then learned straight line backing. I went first and did it well both times. Later, we learned both blindside and sightside offset backing. I did pretty well there, though I got close to the line both times. Wilson has a precise system to follow for these maneuvers. I went into training thinking getting "a feel" for it would be the best way, but now I realize that having a reliable formula is really helpful for me as a rookie, buying me some time to develop a better sense of things with experience. It's pretty amazing how well the "formula" works.

A couple who was in the program decided this was not for them (that's why there's the 3-day waiting period on the contract), so they left at the beginning of the day. We're down to 6 in our class, which is a nice number, actually. Somebody in a class ahead of us tested today and passed in one shot, so we had a little gathering for that (and the signing of the "Wilson Sign," if you know what I'm referring to).

A note about food: Each day, they order lunch for us from someplace different, and we get to pick what we want from there. The first day was Jersey Mikes; they mentioned that today would be pizza. I don't do dairy and I keep my carbs/gluten low, so I just packed my own food for today. It would be rather inconvenient to keep running to the washroom when you're out on the pad literally all day (lol)

We've been told that tomorrow we'll take an informal test on the 4-Part air brake test, so the evening consists of studying up for that. I've learned two things so far that can get you dismissed from the program immediately: 1) Failing to set the parking brakes before you leave the tractor; 2) Failing to study at all and admitting that to the instructors (supposedly someone did that a few weeks ago and got sent home).

Once again, I accept help and try to be helpful where I can, but in the end, I count on myself. They had us reading the offset backing instructions to each person step-by-step as we drove today. I knew the person reading to me was telling the wrong thing, telling me to make a hard right when I needed to make a hard left. I asked, "Don't you mean a hard left?" They said, "No, right." I made the hard left anyway, and that was the right thing. I try to make sure I ask good questions of the instructors, though.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Mountain Matt's Comment
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Day 3

This morning they gave us all an assessment on the 4-Part Air Brake test. They gave extra opportunity to anyone who struggled, but it's clear this needs to be learned to continue. I did quite well, except that I narrated the part "I have released my brakes," but I didn't do it in reality! No worries... he simply pointed out my error to me.

Then most of us got the chance to actually drive in forward! We took a truck out on the roads, the freeway, and actually some pretty narrow, windy roads with little to no shoulder and a nice ditch on the side in which to risk rolling one's truck. I have continued to be impressed by the kindness of the instructors, though of course you need to listen to directions and do your work. I felt like I had good lane and speed control, though I need to work on squaring my turns a little more.

The rest of the day was spent on parallel parking. That one is kind of fun because it doesn't really come together until the last move or two, and then (if you've done it right) you're suddenly in the box!

Lunch was from Culver's, for which I was glad: I could order the grilled chicken breast salad. This is a demanding week, so I've really been trying to eat and sleep well to maintain myself. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

I feel a little bit like I'm in a tunnel of simply being on the pad, working on backing maneuvers, and learning pre-trip. I haven't really thought much about "trucking" in these last few days or the broader picture. Given the pace and intensity, I just feel very focused on what's in front of me (and a little out of touch with everything else).

The weather has been very nice temperature-wise... today pushed to 70! However, it was extremely windy. It's supposed to cool down into the 50s over the next couple of days, with some rain.

Just 'G''s Comment
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I feel a little bit like I'm in a tunnel of simply being on the pad, working on backing maneuvers, and learning pre-trip. I haven't really thought much about "trucking" in these last few days or the broader picture. Given the pace and intensity, I just feel very focused on what's in front of me (and a little out of touch with everything else).

As sombody who just got through this, I'm pretty sure that about where you're supposed to be. Pay attention to the instructors, follow the scripts they give you and just stay in the moment with it. They know what they're doing and they're trying to put you in the best position for success.

Mountain Matt's Comment
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Thanks, Just 'G'. I agree--they know how to train drivers, so I'm trusting the process. It's just an interesting feeling of being in such a specific headspace and not thinking about the broader job of trucking (right now).

Mountain Matt's Comment
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Day 4:

Today was all parallel backing and 90 degree/alley docking. I definitely need more practice with the latter, though I got it in the hole via their system and coaching. It was a lot colder today, so we all toughed it out, being outside all day. Much respect to those who are training in Wisconsin, Montana, etc. right now! They gave someone who was struggling with the air brake assessment more time today to work on it, and he passed! I was pleased to see their patience with the person, as I think that person has a solid, steady nature, and is mechanically inclined.

Some other drivers and people further along in the program were around today, so it was interesting to talk to them during lunch to learn more about their experiences and the work they're doing.

We were all told to have our bags packed to get checked out of the hotel in the morning. They have found trainers for most of us and are lining up the last few. Depending on when the trainer rolls through, I should be heading out in the next day or two to start my two weeks of driving, leading up to my CDL test. Moving right along!

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.
Mountain Matt's Comment
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Day 5: Friday, Dec. 17, 2021

This morning, we learned how to couple and uncouple trailers and how to chain up the tires. Wilson's policy is that, if you need to chain up, you should park it. We then each had phone calls with the compliance department to go over final verification of some of our info. We then took a tour of the main terminal (we saw Darrell Wilson himself through his office window as he waved to us). This afternoon, thunderstorms prevented us from going out to the pad, so we sat in on an Advanced Fleet Driver Training course, which was mostly about what to do at shippers and receivers, as well as how to take care of the cargo. Some of it was a little over our heads at this point, but I found it a helpful introduction to that side of the job. They had a little "graduation" for us for completing the week of in-house training, and we each received a Wilson Logistics ballcap.

I was told I'll be heading out with my trainer on Sunday, and I got to meet my fleet manager. When the training manager gave me my trainer assignment, he also gave me his own card and said to call him if there were any issues. He then said, "We want you to become a trucker driver for us." I appreciate those kinds of affirmations of support and that our goals and interests are aligned. They had us then check back into the hotel until we each leave with our trainers (Wilson is still footing the hotel bill for us).

I got to meet our very own Texas Tim from these forums today! He just completed a milestone that I'll let him post about in his thread, if he so chooses. We had the opportunity to have dinner together at a local rib place. My trainer is the same guy Tim had, and Tim has good things to say about him, so I'm glad for that!

So, I have the day tomorrow to rest up and keep studying my pretrip and backing maneuver guides. Otherwise, I'm super-excited to get out on the road Sunday and start experiencing that side of trucking!

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

Fleet Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Kandyman's Comment
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And the fun begins. Keep posting. Glad everything is going well. Good luck!'

Mountain Matt's Comment
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Thanks, Kandyman! I just got word from him that we'll meet up in an hour, run some errands, and then get on the road.

Vicki M.'s Comment
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Sounds like it's working well for you! I was in the Missoula yard a few days ago (shut down due to weather). My heart went out to the kids that were training out there in the snow and ice. Much respect to them! I hope your trainer is awesome, you'll learn so much from them. Even my first two "bad" trainers taught me some things, but a good trainer (like my last one) is a priceless commodity. We still speak several times a week and he's always there for my freak outs and issues :D Keep us posted!

Mountain Matt's Comment
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Thanks, Vicki!

Going well so far. We are taking a load of frozen ravioli from Springfield to Bethlehem, PA. A fitting town for near Christmas!

I drove for several hours today and did pretty well. My trainer is experienced, fair, and a good teacher. It is tough living in close quarters and spending the whole day every day with a stranger, but this learning process is just what I need.

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