Do I Push For What I Want Pretty Badly Or Do I Lay Low And Say Nothing?

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mountain girl's Comment
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I just finished a 1-month, private CDL school. During the course, I made it clear, in a light-hearted way that I was interested in one particular company that has a special arrangement with the school and takes only the top students to be hired on as drivers-in-training. This company hauls raw milk, which I understand very well is one of the most dangerous type of tanker to haul because food-grade tankers cannot have baffles. This company requires that you attend the particular school that I went to, that you maintain a 90% GPA, and that you be referred by the school director. The director actually requires that students interested maintain a 95% before being referred. I believe (without being permitted to know my actual GPA - school policy - until I completed the course) that I was maintaining a very high GPA, close to or above the director's standard. A week before the course ended, I had a short conference with the director who told me 2 things: 1) That the trucking company I wanted to work for would be crazy not to hire me, and 2) Let's see how I did on the final week's CDL test.

Cool. I was on my way and I continued to work hard in the trucks. Driving was always 1-on-1 w/the instructors, btw.

The director set the student driving schedule so when I saw that mine was the most grueling schedule among my classmates, I knew I was being "tested" on that too. Monday, 4 hours of mountain driving. Tuesday, 4 hours of night driving. Wednesday, 4 hours of extra night driving that was not required of my classmates. Thursday, 4 hours of range practice (alley docking practice on a dirt range) followed by a 30 minute break, followed by the 2-hour CDL test with the same instructor. My other classmates either had a day off, the day before the test or no driving the day of the test, as some of them were scheduled to test on Wednesday. The director also knew I had 4 adolescent children at home, I was a single mom, and that I had an hour and 15 minute to 2-hour commute each way, depending on traffic. When I asked one of the instructors why I was given such a schedule, the reply was that the director "...knew I wouldn't complain." I did not get home until after 2 am, M, T, W and had to show up again, at 2 pm on the day of the test for those 4 hours plus 2 hours of testing. I took the challenge by the horns and ran with it. On the last night, after two 4hr nights ( w/the toughest instructor, everything went great. Everything clicked, I was smooth on night city driving, my turns were smooth, I cleared all curbs cleanly, I shifted smoothly, down-shifted beautifully, and even did some practice alley docks with impressive precision. My instructor, who never, ever gives out a score of 100%, rated me a 95% for the night and said I'd do fine the next day.

Testing day, I showed up and I heard from staffers that the last night's instructor, a man of few words, had "...nothing but great things to say about me." I checked in with the day's instructor, aced the practice pre-trip inspection and proceeded with 3 more hours of alley-docking, during which he proceeded to berate me, bark at me for every little detail that never seemed to matter to the other instructors, and basically tried to reinvent the wheel by teaching me "his" way of alley-docking from "ground-zero." I got it right a several times, but basically, for 3 straight hours, I got the crap badgered out of me. Thirty minutes later, I began my CDL exam with the same badgering instructor. I forgot a few things on the pre-trip and he said something like, "Man, I had no idea you had such test anxiety." Crouched over my steering wheel, I turned to him and said, "I'm not anxious at all. I am completely exhausted. With a 2-hour commute, last night, I arrived home, 12 hours before I had to be back here, today." We proceeded with the rest of the test, but again, I got barked at, over and over, during straight-line backing and alley-docking, for irrelevant details. When I was done, he demonstrated his own skills in straight-line backing by showing me "how it's done" reversing in high gear, at 30mph. I bit my tongue and refrained from calling him a "show-off," since I was still not yet finished with the test. The road test was short, as he knew I was tired but my moves were smooth. I passed but he told me he would not recommend me to the school director, who then recommends the student to the company I wanted, based on my performance that day, which he said was not up to par, even though that company has 6 weeks of additional training for the newly qualified new hires and the night before, on my last road day with the toughest instructor, I rated 95%.

Of 7 students in my class, I was #1, up until the very last day. I don't expect special treatment but I did bust my tail and proved myself well.

I'm not a whiner. But I called the school the next day and talked to one of the coordinators who relayed an email to the director. This was my first and only student grievance in a class full of whiners, lol. I probably shouldn't have set my sights on just one company, but sometimes you have to go-for-it, to reach that type of goal; and this particular company was a great fit for me, a single parent, for many, many reasons.

The director has an open-door policy. Do I ask again, for the coveted referral, based on my prior, performance, explaining again, I'd do whatever it took to excel - or do I tell them how great it all was and move on?

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.

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.

Baffle:

A partition or separator within a liquid tank, used to inhibit the flow of fluids within the tank. During acceleration, turning, and braking, a large liquid-filled tank may produce unexpected forces on the vehicle due to the inertia of liquids.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

I'm late replying to this one - sorry about that - but I want to agree with the others above - definitely talk to those people and request what you want. They're clearly testing you hard and you've shown you're willing and able to handle everything they throw at you. So go after what you want.

But either way you'll wind up with that job. Even if you don't get it now, you'll get it after a few months experience somewhere else - no biggie at all in the grand scheme of things.

One idea that we try to get across to people is that you're being tested constantly as a new driver in the industry. Unfortunately, nobody tells students and new drivers this most of the time and they think they're just being mistreated. And who wouldn't? I mean, if you show up to a school you've paid to attend you're going to assume that the teachers are on your side and want you to succeed. They'd better since you're a paying customer. So naturally you're going to expect them to be nice and supportive and act like a teammate. But a lot of instructors at Independent Truck Driving Schools and at Company-Sponsored Training Programs will continuously try to test or condition their students to handle what they've experienced on the road. They figure that you have to be tough-minded, you have to control your emotions, and you have to have a ton of patience out on the road so they'll start testing you and preparing you for that now while you're in training. They start trying to push your buttons. They'll keep changing your schedule around, moving you from truck to truck, get on your case really hard sometimes - anything they can do to throw you off.

But students aren't expecting that! wtf-2.gif

I have no problem with instructors spending some time testing and conditioning students for real-life conditions on the road. But for God's sake let the students know that's what you're doing! I mean, can you imagine going into your bank to ask for a loan and being treated like you just arrived at boot camp for the Army??? You walk through the door and people start screaming obscenities at you, make you do push-ups, and spray water in your face with a hose...

wtf-2.gif

I mean, if the bank had told you, "We'll give you the loan if you can complete our boot camp" then fine! No problem - I'll do it. But you have to tell me ahead of time it's going to be like an army boot camp and not a normal library-type atmosphere I'm expecting from a bank.

So just approach everything that everyone says and does as a test. And you'd be surprised how often that really is exactly what they're doing.

Let me just go out on a limb and say that the trucking industry isn't going to win any awards for the job they do setting the proper expectations for new drivers coming into the industry. Many new drivers that drop out of the industry right at the start of their career do so for exactly this reason - their expectations of what CDL training and life on the road will be like are so far from the reality of it they become overwhelmed or disillusioned with the whole industry and run for the hills.

We try like crazy here at TruckingTruth to help prepare people for this kind of stuff so make sure everyone goes through our Truck Driver's Career Guide and our Truck Driving Blogs. There's a mountain of important information there to help you get your career off to a great start.

smile.gif

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.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
mountain girl's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

So just approach everything that everyone says and does as a test. And you'd be surprised how often that really is exactly what they're doing.

Dear Brett,

First, Thank you for your personal response. You're so right. It's always a test and it's because of Trucking Truth that I was able to do so well in school. I studied quite a bit before school even started and I know that made all the difference in the world. It is also because of TT that I was able to keep the "always being observed" part in the back of my mind during the entire program (air-headed, girly moments which were rare, didn't count.) The school was very subtle but they'd do things like hand you an assignment that say, "Here are your instructions, go find the DMV at this really odd location, drive there in your personal vehicle during this tornado and hail storm (yes, that's exactly what I did) take your permit test, get it done, come back," and they want to see how you do without any assistance.

Unfortunately, my entry in this forum will last way longer than the "sting-of-the-day" and because I got such helpful and supportive responses, I am already way over it and am ready to face new challenges. Hopefully, what's been posted so far, will be helpful to others as well. It's all good. I never expected to be treated with kid gloves but yeah, I was tired and wasn't feeling as thick-skinned that day as one with a good night's rest. But that's going to be part of the deal sometimes, right? And you're right: if you keep in mind that you're always being watched and tested, you feel better prepared.

But I DO like the drill instructor routine at the bank with R. Lee Ermee issuing verbal orders to all the customers he'd probably call "maggots." That has a nice warm feel to it and should be standard procedure! I'm feelin' the "love" already.

You're right. I'll eventually get the job with that company anyway, because I just will someday. I have to admit: I wanted to be able to "hang with the big boys" right off the starting block. But we all have to get real sometimes and just settle down, do a good job. I'll let you know what happens at my exit interview.

No one has said "no" yet and it's like Kiwi303 said:

"They can't say YES if I don't ask!"

Many thanks to you and all the other good gentlemen who've responded and have been so supportive! I appreciate it SO much! I feel much stronger with the backing of guys who have already "been there, gone through that."

You guys are great!

Mountaingirl

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!
I have to admit: I wanted to be able to "hang with the big boys" right off the starting block

I love that attitude. You need to be competitive to thrive in this industry. You need to have the nerve and the courage to face the tremendous risks and challenges drivers face every single day out there. You'll do great in this industry with that approach.

I decide where I want to work...then I apply...apply...apply....and I tell them..they might as well hire me, cuz I'm just gonna keep coming back until they do !!! To date, this strategy has always worked...Employers like the fact that you just don't want any job...you want to work for THEM....it strokes their INC ego...lol

I love that too! Employers would be crazy not to take a chance on someone like that because the greatest thing an employer could ever hope for is an employee who genuinely cares about the well-being of the company itself. In trucking you get paid by the mile so the money you make is directly tied to the money the company makes. You sink or swim together. So your interests are aligned. With hourly pay there's no incentive for the employee to really care about the well-being of the company outside of the fact that they continue to exist. So if an employer can find an employee who takes pride in where they work and genuinely cares about the well-being of the company it's an incredible blessing. So persistence will usually pay off.

One place it will not always work is in trucking because of the liability factor. No matter how much a person seems to want a job, if their driving, criminal, or employment backgrounds are shaky then the company simply won't be able to take the risk on them. So that's something for everyone to be aware of.....keep that safety record clean, stay out of trouble, and protect that license.

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.
Old School's Comment
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I've always been big on asking for what you want - the worse thing that can happen is they say no. Some people really respect someone who goes for what they want.

mountain girl's Comment
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I've always been big on asking for what you want - the worse thing that can happen is they say no. Some people really respect someone who goes for what they want.

Thank you so much for your response... ... Ok, then. I'll go for it. I'll stay positive and keep the can-do attitude. Thanks. thank-you.gif

PJ's Comment
member avatar

All I can say is wow. I re-read your post a couple times to make sure I fully got it. Hell ya you talk to these people. First of all, you performed top notch all the way through this program. You have went above and beyond the call of duty in my opinion. Then you basically get setup for failure. Most folks would have failed, but you didn't. You stepped up and took care of business. Make sure you present yourself in a professional manner and stick to the facts, and if this guy doesn't get it, there is something else in play here. Just my opinion. I wish you all the best.

Rico's Comment
member avatar

Hmmmm. I wonder if the instructor from Hell is one of these types who doesn't think women folk have any business driving big rigs. Have you followed up on your complaint? There may be a pattern of negative behavior towards women that the school needs to be made aware of.

mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

Right-on. Hopefully you didn't have to re-read it 'cause I made it too complicated.

It was the weirdest thing, yanno? Mr. Tough Teacher who rated me a 95 the night before turned out to be the coolest (he was known for making some females cry) and the instructor who actually tested me on the last day, was the one everyone thought was so cool in the classroom, etc. Tough teacher was always grumpy but in the end, had soooo much good information to teach and pushed me to raise my standard and be a really good driver while the tester, who was funny in the classroom, and everybody wanted to drive in the truck with him, la la la, turned out to be the chauvenistic Yosemite Sam on the range. It was a big switch-er-roo that caught me off guard a bit.

Thanks for reminding me to remain professional and stick to the facts. You're right. We gotta' keep the emotions out of it. I failed to mention that I had taken one of my kids to the Emergency Department on that Monday night for an injury too. I think I succeeded in breaching all obstacles.

I'll remain professional. Thanks.

mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

Hmmmm. I wonder if the instructor from Hell is one of these types who doesn't think women folk have any business driving big rigs. Have you followed up on your complaint? There may be a pattern of negative behavior towards women that the school needs to be made aware of.

I think you're dead-on with that one. The dude was all pro-female in the classroom but when it came down to it, tired, hot and dusty, frustrated on the range, his true self came out. I'll follow through. Thanks!

Kiwi303's Comment
member avatar

They can't say Yes unless you ask!

mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

They can't say Yes unless you ask!

You are so RIGHT! (I was just playing - when I ribbed you about you driving on the "wrong" side of the road, btw.) And ...sweeeet tractor-trailer by the way. Hope you don't mind if I borrow your quote: "They can't say Yes if you don't ask." I LOVE that. How positive!

I'm going in tomorrow to give it my best shot.

Head-bump.

Thanks, Kiwi!

Kiwi303's Comment
member avatar

Good Luck :D

Steal it by ll means :D I stole it from another anyway so easy come, easy go :D I used to be a Kirby salesman, door to door selling vacuums and carpet shampoo accessories, You never met such an upbeat bunch of guys in your life :D Brad DiNunzio's the one I stole it from :D

The tractor Trailer is a Kenworth K200, they still make new COE's in Aussie. New Argosies, new K104/K108/K200, Due to rules and regulations here limiting overall length, a meter removed from the bonnet means a meter of load space added to the payload :D

I'm only driving a Nissan Diesel Condor right now however... Class 2 box body 15 tonner, 30,000-ish pounds, until i get my Class 4.

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