Week Three With Celadon, Laredo, Texas, March 2015

Topic 7629 | Page 1

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Pepper's Comment
member avatar

Day One

I went to the range this morning to go over my backing and my parallel parking. Straight backing, I thought I was doing pretty well until the trainer got up in the truck with me. I could not remember how to do anything! I hate that I got her and myself so frustrated. It was pretty miserable weather outside, and we were pretty miserable inside the cab, too.

After I did straight backing alone for a half hour, I went over to the parallel part of the range. You would have thought that I had Alzheimer's disease. I could not remember how to set the truck up from Friday. My instructor was really, really frustrated with me. I was pretty frustrated with me as well. I felt pretty stupid and I killed several innocent traffic cones. The same trainer was there and she said she was very, very frustrated with my progress. I was and am, too.

We got released from the trucks and had lunch----Finally. I felt like it was a gift from the gods. It didn't even matter what was served, I was glad to be out of the wet, the cold and the misery that I was feeling.

After lunch, we went out on the road. There were two drivers I was paired with, along with a different instructor that were all in the truck with me. The other two drivers are former CDL holders, and the first guy, his driving was beautiful to watch. The gears went beautifully up and down, and I really enjoyed being with him. The second driver was not feeling too well, and it was reflected in his driving. Then, there was me. Queen Graceless. I could not find a gear. I could not remember the shifting pattern. I could not get the clutch right. I could not remember to accelerate properly to gear down. It was really, really frustrating. We passed an 18 wheeler going the other way on the 2 lane road we were on and I scooted the truck and trailer as far over to the right as I could while staying on the road so that we didn't "swap paint". Success, finally, for me! I felt triumphant over such a little thing, but at that moment, I would have accepted the successful use of an ink pen as a source of encouragement!

I managed to get up to 50MPH on the access road in misting rain. (Speed limit 55). I felt really good about it, but I asked the instructor for my score when I got down from the truck today. Out of a possible 5, with 5 being the best, I made a 1. That's about my rating for the whole day, too. I thought that I would be getting better with time, but that does not seem to be the case. My test is on the 18th. I better somehow pick up the pace and get to learning or else I am going to fail my CDL exam. What I wouldn't give for a hug and a chance to get all of this knowledge knocked into my brain right now.

More later.

Pepper

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Your best personal asset is your positive attitude, Pepper. (Frustration is not an attitude, it's a feeling, and that's ok.) Take your right arm, move so your right elbow is just under your nose, and give yourself a pat on the back.

You are not intimidated by the experienced CDL student, in fact you are watching and learning. You celebrate small victories (passing an oncoming truck when your own seems so big). These are things that will get you through. If you've been following my first week's experience, you might see how powerful having a positive attitude can be.

It's ok to feel frustrated, but here's the key: Focus On The Task At Hand. When you're trying to fit between those cones, or searching for a gear - any gear! - on a downshift, just do that part - don't worry about who's watching. And keep having fun!

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Pepper's Comment
member avatar

Errol,

Thanks for the warm words of encouragement!

What a week this has been down here. I would have updated this entry, but I simply did not have time. By the time that we would get home in the evenings, get dinner, have a shower, it was time to go to bed! I am sticking by my statement here to people that it is better to get 8 hours of sleep for yourself rather than try to cram information in. It won't stick as well.

We have had unseasonably cold weather for down here. Today, it was one of the nicest days that we have had weather-wise, and everyone was really grateful for the break from the dreary cold that we have been experiencing.

It was a long week. The weather is really serving to affect our spirits, and then the week ended just in time.

I don't know what the coming week will bring, but I know that I am finally learning shifting/gearing patterns, and that is a huge blessing for me. I was getting worried about it. I am now officially less than 2 weeks away from my DPS test, and I will find out on Monday if the instructors feel that I am ready. (I expressed doubts and concern because if I am not ready, then I don't want to go out and take a test if I am going to fail it.) Parallel parking is still proving to be a huge challenge to me, but I am convinced that I will get it licked with proper training and time to perform the maneuver on the range.

The range is nice, it is where empties are stored for Celadon and their Mexico division, Jaguar. Because of that, as we are practicing our shifting up and down, we have to work around trailers, just like we would have to do in real life if we were hunting a trailer. A couple of us in my class have decided to give one another challenges, like assigning trailer numbers to find as we are grinding and finding gears. Hunting down a trailer can be a challenge, I have discovered.

The range is caliche, which is a mixture of rocks, gravel, sand and dirt. I was on "the track" as we call part of the range, happily bouncing around in 6th gear when one of the "backers" pulled out into my space. I was doing 15 miles per hour, and I had to do some really rapid downshifting while I was in a bobtail. I was so happy that I remembered how to downshift, I was grateful that it was only 15 mph, and I was thrilled that although I was scared when it was happening, no one except me knew that it happened! I know that 15 MPH seems slow, but on that bobtail right then, it seemed like 10,000,000 mph! But, now I know how to do that, I know now from personal experience how hard it is to stop a bobtail, and I know that my clutch IS my friend! I really feel good about this happening, to be honest, because now the steps are permanently engraved on some brain cells!

I wish I had more to report, but that is all I have for now.

Hugs,

Pepper

Bobtail:

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

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