School Complete! Class A CDL And A New Chapter Of Life!

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classA's Comment
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3 days later and once again I was ready to pass my CDL testing. I had studied (again) and I knew deep inside (once again) that I didn't need a warm-up drive. I just needed to take my tests. Having arrived a school early I was ready to get started! An instructor approached me asking me if I'd like to go first and I said I would. Then another instructor said someone else was going to be going first (it was another retest). The student that was retesting had failed the Skills Test as he backed up too far on the 90-degree course. So, he only had to retake that part then complete the Road Test. Then another instructor approached myself and another student (who was also taking a retest) to take us for a warm-up drive. I said no, but then agreed (after over-thinking it).

Myself and the other student left out with me driving first as I was going to be the next one testing. I actually started out doing well. My starts, stops, and shifts were actually smooth. Confidence seemed to be the order of the day! Then it happened. The road we were on had a sharp curve to the right which demanded you position the truck right alongside the middle line. My confidence was a little too high and I didn't slow down in the curve and ran over the curb slightly. The instructor looked at me and said, "It's no foul, you are doing okay." What? No foul! Ha! My first thought was "that, itself, was an automatic disqualification if it'd been my Road Test. Remember all of those disappointing drives I related with shifting issues and frustration? I was with same instructor I'd been with on my very first drive (which was not pleasant at all). Those memories (emotions included) were brought into my thinking (once again). After hitting that curb, my shifting ability that I'd enjoyed earlier in the morning was gone. I then missed some shifts and once again felt extreme frustration as I returned to the school. Now, after the "warm-up drive", I sat with swirls of negative emotions inside. It seemed as if I couldn't shake it.

Soon after though, the frustration seemed to subside as I once again sat with the DOL examiner. This time, however, I passed the Pre-Trip and the Skills Tests with relative confidence! And I was feeling good as we left out for my Road Test. The stopping, starting, shifting, lane changes, exits, intersections, and emergency stop all went well! Then my mind began to wander as I traveled in 7th gear up to a right hand corner turn. I successfully downshifted to 4th gear (for the right hand turn) and went out midway of the intersection before turning. For one moment, just a quick moment, I wasn't paying attention to the trailer in my right hand mirror and turned too quickly back into the lane. And guess what I did? Yes. I hit the curb.

The examiner seemed disappointed as he said, "Ok. Let's go back to the testing office." And he said, "It is always better to stay out a little wide." I agreed and regretfully proceeded back to the DOL testing office. As I was driving back, I felt literally overwhelmed. Then I became very unprofessional as I missed a shift. Let's just say that the words I said weren't appropriate. The DOL said, "No worries. Look on the bright side. You don't have to do the Pre-Trip or the Skills Test again, you can just take the Road Test again." The bright side? I couldn't see anything bright about it. Then, after I missed another shift with some nasty grinding, I told the examiner, "Well, on the positive side (in reference to my shifting), at least I've already failed today." He smiled and said, "Just get me back safely." I replied, "Yes, sir." And thankfully did.

Shame and personal disgust flooded my soul. I was once again overwhelmed, to say the least. Once again, I don't remember the drive home. And once again, my precious wife had put a note on the refrigerator that said, "CONGRATULATIONS!" with a big heart and a smiley face". Once again, I didn't feel very good. But after much frustration, I set my thoughts in order and went back to the DOL, paid another $100.00 for another STR sheet, and returned it to the school for another test reschedule.

I was still not happy, to say the least.

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.

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.
classA's Comment
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Over the next week I reviewed all of the successful driving memories that I had. I sat on my couch and pretending to drive a tractor-trailer combination, double-clutching each shift, while simultaneously maintaining the proper RPM. When I was driving my car, I was thinking about driving a truck. What gear would I be in at this point? How would I set up my trailer at this intersection? I played it out in my imagination as if I were pulling a 53 foot spread axle trailer. I kept focus on the view in my mirrors. When I turned a corner I imagined where I'd start turning and what it would look like as the trailer wheels stayed "in front" of the curb. This was all in my imagination. And did I already tell you that I read and re-read many articles here at Trucking Truth?

12 days later I once again arrived at the school early for my "next" testing session with the DOL. Once again I was ready. Once again I didn't want to go on a warm-up drive and once again I sensed a deep affirmation that I should not go on one. But this time, I heeded to my instinct. After refusing multiple offers from various instructors, I really felt peace inside. All I had to do was successfully complete the Road Test. And I'd already successfully completed it in my imagination.

After taking my STR sheet for the 3rd time, the DOL examiner looked at me and said, "Don't do what you did last time." I agreed and we went back out again. Was I nervous? You bet I was. Was I frustrated? Not at all. I just went for a drive. As we were beginning the drive, the examiner said, "Did you take a warm-up drive this morning?" I told him, "No, not today." He asked why and I replied, "It just didn't seem like the thing to do. I know what I need to do." He said, "You didn't want to mess it up? (as if he knew what I'd been thinking)" and I replied, "Correct." He said he understood and we continued on the road course.

I merged onto the interstate using my signal, checking my mirrors, and up shifting smoothly while also being mindful of the road signs (because I knew the examiner was going to ask me about one of them at some point). Then I exited off the interstate the same. My emergency road side stop went smoothly. I came to a right hand corner turn and closely watched the trailer wheels tracking. My turn was good! It wasn't perfect, but I didn't hit the curb! During the drive I did make some mistakes in shifting, but I recovered every time. The next thing I knew, we were back at the examiner's office. He said, "Good job. Your shifting still needs some work, but congratulations. You passed." I thanked him and this time when I walked to the school there was a spring in my step! There was no frustration, only a great sense of relief! The very first thing I did was send my wife a text message, "PASSED!" My wife was happy for me, the other students were happy for me, the school staff was happy for me, and I remembered the drive home (after I went to the DOL, of course, and finally received my CDL)! Only this time, my wife did not have a CONGRATULATIONS note for me at home.

That was my truck driving school experience and I learned many things (some which I never wanted to). Please understand that I never blamed the school instructors for simply being people. People have their own individual personalities. That is just part of life. I never felt like anyone was to blame, but me! Most of my mistakes were because of my over-thinking. Over-thinking causes over-emotion which causes over-reaction which affects everything!

And remember those guys who went with me on my first drive of frustration? Only one of us three passed on the first testing attempt. The other had to take his 3rd test again, right after my 3rd time. He passed too, by the way.

If there is anything I can say to encourage anyone in truck driving school it is this, "Make the most of every opportunity, immediately forget your mistakes, remember what you should do, keep your emotions out of it, follow your instincts, never give up, and most importantly - watch that trailer in your mirrors as much as possible!"

One more thing. Read the articles here on this site and pay attention to what the writers have to say. There is much wisdom here to help you be successful!

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.

Interstate:

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Monica M.'s Comment
member avatar

I really appreciate your humility and honesty in sharing this. The connections between over-thinking, over-emotion, and over-reaction are genius. Not just in driving a big rig, but in negotiating relationships and work situations. AND, never underestimate the power of your hunches, or what you know to be true. Best of luck in all your future endeavors.

Bleemus's Comment
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A great read and a big congratulations to you!

classA's Comment
member avatar

A great read and a big congratulations to you!

Thank you, Keth C.

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