Swift Academy - Memphis Tennesse 7/11/15

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Joel G.'s Comment
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First off I wanted to say thanksb> to Brett for building this site. I have been reading it for the last few months and it helped solidify my decision that the Swift academy is the best option to start my career in trucking. As I write this I am on the Greyhound bus that swift arranged for me. I live pretty far away from Memphis, but it's the closest school they have to my home in Miami, FL. It's a 28 hour bus ride. I contemplated flying, but couldn't find a ticket under 550.00, so I decided to take the bus. As I write this I'm in Tampa 6 hours into the journey. I was hoping the wi-Fi would be decent enough to allow streaming video to keep me entertained. Unfortunately it's slower than a turtle. I guess I will have to find other ways to keep myself occupied. I brought along a CDL exam prep book, so I am going to start copying all 20 pages of the pre-trip chapter onto notebook paper, to try to set it into my memory. I will try my best to update this blog as often as I can. Hopefully the wifi at the Holiday Inn that Swift has booked me into is better than the WiFi on this bus.

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

Joel, welcome to Memphis, and to Swift. I've heard about the bus ride - long, boring, etc. But you'll be in the hotel by Sunday.

I'm at the Swift terminal every day. PM if you want to meet up.

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.

Michael T.'s Comment
member avatar

Me and my team driver will be attending the training also on Monday. I guess we will see you there.

Joel G.'s Comment
member avatar

I survived the bus ride and arrived at the Holiday Inn on Sunday. While we were waiting for the keys to be ready, I mingled a bit with some of the other students and found a cool guy to share my room with. The hotel is actually very nice. Rooms are spotless, daily maid service and a refrigerator and microwave in the room. From what I understand about the hotel in Millington when the academy was hosted there, this is much better.

The only bad thing about the this hotel is it is in the middle of a commercial zone and does not have any stores or restaurants nearby. I found 3 other people and decided to split a Lyft ride to the super walmart to load up our fridges. When we got back, I went to bed only a few minutes later. I was tired as hell and we had to be up at 4:30 to catch the bus at 5.

5 AM Monday, I meet everybody downstairs outside. It turns out the bus doesn't actually leave until 5:30. I'll keep that in mind for tomorrow. Class today was simply checking in with the compliance ladies and showing them that you have your Class A permit, physicals both long and short, and social security card. If you do not have your physical, they will do one for you on the spot for $40. If you do not have your permit, you are sent home and cannot return for a month. Unfortunately one guy in the class learned that the hard way.

The class was HUGE I counted 46 students, from what I understand, it will thin out as time goes by, but damn it's a lot more people than I expected. Today we also did our drug screens and lunch was provided free of charge in the terminal's cafeteria. It wasn't bad, But I probably won't be paying the $8 price tag that they want for lunch tomorrow. There is a burger king across the street, or you can bring your own lunch.

As we waited for all 44 students to finish getting their paper work in line, we were instructed to read about 8 chapters from a truck driving manual that offered more practical information than I had in my state CDL book. We had to answer questions at the end of the book and told that assignment would count as points towards our final grade.

On a sad note, at the end of the class day, my roommate was called to the back of the room and told he had to go home. It turns out he left his long form physical at home which was authorized for 1 year because of moderate blood pressure. When he redid hos physical here they measured it as 6 points higher which only qualified him for a 3 month card and they told him that wasn't good enough to continue in the academy. I felt sooo bad for the guy as I could tell he was one of the students that was really serious and determined to succeed. They bought him a bus ticket back home to florida and he will have to go at 10:00 in the morning.

Tommorow we have another class day and wednesday we start on the range. I am watching the weather channel right now and the temeratures are forcast from 98-101 degrees this week with head indexes as high as 115...HOLY ****! I am going to bring a giant bag of frozen water and pray to hell I don't die out there! On the bright side I'll have a killer farmer's tan when I get done with this ish....

In the hotel room right now, Thinking I'm going to hit up the weight room in the hotel watch a little popcorn-time and get to bed early around 9 or 10...to be up for the bus in the morning...

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Renae S. (Angel)'s Comment
member avatar

5 AM Monday, I meet everybody downstairs outside. It turns out the bus doesn't actually leave until 5:30. I'll keep that in mind for tomorrow.

With my luck I'd end up counting on the bus leaving at 5:30 and it shows up early...leaving me behind!

On a sad note, at the end of the class day, my roommate was called to the back of the room and told he had to go home. It turns out he left his long form physical at home which was authorized for 1 year because of moderate blood pressure. When he redid hos physical here they measured it as 6 points higher which only qualified him for a 3 month card and they told him that wasn't good enough to continue in the academy. I felt sooo bad for the guy as I could tell he was one of the students that was really serious and determined to succeed. They bought him a bus ticket back home to florida and he will have to go at 10:00 in the morning.

I'm sorry your new friend had to leave. It sounds like they're really serious about making sure we're all healthy though, which is a good thing.

Tommorow we have another class day and wednesday we start on the range. I am watching the weather channel right now and the temeratures are forcast from 98-101 degrees this week with head indexes as high as 115...HOLY ****! I am going to bring a giant bag of frozen water and pray to hell I don't die out there! On the bright side I'll have a killer farmer's tan when I get done with this ish....

Crud! I forgot to put sunscreen on my list of stuff to take with me! Thanks for the reminder. :D The frozen water is a great idea too!

Keep the ideas and advice coming. We may be going to different schools, but there's going to be some general information that really helps! Thank you!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Joel G.'s Comment
member avatar

Tuesday - Day 2

Caught the bus at 5:30 and headed off to the academy. Today was another pretty slow day in the classroom. They made us sign the contracts sting that the 3900 cost of tuition and 500 cost of housing is a loan that needs to be paid back as a weekly $75 payroll deduction for the next 13 months. on the bright side we also get tuition reimbursement at 37.50 per week or the next 26 months.

They told us that the 3rd party CDL testers are pretty backed up and that we are going to be bussed home after 14 days. They say it will likely be a 2-3 week delay until we are sent to our local terminals (Ocala for me) to do road training and the skills, pretrip, and road tests. The Exam costs another $225 that we have to submit in the form of a money order on day 13. It is a lot cheaper for most other states, Florida is one of the highest. This delay kinda bummed me out a bit as I was hoping to get on the road as fast as I could, but nothing I can do about it I guess.

Since my roomie was sent home, I have the hotel room all to myself which is SWEET! It's too bad that SWIFT is making us move to a different hotel tuesday morning. and then return back to the Holiday Inn Sunday Night...I'm not kidding, they want us to play musical hotels. They told us the reason is because the hotel is booked for the weekend...what a stupid excuse, didn't they book rooms for us??? This makes no sense.

I am upset because I bought food for 2 weeks at walmart as did my old roomate, so I have an apartments worth of perishable food, and no bags to put it in to take to the academy on Thursday morning as we don't even check in to this new hotel until Thursday evening at 5;00. I asked which hotel they were sending us to, they said they didn't know yet...seriously???? Also upset because they will now likely find out that I have the room to myself and I'll probably get paired up with another student that ended up in a solo room as well. With my luck one with bad hygiene and snores...

Anyway, this diary is supposed to be about training, not lodging arrangements. We really covered very little in class today, they showed us how to fill out log books, but we never got to talking about mapping or trip planning that was scheduled on the syllabus.

Also, some weird things...They made us all put our cell phones in a bin at the back of the room because they didn't want any audio or video recording...kind of silly as I doubt anybody would do that.

Anyway tomorrow starts range training.. I am so excited and at the same time I am scared ****less...I really want to succeed at this, but looking at the lot full of these huge beast tractor trailers is terribly intimidating. What worried me most is how well I am going to be able to see the back of the trailer and how well I can judge distances from that far away...

I'm not a very religious person, but if anybody reads this tonight and they are, please pray for me! I really hope I do well at this. If I don't succeed it's back to my parents house in a city where there are NO summer jobs at all. I really need this job!!!

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.

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.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

Joel G.'s Comment
member avatar

Wednesday - Day 3

Today we spent a couple hours in the classroom then hit the range. Our instructor told us that the training we are about to go through could be one of the hardest things we have done in our lives and after this first day on the range I believe it. Even if it wasn't 100 degrees plus outside on the asphalt, backing these beasts is a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be. I think it really sucks that we only had 1 instructor to 44 students! When they told us this training was 4 students to a truck, I figured each truck had it's own instructor...nope, you get a quick 10 minute info session, then break up into your small groups and it's the blind leading the blind. I did terribly, not able to straight back once without pulling up to correct.

I wonder if I would have done any better if I had an instructor showing me what to do and pointing out what I was doing wrong or if I'm just hopeless. By the end of the day, I was dizzy and had a splitting headache from sunstroke, by face, neck and arms were stinging with the pain of severe sunburn. I had made up my mind, This wasn't for me and this would be my last day here at the swift academy.

After getting back to the hotel and resting for a few hours, I started to think about where I was going to go from here, and I started to realize I don't have very many other options, I need to make this work no matter how hard it is, no matter how frustrating it is, no matter how much it hurts. I decided I wasn't, rather couldn't give up, I walked to the dollar store and picked up a straw had, solarcaine, and some coppertone 50 spf spray. I am going back for more punishment tomorrow morning.

I am Sofa King tired right now...more tommorow...

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Renae S. (Angel)'s Comment
member avatar

Wednesday - Day 3

By the end of the day, I was dizzy and had a splitting headache from sunstroke, by face, neck and arms were stinging with the pain of severe sunburn. I had made up my mind, This wasn't for me and this would be my last day here at the swift academy.

After getting back to the hotel and resting for a few hours, I started to think about where I was going to go from here, and I started to realize I don't have very many other options, I need to make this work no matter how hard it is, no matter how frustrating it is, no matter how much it hurts. I decided I wasn't, rather couldn't give up, I walked to the dollar store and picked up a straw had, solarcaine, and some coppertone 50 spf spray. I am going back for more punishment tomorrow morning.

I am Sofa King tired right now...more tommorow...

I feel for you Joel! Sunburn on top of everything really stinks. Hang in there! good-luck.gif

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Sofa King Joel, I feel your pain (not the sunburn, but the struggle). You were right to 1. decide to bail b/c of the frustration, and then 2. decide to stick it out. You know the old saying "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Hang in there. I went through the same Swift Academy in December/January. Not the heat obviously, but we all froze our butts off standing around outside the trucks.

You should get your 4 to 1 student/teacher ratio when you do the road training. In the meantime, yes, you and a partner are on your own. One is in the drivers seat getting frustrated and the other is outside trying to tell you when to turn the wheel and when to stop. But you will get a feel for how the trailer moves as you back in between the cones. In your future backing experience, the Swift range will be the toughest. The cones are set I think one foot narrower/shorter than the requirements for the CDL. When I took my driving test, then, the target zone seemed like a whole football field compared to what I practiced on at the Academy. Also, killing a cone isn't quite as bad as wrinkling another driver's front fender at a truck stop.

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.
Cherity H.'s Comment
member avatar

I enjoy reading your diary. I am starting tomorrow myself and know a little of what to expect now. They are bringing my husband on as a mentor to train me after the academy. I'm anxious and nervous.

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