Well, I have been out with my trainer for a week and a half now and it has definitely been a roller coaster ride. I am learning new things every day, and every day our trainer expects us to do more and more on our own with little or no guidance from him. I feel I have progressed quite a bit, but feel as tho I still have a long way to go, especially since I only have 3 more days with my trainer.
Over the last week and a half I have really improved my shifting skills. Our trainer showed us the finer points of using the "jake" brake when going down hills (Pittsburgh in rush hour traffic can be fun!). He has had us doing lots of trip planning so we get use to it and he taught us how to properly scale a load and adjust the weight to get it legal if there is too much weight on the tandems or drive axles. City driving can really be nerve-racking for a new driver, but I found if I just slow down and think ahead it makes it much easier. Maybe I have been lucky, but the drivers around me seem (for the most part) to be courteous and give me plenty of room.
Now the last week has not come without it's down falls. My trainer has nicknamed me "curby". I have hit a few curbs the last couple days that I really shouldn't be hitting. There are some that are unavoidable, but I have hit some that I had plenty of room. The sad part is that I know better, but for some reason, maybe for a lack of concentration, I just haven't been taking all the room I needed to get around the corner. I hit one curb today right before I set up to back into a dock, and after inspecting the trailer at the end of the day, we had 2 right rear inside trailer tires flat. I felt so bad, but then my trainer told me there was no way I blew those tires by hitting that tiny curb, so I felt a little better after that.
I also saw the sad side of over the road trucking; especially if you have a family. The other night I was settling down for some much needed sleep when my wife called and informed me she was on her way to pick up our son from football practice. She was called and told he was injured and they advised her to take him to the emergency room to get x-rays. My heart sank, not only because he had been hurt, but because I could not be there for him. Being away from your family and not being able to take care of things and spend time with them is definitely a down side to this job. Luckily the injury wasn't serious, but it is definitely hard being away when something like this happens.
I have 3 more days with my trainer before I head back to my operating center to take a skills qualification test to make sure I am ready to get my own truck. Hopefully I will be as ready as can be in such a short time.