I have had plenty of time on my hands here the last four months, being unemployed an' all, so I figured I'd do me some investigating into some of the Trucking Schools around my hometown. At last count there were 13 within a 100 mile range of here.
Now to avoid lawsuits and other stuff that get our excellent (Bullshit Meter has just jumped off the scale) "Justice System" involved, I shall refrain from naming names.
My investigation only took a week. It was an easy thing to accomplish since I went to the targeted school and simply asked, "What would it take to get my CDL Class A?" (Grin wink wink). And being I was also going to targeted trucking companies near the schools to find a job, I killed two birds with one stone.
You may be askin' me why I did this...and I'm glad you did. I learned to drive in "The School of Hard Knocks." For those of you who haven't a clue what that school is, gemme a minute, I'll explain.
Before CDLs, anyone able to shift a manual transmission and push in a clutch could drive a truck on this nation's highways. That was both a good thing and bad thing. Good, because most people were never given a chance to learn how to shift 18 forward gears and 3 reverse, or a 2-stick split-axle, or a Triplex, and God forbid a Quadraplex. Just hearing the names of these transmissions would put second thoughts into most people not serious about driving a 40 ton rig at highway speed, or through tight turns on a mountain road, or for that matter steady up and down shifting in a city. Also, most companies could not afford to keep up repairs on a fleet of rigs that were constantly being tore up by rookie drivers.
That said...if you knew a person who owned a rig and he was willing to train you, plus bare the expense of repairs to get you trained, then you could count on keeping a job with that person and earning a decent living until you screwed up bad or retired. So this kept the demand for drivers at a premium and only those who could learn the job and do it well could be called one of the "White Knights of the Highway."
What are "White Knights of the Highway?" What I gotta do explain everything?...ok...ok...
See, back when the heroes in movies wore the color white to keep them distinct from the bad guys who wore the color black, every red blooded male child in America wanted to be the good guy and rightly so, 'cause good guys always won and got the girl. Bad guys just got hung or shot or sent to prison, the way it should be. Ummm... more on that in another story. Also Movies were in black and white, so it would be hard to tell the good guy from the bad guy if the good guy wore red and the bad guy wore brown...understand now? If so, GOOD! If not...your loss.
Knights went around doing good deeds - slayin' dragons, saving the princess, and waging war against evil forces. They lived by the code of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!"
So, men who took pride in their job, helped out when there was a need, and asked for no compensation for the effort became affectionately known as "White Knights of the Highway."
(pause for effect here)
Sadly, there are very few of these true men still around, and most males nowadays want to be considered as "one bad dude" or some kind of mysterious silent type that females go nutz over...BAH!!!
My rabbits run a country mile, don't they?
Shall we move on? Yes, lets.
I didn't learn to drive in a school. I had to learn the hard way. Doing it for real.
Now... the first ...umm ...err...school? - I guess you could call it, was at some guy's house...he had an old rig and much to my surprise was very up front about how he would get me my CDL. He told me he had an insider at the DMV and all I had to do was slide him some cash and I would get my CDL. I asked how much, with all the enthusiasm I could muster while reaching into my pocket. Well, I must be a damn good actor cause he gave me a number and I tried to look real dejected. He said he would knock off a $100 but could go no lower. I thanked him and tried to act as sad as I could while walking back to my car. Now don't expect me to give you his name 'cause that's the kinda dude I'm gonna watch and bust his ass when the time is right.
The second school I went to, on the same day as the first I may add, gave me a tour and answered my questions to total satisfaction. They had more modern equipment and I was able to check a tractor out, but was not allowed to get behind the wheel. I was told for Insurance purposes that only employees and students could have the privilege of sitting in the driver seat.
I asked about how to fill out a 'Log Book' and was told they go over the basics. They had all kinds of ways to get a person financed if need be. Everything from your signing a contract for a certain amount of months to drive for certain companies, right down to VA loans.
When the time came for the DMV road test, the instructor at the school gave it. Then you went down to the DMV and took the written part. I was able to hang around for a bit and watch some of the students going through the driving course on the school property. I was impressed. Damn near had me thinkin' they could teach ol'Pappy a few new tricks! Then as I was ushered back to my car, I was given a fistful of brochures, a hardy handshake, and a pat on the back. I have to say that this driving school would be my choice if I had to go to driving school. I wish I could give you the name. From what I understand, they are a fairly large school with big letters "R---" and "M------" painted on the trailers. I wish I could help you out.
*A Note From Brett Aquila*We normally won't mention specific names on TruckingTruth, but since a driving veteran and a trusted friend and author of our site went out of his way to do this without even being asked, I'd be foolish to do such a disservice to our visitors as to not to let him name the school that he found to be the best in his area, so we're making an exception here!
The rest of the schools I went to checked out, except one, which seemed like a "fly-by-night" if you ask me. An old rig in a dirt lot with an old office trailer. You gotta pay cash up front. You may or may not use the rig for the "Road Test"...blah blah blah yada yada yada...one guy was so annoying I wish I coulda bitch slapped him!
The last one I will tell you about seemed like the owner was just getting started. He was renting an old warehouse with a huge lot. He had a couple of decent rigs and an old dump truck for those wanting a Class B. Seemed like a real nice guy. I wish him the best of luck. Me, seeing a possible opportunity for a job, asked him if he needed instructors. He kinda sideways looked at me. Then I spilled the beans as to what I was up to. He said, nope sorry, I got what I need for now but gimme your name an' number I'll call if I need someone. I guess it pays to check out where you go to school.
It also shows what kind of person you are in how you go about getting your CDL.