We convened at seven o’clock in the A of M. Haven’t had to set the alarm for anything earlier than 6:00 for a loooong time. Got to the facility in about 30 minutes. Not bad. There were probably sixteen people in the grungy training room and more were coming in. It looked like it was going to be standing room only. Turns out half the guys (right, no women) were starting their second week and they were led away. The remaining 13 included three Hispanics, five Blacks, four Whites, one Asian (hmm), and one Middle Easterner (I think). By the end of the day one of the Brothers was gone for an unidentified reason, although I think it had something to do with his background check or his DOT physical. That dude had only turned 22, the minimum age for the company’s trainees, a couple of weeks ago.
We had our team and our trainer, Pammie (clearly a girl, albeit with grandchildren), introduced herself. I should mention that our training was being held in conjunction with the Lone Star College system which has a transportation school. Who knew. Pat had been training for awhile but her specialty had been straight backing. (Now that is specialized.) This was the first time she would be training solo. She went on to do a nice job.
Our recruiter and main company representative, Clark, showed up 15 or 20 minutes late but he had breakfast tacos so his tardiness was forgiven. He spent a couple of hours having us fill out paperwork and reinforcing what a good decision we had all made. Stevens Transport was the best training company out there and although we were all bound to the company for a year, or we would have to pay back the $6,000 (Yes! $6,000!) that the training was costing them. He added that at the end of a year, because they had the best training in the industry, we would be heavily courted by every other trucking company out there. Stevens figures they’ll lose 70 percent of their trainees after their rookie year, but they evidently figure that was their cost of doing business.
During the review of the Lone Star Driver Trainee Handbook, which was blah, blah, blah, blah, I was crushed to learn that we would not be able to wear shorts. Dang! The good news was they had a paragraph devoted to hygiene. That was one thing I was actually worried about: having to get into a tractor cab with one or more smelly, hasn’t-taken-a-shower-in four-days human beings. That’s not to say there won’t be a hygienically-challenged team member but I will at least have the standing to call attention to the situation citing the manual as the governing document.
We will have to pass two written tests to get our Class A drivers permits and three more before we can take our road test. We buzzed through subject reviews for three of them and took two practice tests. Aced ’em.
But the videos we viewed, while informative, were the real eye-openers. The other two things I was dreading, other than the stinking partner thing, were descending from the mountaintops (c’mon, you’ve seen those emergency turnouts in the mountains) and the dreaded jackknife. The videos showed how to avoid problems in these situations, but the danger still lurks.
End of day one? I am pleasantly surprised that so far everything has lived up to or surpassed my expectations.