A week into truck driving school and I feel like I’m just coming out of first grade. Here my assorted thoughts:
- I have a great sense of relief that I’ve completed all five of the required written tests. I didn’t really have any doubts and even if I had failed any of the tests I could’ve gone back the next day and passed them but having them all complete by the end of the day Thursday meant I could have a relatively stress-free three day weekend.
- This will probably be my last traditional three day weekend for at least a couple of months, if not a couple of years.
- I’ll be on the road for my birthday.
- I’ll be on the road for my wife’s birthday.
- I’ll be on the road for my oldest granddaughter’s seventh birthday.
- I’ll be on the road for most, if not all, holidays for the next 12 months.
- While my training class of 13 guys started out as a pretty cold and impersonal group, it seems to be turning into a good group of guys. Most everybody is talking to most everybody else and there is a good amount of kidding around along with the mutual support.
- The funniest sight so far has been good ol’ boy Bubba, who comes to class in bib overalls, work boots and the oilfield equivalent of a John Deere cap getting out of a little Kia toaster-sized SUV. He says he has a pickup but is going for the fuel economy. I suggested at least getting a gun rack for the Kia.
- Having been on the end of A LOT of training over the years (certainly hundreds of programs) and having done a lot of classroom training myself, the training so far has been average to slightly above average. I know enough to know you cannot expect to just sit in class and then pass all the tests. So it is with this program. Our classroom instructor is a rookie. This was her first week on her own. She made too many comments to that effect. As her elder, and one who has done a lot of training, I counseled her to fake it until she makes it (becomes proficient). One or two of the guys have already been complaining that they were guinea pigs. She provided adequate information, made pretty good presentations, had a good energy level and lots of stories. That’s all we should need.
- Really looking forward to the hands on training over the next two weeks! I selfishly hope that more classmates drop out (I know, pretty brutal) so I can get more time behind the wheel.
- I’m still reading stuff in chat rooms, a lot of it negative. I should probably stop. I’ve made my decision to go with a training company so I’m in for the year or out six grand. It would take a significant lotto win to get me out. And it’s unlikely I’ll be buying many lotto tickets which, of course, is a requirement for a win.
- A 37-year-old nephew of mine who has been in the trucking business for almost 20 years (already!) said he thought the government was trying to put cowboys like him out of business and have all the trucking done though BACs (Big Ass Companies). Electronic logging will make fudging logbooks more difficult if not impossible and it won’t be long before everything is electronically logged..
- This same nephew said he really likes what he is doing. He’s tried to get out of the business once or twice but the open road just dragged him back in.
- To be (an owner / operator) or not to be (and remain a company driver). That is still the question. Depending on what you read and who you talk to, company lease programs are just different words for grand theft tractor. Fewer people say it’s a good deal. As Scarlett O’Hara said, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
In fact, I’ll be thinking about a lot of stuff over the next six months. We all have so many questions about life on the road. We’re aware that even if we get through the training and pass the road test, we could get to the headquarters orientation and get booted then. We really, really hope we get good trainers for the first five weeks. There are soooo many variables to all this that I believe it will be best to take it as it comes and let the opportunities come to me. Hey, it could happen.