I find that I am more nervous now than I was at the end of Week One. So many people failed the road test last week, and I just don’t feel I’m on top of the parallel park. I’ve been visualizing the skill all weekend. As I was out and about today I even went to an empty part of a shopping center parking lot and did the moves in my car, pretending there was a large trailer behind me. I think it helped me imprint the necessary lefts and rights. The two things that are a bit worrisome about the park is knowing when to straighten out (I just don’t have my mirror skills down yet) and once I get straightened out, being able to keep it straight until I have to crank it right again.
We have three days. I keep telling myself that it will all click.
We’re also learning more and more about what will be happening in Dallas when we head up there in a week. The Limey told us that it should be a breeze for us but that a percentage of the 80 to 100 new drivers that will be part of the company orientation will represent the wretched refuse of America. He said there would be individuals that are down and out and this is their last chance to make something of themselves. They will be bumming cigarettes, hitting us up for loans, and who knows what else. Once again I wonder, what have I gotten myself into?
Now for a look at the human side of the equation. People get into trucking for different, sometimes cryptic reasons. In my diverse group, I really don’t know why any of them are making this move. Forgive the long post.
The Players (I should mention that all the names are fictitious)
Ali – Is a 50-year-old Palestinian who grew up in Jerusalem. He got to this country when he was 16 and graduated college in engineering. He spent time in the Navy working on nuclear stuff before he discovered his entrepreneurial side. He says he’s had up to five different businesses going at one time, lived in a big house and drove a Mercedes S500. Then things changed. From 2005 until now he’s lost just about everything. Even making the rent in a modest house is evidently a problem. He’s a freaking engineer for Heaven’ s sake, how can he not score a gig with some energy company. After 400-plus resumes – nuttin! He actually drove 18 wheelers a long time ago and let his CDL lapse. So he finds himself getting back on the road. He’s the cowboy of the team. The Limey is always jumping his case for revving over 1,500 RPMs and taking corners too fast. The Limey and I rip on him about his terrorist roots, but he seems to take it in stride. (I sure hope so.) Plus he dishes it out pretty good himself. He’s a smart ass of the first order, but I gotta say, his humor has an edge, a viciousness to it. I bet he’s a mean drunk. For somebody with no money, he buys food at just about every convenience store we stop at (for our breaks, you know). Plus he smokes, which seems not uncommon for a Middle Easterner.
Hibachi – Is a 57-year-old native of Hong Kong who was in the restaurant business. Even though he’s been in the country since 1983, he’s English is mediocre, at best, and he is very hard to understand. It sounds like his wife is still in the restaurant business. Because he is so hard to communicate with, I don’t know much more about him. Hibachi is the least talented driver on the team, and his shifting can be pretty painful. He knows how things are supposed to go and is a pretty good critic of the rest of us. Bummer is, he doesn’t even have to go take the CDL driving test. Unfortunately he will have to pass Stevens’ driving test when we get to Dallas. Early in the week I would have bet against him. Now? I think he has a good shot. I really don’t know why he’s getting into the business. It sees as though he would have a network in which if he was sick of working in the restaurant, he could hook up with a supplier in the restaurant industry and drive a box truck making food deliveries. I haven’t been to all that many truck stops, but I sure don’t remember seeing a lot of Asians in any of them I have visited. One more thing, Hibachi smokes what looks like girl cigarettes – Misty?
Kraut – Is a native Texan, the only one on our team. He grew up in small town Texas and seems to have a pretty interesting background. He was raised by his grandma until he was six and was then adopted by a Hispanic family so even though he is full-blooded German, he has a Spanish surname. Should have fictitiously named him Krautinez. I don’t know exactly how old he is, but he has a 22-year-old son who lives with his first wife in south Texas. Kraut spent most of his business career in the card business. Most of that time was in the finance side of the business. This means he has made some real good money over the years. He got out of the business when his employer, the Bill Heard organization, got into trouble with the law (related to the financing of vehicles) and had to file bankruptcy. He found himself in the mortgage banking business and probably made real good money doing that too. He’s married again and has four other children, including a nine-year-old. He speaks frequently about how much he loves his wife and kids. He’s also mentioned that he had an offer to manage a group of convenience stores in town for a six figure income. He said he wasn’t interested because he’d already done the corporate thing. To give up a six figure gig to take a job that might pay sixty grand (in a couple of years) and would keep you away from home for weeks at a time just does not compute for me. So there’s something else going on here.
Bubba – Is from just across the border in Louisiana. And actually, he is a Bubba*. At almost 43 years of age he’s got “redneck” written all over him, in the most positive sense of the term. I can see him wrastling alligators, field dressing deer, and lifting livestock over his head. He wears bib overalls over a t-shirt most days along with a ball cap. And he fills those overalls out pretty darn well. He said he used to dip snuff and when he quit, he gained better than 30 pounds. But he is definitely not fat. Call him stocky. He looks as strong as an ox. He fingers are thick as a roll of quarters and just as hard. Bubba is the NICEST GUY! You just get the sense that he would give you the t-shirt off his back if you needed it. This week he started bringing a big cooler with bottles of water and cans of Dr. Pepper. I never need them because of course I don’t drink sugar water and bring my own water. But, dang if that isn’t a beautiful gesture. Probably his most valuable attribute is HE LAUGHS AT ALL MY JOKES! And it seems to be genuine. He is truly good-natured guy. And he has driving skills. He became the Limey’s class pet on the first day in the truck. He did drive a logging truck a few years back, so he did take to 18-wheeling quicker than the rest of us. But he doesn’t have as much experience as Ali. That being said, I don’t begrudge his status in the class. He already has his CDL so he doesn’t even have to take the DPS road test although he will have to pass muster with Stevens. Shouldn’t be a problem. His brother is in the class one week ahead of ours and is one of the trainees that failed the DPS road test. This actually works out for the two of them because they are interested in team driving. Because Bubba’s brother won’t be able to retake the road test until this week, he won’t be going to Dallas with the rest of his class. They’re now on the same schedule.
The Limey – Is a large 50-year-old Brit with an even larger personality who seems to know that he won’t see his 70th birthday. He has lived a large life. As it is he smokes two to three packs of cigarettes a day and sucks down more cokes in a day than New York Mayor Bloomberg would approve for a month. While he was still in London, he worked as a parttime bouncer and showed me two of his many knife wounds. He was also an English Hells Angel for many years, a tribe not known for their healthful practices. He’s been married numerous times. His first U.S. marriage came about when he was in an American bar someplace and announced that he needed an American wife so he could stay in the country. He actually got a volunteer. He married her, but, alas, she loved another, so he let her go and married the lady she was at the bar with. He has a 13 year old son –
Ya know, the Limey is a blog unto itself. Probably a three part biography. Let it just be said he is probably the most entertaining trainer I have ever had. And he obviously knows his stuff. Plus he gives us insight into what the job will. That insight will better prepare us for life on the road with Stevens. As it stands right now, I would like to stay in touch with him after I get deployed.
Good night for now. I expect to dream about parallel parking tonight as well. Will let you know how things go tomorrow.
* The term BUBBA is derived from the mispronunciation of the word BROTHER as spoken by an older sibling on the birth of new baby boy. You can imagine that a three year old might say the word BROTHER as BUBBA, right?