After a total of 20 days in the classroom, peanut gallery and the driver’s seat, we began our last day in the classroom watching videos and taking the final four tests required by Stevens in order to graduate and qualify for the trip to Dallas.
Will, the director of the training program prepared us for the multiple choice exams and it would appear that all 11 remaining trainees qualified – eight from our original class that began three weeks ago and three trainees who failed their road test last week and had to give it another go this week.The vids were on driving in the mountains, in the rain, and at night. The word to live by was PREPARE. Not much that was new, but the mountain video gave me a bit of advanced white knuckle syndrome. Me and heights don’t get along.
The toughest test included completing two days worth of driver’s log. ‘Twasn’t all that complicated but there were some elements of logging that we had not been exposed to yet. Boy there are a lot of DOT rules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations “Pocketbook” alone runs over 550 pages. This lovely paperback was our graduation present I guess.
One of the cool things about this graduation day was how the two teams became one. While our truck’s team, that you already know, will always remain especially close, we will also stay in touch with the other team plus the three recovering failures from the week ahead of ours. They include:
- The Cartel, two best friends of Hispanic origin who say they came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico but look like drug traffickers.
- Ross, our resident FKIA. A very bright and talented guy. And he is continually working to prove it, while on methamphetamines. (I don’t think I’ve ever known a guy named Ross who wasn’t a FKIA.
- Road test retaker #1 – Spike, Bubba’s older brother who has finger tattoos.
- Road test retaker #2 – Einstein, a very authoritative ex-Navy dude.
- Road test retaker #3 – Tatts, a guy who obviously came out of central casting to take the role of professional truck driver. With or without the body art, this guy absolutely looks the part and if you put him in a truck stop TV room, you would pick him first as the guy most likely to have 5 million miles under his belt.
After our graduation luncheon at which we were served Italian food, catered by Little Ceasar, we headed out to do Alley Parking. It only made sense to do the inside work in the morning while temperatures were in the 80s and save the outside work for early afternoon where temps reached the upper 90s. Trainer Will talked us through and then demonstrated the proper technique for backing an 18-wheeler into a slot a few feet wider than the rig we were driving. It was surprisingly easy, especially with Will walking and coaching alongside your tractor as you nudged your steering wheel left and right. Although we were all able to execute the move on our own with perhaps a little more jockeying than average. Perhaps Hibachi had a bit of a hard time. At any rate, we will all become proficient alley backers in short order I am sure.
The day ended with our Recruiter, Roto Recruiter, talking us through what would be coming next, in Dallas. He assured us we would be the best 11 drivers of the 80 to 100 who would be at the Stevens orientation class. He also suggested that since we would be watched, we should refrain from drinking demon rum and the concurrent public displays of idiocy. He said he would likely be assigned to great trainers. It was possible, however, that we would end up with not-so-great trainers. He suggested that we show up in our host’s rig with notebook in hand ready to record all the wisdom he had to dispense. And if he did anything that clearly violated Stevens policy, we should use that notebook to document it so as to cover our own asses.
With that, we stood for the class picture. If Roto Recruiter sends me a copy, I will not add it to this post because anonymity is still the byword here. Posts over the next few days will be considerably shorter I would guess. We have been promised 14 hour days and we will all be getting roaring drunk every night so I won’t have much time for blogging. (Kidding)