Day Fifteen – 2 Hours of Pre-trip Inspection, then driving, then some skills at the end of the day

Guy One got it together today. He didn’t do great, but he did much better. And whenever he would make a mistake, he made a visible effort to shake it off. It worked. He wasn’t letting his mistakes get to him. He’ll be fine.

We had another recruiter today, from a company that I have no desire to work for. He was supposed to be here yesterday, but cancelled. As he was passing out his company’s pens and tri-fold pamphlets, he told us that he had been stricken with the stomach flu. He looked horrible. Just what I needed the day before my test. I didn’t touch his brochure and just left it on the table.

He made his presentation in the classroom, where this all started for us. For a four week CDL school, two weeks are in the classroom, and two weeks are out in the range, in the world. Walking into that classroom again after only a week and a half of being in a truck, it felt like years since we had been up there. So strange, like going back to your old high school for the 10 year reunion. You recognize the buildings, but you just feel out of place, like you’ve outgrown it. And moved on.

This month has ran past me at a ridiculous pace.

I only drove once today, but that was fine, it was a long ride, and it went well. Military Guy took me out of our normal routes into some virgin territory for real world experience. It was both nerve wracking and tedious at the same time. It was refreshing to start looking out for different signs, different intersections, different traffic patters. Different dangers. At the same time, I’m starting to see that a right turn is a right turn, a left turn is a left turn. Every intersection is different, but if you have enough tools in your toolbox, then new challenges can be easily bested with your old, well worn skills.

Ha, I’ll be an old salty trucker yet.

Speaking of that….

Towards the end of the day, most of the trucks were back into the yard early, and everyone was scrambling to get one final crack at skills before testing. A few trucks had been set up, and all the other students from the other trucks were now milling about and mixing, vying for a chance for one last try. While some of the instructors had taken it upon themselves to run these desperate students through their paces, most of the other instructors were shooting the shit in the smoking area. Myself, and other students, hovered around asking questions and waited for any of that ancient trucker wisdom to drop. They were talking about hazards like cars and pedestrians. I piped up and joked, “I bet you probably have to deal with old salty truckers, too, pressuring you to do things you don’t think you’re ready for…”

I meant it jokingly, and the other instructors laughed in agreement, but one looked me straight in the eye, and with a steely expression just said, “Fuck ’em.”

Not the jovial response like the other drivers, but straight, almost somber. Almost angry. “Fuck ’em.” Like he was saying that to a specific old salty trucker who had somewhere, somehow, wronged one of his students.

I like to think that in those two colorful words, he was saying, “Don’t do it, don’t let them push you around. You are responsible for you, and don’t let anyone interfere with that. Ever.”

It’s comforting to know that there are old salty truckers looking out for us young pups.

Test day tomorrow. 6:00 AM.

Good night, everyone.

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