Day Twelve – 2 Hours of Pre-trip Inspection, 3 hours of practicing for the skills test, then driving the rest of the day

Can we talk about shifting? I am learning to like it.

When I went into traffic the first time, I was horrified. And shifting sucked donkey’s balls. When I hear about Mega-Carriers all going to automatics, I though, “Thank the Heaven’s above.” But, by the end of today, I’m starting to get more into the rhythm of it.

Release the clutch/allow the truck to get moving/press clutch/get into neutral/release clutch/press clutch/get into the next gear/release clutch/accelerate…

Rinse and repeat. You all know the drill.

I like shifting.

What I never knew is how complicated driving a truck is:

Green light/release the clutch/allow the truck to get moving/press clutch/get into neutral/release clutch/press clutch/get into the next gear/release clutch/accelerate/make sure that guy in the silver sedan doesn’t pull out in front of you/press clutch/get into neutral/release clutch/press clutch/try to find the next gear/grind gears/curse/grind gears/curse/look in mirrors/make sure that pedestrian doesn’t walk out into the street/press clutch/finally find the right ****ing gear/light turns yellow/brake/brake/press clutch/get into neutral/tap accelerator/press clutch/downshift/release clutch/light turns red/brake/brake/BRAKE/try to smoothly come to a complete stop with adequate distance between your vehicle and the car in front/have some random car pull into that space you just created/curse/brake/press in clutch/come to complete stop/splitter down/place into 3rd (because our student trailer is empty, we don’t need to start in the lowest gear)/look in mirrors/monitor intersection/green light/release the clutch/allow the truck to get moving/press clutch/get into neutral/release clutch/press clutch/get into the next gear/release clutch/accelerate/is that cop behind us?/press clutch/get into neutral/release clutch/press clutch/get into the next gear/release clutch/splitter up/look in mirrors/look at gauges/look at road/press clutch/get into neutral/release clutch/press clutch/get into the next gear/release clutch/HOLY ****, THAT GUY JUST PULLED OUT IN FRONT OF US/BRAKE/BRAKE/curse/look in mirrors/press clutch/get into neutral/tap accelerator/press clutch/downshift/release clutch/check mirrors/remind yourself to hug the ones you love when you get home/press clutch/get into neutral/release clutch/press clutch/get into the next gear/release clutch/look at upcoming intersection/how long has the light been green?/check mirrors/hey, that chick walking on the sidewalk is kind of cute/wait, what gear am I in?/do I need to shift up again?/what are my rpms?/dammit, I should have shifted already/make sure that woman in the PT Cruiser doesn’t pull out in front of you/check speed/check mirrors/press clutch/get into neutral/release clutch/press clutch/get into the next gear/release clutch/accelerate/uh oh, the light ahead just turned yellow, I just upshifted for nothing/break/break/break/press clutch/get into neutral/tap accelerator/press clutch/downshift/release clutch/light turns red/brake/brake/BRAKE/BRAKEBRAKEBRAKE/try to smoothly come to a complete stop with adequate distance between your vehicle and the car in front/hey, nobody pulled into that space this time/smile and be thankful for small victories…..

That doesn’t even cover turns.

Honestly, how do you guys do this every day? I’m exhausted.

I said at the beginning of this diary that “…after decades of bookkeeping and office administration work, I am looking forward to a change…if I can at least look out my window and see an open road and wide expanse of prairie, or mountains, instead of the same lifeless office block, that alone will be an improvement.”

I was thinking about this today. At my old office job, I know exactly how this past week would have been. I don’t even have to step foot in that office to know what happened. I was there about five years, I know. I know the calls I would have taken, the e-mails I would have sent, the conversations about TV shows I would have had with my co-workers. How do I know? Because that was how every week had been.

Since I’ve started this adventure in trucking, every day has been different. New experiences, new things to learn, new skills to practice. I got to watch the sunrise as we did our pre-trip practice this morning. My old cubical didn’t have any windows. The office didn’t have windows.

My new office is going to have really great windows. I’ll finally get to see the sun rise and set once is a while. It’s all worth it just for that.

Have a good weekend, everyone, I’m going to bed.

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