Day One: On-Boarding Paperwork and Pre-Work Screen

Fun fact: Lynda Carter’s childhood home in Phoenix, AZ is now a truck driving school.  Yes, the house of TV’s Wonder Woman, that Lynda Carter, born and raised in Phoenix, is now being used as a home to train truck drivers.

I learned that riding from the hotel to the brand new Schneider training facility in Phoenix.  They picked us up in a bright orange bus.

Schneider bus 01

Back to school, indeed.

We assembled drowsily in the lobby of our nondescript hotel at around 5:00 this morning.  Some struck up conversations, others like me chose just to keep quiet and size each other up.  We were led to a conference room where we were promised breakfast, which turned out to be only small cups of Dannon yogurt, small blueberry muffins, a small basket of fruit and coffee.  Some classmates, who had visions of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes for breakfast, made snippy comments about that for the rest of the day.  Me, I’m always thankful for whatever I receive.  But, honestly, eggs would have been nice.

The training facility is Schneider’s brand new Phoenix training facility.  When I say brand new, I mean I think we’re the first class to run through it.  They haven’t even taken the plastic wrap off the freshly ordered Grainger trash bins yet. Or got power to one of the buildings. “Bare with us, it’s our first week here,” became a common theme throughout the day. Which is fine, it was mostly paperwork.  A lot of paperwork. Like, in all the jobs I’ve ever had, I don’t think I’ve ever filled out this much paperwork. It took all morning.  And there will be more paperwork later on in the week.

The only other event today was the Pre-Work Screen.  They took us outside one by one and ran us through some physical testing, just to make sure we are able to do the tasks expected of us.  Lifting, carrying, crouching, climbing in and out of the back of a trailer. Our heart rate and blood pressure were monitored throughout the screen.  This was the part I was most worried about.

When I got my very first DOT physical back in February, I found out I had high blood pressure.  Not dangerously high, but not good, either. The doctor didn’t advise any medication, only to loose weight and get more exercise.  You don’t have to tell me twice.  At 47, I’m dangerously close to the age my dad was when he had his heart attack.  Since that physical, I’ve made many life changes that, hopefully, will help me avoid the mistakes of my father.

Trucking just might have saved my life.

There are about 14 people in the class.  Two are women, one is with her son, they went through CDL school together and will be doing team driving.  Also, there are more younger guys than went through my CDL school.

Our Schneider guide for this day, I don’t want to say “teacher”, because he acknowledged that he won’t be training with us, did his best to let us know what the schedule will look like for the upcoming weeks.  He explained that what we were taught in CDL school might be completely different from what we’ll be taught here.

Our guide seemed flustered during most of the day, understandably so.  But, toward the end of the day, as we got away from administration and moved into talking about trucking, he became far more relaxed.  And knowledgeable.  It was good to hear him talk about the differences between what we’ve all just learned in CDL school, and what we’ll be doing in the real world.  Throughout the school I knew that we were using simple rote memorization to pass the tests only.  Now, it’s beginning to look like we’ll be learning to get real skills.

We will be in the trucks starting tomorrow.  We only have Wed-Fri, then we’ll break up to be with our trainers.  Oops, Training Engineers.  Sorry.

It does look like a short time.

We received the Schneider handbook, “Your Highway To Success”.  Our guide told us to read up on logbooks for tomorrow, and maybe even look at the chapters on shifting and defensive driving.  “But don’t read the chapter on backing. It’ll just mess you up.”

I guess some things can’t be taught in a book.





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