Me and Arkansas got into it today. It was a really clear window into how quickly relationships can go south.
It was over something petty, or least it started as something petty. The short story is that this morning we were in the yard doing backing practice until lunch. As lunch arrived, the rest of the class were walking back to the building, but I was walking to the truck where I had previously left my log book.
I wanted to just mark the change from Line 4 (On-Duty and Not Driving) to Line 1 (Off Duty)*. Arkansas said, “Just leave it in the truck.”
“But I want to just make a quick note about my change of status, the I’ll be there.” “No, just leave it in the truck.”
“It’s my log, and I would feel better if I just quickly marked this.” “Just. Leave. It. In. The. Truck.”
It went downhill from there.
It seems like such a petty point. Was the DOT going to spring a surprise inspection of the Log Books of Schneider students as they sat eating their lunch? Honestly, probably not. Should I have just let it go? Maybe. But, it’s my log book. It’s got my name on it. It’s my responsibility now.
Who is going to pay the fine if my Log Book is filled out incorrectly? Arkansas? Schneider? Nope and nope.
“Choose your battles” is a mantra that I live by. Constantly. Most of the time, I weight the damage of waging a fight, whether it’s an argument, or an actual fight, and I usually decide that backing down is better. While it can be seen as a sign of weakness, normally the damage of the fight isn’t worth what you would win. But, this time, I decided to stand my ground.
Mostly because, at this early stage, I want to start establishing good working habits, habits that will benefit me in the long run. Having an up to date log book, in any circumstance, seems to me to a good part of that goal. Also, standing up to people that want me to do something I’m not comfortable with, in any circumstance, would be another good part of that goal.
I don’t think he was used to students openly confronting him like that.
I talked to him about the “developing good habits early on” thing, and he seemed to understand a bit more. He backed down, and I then backed down too. By the afternoon, it had all blown over. But, again, it was a taster spoon of what can happen when two strong personalities confront each other.
And trucking is filled with strong personalities.
The other thing that happened today to sooth everything over was that I drove like a superstar. I’m not even joking. I’m skip shifting, I hardly ground any gears, I nailed my turns, and I mean I nailed them. My only problem is lane placement, I tend to hug the right part of the lane. It’s something I need to work on. Arkansas had that “All Is Forgiven” look on his face after my time at the wheel.
More importantly, it felt comfortable. I’m in a truck with two other guys, again, and they are still somewhat nervous, overly cautious, anxious. I was just going for a nice drive on a beautiful Phoenix afternoon.
Phoenix is part of the problem, though.
Where we are is big rig central. It looks like an actual 50/50 mix of cars to big rigs, I’ve never seen anything like it. I know a lot of the big carriers have their training facilities in Phoenix, plus there are a lot of distribution hubs around here. So, I imagine that the cars are somewhat used to having to navigate around big rigs.
Then there are the streets, mostly long, very straight, and all at 90 degree angles of each other. No pedestrians, either. Hell, not even sidewalks on a lot of the roads were running. It makes it all a bit easier. Not like dodging meth heads and crack addicts on the saturated streets of North Las Vegas.
I find out tomorrow who my trainer, oops, Training Engineer, is going to be for the next week. And, more importantly, where I’m going to be driving. It’s all going to start getting real very soon.
*For my non-driver friends who are following this blog, this might need a bit of explanation. Quoting from this Wikipedia article, “the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) govern the working hours of anyone operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the United States.” Basically, yYou can only drive, or work, a certain amount of hours a day, and over a period of 7 or 8 days. Your work is recorded every day in your Log Book, which you have to carry with you at all times if you are driving, or on duty.