Training Week (Days Seven through Eleven) – Part One

The guy from RC Willey pounded on our window at 6:00 AM sharp to let us know it was ok for us to back into the dock. It woke both of us up, but my trainer told me, “Go back to sleep.” I heard him climb into the driver’s seat and back the few feet needed to affix our trailer to their building. After the gentle thud of contact, he turned off the engine and went back to his bunk. I was still in my clothes I had worn the previous day. We had only been asleep for four hours.

This was my introduction to the real world of trucking.

Before I go any further, I need to make something crystal clear, my trainer* was amazing, and any critique I will be sharing will be more focused on the loads we were given during my training week, and maybe even some general critiques of trucking in general. We’ll see.

Schneider

As I’m writing this, my recollections will also be a little less linear than my previous blog posts. If you want a more traditional, linear telling of the events of this past week, we started on Monday in Salt Lake City, Utah, ended up in Sparks, Nevada early Tuesday morning, drove back to SLC on Tuesday, drove back to Sparks on Wednesday, and drove back to SLC on Thursday. There, how’s that for linear storytelling.

This was a weird week, man, no getting around it. Hopefully writing down some of what happened will help me make sense of it.

First, let me introduce my trainer. He’s a huge fan of the Detroit Tigers, even though he’s originally from the South, so I’m just going to call him Detroit. Detroit decided to become a trainer because he kept meeting newbie Schneider truckers who hadn’t been taught the basics. Or, hadn’t been taught the basics well enough. His story is that after spending a lot of time complaining to other people about the state of training within Schneider, someone confronted him about it and asked, “Well, what are you doing about it?”

Like a sinner during a Sunday sermon, he was convicted.

For the correct procedures on how to do a pre-trip inspection , brake test, and for coupling and uncoupling of the trailer, Schneider has very informative, step-by-step handouts. We’ve been working on these daily for my first week in Phoenix. I was fully expecting to get out to the field and have my trainer say something like, “Let me explain how it’s done in the REAL world.” Instead, Monday morning, pretty much the first thing out of Detroit’s mouth was, “Get your pre-trip instructions, and we’re going to go over everything step-by-step.” I was overjoyed. All week he never once cut corners, never once had me do anything out of bounds, and for the hundreds and hundreds of questions I asked, he had good, clear answers.

I’ve been thinking about this, actually, how blessed I’ve been. On most trucking boards you can hear some horror stories about CDL schools and training programs, where students are given bad information, berated and belittled, or just left to fend for themselves. In my limited contact with those in the transportation industry, I’ve come across people who are knowledgeable and helpful, yes, but more importantly they seem genuinely interested in seeing me succeed. And that is an amazing foundation for any student to build on.

I think that will set the stage nicely for now. I expected this week to be written over multiple posts, and that looks like what is going to happen. It’s late, and I’m tired.

Again.

To be continued.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ *Schneider prefers to call their trainers “Training Engineers”, or TE’s for short. I think that is ridiculous corporate-speak and refuse to acknowledge such silly, unnecessary language.

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