Training Week (Days Seven through Eleven) – Part Two

Monday morning was a rocky start. First, Detroit said he had a doctor’s appointment, so that set back our start time some. His truck was also in the shop that morning, so he needed to transfer his stuff from his truck to the truck we’d be using for the day. Soon after we started the swap, his truck was ready, so we waited for his truck to get out of the shop and onto the yard. In the middle of all this, we had started pre-trip procedures on the loner truck, which we chose to complete.

All of these effected our start time for the day, and through a domino effect had ramifications for the rest of the loads all week. They say time is money, I doubt there’s an industry where that holds more true than trucking.

Detroit runs an almost dedicated route , from Salt Lake City, Utah to Sparks, Nevada. Goes up one day. Comes back the next. Sweet gig, actually.

Eventually we got on the road to our first pick-up, an RC Willey trailer that should have been in Reno the day before. Starting late, Detroit knew we would be finishing late. He hoped to just be able to arrive in Reno, open our trailer doors, back into the dock and go to sleep, hoping that they would just let us do our 10 hour reset on the dock. The problem was that there was a lock on the back of our trailer that nobody seemed to have a key for. Therefore, we couldn’t just back in, we had to wait for the receivers to open (or break) the lock and then we could open the doors and back in.

Everything was going from rocky to downright craggy.

We hit the road. I was driving. Now, consider this for a moment. I first began to drive big trucks, what, less than two months ago? In my CDL school, I drove about an hour or so a day for two weeks. Rounded off, that’s about ten hours of driving time. Total. Here at my Schneider training, I got another 5 hours or so. Maybe. 15 hours total drive time.

Suddenly, I’m driving one leg of a journey that’s almost as long as my cumulative total of driving experience.

Again, Detroit was great. I had missed a few gears in town, he quickly identified what I was doing wrong and gave me some pointers. I also wasn’t looking in my mirrors nearly enough. And not paying attention to signs nearly enough. And my lane control was atrocious. We had a lot to work on for all those upcoming hours.

Wendover Utah

Interstate 80 Westbound. Flat through the Salt Flats, up and down through the mountains (well, sort of mountains). My training ground of North Las Vegas was complicated with traffic and insane pedestrians, but one thing it didn’t have was steep hills. Phoenix, too, is pretty flat. I can’t imagine approaching the kind of grades I drove on I-80 without any kind of coaching. Again, Detroit was right there with tips on when to apply my engine brakes, when to stab break, and pointing out what other drivers were doing wrong; “See that guy, he’s riding his brakes all the way downhill. Don’t do that.”

The miles, the hours, rolled past. As it got later and later, I could feel fatigue setting in. Not only was I used to driving in one hour intervals, I was also used to going to bed at 9:30 every night to be up and ready by 5:30 in the morning. 11:00 hit and I could feel that drowsy feeling, that forcing your eyelids open feeling. I wanted to push through, make a good impression for my trainer, but I also felt like crashing the truck because I fell asleep would make a bad impression. I confessed that I couldn’t continue driving and he needed to take over. He have me a look that said I probably should have confessed that 30 minutes earlier.

Know your limits. No load is worth your life. Or the lives of others.

After finishing our 10 hour “rest” at the shipper , which wasn’t restful at all, but nevermind, we were back on the road, picked up another trailer and headed back towards Salt Lake.

And that’s how most of the rest of the week went.

I’ll detail some specific instances and impressions in my next post.


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