Training Week (Days Seven through Eleven) – Part Three

We’re on our last trip, from Sparks, NV back to SLC. I’m on the last upgrade of the last hill before we get to the low horizontals of the Salt Flats. My downshifting has improved over these past few days. Down to 51 mph, shift from 10th to 9th. Done.

We’re heavy, little over 77,000 lbs. Down to 41 mph, shift from 9th to 8th. Grinding, I suddenly can’t find the gear. Grinding again. We’re slowing faster now because we’re heavy. Try 8th one more time. Grinding. Try 7th. Grinding. Nothing is working.

In my head I’m envisioning the truck beginning to roll backwards down this grade and into oncoming traffic because I can’t get it out of neutral. Try anything. Nothing but grinding. Get in a fucking gear. I try 6th. I’m in. God bless you 6th, you are a beauty. I love 6th gear.

We proceed up the grade even more slowly now, but at least we’re not rolling backwards.

I have a theory about trucking, it’s hours of boredom followed by moments of sheer terror.

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I’ve lost 10 lbs since I’ve started this adventure. This week especially, we were running so hard that we barely had time to eat. I grabbed Subway a couple of times when we stopped in Winnemucca, NV. I’ve almost given up soda completely, drinking mostly water instead. On the road, I have chosen bananas and apples over truck stop food.

Schneider space

I’m slowly becoming accustomed to not eating, actually. Maybe I’ll turn into one of those Ascetics from ancient times, who would forsake worldly pleasures to pursue a more spiritual lifestyle. I will be like a trucking monk, the highway will be my desert, my truck my place for meditation.

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Detroit said something really interesting, he said he believes there are two types of truckers, those that love to drive, and those that love money. If I can be brutally honest, I think I love driving. If I never make a six digit salary, then I’m ok with that.

I remember one guy in CDL school constantly drone on about how he was going to be a flatbedder because they made a few more pennies per mile. God speed, friend, you do that. Have fun tarping loads in 40 mph winds and rain, standing on top of uneven stacks of lumber or pipes. Knock yourself out, kid, I’ll wave as I drive past in my nice dry, warm truck.

I didn’t change careers to get rich, I changed careers because I was miserable, and a part of me died every morning I sat down at my computer. I’m not saying that I don’t want to work. I’m saying that I don’t want to kill myself chasing big money.

And small money is where I am. Schneider is good, don’t get me wrong, but don’t think I don’t realize I’m getting paid the trucking minimum wage here.

Which is totally fine. For now. It’s called paying your dues. People used to have to do that.

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Friendly advice to car drivers from a newbie trucker: GET OFF YOUR FUCKING CELL PHONES!

It’s an epidemic out there. I can’t count how many people are driving around looking at their phones when they should be looking at the road.

Oh, and here’s some friendly advice to other truck drivers from a newbie trucker: GET OFF YOUR FUCKING CELL PHONES!

Unbelievable.

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61 miles per hour. That’s how fast we were going for most of our trip. Speed limit on I-80 is mostly 75-80 mph. Over the week, I think I passed three vehicles. Big rigs passed me quicker than politicians on their way to a Wall Street fundraiser. Am I ok with being limited to 61 mph on the highway? You bet. I think right now if I was allowed to go any faster I would just kill myself. 61 is fine.

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In total, I was in the truck for four days. I racked up around 1,980 miles in those days. On Friday, we were supposed to transport a load back to Reno, then I would get a hotel room and get a rental car for the trip back to Phoenix. However, for some unknown reason, Schneider didn’t want to pay the mileage from Reno, only from Salt Lake. And I didn’t want to drive back to SLC on Saturday only to make another drive from SLC to Phoenix in one day, Sunday, my one rest day. My 36 hour reset day. So, after we pulled into the yard Thursday night and did the post trip inspection and TIV*, I said “Goodbye” to Detroit, slept in the truck, packed up my things Friday morning and headed back to base.

Only four days. The Million Dollar Question: Am I ready to go solo? Honest answer. Maybe. I mean, I think four days was a perfect amount of time to be with Detroit, he was truly a fantastic trainer. The problem was his route. I wish I got in more city driving. I was I had more time to practice backing, and not be so rushed at the end of every day because we were struggling to get everything completed before our clocks ran out.

My mother told me if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

Ultimately, I think if I wait until I’m “ready”, then I’ll never get out there. I’m grateful for this experience. I’m grateful for all the wisdom Detroit dropped on me. I know I can do the individual tasks, hopefully I can figure out how to string them all together to make a pick up and delivery.

We’ll see.

road
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*Trailer Integrity Verification – something the Guber’mint cooked up after 9/11 to make sure those sneaky terrorists weren’t trying to hide their dirty bombs underneath our unsuspecting, freedom loving trailers. I kid you not.

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