26 September 2010

The weeks fly by...and before you know it....

Finally, you get to take a break for a couple of hours. In the first hour, you get a shower and then have the opportunity to have something decent to eat. You sit with your partner and talk mostly of inconsequential things. He/she wants to get to know you and is willing to share parts of their life with you, too.

Your driver mentor/trainer now has a chance to critique how you did on your first time driving. You get some praise, because he/she thought you did a good job getting down the road for the six hours it took you to move 350 miles, especially since you didn't fall asleep or wreck the rig. Don't let the praise go to your head, you're no where ready to fly by yourself. Theres' still a lot to learn.

Your logbook is beside you on the table and together you work on finishing the previous days entries and getting current. It's important that this becomes a regular routine. The penalties for not having your logbook current are.... well you really don't want to know. This will get drummed into your head, if your driver mentor/trainer is any good at what he/she does. They will be thorough and patient with you every step of the way while you learn and refine the skills you have learned and will learn from this person.

I can warn you, there will be days or a time when your driver mentor/trainer will not be in the best of moods...sometimes from the lack of sleep. But in any case, you will do something so trivial that he/she will go off. Take it in stride, it's all part of the learning process, especially if that person is good at what they do as I noted before. Hopefully, you've gotten one of the best to get you where you've chosen to go, and that's to become an over the road truck driver.

It's been a pleasent enough couple of hours, but you're really tired and want to go to bed. Your partner is going to hang out a while, maybe talk with some of the other drivers around. You are free to do what you need to do, you have a set of keys for the rig and can get in/out as you need to. The suggestion is made if you leave the rig, you leave the overhead light on above the passenger seat. This is to ensure that he/she will not drive off and leave you behind. In the reverse, if you've gone to bed, leave your footwear on the floor in front of the passenger seat. That way your partner will know you are sleeping and will try not to disturb you. You're reminded again, there is no smoking in the bunk area. It's a safety issue.

The days and nights begin to fly by and you learn at a rapid rate. Eventually by the end of the second week you're out during this segment of your training, you and your partner will be running 'team freight'. That means that you will be driving at least a ten hour leg and your partner will be in the bunk getting their rest. There will be trips where you will not have time for a shower or to eat a decent meal, but you will adjust, and the good thing is after the load has reached it's destination, you will more than likely have time for that shower and a decent meal. It can be a hectic pace. It becomes routine, a good working routine, and you will also like the pay check.

When it's all said and done, six weeks have past and you're on your way into the terminal to test out of your mentor/trainers rig and be assigned to your own. What a feeling! Pride! You're going to be responsible for your own equipment! Wow!Hopefully, you've learned how to manage your logbook, take care of all the paperwork, inspections and fueling, learned what to do in an emergency or during a breakdown, learned how to operate the communications device, have a good relationship with your driver manager, and have learned how to back that big rig into tight spaces, laugh! It's been worth it hasn't it? You feel pretty good about yourself and the accomplishment. You should feel pretty good, you've earned it and some time off.

A few final words of caution, don't let that pride go to your head, it can cloud your judgement, you still have a lot to learn. Going solo in your own rig is an adjustment, but you've been well prepared. So go home and enjoy the time off you've earned. Come back and make some money. We look forward to seeing you out there on the road, sometime. Welcome aboard.