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with my soul for sale in Nashville, Tennessee
i'm ready for my close up mr demille
Last night, as we were approaching Nashville (at 4pm I might add), I got brave...  on a hunch.  I said to Jason:

"We will be following I-24 east through town.  I want you to navigate us through Nashville on your own.  I don't want you to ask me about which lane you should be in or what you need to do.  I want you to concentrate on your task, read your signs, and get us through here.  If you begin to make an obvious mistake, I will correct you so we don't get terribly off-course, but I won't advise you of what you need to do before-hand."

And so it began. On two occasions he tried to ask me about what he needed to do and I just shrugged my shoulders and told him I wasn't going to answer him. His brow would furrow and he'd concentrate even harder.  And you know what?  He did it.  Flawlessly, I might add.  Afterwards, I told him:

"That was awesome!  See?  You can follow these signs.  When I'm sitting here with you, it's too easy to just ask what you need to do rather than figure it out for yourself."  He smiled when I said this because he knew that's what he'd been doing.  "In the future, I want you to treat every city and junction just like that.  I'm still going to be sitting here watching you for quite some time, to make sure you've got it, but I don't want you to ask just because it's easier than figuring it out for yourself."

A couple of hours later, I drove the point home as I was driving us through Chattanooga.  "Remember how you felt when you were driving through Nashville?  How you had to pay attentnion to every sign and watch for directions, lane changes, and interstate junctions?  Every time you go to some place unfamiliar, you have to concentrate like that.  I'm doing that right now.  I haven't been to Chattanooga in years... and never in a truck" [This was a white lie, actually].  "And never on I-24.  I have never done what I am doing right now.  So, I'm doing exactly what you were doing in Nashville this afternoon: concentrating on following these signs because it's the only way I can figure out how to dive through here.  It's not as difficult for me since I've had lots of practice doing it, but it's still the same basic task that you performed in Nashville."

So we've had a real breakthrough. His shifting ability continues to improve constantly, as well.  A few times, I observed him doing a gear search on the downshift in an almost automatic nature while he continued to be cautious of his surroundings.  He continued to roll until he got his gear, rather than have to come to a complete stop to recover it.  Who da man?  I am! Go soopa! Go soopa!

We did have a small blunder this morning while leaving Talladega, Alabama, but of a new variety we hadn't encountered yet.  We were bobtail (sans trailer) and turning right onto a 55mph, four-lane highway.  He turned onto the highway into the right lane, then signaled, checkd his mirror, then changed into the left lane.  In all, a flawless execution and he deserves props for remembering all of these vastly important steps in the task.  But he didn't take into account his speed (20mph) when judging the distance of the tractor-trailer barreling down the hammer lane at 60mph. I saw the truck in the mirror back-off and take for the center turn lane to avoid him.  The other driver sounded his horn.  I made him aware that he was cutting off the other driver.  Jason said he was "way back there" when he decided to change lanes. I calmly mentioned the speed differences and he looked at his speedometer and promptly gave the truck some fuel.  I didn't want to be too hard on the guy, he had been aware that the truck was at least THERE afterall and didn't do anything erratic or dumb upon realizing his error like switching back to the right-lane without checking mirrors, etc. 

Baby-steps... baby-steps.

So today we're moving some empty trailers from one location in Birmingham to another in Talladega.  Then we're taking a load out of Talladega to... Oregon! A nice, long trip to the west coast with all sorts of new cities to traverse where Jason can hone his newly acquired skills.  He got a taste of mountain driving while crossing Tennessee last night, but he'll get the real deal over the weekend as we cross the Rockies, Sierra Nevada and Cascades.  Interestingly, this is an identical trip to one I took one year ago.  The last time I made this trip, I had attempted to visit the semi-ghost town of Goldfield, Nevada but had not been able to because it was dark when I got there.  Maybe I'll have better luck this time.

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Baby steps ? y the sounds of things, he's grasping everything rather well. But he just needs to be put in the position, where he can utilize his surroundings, rather than falling back on you, oh master. 'grin'

A lot depends on the teacher as well. By the sounds, you are doing a great job. Yet who am I to judge or question ?

Looking forward to the goldfield visit, lots of pics ?


Oh, most definitely. I always take a ton of pics when I stop some place of interest.

Are you going through Caldwell?? If so I'm going to have my family take cover;)

Har har har. It doesn't look like it, so your loved ones will be safe... for the moment.

good good, just lemme know:)

Maybe you missed your calling to be teaching the mentally challenged - you're patient and use lots of positive reinforcement. Great job!

the patience of Job...

i couldn't do the mental retardation bit for very long... with this gig, at least I know there are going to be just as many Mikes as there are Jasons... :) the special cases are a challenge, but I wouldn't want them all the time...

Sounds like he's coming along nicely. Have you even mentioned trip planning to him yet, or are you still doing all of that?

Oh lawdy... we haven't even BEGUN to touch on trip planning. I'm just trying to get his basic driving skills solid and some simple Qualcomm usage... I'm hoping to start getting into trip planning and map reading in the next week or so... boy, won't THAT be interesting

Hello, I am also a Werner student on the Dedicated ConAgra account, and I would just like to ask, "How come I didn't get an attentive trainer like you?" My trainer writes down the directions then goes to sleep, and that is the good part. When he is not sleeping he is telling me pretty much word for word what to do. Haven't really learned alot from him, learned alot more from screwing up and having to corrected before he found out and tried to do it himself. So anyway I think the entire point of all of this was Kudos to you for being a decent trainer.

Hey, wow, I didn't realize you were a Werner student... are you still a student or are you in your own truck yet? If I knew there was another Werner student reading this, I might not have been so, how shall we say, negative about my current trainee? ;-)

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people "training" who really don't have the skills to do it, nor are they really interested in being a "Good" trainer... they're only in it for the $$$$... I had ten years worth of management experience in the restaurant business prior to trucking, so, my training skills are rather sharp... it's something you constantly do in that biz. Most of the guys who "train" have never really been exposed to any sort of technique or skill and the two day class you take to become a Werner trainer touches on some things, but there's no way one can acquire the finer points of instruction in a two day class... If it's any consolation, that little blue progress report you fill out on your trainer... be honest about it :)... that's the only way the bad weeds get pulled.

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