February 25th, 2005

i'm ready for my close up mr demille

It's a shame about Jay

Location: Monrovia, IN

The real problem with the level of Jason's mental faculties is, I don't know where to start.  It's becoming obvious to me that he needs to rather serious lessons in fundamentals.  Tonight he was negotiating a ramp in downtown Indianapolis.  In attempt to help him with his preparation for the 40mph curve which lie ahead, I suggested he begin his downshift and braking.  He hesitated briefly but then took my adivce and began to do so.  The shift was rough but tolerable.  Then for no reason, he begins veering off into the right lane, oblivious to the semi that was passing him on the right side.

"What're you doing? "

He didn't aswer and began to straddle the dotted line.  I saw the truck take to what little shoulder there was and back off.

"You nearly forced a truck into that concrete wall over there."

He looked in the (wrong) mirror to which I said, "This side."  Then, "Why are you leaving your lane?"

He moved back over into the left lane.  He said he had become confused by "the sign or something" and thought that with the curve, he might need the extra space (or something).  I really didn't get any sort of satisfactory explanation for what had just occured.

"You don't have to leave your lane to make turns on a free way and even if you did get confused, why would you leave your lane without checking your mirrors or signaling?"

To which he didn't have an answer. 

I've also spent a good portion of the day constantly explaining what signs mean.  One time, he exited I-70 onto a state highway because the sign said "west".  I asked him, "West what?" 

Jason: "I don't know, but it said west."
Me: "There are lots of highways which go west.  The one we need is the one we were on.  We're taking I-70 all the way to Illinois, Jason."

So, like, how far down do I have to go?  I mean, I know it's my job to train, but things THIS fundamental I think is beyond my general scope of having to deal with.  I may call the training department tomorrow and pose the question anyway.  It's just that, at the moment, it seems I'm going to be having to explain EVERYTHING.

Like the difference between a "Merge" sign and a "Yield" sign which I had to do this afternoon in Columbus.  Fortunately, the 4-wheeler he cut off figured out he wasn't yielding before things got ugly.

I wrote that last night right after the incident in Indianapolis.  Today, I decided to take a fresh approach.  We got up this morning and drove for about two hours.  I had him sit in the passenger seat and observe while I explained some things to him.  We worked on lane control and shifting.  I also spent about an hour on the interstate shwoing him signs, over, and over, and over.  How they're laid out, what the different types of signs there are (blue=info, green=direction, brown=point of interest, yellow=caution, orange=construction), and how there is a method to the madness of their placement along the highway.  Every exit we came to, I would reinforce the system (green exit signs, yellow caution signs, blue info signs) and hopefully it is sinking-in.  We are stopped in Monrovia, IN at the TA here just outside Indy.  I'm meeting my very first trainee, Paul, here for breakfast.  I never wrote much about Paul because when I was training him was back during the Soopageek Blackout of 2004 when my computer died.  Paul got on the dedicated account I work for and so our paths cross from time to time, but this is the frist time we've both been able to get together for a little bit and catch-up.

When we leave here I'm going to have Jason put into practice the things he observed this morning.  We'll see how it goes. :)
i'm ready for my close up mr demille

how one becomes a trucker - part 1, the CDL

Over the past few days I have had several inquiries as to the specifics of how training works with my company.  I also have a few folks on my f-list who are considering or planning to enter this profession in the near future, so I thought it might be appropriate to do some entries devoted to this subject.  A place where all the questions about the process can hopefully be addressed and, if not, comments can be left for further explanation.  In addition, should I acquire any new LJ friends in the future who begin asking these sorts of questions, I can always point them here.

Some people are hesitant to ask about my profession, assuming that I probably don't want to talk about work.  I've always loved "talking shop".  Even when I managed restaurants it was fun to find yourself in a group of your peers and talk in jargon and acronyms and everyone knows what you mean.  Coming across people outside of the restaurant business who were interested for more than 5 minutes about what you were talking was rare, though.  With this profession, at least you some of you guys seem genuinely interested as to the specifics of certain things.  So what follows is an incredibly truck-geek entry about the topic of obtaining a Commercial Driver's License (CDL), as a prelude to another entry devoted to the topic of training.

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