Out on the range

Today was my third day here at the company-sponsored CDL training facility. Yesterday was similar to the first day, with lots of safety presentations and laying the groundwork for getting us out in trucks. Today, however, we spent some time on the simulators. We are lucky enough to be at a facility that has four drive simulators that look just like the driver’s seat of a truck, but have a digital screen where the windshielld would be. Instead of getting in a real truck to practice changing gears, we did it in a simulation. It’s not really good for  much else due to the limited graphics and physics of the sim, but practicing changing gears without ruining a truck is very valuable experience. Expecialy since I would definitely have shredded the gears of a real truck, as well as possibly run someone over and/or rolled the truck if I hadn’t been on the sim. It was hard to get the rhythm of double clutching down! Considering I’ve only ever successfully driven a manual car once, ten years ago, I didn’t do too badly, but it was another humbling experence for me.

In the afternoon, a group of us went out to an offsite range to start learning how to do the pre-trip inspection. For those who don’t know, a pre-trip inspection is a VERY thorough inspection of the inside and outside of a truck performed EVERY time a trucker is getting ready to head back out on the road. Doesn’t matter if you were just stopped for lunch or overnight, you must perform the pre-trip inspection before leaving. It has to do with safety and liability. If a trucker takes off without doing the pre-trip and a few hundred miles down the road, a tire blows, or the brakes fail, or something happens to the truck that requires repairs and/or a delay in delivery of product, the company has no way of saying that it wasn’t the trucker’s fault and the incident could have been prevented altogether just by doing the inspection. Therefore, the inspection is thorough and, thus, difficult to memorize. Truckers have to know the different parts of the engine and identify if they are in proper working order, parts of the brakes, parts on the tractor, parts on the trailer, as well as an inspection of inside the tractor cab and a brake test. It’s a lot of information to memorize, but fortunatley, it is just straight memorization. They are giving us all the information we need to pass the test, we just need to memorize it. I do know I will need the full three weeks to get it down, though. Also, we got caught in a torrential downpour while out there tooday… twice. Once with lightning. Fun fun.

It’s late and I have to get up at 7am (ugh) so I’ll end it here for now.

Hope to see you down the road.

~Catherine

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I’m on my way!

Sitting in the Columbus, Ohio bus station, I remember last night when it really hit me that I’m leaving home for a month or more. It really hit me that I won’t see my dog in a very long time. The last time I had to leave my dog, I had to leave her in a really bad situation and I still haven’t really forgiven myself for that. I started to feel the same things I did then: guilt, fear, despair. But then I remembered that I’m not leaving her in another bad situation. She will be properly loved and cared for even though I’m not there to do it. That realization helped more than I thought it would. Even though I’m going to miss Snickers more than anything, I’m not going to be worried for her safety. And that’s important.

Some people might think that my priorities are backward that I’m going to miss my dog the most, but I will be able to talk to my family. I can video chat with them. I can’t pet my dog. I can’t snuggle with her. She won’t be sleeping in my bed every night. And that’s how we communicate. I know some people skype with their dogs, but I know that she wouldn’t understand what was happening and it might make her more depressed. I know it will make me more depressed. So I’ll just love on her non-stop every time I get home time.

As for the bus, I’m currently on a layover. I’ve ridden Greyhound before and I will say that they continue to improve their travel experience. It’s not perfect. Nowhere near. But it’s better than the first time I took a bus in 2009. Unfortunately, they advertise the shit out of their free wifi at terminals, but I can’t connect at all. So this will be posted later, possibly tomorrow when I’m at the training center. The bus was the most crowded I have ever been on, but it’s likely that the Akron-Columbus route is more popular than Fort Wayne-Detroit. Hopefully my next bus will be less crowded. I’m a little worried about getting delayed. They already had to split a bus going to Cleveland into two trips and a 3 o’clock departure left at 4. I hope I’m not too delayed since I won’t be getting to the center until 10 pm at best.

In the mean time, I’ve got the copious amounts of anime that I downloaded last night, as well as music. I’m currently sitting in the food court and, I’ll be honest, this terminal is pretty disgusting. I’m only eating here because I don’t think I will get another chance to eat for the rest of the day. The Akron terminal, which is also the city bus station, was very nice. The cafe was closed, likely because it’s Sunday, but it was clean and aesthetically pleasing. The Columbus station is clearly quite old, smells like you think a bus station would, and is in slight disrepair. I hope they update the station soon. It is quite large and clearly heavily used, so it may not be efficient to combine it with the city bus station. It would need quite a bit of space, which is pretty limited in downtown Columbus. I’ve noticed quite a few cities combining their Greyhound stations with their main bus stations, which makes sense. Especially for smaller cities that don’t have as much traffic through their Greyhound terminal, it is much more cost effective to combine the two, instead of paying for electricity, plumbing, AC, etc. for just a handful of people a few hours a day. It also means they can potentially pool their resources to keep the station better cleaned and in good condition.

I’m just rambling because I’m bored. My layover is at least 4 hours, depending on when my next bus shows up and I still have at least another hour to go. Oh! I almost forgot! Our bus got pulled over on the way here by the cops. They boarded and said they were looking for someone, asked for ID’s from a few people who, I’m assuming, fit the profile of the guy they were looking for. It was very strange. We pulled over into a, currently, unused construction site with nothing but a shack and port-a-potty and we were like, “Shit, what you gonna do to us in that shed?” It was weird.

Anyway, I’ll try to update tomorrow and depending on wifi, I may post twice tomorrow. See you then!

~Catherine