Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Well Pooh, it’s a very blustery day!

Wow, the wind today was amazing.  I guess the windstorm that shut down I-80 yesterday came south to visit Oklahoma City.  Winds were blowing all day, upwards of 50 knots.  That sets the background for today.

Orientation started at 0700, way early when you realize that I went to bed at around 0300 and got up around 0515.  Lots of forms to fill out, a physical to take, which was interesting and unexpected.  Had to do some serious stuff like carry 50 pounds for 50 feet then lift it to 50 inches.  Then I had to push 125 pounds, and pull 125 pounds (representing closing trailer doors and pulling the 5th wheel release arm/tandem slider.  I shouldn’t laugh, since an older gent in my class was really nervous about the last part, stepping up a 24 inch step, representing getting into the trailer.  He has bad knees, but he made it ok!  Speaking of my class, we started this morning with 10 people, by afternoon we were 4.  Two husband and wife teams got dropped (one for not passing the physical and one for bad eyesight), the other 2 guys were just there one moment and gone the next.  No explanations given.  I guess it’s good though, high standards means better people on the road.

I was really thinking I would be one of the guys let go, since we had to take a road test.  I was totally not ready for that, and I started to have my regular panic attack when I heard we would have to do a short field alley back.  Luckily, the examiner with myself and Bryce was very cool, got me used to the truck right away, had me back and couple to trailer, all with lots of tidbits of advice.  Victor was a good guy!  The road test was interesting, Bryce drove first for about 5 minutes, then my turn.  Unfortunately, we had exited off the highway at the wrong stop and I took over on a parkway that swung around the west side of Oklahoma city.  I ended up driving about 30 minutes through downtown Oklahoma City.  Did well though, Victor was impressed with how I handled the truck in the wind, totally foreign environment and me being a total newbie.  When we hit the yard again, it was time to do the backups.  Victor helped alot and I nailed the alley back on the first try with 1 pull-up to correct a slight undershoot.  I was sweating like a dog, but I passed with flying colors! (Thanks Robert!!)

After the day was over, Bryce, Wayne, Kristy and I headed back to the hotel.  After a quick beer it was over to the Western Sizzler for some buffet.  Not my first choice, but hey, not too many choices when you’re on foot.

While I talk about the classmates, I have to say they’re great folks.  They range from 27 years in a truck (Wayne) to 7 years (Bryce and Kristy).  They have adopted me as they’re “little newbie” and have given tons of advice, most of which sounds very sensible and reasonable.  I stick to my assumption that this is a great company and truckers are good people.

One last note, a recruiter story that has a happy ending (what’s the chances of that?).  We had to settle the pay scales today, and they had me down as 0 years experience, even though my recruiter said I would start at 2 years because of my military service.  The office folks here said they had NEVER heard of that before and laughed at me, but they told me to call my recruiter anyhow.  Well, one phone call, a quick talk and Jamaine had reset my pay on the company forms.  The folks here were amazed, they had never seen a student get that deal before, and were pretty impressed.  It’s all signed and set now, so thats a great deal!

Well, I have droned on enough for today.  I’ll sum it all up by saying, so far so good!  It’s still a cool adventure!