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Old 06-06-2007, 01:09 AM
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Default High-Seas to Highways

I am writing this “blog”, “journal”, ‘diary”, or whatever you wish to call it, for 2 reasons. 1) I know there are many out there like myself that enjoy reading about someone’s daily life on the road. It’s almost like we’re living vicariously through the writer.
2) Maybe it will provide some helpful information to those that are thinking about getting into the industry or at least lessen the anxiety about making the plunge.

Let me start off by explaining the title, “High Seas to Highways”. I titled it as such is because I just recently retired from the U.S Navy after spending the past 22 years navigating the high seas all over the world. Soon I will be navigating the highways of our beautiful country.

So how did I come about this new endeavor? Well simple put, it has been a childhood dream. I intended to become a driver right out of high school, but in for reason which I won’t bore you with, I ended up joining the Navy in 1985. Which, at the time I had no idea I would turn it into a career for this long. That is a story in its self for another time and place. So let me fast forward 19 years. In 2004 I re-enlisted for the last time and I had to figure out what I would do when this last 3 year contract was up.

No sooner than I started thinking about what I wanted to do, I already had the answer, ”Professional Truck Driver”….my childhood dream!

So the research began. What I thought would be an easy task turned out to be anything but. I ended up conducting research for almost 3 years!! I read countless articles; spoke with recruiter after recruiter, drivers upon drivers, read literally thousands of threads on various forums. Every time I thought I was making headway, I would find something else out that would only add to confuse what I thought I already knew.

I won’t bore you with all the little details but I will say this though; I truly believe that I am much more prepared to enter this industry than the “average Joe” whom may not have the luxury of having such ample time to conduct what I like to refer as “self-education”. In the end, I feel as I have learned just about everything there is to learn from this side of the fence so to speak. The REAL learning won’t begin until I have my CDL and am out there “where the rubber meets the road”

SIDE NOTE: I am NOT claiming to be an expert by any means what so ever on the industry. But, if I can offer any advice to my fellow “wanabee’s/newbee’s”, it would be to echo what all the pro’s out there have been saying…….. research, research, and then some more research. Ask all the questions. Make sure you fully understand what it is you’re getting into. Make sure you fully understand what to expect and what not to expect. Make sure you keep your family and or loved ones informed as well. Do what ever it takes to educate yourself BEFORE you make the plunge. Oh, and one last thing….attitude….keep a positive attitude at all times. You’ll be surprised how far a positive attitude will carry you.

Ok, enough with the babble and let’s start this journey……..First thing to do is to obtain a Class “A” CDL. I enrolled in Sage Truck Driving School located at St. Philip’s Community College in San Antonio, Texas. The school is 4 weeks long, with class running from Monday thru Saturday from 8am to 5pm (yep, 6 days a week!). CDL School will prepare me with the BASIC skills required to obtain my CDL and nothing more. The real training will happen on a daily basis when I am out on the road.
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Old 06-06-2007, 01:09 AM
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DOT Medical Exam/Drug Test 05/21/07
Went in today to get my required DOT (Department of Transportation) Physical. There are no appointments, just walk-ins. So it was anyone guess as to how long I would be there. Fortunately I was in and out in about 2 ½ hours. So anyways, I fill out the typical paper work and wait to be called.

Once I am called back the first thing they want is a urine sample. They tell me to empty my pockets into a locked drawer, give me a cup and tell me to fill it to a certain line. During my military career, I have had to provide numerous samples over the years. In the military though, there is a guy there actually watching you and ensuring that the urine is physically leaving your body and entering the cup. This one for the DOT was more or less the “Honor System” or at least that is how I perceived it.

Now the actual physical starts. The first thing they do is weigh me and measure my height. (By the way, I just had a complete “Separation Physical” 6 days earlier from the Navy) They have my height 1 inch shorter than I really am and my weight at 17 pounds heaver than I really am!!!! I laugh and tell the nurse that can not be correct as I just had a physical 6 days ago and I highly doubt that I shrank an inch and gained 17 pounds. So we do it again and although she got the height correct, she still has me 17 pounds too heavy. Then she takes my blood pressure, which she says is too high 130/92. Again I laugh and say that it can not be as once again, 6 days ago I had a physical and everything checked out fine. She takes it again and low and behold my blood pressure is normal at 118/76. By now I am like “WTF!!!” I am not very confident that their equipment is calibrated and true and beginning to wonder if the staff has a clue.

Anyways, after all was said and done, I passed and now have the standard 2 year medical card. Which, by the way, you MUST carry with you at all times while you hold a CDL. If you are asked for it by DOT authority and you do not have it, it can be a hefty fine.
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Old 06-06-2007, 01:10 AM
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Day 1 of CDL School 6/4/07:
We started off with an introduction of each student, instructors, staff, and school director. Everyone seems so friendly and helpful. After the intros, we had a few forms to read and sign. After that we received an orientation. Basically explaining the rules and regs of the school, what to expect to get from the training, etc. One thing that did surprise me is that the first 13 days will be straight through. What I mean by that is that class will run from 8am to approximately 5pm Monday thru Sunday.

Anyways, after the orientation, we went out to one of the tractor-trailers and went over some basic stuff. Nothing in depth, I believe it is designed to allow a student that has never been up close to a big rig to actually see one inside and out. Our instructor, Felix, also went over a few things on the truck and trailer all the while explaining that it will all come together and make more sense (if we didn’t understand at that moment) over time.

After all that we went into the classroom and jumped right into the course. We went over combinations, general knowledge, and air brakes. We took a test after each segment. Yours truly did extremely well scoring a 99%. All of this is to prepare us to go to the DPS office and pass the tests to obtain our CDL permits.
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Old 06-06-2007, 01:10 AM
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Day 2 of CDL School 6/5/07:
Tests, tests, and more tests. Today we went over Tankers, Doubles/Triples, Hazmat, and Special rigs and then tested on each subject. Of the 4 different tests, I missed a total of 2 questions because I did not fully read and understand the question. What a bonehead I can be sometimes. All of these tests are to prepare us to pass the CDL permit test, CDL “A” test, and any of the endorsements we wish to get. Tomorrow we will get out of class early so that we can head over to the DPS office to take our tests. Wish me luck.

Something I did not realize until the instructor explained it to use was, there is only one 20 question test that we have to take to get a CDL permit. This technically, is all we have to pass at this time. Then, at some point and time before we can take the actual driving test and get our CDL Class “A”, we have to pass four other tests on air brakes, general knowledge, combinations, and pre-trip inspections. I am not sure if this is a Texas “thing” or if all states do it this way. In either case, I intend to get all of mine done at the same time. This way I don’t have any more written tests looming over my head and I can concentrate on all the other aspects of the training.

We also had our first recruiter visit us today. I won’t mention the name of the company, but will tell you they have white trucks with blue and red stripes. Anyways, as I sat back listing to this guy, it made me sick to hear him play up how great this company was and how good the pay is, blah, blah, blah. It took everything I had to bite my tongue and keep my mouth shut. I say this because as I mentioned at the beginning of this journal, I have done my research. And when a recruiter comes in and starts bragging about how great .14cpm is to earn while in training, how training as a team on 2 log books for 5 weeks is the best way to earn money and get quality training at the same time, blah, blah, blah…I just wanted to yell out “BULLSH!T”. But as I mentioned, I kept my mouth shut out of respect for the others as well as the recruiter (who actually seemed like a very nice guy). However, I did let my opinion be known after he was gone and we were on a break. :wink:
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Old 06-06-2007, 01:59 AM
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You mean you responded with 755 post and you didn't even have a CDL? They'll allow anyone to post! Just kidding.

Good luck with your new venture. :wink:
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Old 06-06-2007, 02:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluggy619
You mean you responded with 755 post and you didn't even have a CDL? They'll allow anyone to post! Just kidding.

Good luck with your new venture. :wink:
LOL....yeah it's amazing who'll they'll let on here huh? :lol:
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Old 06-06-2007, 02:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devildice
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluggy619
You mean you responded with 755 post and you didn't even have a CDL? They'll allow anyone to post! Just kidding.

Good luck with your new venture. :wink:
LOL....yeah it's amazing who'll they'll let on here huh? :lol:

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Old 06-06-2007, 02:23 AM
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Yep...they'll let anyone on here...I'm about a decade older and approx 1 year away from following in your footsteps devildice. I'm still makin hay while the sun is shining... ...and doing the same thing: research-research-research.

Good luck and thanks for taking the time to post your experiences.
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Old 06-06-2007, 02:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geomon
Yep...they'll let anyone on here...I'm about a decade older and approx 1 year away from following in your footsteps devildice. I'm still makin hay while the sun is shining... ...and doing the same thing: research-research-research.

Good luck and thanks for taking the time to post your experiences.
Thanks geoman and good luck to you too!!!!! I hope my posts can help or at least entertain people.
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Old 06-06-2007, 04:41 AM
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Sounds like you're off to a great start devildice. Looking forward to reading your experiances with schooling, training, and then driving. That is so cool to hear that you are "following your dream" to drive a truck. I will be doing the same, in about a year from now. For now, i'm just soaking up all of the information that I possibly can. Have fun and be safe...Dave
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