This has been an anxiety filled week for me. I went to orientation for my new trucking job. I think I averaged about four hours of sleep per night, since I was worried about getting on and hired. Last night, I think I slept twelve hours to make up for that. I feel a lot better this morning.
Orientation took three days. Each day we covered different topics and did different things.
Orientation began at 7am on Tuesday. The first day, the first thing they do is make you take a pee test, to see if you’re on drugs or alcohol. I don’t know why, but this test always makes me worry. I am not a drug user, I’m an avid non-user, as a matter of fact. I do not like the idea of drugs, mostly because I’m a control freak. I don’t drink much because I don’t feel like I’m completely me when I drink and I can only imagine what drugs would do to me. But yet I’m always paranoid about these stupid drug tests because I’m afraid I’ll have somehow imbibed or breathed something without knowing it. That marijuana smoking guy who got on the bus that one time where I could smell him before he ever even stepped foot on the bus–well, what if because he sat next to me and I was within extremely close range of his stink that means I absorbed enough of that shit for a positive test result? What if I ate some poppy seeds in the last few days and forgot and that makes for a false positive for opiates? It’s stupid to worry about those things. Logically, I know that there is nothing to worry about. But that doesn’t seem to matter to my inner-what-if-sayer. I mean, my livelihood is on the line, thus the worry wort what-ifs.
After that, we had to fill out and correct our applications and other hiring paperwork. The driver facilitator had to go through all of our paperwork to make sure it was correct and get confirmations and whatnot.
After that was done, those of us who did not get our medical DOT cards from a facility that was company approved then had to go get another DOT medical exam done. I was one of the lucky ones who had to go. This, of course, was a source of new anxiety as I worried that my state of health would have somehow mysteriously deteriorated in the less than three weeks that it had been since my last exam. As it turns out, it had. My blood pressure was a bit higher than the doc liked–borderline high blood pressure (I wonder if all the anxiety I was feeling had anything to do with it?). So I was lectured on my weight and I told the doc that if it was because of my weight, than I probably wouldn’t have passed at all a year ago, since I had lost 60 pounds last year and walked almost 1100 miles. He told me to keep doing what I was doing and warned me to watch the sodium. I then told him that I do, because my husband is on dialysis and it’s something that we’re always watching for. Any lecture he had was pretty much stopped by that. He just recommended that I keep in touch with doctors to monitor my progress. I got my medical card for one year (instead of two) because of that stupid blood pressure thing.
Anyhow, I went back to orientation with the guys and got collared to do the drive test. I was the first on the list to go. Yay! Not. I was hungry, because by this time it was after one o’clock and I hadn’t eaten since 5:30 am! My tummy was rumbling, I wasn’t focused and I definitely felt more anxiety, as it has been 6+ years since I’ve stepped foot in a truck cab. But, as the old saying goes about riding bicycles, I found it wasn’t too hard to remember. By the time I finished the short little drive, I wasn’t even grinding the gears! And I was having fun! The tester and I got along fabulously. She did a great job of helping me feel relaxed and comfortable.
After the drive test, we sat around and had lunch while others got their tests and after all the testing was done, our day was done.
With testing done, day two is a day chock full of classes and lessons and testing on DOT regulations and federal regulations. Hazmat, safety regs, logging, how to use the electronic logbook Qualcomm system, etc. I was very impressed by the (new to me) Qualcomm system. It can do so much more than what the old Qualcomm system I was originally trained on can do. It’s even got something akin to GPS navigation in it! Pretty cool little tool.
This was a shorter day, so we got to leave early.
This last day of orientation, we found out of we were officially hired by the company. They had to wait until this day, because they were awaiting the results of the UA. We got our driver codes, our Commdata cards, and got to watch a bunch more videos on safety and company policies and whatnot. We also found out if we were going to be assigned a driver mentor that day or not (none of us were, to my knowledge, since the mentors weren’t quite there yet) and approximately when they felt they might have one ready for us. We also were told how many hours we were going to have to go out with a mentor before we could be on our own. In my case (and most returning experienced drivers’ cases) I have 50-100 hours that I have to drive with a mentor before they will assign me a truck.
I’m okay with that. Company policies have changed and laws have changed over the last six years and there is a lot to learn, let alone review. I imagine I’ll be done with my time in less than two weeks and then I’ll be assigned my own truck.
What will I get? Probably a Freightliner or Volvo. Most likely a Freightliner. I think the company has mostly Columbias and Cascadias.
I probably won’t get a Volvo. I didn’t see too many of those around. The company was starting to use a lot more Volvos when I left, but now they say that they aren’t using them so much anymore.
In case you’re curious, here’s what a Columbia truck looks like on the inside. The truck I just did my drive test in was very similar.
It’s looking like I won’t be assigned a mentor until Monday. So I get to stick around the Portland area for a couple more days before I go out and train. I’ll keep you updated on how it all goes!
Just because I thought this sculpture was pretty cool just for the sheer scale of it than for any other reason, I thought I would pass it along: