Orientation Is Over

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.

custom-semi-trucks-top-1apartment

I know I won’t be assigned a truck like this. It’s a custom job, and it’s designed for multiple occupants. It’s like a little apartment in a truck cab! But it would be nice to have the shower and laundry facilities some of these uber trucks have…Though I wouldn’t want to deal with the extended wheel base to accomodate the extras. Makes tight turns impossible.
http://www.smart-trucking.com/images/custom-semi-trucks-top-1.jpg

Orientation took three days.  Each day we covered different topics and did different things.

Day One

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.

zztoptruck

If the band ZZ Top drove truck, this is what I imagine they would drive. I definitely won’t be getting a truck like this, either.
http://ultimatesemitrucks.com/images_usa_trucks/b94_sledgehammer.jpg

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.

custom-semi-trucks

Yet another example of a truck I won’t be assigned to. It’s pretty, no? Despite how pretty it is, I’m glad it isn’t mine. Narrow trucks like this have no room or storage for anything and make living on a truck just that much harder, in my opinion.http://www.remarkablecars.com/custom-semi-trucks.jpg

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.

Day Two

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.

mantruck660

This is a pretty futuristic truck. I definitely won’t be assigned to one of these, since I’ve never even seen one before, except for just now on the web! It’s supposed to cut down on fuel costs by 25% or some such. I wonder what it’s like inside?
http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/09/24/man-unveils-super-streamlined-semi-truck/

This was a shorter day, so we got to leave early.

Day Three

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.

cascadia

Cascadia

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.

Lots of buttons and switches! And that isn’t even all of them! Fun!
http://www.handtrucksystems.com/Freightliner%20Columbia%20cab%20interior%20pic1sm.JPG

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:

trucksculpture02

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8 thoughts on “Orientation Is Over

  1. This is really interesting! I bet your blood pressure was high because you weren’t sleeping and you were so anxious about your tests and starting anew job. I bet if you tested it after your 12-hour sleep it would be totally normal. Congratulations! I hope you get a comfortable truck!

  2. WOW! Some awesome trucks.

    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.
    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  3. I came here to see what you had going on, thinking I hadn’t been here in a while… Man ,you are really busy! This was a terrific blog. My son’s been thinking about driving a truck so I’ll have him read this.

    • Cool!, thanks! If your son wants some information or advice about the trucking industry, he’s more than welcome to shoot me a message. I’ll be happy to help in whatever way I can. 🙂

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