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Gloria's Trucking Saga: Part One
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
One thing Iíve learned in the past year is that you really canít count on a timeline when youíre trying to achieve something. I once worked with a woman who was sure that her house would be finished on time. She ended up moving into a house where the floors were pressed wood board because, not surprisingly, the house wasnít finished when the builders said it would be.
And so it has been with beginning a new career as a truck driver. I was sure Iíd graduate from school, pass the commercial driverís license test, and be driving. I expected it would take six weeks of my life to change careers. Instead it took nine months, and way more money than I thought it would be.
But, Iím almost there. It only took two trucking schools, several thousand dollars, extra tutoring and eight tries to pass the CDL test, one month of waiting for a trainer, three weeks of being able to bathe once a week while out on the road, having to pee in a cup, and finally getting a great trainer, but so far, Iím doing well.
A year ago this time, things were a lot different. Iíd graduated from my first trucking school, under a range instructor that didnít like women. I had the bad luck to be in a small class with three other men, one of whom was a born truck driver. I struggled with the various skills I needed to learn in order to pass the test. I remember one day trying to do an alley dock, and asking this jerk just exactly where I needed to be in order to start my set up. He said to me, ďyou mean to say youíve been out here for three weeks and you still donít know where to turn out?Ē I said, ďIíve only been out here on the range for two weeks and two days.Ē He got all snotty with me and replied, ďDonít argue with me because Iím not going to go there.Ē Well, excuse me for pointing out the truth. I spent one week in class and the second and third weeks out on the range. I ended up flunking the test. Three more failures and I decided to try another trucking school.
The second place was much better. The class was larger, but the facility had plenty of trucks to go around. One instructor said he could teach me how to do the serpentine, one of the skills Indiana had as a requirement, perfectly. And he did. Everything at that school was betteróthe instructors, the trucks, the practice range (paved, and easily three if not four times the size of the dustbowl/mud hole Iíd been training on two months ago) and the bathroom, which not only smelled good, but was big enough to dance in. Even the students were a higher caliber than Robert, the born truck driver at my first trucking school, who wanted to help me. (Incidentally, this is NOT my boyfriend Robert, but a different guy.) The range instructor sensed this, and kept us apart. In retrospect, Robert could probably have done a better job than the instructor, but I resented Robertís arrogance and his inability to use his ďinside voiceĒ while outside. Plus, we eventually had a falling out because I was mad that he called me a dumbass our first day of school. He claimed he didnít, and thatís when the argument started. Despite his military experience, during our spat, I stared him down to the point where he had to go outside and have a cigarette.
Anyway, the new school helped, but not quite enough. I took the test for the fifth time and failed. It was my nerves, but Iíd say the fact that the testing site hadnít been plowed after our first snowfall had something to do with it, plus the fact the facility was a bit cramped. After realizing what I was up against, I decided to take a break. I thought I would work for a while, then when the weather cleared, start practicing and testing again in earnest. There was too much negative energy to deal with, and I thought leaving it alone for a while and coming back might be for the best. I began the crummy temp job phase of my life (again) but every day I was obsessed with passing the test. Getting a CDL was my key to a better economic situation. Ironically, I almost bankrupted myself reaching my goal.
Next column: Practice makes perfectósort of.