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Gloria’s Trucking Saga: Part Three

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2008-06-10


July 2007: I’d told “The Man” to shove it mere hours after I’d passed my CDL and was planning to take some time off before starting training. I called the trucking company that had hired me and told them when I wanted to start. Thankfully, they didn’t make a big deal out of me passing the test six months after I’d graduated from my second trucking school. So I bum around the house for a few weeks, enjoying home life before heading out. I had no idea what would happen once I completed training. It was possible I’d get into a truck right away, and I could be out for nine or more weeks. As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry.

My neighbor gives me a ride down to the mold-filled hotel the trucking company commandeered for its victims (er, excuse me, students, drivers and trainers) in Indianapolis. It was like being in prison: after orientation, we were required to stay at the hotel until we got a trainer, and we had to tell the hotel staff where we were going, in case our trainer called.

I stayed two weeks. My roommate was great. Like me, she was looking for more financial security and decided to move up from being a school bus driver. She was waiting for a second trainer after having a nightmare for her first. My friend Dorothy lasted four days on the truck before getting off. She claimed her trainer came to complete stops on off ramps because she didn’t know how to downshift. They also had four loads taken from them because they were continually getting lost. Dorothy’s horror stories made me realize that perhaps training wouldn’t nearly be as fun as Phillip Wilson’s experience in “Driver.”

However, I did end up with a trainer after two weeks. I picked up very bad vibes from her, and after loading my stuff onto her truck, covertly went out to the terminal, got my stuff back, called a friend, and came home. The company informed me they wouldn’t look for a trainer for me as long as I was at home, so reluctantly, I went back. Three days after I got back to Moldville Inn, Dorothy returned. She had plenty to say. After her trainer had a warrant for her arrest and had to come back to Indianapolis, Dorothy and I teamed up again and vented our frustration with the company. She was a virtual prisoner of her trainer, a mentally unbalanced woman who prevented her from calling home on her cell phone. If I heard from Dorothy, it was a quick call placed from a bathroom stall or out of sight from her trainer.

Our reunion was brief. This time, I got a trainer and took off. Instead of seeing the country, I would be working the Anheuser-Busch account out of Columbus, Ohio. I’d be running back and forth between Michigan and Ohio, and be home on weekends. She seemed awfully young to be training, but I knew the company was desperate for female trainers. When the recruiter came to my school, he encouraged me to become a trainer as soon as I was eligible, which would be a mere six months after I started driving.
Things seemed okay at first. But the third week, things started going downhill. It wasn’t so much the driving, but I was worried sick I’d never learn how to back. My trainer’s technique consisted on standing in front of the truck and twirling an index finger to the left or to the right, to tell me how to turn the steering wheel. This didn’t work so well.
Another problem was I never knew what to expect. I think she was slightly dyslexic, so a command of “turn right here” would quickly change to “left! I mean turn left!” Sudden moves in an 18-wheeler are not a good idea. Then there were the impulsive forays to visit her boyfriend. I never knew if the visits would last 15 minutes or an hour. Showering out on the road was limited to once a week. I learned how to pee into a Styrofoam coffee cup while my trainer lead-footed it down the road. I had the decorum to pour my waste product into an empty laundry detergent bottle I brought for that purpose, but she had no qualms about tossing her bladder-generated Mountain Dew out the window.

I realized after nearly hitting a concrete wall that I had no respect for her and felt I was getting stupider the longer I stayed with her. I sure wouldn’t learn how to back, which was one of my weak points. Luckily, I called Dorothy, and she was just finishing up with her third and final trainer, who was a combination of Yoda and Mother Theresa. Arrangements were made for Debbie to take me on after Dorothy finished her training. I’d get a few days at home to recover before entering the final phase of my training, which would literally take me to places I’d never been, both within myself, and the country.

Next column: Debbie and Gloria Do the East Coast

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