Wednesday, February 27, 2008

From Lousy to Awesome

Today started out promising but quickly went down hill, and then climbed out of the hole it was in to a excellent finish.

I knew today that we would be heading down to the DPS skills testing site to check out the route and see what was coming in two weeks for our exam. Afterwards we were going to take Perry to the written testing station so he could take his Air Brakes exam.

Everyone was on time, and we got going right at 7:10am after doing the pre-trip inspection (and conveniently ignoring everything that was wrong with the truck and trailer) and headed out.

We got there about 8:00am and parked in the waiting area as another instructor was coming to actually show us the route. Paul doesn't know it as he's never been to this particular DPS.

Roger showed up at 8:15am and we hopped in his truck, older and in not much better condition than the one we are driving and he ran us down the route. And boy is it a bitch and a half. I'm not even going to decribe it right now, but needless to say I'm gonna have to be on my toes when I take it. Especially signaling, because there are almost fifty signal changes on the route. The other thing to mention is EVERY on and off ramp are extremely short, so speed is going to be critical.

Once we got back we bobtailed down to the testing center so Perry could take his test. He passed thank God, but barely according to him. Once done we headed back to pick-up the trailer from the skills site (the route to the exam site is a truck route but the tree clearances are a bit low so Paul didn't want to risk it).

Once we got back and pre-triped again, I pointed out to him that we had a hole in the main airline leading to the right side trailer tandems. I told him about it yesterday but he didn't think it was that bad. Today it was even worse, you could actually see the hole the air was escaping from. Well since the system was pressuring and working he decided we would take it to the shop to get fixed.

We got to the shop about 11:00am and they didn't have the line we needed for that old POS trailer so we had to drop it and head all the way out to the main campus to pickup another trailer to use while they fixed ours.

We got to the campus a bit after 11:30am and after talking we decided to go ahead and have lunch and then head to the driving range so we could get some driving in.

So, up till now we have spent the entire morning being driven around and haven't gotten a damn thing done and now it is 1:00pm and we are finally at the range. Being the kind soul I am, I let Perry go first, because I thought that since he passed his Air Brakes test I "incorrectly" figured that he would be on a high and his driving would be on par with yesterday or even better. Boy was I ever WRONG!

It seemed like he totally reverted to what he was doing on Monday. His two trips around the course was one of the most harrowing hours of my life. I can't even go into detail on it, if you want to know what was wrong re-read Monday's post and multiply by ten.

After his runs I did mine, and only made one mistake. I took the first turn a bit to fast, I didn't downshift early enough. Once I did my trips we parked for a break, and then Paul had us run the course in reverse so we could get some left hand turn practice in.

Perry made two trips and they were not quite as bad as the first two, but still no where near as good as Tuesdays.

When my turn came around I was definately glad to be in the drivers seat. I ran the course completely through the first time and it was perfect, I felt great and it was about 4:15pm. Just as I was coming to the end of the first run and was about to continue on the second, Paul said that my driving was excellent for someone who had only been behind the wheel for two days and probably a total of maybe five hours.

The compliment was great, but once he started talking I figured my driving was done. But nope, he had a treat or reward for me, he had me turn the other way, jump on the expressway and head back to the main campus so we could drop off the temporary trailer and go pickup our regular one.

Talk about shock, he told us he wasn't going to let us on the main roads or freeways till Monday. I buttoned up and hit the OPEN ROAD!

It was a great trip, about 27 miles of real highway traffic and I didn't make a mistake according to him. I do know that I didn't downshift exiting the freeway as well as I should have, but I didn't wreck the truck or kill us all. It was a great experience, and starting tomorrow I get to do all the trip driving till Perry is ready.

The day started out lousy but ended on an awesome note.

Backing practice in the morning, then back to the skills range ... can't wait.

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