A rough day that ended with good news

What do you get when Robin’s driving a truck on the road for just the third time, through a roundabout, in traffic, and there’s snowbanks all the way around the roundabout?

If you haven’t already guessed, I’ll give you a hint: Robin gets super-embarrassed. Yes, I drove my trailer tires up onto a snowbank, only this time it wasn’t on our enclosed private practice range. There was real stuff going on around me this time. Afterward my instructor told me we were in a pretty tough spot and tried to remind me to move on past it… it’s not a big deal… it’s not all your fault… well, looking back, I can see what I could have done differently, which makes me think, “yes, it is my fault,” but thankfully it was just trailer tires on a snowbank and nothing more serious than that.

What happened? I was approaching the roundabout, and as I slowed and turned my focus to downshifting into 4th gear, three cars zoomed up along my left side and two cars were coming around the circle. I had to stop at the yield. As I stopped, the cars to my left started to go, and so did I. In hindsight, I should’ve waited until those cars all left that lane next to me. I could’ve scooted forward, using the lanes I needed and swung through without an issue. But I didn’t. I started to move, didn’t have room and cut the turn too tight, driving those back trailer wheels pretty darn far up the snow bank. Shit. Instructor Steve had me stop, turn on my 4-ways, and then he got out and tried to talk me through getting unstuck. In the middle of a roundabout. I was unsuccessful.

I was soooo embarrassed. I had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I just hoped we could get those tires out of the snow bank. I hoped he wouldn’t have to call out on our radio for assistance – where all my classmates could hear. Steve had me jump out and switched spots with me. I stood in the road to spot him as cars slowly inched between me and the stuck semi. I remember thinking, “is this seriously happening right now?” It was happening and I felt sick. Thanks to Steve, though… he shimmied those trailer tires down the snow bank, I jumped back in the passenger seat and we finished out the day. No radio call-outs, no tow truck… just a red-faced, humiliated me. I’ll take it.

Steve was great about it. He kept telling me “it happens,” and “put it behind you.” It’s important to learn from mistakes – big and small – but I’ve heard from all the instructors that it’s best to move past and not dwell on these mistakes. So onward I go. But dammit. No more snow banks!

Winter, GO AWAY!

So, fine. That sucked. BUT… I did try some 90-degree backing and was nailing half of my attempts. I think I’ll be ready to test soon. Tomorrow or Wednesday, I think. That’s kind of cool since they are some pretty tough maneuvers.

My downshifting is getting better.

We get a lot of in-truck time this week.

All good stuff.

THEN… the best news ever! After Adam picked me up from class I was getting a little down as I told him my snow-banky story as we drove past the evidence – the trailer tracks waaay up in the snow. We head to a grocery store, and when we arrived, Adam checked his email. From Covenant Transport: “Are you ready to schedule your orientation?”

Whoa. What!? Adam called them back right away… we were pretty much in. A job! A real team-driving trucking job! Already! …wow… I have to send in an application, get my CDL, finish up school on April 4, then we can go at orientation on April 9. The ball is rollin’! Another HUGE bonus to this opportunity is that Adam can be my company trainer… meaning he and I can get into the truck together right away. Normally I’d have to “train” with a company trainer for a few weeks. It’s a pretty awesome perk that this “trainer” can be Adam.

What a relief. We still have time to poke around and peek at opportunities that might still be out there, but to have something lined up is… well, it’s great! We are excited.

Every day it gets more and more real. Adam and I are anxious to hit the road, work hard, work safe and start earning paychecks. I have a feeling this momentum will keep going, and before I know it we’ll be rolling along together like we imagined. I cannot wait.

Tomorrow I will not drive up on a snow bank. I just can’t!

Tonight I love bare curbs. One day I’ll see them again. Hopefully sooner than later! 

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)


9 thoughts on “A rough day that ended with good news

  1. Pingback: Our first winter shut-down | So Many Miles

  2. Well, shit happens. When it isn’t fatal, it is a learning experience. High snow banks, a long trailer and a roundabout are a heck of a challenge. Your progress impresses the heck out of me. An excellent school with a talented and motivated student are a great combination. As good a driver as you are to becoming, your writing skills and refreshing openness to your life are another level beyond that. Keep writing sweetheart. You do an awesome job.

  3. I think of you often and your amazing courage, not only to attempt driving this humungous sucker, but to share your successes and failures publicly. As I was out on icy roads yesterday carefully passing a semi thinking that could be . . . BTW, I am terrible at backing up in a tiny car, have sucky depth perception and spatial awareness, so good thing I know my limits and would never attempt pulling a trailer or driving a larger vehicle, let along a big rig. You and Adam are doing great and will be a fab team!

  4. Hang in there Kid, that sinking feeling is always a sign that you are going to learn something from it and some day look back and say $&@# and laugh about it. good news about your options, hang in there “one mile after the other and dodge the alligators”!!!

  5. No worries, it does happen. :) Those roundabouts are popping up everywhere. The way a semi trailer tracks you end up taking up a lot of space to the left of your lane. It doesn’t take much to get a truck stuck, especially if your trailer is light or empty. I’ve even got my tractor stuck on a flat loose gravel parking lot when I was bobtailing around a truckstop. Good times…. ;) I’ve had my fair share of mishaps on the road through the years and you eventually learn not to panic when stuff goes wrong. Hang in there!

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