First things first – I passed!
I’m going to share how I scored in a sec… but whew! What a weight that has been lifted! I proved that I can safely operate a commercial motor vehicle safely and in control, earning my Commercial Driver’s License. Wow. It’s still sinking in a little.
So now what? Well, I have four weeks left of school, so there’s a lot to learn yet (that will continue beyond school, too, of course). But dude! I am now a CDL holder! This is so exciting and obviously a pretty major part of this whole new adventure for me and Adam!
Now my focus can be on fine-tuning, as well as experiencing a variety of equipment and new scenarios. Up to this point we’ve been in day-cab trucks, so pretty soon I’ll be driving sleeper trucks (the ‘bigguns’ with the bunks in back). I’ll also be hauling a 53′ trailer (compared to the 48’s we’ve been using). Loaded trailers, tanker trailers, doubles, and different transmissions (I’m pretty sure there’s a 13-speed in there). I still have to learn about things like weight distribution, blind-side backing, more in-depth trip-planning, tandems and scales. Oh! And there’s the whole skid-pad training, too, where we force cars and trucks into a skid and work on correcting it! That’s going be bring-spare-underwear fun!
So anyway… the test.
Pre-trip Inspection: I was randomly given form B for my pre-trip portion of the test. This is the area from the tractor door to the back of the tractor, as well as the coupling devices. All I missed were two things – the platform of the 5th wheel, which is silly because I was just asking about it the day before my test, and the oil pressure gauge, which is also silly because it was directly in front of my face as I mentioned all the other gauges right next to it. Either way, I passed with only two points off pre-trip and I’m happy with that!
I completed a perfect straight-line back. Zero points off for the easy one. Then I did my left offset back. I used both of my free pull-ups and finished with zero points off. Good. That meant I had 12 full points to use for my 90-degree backing maneuver. I got my trailer tucked into the lane pretty crooked, but it was in the lane. I knew at that point that I had it. When I stopped to use a pull-up I had a feeling I touched the boundary, and I did. Two points off for encroachment. I used both of my free pull-ups, but I was still a little bit crooked, so knowing I had some points to spare, I gave up one more point and pulled up once more to make it pretty. I tucked it back perfectly straight in the lane, then got out and used a “look” to see I was about a foot from my final position. I backed up that foot, finished my backing (whew!) and moved onto the road test with only three total points taken off of the backing portion of my test. I started to breathe a little easier…
“Just don’t hit a curb,” I told myself, “and you’ve got this!”
I relaxed, I made a point to breathe, and took it slow. I felt pretty comfortable while out on the road and only got 8 points off on this portion to which my tester told me, “anything in single digits is considered excellent. Nice job.” I was BEAMING at this point. I sighed loudly with a big smile, looked at my tester and said, “I did it…” I don’t remember what all 8 points were for, but they were all pretty minor things. My biggest error was coming off the highway on a downhill off-ramp when I lost my gear for a second, and while I was trying to fix that I missed a couple of traffic checks. I think that was 3 of the eight. I even got both sign quizzes correct – an unmarked bridge clearance and a red parking sign.
After the test I signed some paperwork and immediately went to the DMV. They punched my old class D license with a fancy “VOID” hole punch and handed me my temporary class ABCD license with my N and T endorsements on paper. There ya’ have it folks. I’m officially a truck driver!
Oh… and… Adam and I accepted a position with a local trucking company, but more on that later. We’re employed and excited to start getting a paycheck again! Well, I’ve got four weeks of school learnin’ still, but after that… hittin’ the road!
You know what I love tonight? I’ve said it before… it’s you. Know why? Because you read my rambling, sometimes self-absorbed blog posts and even leave me the nicest and most supportive comments. I can’t tell you how much that fuels me and pushes me to succeed in crazy stuff like long hikes and new careers. So thank you.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!