I haven't talked much about the logistics of what I'm doing with my days, or the plans already laid for the next several months, so here's an attempt to fill in the blanks.
About half of my truck school class time is spent driving around town, getting used to handling various road situations in a big truck. I'm getting much better at shifting and double clutching. (You can't just change gears in one motion in a truck: instead, you clutch it into neutral, let up on the clutch, rev up the RPMs, then clutch it into gear, ideally in the same amount of time you'd change gears in a car.) Lemme tell ya: you have no idea how much of a scare you can give people on the road until you barrel past them in a semi with a truck school's logo emblazoned all over it. If they don't give you wide berth, you can be sure they are Darwin Award candidates.
The hard part, really, is maneuvering the truck. This is the practice that takes place in our school yard, spitting distance from Highway 99 on the industrial side of town. We do a lot of backing up in a straight line, turning around obstacles without knocking them over, parallel parking, and backing up at a 90-degree angle - which is also called alley docking, and is by far the hardest maneuver, and one that's most commonly required in the real world, like at loading docks and parking spaces.
Honestly, I am having so much fun with all of this, even if alley docking makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. I live in jeans and t-shirts and my ancient Docs, I have dirt under my fingernails. The feeling of doom, of creative depression, that I could barely ever shake off while employed in the news biz, is simply gone. I'm well aware that trucking is hard work with long hours, but I'm also pretty sure it's less stressful than working for assholes and writing crap I don't care about.
This is week six of a seven-week course. Next week, we go to the DMV and test. I am taking the following week off, then going down to Fontana, CA, for Werner training on Monday, April 14. The training will start with a two-day orientation at the company terminal. Then I will hang out in Fontana for a couple days (in a motel room paid for by the company) until they find me a trainer.
I will spend the next two months or so as an apprentice in someone else's truck. I requested that my trainer be female, which may prolong the time I have to wait around in Fontana, which is fine because the motel has internet and a pool. After apprenticing, I go home for five days. After that, I will be issued my own truck so I can hit the road for real.
I am excited and scared. Trying to take it day by day.