Thursday, October 8, 2009

Yes, it is over!!!

I am done with the school - and could not be more happy about that!

It really was not all that bad when all is said and done. I would have preferred a more comprehensive course because this is supposed to teach new drivers how to drive AND all the other details that driving a truck entails. Too much is left up to the mentors with the Swift training. I think that Shawn's experience pretty well sums it up. He had a lousy mentor. There is no sugar coating it.

Here is an example: When I was at Schneider we had an entire class on trip planning. This is important. Trip planning involves figuring out how many miles you need to go, how to get there, in how much time, and if you have the hours to get there safely. All of these elements work together. A driver needs to know how to give adequate time for driving, resting, driving again. Plus you need to figure out if you can do it in the amount of time you have left to drive. As you all know by now, truck drivers have to adhere to very strict rules on how many hours a day you can drive and how many hours you can drive in an eight day period. It can be tricky and confusing. That is why Schneider devoted so much time to this topic. At Swift we got about two hours on how to read a map. Oh, boy. The rest is left up to the mentor. So how does Shawn's mentor tell him how to log a 34-hour restart? Log it all on the sleeper berth line. Excuse me, but the last time I spent 34 hours in bed is when I had the flu. I think it was 1992. Completely unbelievable and likely to raise an eyebrow from a state trooper who is having a boring day and wants to stop you and look at your log book. That is not the way you do it. When I did restarts I was fortunate enough to be in interesting places - Las Vegas and St. Louis. Went to the strip in Las Vegas and rented a car and went to the zoo in St. Louis. It's a restart! DOT does not expect you to spend 34 hours in bed! Another gem from this mentor-every truck driver that works for a company is expected to follow the G.O.A.L. rule. Get Out And Look. Smart advice. Even if you look like a complete rookie it is better than hitting a brand new T2000. Shawn's mentor wisdom, "make you look like a newbie, don't do it."

If he is the only mentor that behaves this way then I would think that Shawn was just unfortunate but somehow I doubt it. Mentors get additional pay for taking on students, plus they get all the miles that both they and the trainee accumulate and a bonus of one penny per mile for all the students that they have mentored in the past year. Kind of like Amway. What a sweet deal.

So back to my original complaint. Too much is left up to the mentors to teach the students. Swift is concerned with getting the students to pass the exams. That is it.

But I am done. I have gotten rid of the rust and I feel much more confident and I am ready to go. I will be going to orientation on October 20th. Shawn is approved for mentor training, he will pick me up and we should be ready to roll.


conor said...

Thankfully you had those classes before! You and Shawn will be a great team...and you can truck through our lovely state! =)

Bill Champ said...

Congrats. Glad to hear that you and Shawn will be together.