My wife works at an Investment Firm which also shall remain nameless and she has worked there for 20 years. It's not a very physically challenging job but very stressful! A couple of months ago she came to me and said,"Raymond, I had an anxiety attack in my cubicle and all that I could think of was, OH, GOD! Don't let me die in this cubicle!" I told her, I will find a way to get you retired!
I needed a job that paid $20 to $30 dollars an hour. I needed something that I'm good at. I started researching on the internet and found something interesting to me. Truck Driving! I started researching this career. I found out that 3 years ago in America the industry needed 20,000 drivers! Last year the industry needed 30,000 drivers! This year the industry needed 50,000 drivers! So truck drivers are in high demand!
So what did I do? I started researching truck driving companies! I wanted to know what the requirements were. I wanted to know what schools or classes that I need to take. I wanted to know what sacrifices and what monies that I needed to pay for licenses and endorsements. I wanted to know what policies, equipment and technology that I would need to be the best truck driver that I could be!
I had been driving past an Averitt Express Service Center that was on my way to the airport for five years. I would always see signs for either Drivers or Mechanics for hire. That got me thinking.
I went online to www.averittexpress.com and then I clicked on the Careers tab at the top of the page! I was impressed with the pay schedule which I found doubled what I was making just in the training process! All of their trucks were either Volvo or Freightliner and they were all automatic! I spoke with one of the recruiters on the phone and they told me that I needed a class A CDL licence and that I would need a Tanker and Hazmat endorsement within 30 days of being with the company. She also told me that there are Links on the website for all of the schools that they recommend. After hanging up with them I checked out the links on line and found Cumberland Lakes Trucking School that goes out of Gateway in Florence, Kentucky.
I spoke with their representative, Monica Meir, about enrollment and she told me that I would need to bring a check for approximately $4000.00 to the Gateway Center to enroll. So, I did exactly that. I took $4000 out of my bank account and put that amount toward my enrollment at Gateway/Cumberland Lakes CDL training.
I recieved my date to start and I gave my Cargo Company my two weeks notice. They were a bit shocked that I did so but my Coworkers were proud of me for making that jump of Faith.
I contacted, Averitt Express and I was connected to Fred Pugh, I told him that I had just put down money to start my CDL schooling and that I was very interested in coming to Averitt Express to work. Fred was invaluable in his knowledge and helping me thru the process.
I started my CDL Orientation at Gateway. I was there early everyday! I took my computer test at Boone County and passed to get my CDL Learners permit. The next week I started my training at the training yard. We started with the Pretrip Inspection. I thought, "Oh My God! How will I ever remember all of this?" I kept working at it.
We started straight backing in an International with a 10 speed Split shift. I was still working on my pretrip but after the second day I started doing the pretrip with out my book but having another classmate check me. By the third day, I was bored with the straight back and was ready for off set backing. That was a bit challenging but by the fourth day had mastered that and was introduced to the parralel parking of a 53 foot trailer! Really? I could barely parralel park a car let alone a tractor trailer! Guess what? I learned how to do that! Then I learned to do the IN CAB Inspection. Piece of Cake!
Double clutching was a little hard for me. I went thru three trainers before Kim came into my life. Kim was a frumpy, 60 something, tough old trucking broad that didn't take crap off of anybody! She actually showed us her pistol, her brass knuckles and baseball bat so noone messed with her. She got me on the road and we went up and down hills and double shifted up and down the gears until I got it.
Soon it was time to take my CDL Test with Paul the Inspector, who was with the Kentuck DOT. He was a very quiet man. He was there with a pistol on his side and a clip board in his hand. I was the first to test that morning. I went thru my IN Cab with no problem. I breezed thru the Pretrip inspection. I went thru my straight back and my offset backing as well as my parralel with no problems. As we were leaving the Weigh Station, I breathed a prayer for God to be with us as we traveled. Paul, Said, "He always is." I smiled to myself. We cleared the signage and the Weigh Station and we turned into the first exit as I downshifted, I missed the gear and we rolled to far before I grabbed the next gear. I stopped the truck in time. Paul quietly put his clip board on his lap and told me to turn left and then turn left again. He didn't make me do my emergency stop and instead of having me turn right to go to the Krogers, he had me turn left. I was disheartened but I didn't say anything. I knew that I had failed that part of the test.
We got back to the Truck stop and Paul turned and told me that I had failed the driving test. I appoligized to him for wasting his time and he told me that it was okay that I could try it again soon.
I went back in and shamefully told Kim that I had failed. She immedietly got on the phone and had them reshedule me another test. I called Fred at Averitt and explained to him what had happened. He asked me to call him after that I had passed the test.
I drove with Kim two more times working on my Double Clutching and my downshifting. I knew that I had to pass this test and then I could drive Automatics for the rest of my career! The time came a week later to test with Paul, again! So we are traveling down the road entering into the exit, I started to downshift and again I heard it grind! Instead of freaking out, I revved the RPMs and it gently slid into gear! Paul looked over at me and grinned as he said, "You got that just in time." I breathed, "Thank you, Jesus!" The test went smoothly for the rest of the drive. We got back to the Weigh Station and Paul turned to me and said, "Raymond, you passed the test! I'm sending the county the endorsement and you can go pick up your CDL's in about 15 Minutes!"
I came out of the truck and I almost skipped to the Weight Station to let Kim know that I passed!
I went to the Boone County Clerk and picked up my CDL. After the drive home I called my wife and told her. We rejoiced together in the fact that I had passed.
All that I could say on my home was, "Thank you, God!" He had given me the breath, the will, the drive, the skill, the apptitude to succeed!
I called Fred Pugh to let him know that I had suceeded! He called me back and let me know that I would be staying at the Clarion in Cookeville, Tennessee for my weeks Orientation! Since I drove I recieved 26 cents per mile for my trouble. I got to my room that Sunday night and met my roomie, Hugh. He was from Kentucky as well and when he smile he had about 4 teeth. We had fun watching the Baseball playoffs and going to orientation. I met a lot of super nice people and got a lot of information as well as filled out a lot of information. The Second day we were there we recieved our uniforms! I made that uniform look good!
I met Jimmy Fitch and we became good friends. Averitt Express picked up the breakfast, lunch and dinner for us. Although Jimmy and I ate out a couple times that week. On the last day that I was there, I recieved my contact with my Trainer that I would be driving with for the next five weeks.
I called Jimmy Lemaster and he told me what time to meet him at the Lexington, Kentucky yard. I got there a little early. Soon, I saw him drive thru the Gate, so I followed him in. I pulled up beside him. I called out the window, "Jim?" He waved and we loaded the truck and I parked my car back in the employee parking lot.
We set off for our first week of adventures. He told me his stories and I have told him mine. We have shared jokes and our dreams. We don't agree on everything but I believe that we have started a friendship. We had many adventures over the past four weeks!
This week is my last with Jimmy Lemaster and I will miss his wisdom. This week I get my own truck and start off on my own adventures! I now have a week of backing school with is like Mator on Steroids but I'm excited about the prospect of being a truck driver, making good money and digging myself out of debt as well as giving my wife a break in her career.
So in conclusion,
- Have a dream.
- Research the Dream.
- Sacrifice for the Dream.
- Implement the Dream.
- Live the Dream!