I am now an official CDL holder.
Holy amazeballs I actually did it. Well, it’s not like I’m surprised. I do have a habit of being annoyingly persistent enough to get what I’m shooting for (boys being the exception but that’s for a different blog).
Yesterday started with my feelings alternating between throwing up and passing out. I didn’t really think I would fail, but I have serious anxiety about testing. I mean, take a drug test for example. I know for a fact I can pass one, but I’m always super anxious while awaiting for the results. My brain is dumb sometimes.
One of the trainers took me out with his student to get driving experience. I was making all sorts of bad mistakes and I knew it was nerves, but even knowing that didn’t help to put me at ease.
Back at the practice pad, I sat in the truck I would be testing in and numbly sat staring out the windows. I went over all of my pre-trip information in my head trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything. After a few minutes I saw my examiner walking towards me. Now was the moment I had been working towards. I took a deep breath, exited the vehicle, and walked forward to begin.
The tests are randomized in that you can pull a A, B, C, or D test. This would determine what pretrip you would have to perform and what backing maneuvers you would have to do. D was the worst and one I really didn’t want. D would mean a full engine compartment all the way through the entire vehicle for a pretrip. I pulled a B, which meant I had to do the drivers side door to the rear of the tractor, the coupling area (an area I struggled with) and the lights. I took a deep breath and started. Door side to rear of tractor was perfect. Coupling area…I struggled. At one point I knew I had missed something so I went over everything again, finally realizing I forgot to mention that the air pressure in my tires was checked with a tire gauge and the mud flap.
I looked at the examiner and said “ok did I miss anything?”
He gave me a smirk and said “I don’t know did you?”
I met his smirk and responded “I think I got them all.”
He looked at me all serious and finally with a wide grin he said “You did!”
Next was on to the lights and in-cab inspection and I nailed both of those.
First hurdle completed and zero points accumulated.
Now was on to the backing maneuvers. Everyone has to do a straight back but the other two maneuvers I pulled was a left side off set and a alley dock. Psh…piece of cake. I was super cautious with my alley dock as I came in a bit wide. I used both of my get out and looks and both of my pull ups. Once I was in the box I nervously said “am I straight?” The examiner looked hard on both sides more than once and finally said “nicely done.”
Second hurdle and I was still point free.
Now it was on to the worst part, the driving test. As the instructor gave me the preliminary instructions I took deep breaths to steady myself all the while chanting “don’t F this up” in my head.
Before starting out I looked at my gear shifter and said “ok 7th gear, don’t mess with me today. No hiding. I’m not playing with you.” The examiner laughed and I smiled and said “you gotta tell ’em how it’s gonna be, ya know?”
At my first major intersection my first hurdle appeared. A surveyor had pulled up, parked on the corner, and set up cones. This meant I needed to go much further wide to not hit him. I looked at the man, called him a jerk, and proficiently made the turn.
My drive went well, even with other motorists putting themselves and my score in jeopardy, up until the very endI made a mistake in an intersection I needed to turn left in. I miscalculated the time I had to turn and ended up slightly impeding traffic. Knowing I had scored my first points I started to make a couple of really bad mistakes, including coasting to a stop out of gear and having problems finding the right gear. All minor but things that again cost me points.
At the last stop light before turning back into the yard I took a deep breath and my examiner said “I’m going to take some pressure off you right now. As long as you don’t totally screw up, you’ve so far got the best score I’ve ever seen. Go easy on yourself, you’re doing remarkably well.”
Knowing that it was in the bag did indeed relieve the pressure and I completed my drive without taking another point.
As soon as we hit the yard, I started to cry. My pressure valve was open and i just needed to let out the steam.
Once I had parked my vehicle, the examiner counted, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, wait really…6? That can’t be right. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, yeah 6. A total of 6 points. That is the best damned score I’ve ever had the pleasure to give someone. Congratulations Ms. O’Shae. That was exceptionally done. Now stop crying before you make me cry.”
I did it! I was a full fledged fully licensed CDL holder. All of the hours of work. The pains in my arms, back, and knee had paid off. Not only did I do it but I freaking crushed it.
Today was all about relaxation and not wearing pants. For those of you who don’t know me well, I make lots of jokes about being pants-less. You’ll catch on.
I also spoke with my dispatcher and my next trainer whose name is Adam. Adam will be here late tomorrow night to pick me up. There are still a few questions about what happens next that no one has been able to answer for me. What I do know is that I need to hit a DMV in Washington so I can have my permit license changed to a full license, and I know that Adam is heading back to his home state of New York for the holidays. I’m hoping to be able to at least get some miles with him between Washington and New York and with luck, I may be able to jump off his truck and hit Denver or Chicago for the holidays. We are going to play it by ear. If worst comes to worse I’ll be in a hotel somewhere in New York while Adam spends his holidays with his family.
All in all, I’m ready to see Salt Lake City in my side mirrors as I pull out of this town. I’ll miss my trainer as we have become good friends, but I know I’ll see him whenever I get routed through here and that makes me happy.