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Day Three: The Simulator Arrives

December 9, 1999

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Three days into driver training...and still jammin' on the crammin'.
Proof I'm actually retaining all the information being thrown at me: I sped through 33 sample CDL exam questions and knew the answers to every one. That leaves 67 left for tonight and tomorrow.
I have no illusions. Three days of learnin'...a pitifully small drop in the proverbial bucket. So much more to come. Bring it on!
The driving simulator arrived at school today. The school's instructors were like kids with a (very expensive) new toy.
Quite an impressive piece of equipment. You can watch your shifting digitally or on a working dash. Shifter, seat, pedals all work like on a real truck. It will even emulate going up and down hills. And, grinding gears is just as noisy and humiliating as doing it for real.

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Dennis Blessinger, I-Sim Corporation's marketing manager tells me the transition from simulator to real truck is "seamless." He promises, "You will be amazed."
Classmate Alan takes his tests tomorrow. He already has a job lined up and everyone is kidding him that his fiance won't be happy when she learns he will be out trucking (and not at home) over the holidays. He insists his new employer won't let that happen.
Dennis, a working cook who attends periodically, was in class. He comes in whenever he can.
Today we covered speed management and space management plus general subjects to be included on the state exam. Until today I had never heard of "over-driving your headlights," button hook turns, or the "take ten" procedure for changing lanes.
During my lunch break Mike, an owner-operator leased to Landstar-Ligon, tells me he started driving nine years ago after a truck owner he was doing construction work for told him how much money he could make. He found a carrier that would train him in exchange for a one year commitment, signed up and stayed there three years. Took to it like a duck to water. Bought his own truck two years later and never looked back.
There's probably nothing more obnoxious that a new student with a little bit of knowledge. Nevertheless, here goes: I'm recalling that on my ride to school this morning a knot of trucks was aggressively hammering down the center lane of I-76 at speeds approaching 70 mph, mere feet off the bumpers of cars ahead of them as if prepared to push the slower moving vehicles out of their way.
I've seen this many times all over the country, but not knowing what I know now. So what's the deal? Where were these drivers when space management was covered? Isn't helping truckers' image any.
All but one of six trucks I passed on the way home followed every single safe driving rule I learned today. I understood their actions and could appreciate that inside those cabs were drivers intent on driving as safely as possible.
More work tomorrow on CDL exam questions, plus a a drive on the simulator (no fear of hitting buildings, pedestrians, pets, or vehicles).

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