Twenty-Three Days and I Made It!

A Swift 18-Wheeler ala Freightliner

I’m happy to report that I passed all three phases of my testing with the state examiner today. The Department of Licensing office, just across the Snake River in nearby Clarkston, is closed on Monday but Tuesday I will trade in my Washington State Commercial Driver’s License Learning permit for “the real thing;” a new Class “A” C.D.L. (Commercial Driver’s License) I will never again have to take these tests so long as I keep my C.D.L. in force.

As I expected the worse part today was actually the 100+ point Pre-Trip inspection. I was nervous at the start and felt like I had missed quite a few things. From the beginning “in-cab inspection” and then struggling to remember the exact “key words” on various components on both the tractor and trailer, I ended up very surprised to find out I missed only 5 items.

After I got out on the road I literally kept repeating to myself in my mind “stay calm, have fun, know what gear you’re in, watch those downshifts, and don’t forget that big trailer behind you.” I made some mistakes along the way but was pretty confident when I made my last turn, returning to the starting point, that I had made it okay with error points to spare. There was one tight turn made much more difficult by an illegally parked car. I missed second gear on my first left turn (I never do that!), I ground the gears a few times, and allowed the truck to roll back a couple of feet while demonstrating a complete stop and shutdown along the road side on a fairly steep incline.

The only thing left to complete was the “alley docking” and the “straight backing” which, just as I predicted, was pretty easy although the cones and pavement had an entirely different look to them than what I was used to at the Academy Range. I only had two errors against me on the skills part and that was because I had to pull up twice to get my 48- foot trailer backed perfectly into the slot. I never touched a boundary cone and I stopped precisely within the two-foot box in both the straight backing as well as the docking maneuver. As they say, “Miracles never cease to happen!”

To say the least I am so relieved to know that I will be joining my fellow students at the two-and-a-half day Orientation beginning on Monday. I can’t even begin to imagine the disappointment I would have felt had I failed today. It would have meant spending another week in the Academy, and having to contend with the continued stress, while my friends moved on. I’m sorry to report that the other Washington student I tested with passed everything except his alley docking test. He’s the first to admit that he made a dumb mistake that will cost him at least five additional days at the Academy. He’ll be able to retest probably next Wednesday and I’m sure he’ll get it right the next go-around. As far as I know he’s the only one of my classmates, together from start to finish, who failed to advance to Orientation.

I’ll be leaving the Super 8 at noon tomorrow for my new classier “digs” near downtown Lewiston. I spoke to someone there on the phone today and asked, since we’ll have roommates, if they couldn’t team me up with my old roommate that I’ve spent the last three weeks with. She indicated that it shouldn’t be any problem. I’ll remind them tomorrow afternoon when I check in. He’s at home in Montana and will return Sunday evening.

Will there be any celebrating or wild partying tonight to commemorate this newest accomplishment? Probably not. I’m happy to just “veg” here in my motel room with little else to do over the coming weekend, but bask in the prospects and opportunities that lie ahead.

Thanks again for stopping by and especially to those who have left me comments and messages of inquiry. Have a great weekend. I know I will! Life could be a lot worse!


7 comments on “Twenty-Three Days and I Made It!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations. I hope you can make your way down to AZ on some of your roadtrips. Heidi

  2. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations. Best wishes for your journey ahead!!!!

  3. Mark Palsson says:

    Congratulations Rick! A big step and one that will pay big dividends going forward. It’s ironic that you and I will start our orientations on the same day. If you want some help managing your millions in the future, keep me in mind. Unfortunately, my training begins on Monday and doesn’t end until Sept. 5th. There are three big tests to take and I only get one shot at them. So, if all goes well, I’ll be a registered financial advisor by October. Keep the blogging going. I enjoy keeping up with you in a vicarious way. All the best next week and in the future!! Mark

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well congradulations are in order here Rick! I knew you could pull it off. I’ve been keeping up with your blogs and it sure sounded a bit more complicated then I imagined. One question Rick…did you get paid while in training? And when ya gonna make it to GA? Gods Speed my friend. Bob Carpenter

  5. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Cuz. Your blog has been very interesting. Told the wife you should be a writer. Maybe something to think about as you travel the country. It must run in the family. Cousin Connie Susik sent us two books that her son Ron wrote. Again congratulations on getting your CDL. Cousin Roger

  6. Congrats!! Hope to see you in Cedar City soon. Steve

  7. Congrats Rick! Looking forward to more blogs.

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