Women in Trucking - One Woman's Journey
Do you remember when you were sixteen and headed to the Department of Motor Vehicles for your driving test? Do you remember the sweat pouring off your forehead and butterflies in your stomach? Do you remember saying to yourself that you were very glad you didn't have to do that again? Well, I had to do it again.
My driving school ended on a Sunday and when it did, I was sure that I could do all the things I was taught. I knew the 82-point inspection and I could back that truck into any hole and down any straight-line alley. I was confident about turning corners and not running over stop signs. I could shift with the best of them. I was ready.
Two days later, it was different story. I not only forgot everything about a truck, I literally forgot my name. Nerves are a terrible thing to have to deal with, especially when you are under a lot of stress!
I met my tester and we went out to the truck. The test, for me, was conducted in the same trucks I had been practicing in for 16 weeks and on the same course. I started the inspection and forgot little things, like the frame, but I got all the points of the air brake system correct. After we finished going over my mistakes, it was time to drive the course. "Take all the time you need for this, there are no limits." I went into the alley with no problem. Stopped more than 2 feet short of the intersection (2 points). Started to back up and forgot how to keep it within the lines. Had to pull up, get it straightened out and finish the alley. (2 points) Lined up to go around the right hand turn and missed the pylon by 18 inches (2 points). Then I lined up for the alley dock. It was perfect. I had never done such a great alley dock. I was so pleased. But the tester said I hit the back line and deducted another 2 points. But I passed.
I was supposed to take the driving part of the test in my favorite truck and with the female tester. But, as with all good plans, that was messed up. Another one of my fellow students had to leave early, so I gave him the keys to my favorite truck and gave him the female tester and said I could wait. However, the same man who just gave me the first part of my test was free and said he would take me out in the truck with the broken air seat and bad clutch. Whoopee! Can't I please wait for her? Please? But we were on a tight schedule, caused by lack of administrative assistance the day before (long story), and we had to go. That is the last time I am going to be nice, I swear.
I won't go into all the gory details. Suffice it to say, I made these mistakes along the way:
- Made traffic stop because I misjudged my first right hand turn.
- Didn't get into the correct lane after making my first left hand turn.
- Couldn't find a gear on a straight piece of the road because I didn't know which position the splitter was in.
- Used the wrong gear to get up a hill and coasted for too long going back down the hill.
- Didn't look for other traffic anywhere (apparently, although I know I was looking for it all the time).
But, in spite of all the mistakes (I missed 9 on this part of test), my tester said he would drive with me anytime, and even sleep while I was driving.
However, my lackluster performance on the road test brought my grade down from an A to a B and I was crushed. I wanted to take the test over again just to prove that I could really do it all. I am such a geek when it comes to my grade. I thought better of the idea and was content to take my CDL and run.
As I write this article, my husband is making his way back to the house to pick me up and take me to orientation. I am anxious, excited, scared, sad, and happy all at once. I am really looking forward to my new life and scared about leaving my old life. I have my clothes packed, my groceries bought, my house in order, my bills in my day-timer, my new purse purchased and my hat ready for bad hair days. I have resigned myself to the fact that I won't be able to take a bath every night or a shower every morning. I know that I may have to go hours without seeing a bathroom and may have to make use of nature for such emergencies. And I am scared!
I know that all will be well and that this is the best thing for me right now. But it is a change and we humans do not like change. I was a wonderful Administrative Assistant. I knew what to do and how to do it. I could handle any office emergency. I am not so sure about my new career. All I can do is try my best and move on down the road. With my husband by my side, I am sure that it will work out.