Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rainbow


These are images from Zygote.  So far he has driven from Springfield, OH to Indiana, to Albany, GA, to Tunnel Hill, GA and then back up to Cincinnati, OH.  They are currently in Ohio at the terminal waiting for their truck to have some maintenance completed.  Hopefully back on the road by tomorrow.  Although he's driven in a lot of rain, thankfully all the tornadoes passed him by. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seeking Grace

Yesterday marked 3 weeks since I was hired, and still I have not been assigned a trainer.  Hint: if you are asked for your preference regarding male or female trainer, smoking or non-smoking, the correct answer is:  "I have no preference".  It has been a struggle for me to accept that Zygote was assigned a trainer the day after he was hired and has been paid since the day he was hired; but, I'm trying to find the silver lining in each day that drags by.  I kind of thought that by the time Zygote was hired that my training coordinator would have something lined up for me, after all, she'd had two weeks to find someone.  When that did not happen last week, I pretty much stopped thinking in terms of going out on the road and shifted my focus back to home. 

Spring is happening; life goes on; there is plenty to be taken care of around the house.  I've spent this week mowing grass, tending flower beds, and turning compost. Originally, I had planned to only plant tomatoes for the year since I would not be here to weed, mulch, etc, but, my youngest son (18) has come forth with an interest in keeping up with the garden plot this year.  Both kids have grown up with an appreciation for home-grown veggies and home-made vittles; this will be a great opportunity for him.  So... there is also now a full garden planted.  Tomatoes, lettuce, kale, spinach, onions, potatoes, yellow squash, cucumbers, basil, marigolds, sunflowers, and pole beans.  Getting my hands in the dirt has reminded me of who I really am and where my strengths lie.  Wednesday morning, as a storm rolled in and the wind whipped the tree branches over my head, I put the last of the beans in the ground and covered them just as the rain began to spatter the soil around me.  To me, life doesn't get much better than rain and sunshine on a garden.  I'm grateful that my compass will be with me this season.

I've also increased my activity 100-fold. In anticipation of a long wait, I joined our small town gym on a one month guest pass at the beginning of April.  I've been going swimming almost every day.  I've hiked several times, watched the sunset from the mountaintops and have resumed my hour of yoga a day practice that has been on hold for the past two years for one lame reason or another.  All in all, this time at home has actually been really good for me to get my head on straight. 

During my conversation with my training coordinator today, I retracted my preference of female non-smoker and sold out to the "correct" answer.  I told her I would take the next available trainer, regardless of gender or smoking preference.  She said she would send me to a terminal early next week.  Zygote has had several delays with meeting up with his trainer but is with him tonight at the motel in OH, and they are leaving in the morning after some work is completed on his trainer's truck.  They are getting along very well, and Zygote sounds happy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So it begins

Monday I was got the OK from our company to return to the orientation facility in northwestern Georgia.  I drove up Tuesday afternoon, spent the night in the hotel room, and drove to orientation the next morning. I only had to do the physical standards test, the drug tests, and have my medical letter approved by the doctor to be processed without repeating the orientation class.  Willow was told to continue to wait for a trainer to be available

After  passing the standards test and giving my samples I waited at the driver's facilities for approval. That came on Thursday early in the afternoon. I contacted my training coordinator, who I had spoken to during the last orientation, and started the process of getting a trainer. She set me up for another night in the hotel room to wait for her to make arrangements.

Friday I checked out of the hotel and drove to the terminal to work out, do laundry, work on some online training courses and wait.  About midday the training coordinator called and gave me the contact information for my trainer. He was in Missouri and about to go on home time. I would need to travel to  a company terminal in Springfield, Ohio to meet him on Monday or Tuesday.  My training coordinator arranged for the bus ticket out to Springfield and a hotel to wait for my trainer.

I took the company shuttle to the Chattanooga TN greyhound station with a couple of other new hires that needed to travel.  One other student was headed to Springfield to get on the truck with his trainer.  We struck up a number of good conversations, he was an research doctor with the University of Miami who decided to make a career change. We got the bus around 10 pm for the 13 hour bus ride. 4 transfers later, crossing one time zone and then back again, we arrived at Springfield around 1pm. He met his trainer and I caught a shuttle for the hotel.

I am here at the hotel now and will likely be here until Tuesday.  I have been working out and walking around Springfield. I plan to check out the terminal facility here.  I am excited and nervous about starting my training. I have spoken to my trainer a couple of times. I have a good feeling about training with him, he seems very nice and seems genuinely invested in my sucessful training. Willow is still waiting for a trainer and I hope her coordinator is able to get her with a trainer soon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

One more time

Just a short update.  I received my medical release letter today and got initial approval from the trucking company.  I will have to go back to the orientation facility to take the physical skills test and drug test again, it has been two weeks since and did them last and the company requires  new ones .  So I am going to need to be there on Wednesday morning, and I have a hotel room reserved for tomorrow night.  Now we need to find out from Amy's training coordinator if there will be a trainer available soon for her so she can come with me.  Hopefully we will be all set by the end of the week.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A step closer

This week I have been working with a new sleep center, attempting to get my medical clearance from a facility with much more reasonable pricing.  On Monday I went in for an initial evaluation, presenting my original sleep studies and compliance data from my CPAP.  The doctor reviewed my files and told me that based on my compliance if I had already been a  patient of their she would have cleared me. Being new to them she did want to do the waking study.  And this facility would do it for thousands less that what my old center was asking.

On Thursday I had the waking study. This center is inside a local resort hotel in a quiet wing down on the lowest level.  I arrived around 6:45 and the technician fitted me with a dozen or so EKG sensors.  For the study I would spend most of the day in the room and at certain intervals, I would rest reclined on a bed with no lights and no distractions.  Between those waking trials I would be free to move around the room and even go outside on the patio of the room. At no time are you allowed to sleep. The trials were generally about 45 minutes each and they were certainly trying. In near total darkness with little sound it could have been easy to dose off, and it was excruciatingly boring.  After about 4 trials without dozing I was done  around two in the afternoon. 

Friday I received the call that  my results were back and I had passed. I will be able to pick up the clearance letter and my study results Monday afternoon. I will fax them to the recruiter and the company will hopefully accept them in time for me to be back on track by the middle of the week. Willow will then let her training coordinator know that she is ready for training.  So we are yet another step  closer to driving.

Friday, April 1, 2011

and still we wait....

Leaving the facility on Wednesday, the last day of orientation, not knowing whether we were hired or not was hard on both of us.  Luckily, a few days before, we'd found a wonderful home-cooking restaurant in the historic downtown district of Dalton.  Most of downtown Dalton is fairly deserted but the Oakwood Cafe maintains its own with perfect southern diner charm.  We slunk off to the diner for the third night in a row to nurse our wounds, both of us weary with the inefficiency of the whole process.  We discussed whether or not to just chalk this one up as another attempt that didn't work out and to proceed with applying to the next company on our list, but decided that we would give it one more day. 

Thursday morning found a handful of us waiting in the breakroom of the Tunnel Hill terminal.  We were the last of the lot, the ones that still had unresolved paperwork issues keeping us from being hired.  Zygote and I retreated to our separate coping mechanisms and left each other alone.  Zygote headed off to the workout room to burn off his stress on the machines; I circulated from person to person, listening to their stories, sharing ours and visiting drivers' trucks that had already been issued. 

Finally, my name was called.  As we had planned, Zygote and I went into the HR office together.  We wanted to present a solid union in our decision that we were not going to proceed unless we would both be hired.  I explained to the HR representative that in the event that Zygote was not approved for hire after his dr's evaluation that I would not continue with the training process.  There is a $100 charge for orientation costs if you voluntarily or involuntarily terminate within the first 90 days of employment; however, the girls in the office were not able to tell me if I would be charged that $100 if I had not yet gone out on a trainer's truck.  I was issued my driver number and given a stack of books and documents and my fuel card.  I was hired, but not exactly happy about it. Had I refused hire I would have been disqualified and would not have been allowed to return for 60 days.

Over the course of the next hour, Zygote was able to work it out that he had permission to leave and go home to take care of his dr evaluation.  His application was "temporarily disqualified", and he has 14 days from the start of the orientation to return with the necessary dr's approval.  If it takes longer than that, then he will have to retake the physical ability tests and the drug screen.  If it takes longer than 30 days, then he will have to redo his entire application, background checks, and orientation.  He is scheduled at the dr's for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, I called my training coordinator to schedule being picked up by a trainer.  With only a few female trainers available at all, the fact that I had asked for a non-smoker reduces my chances of being assigned a trainer quickly.  I told my coordinator that I did not mind the wait since I was really waiting for my husband to be hired before I even wanted to go out with a trainer.  She advised me to check in with her again next Wednesday and for me to turn in my gasoline receipts for reimbursement since we had driven our own car.  Had I chosen to stay in Tunnel Hill until I was assigned to a trainer, my hotel would have been free and my pay would have been $30/day.  A shuttle bus runs drivers to local stores for necessities and meals.  Because I chose to go home, the only pay I receive is a $50 advance loaded onto my fuel/payroll card.  I may request up to $100 advance once per week while I wait.  My advice to anyone seeking employment with a trucking company would be to leave yourself plenty of your own resources to fall back on so that you are not dependent upon them for your own comfort.  I would much rather be home with Zygote than in a motel waiting, and I have no intention of using advances, as that will just mean smaller paychecks once I do start driving. 

We left the facility late in the day, another full day of waiting behind us.  We headed off to the Oakwood Cafe for one more night of comfort food.  Zygote had chicken livers, macaroni & cheese, and crowder peas.  I had greens, macaroni & cheese and carrot souffle.  We left with pecan pie and red velvet cake in to go boxes for the drive home!!!