Like many others on here, I thought that a career as a trucker would be good money for something I'm already good at: driving.
Advance School of Driving is the California training arm of CRST. They have a large yard with plenty of trucks and lots of students.
Bring your binoculars!
First day of training, all students wait outside the motel office for the shuttle. "Be there by 4AM or get left!" they tell us.
At 4:15 the shuttle arrives and we pile in for the trip to the yard. At the yard, all 37 of us are herded into a trailer large enough for 30 max, so we're sitting in the aisles (fire hazard) or on the floor.
This is where the binoculars come in handy.
After our ID's are taken to be photo-copied, we watch an orientation video. If you're at the front, you can see the crappy picture on the TWENTY-FIVE INCH TV.
If you're in the back or the middle, take a nap.
I was near the front and still had to strain to see the picture; turned out it was a VHS tape that they had used for a year!
Down to business: "these are the questions the DMV will ask. These are the answers. You have two days to memorize them".
After getting my permit for air brakes and hazmat, I was ready to train.
The training trucks, while a pretty red & white, are between 35 and 40 years old!
One instructor takes a truck and FIVE students out. That makes the instructor in the left seat, a student in the hot seat, and four others crammed into the back of a very small cab.
And the fun begins.
I've driven a stick all my life, and had to unlearn all those years to adapt to double-clutching, but I got it pretty fast.
We had students in my group that had never used a clutch in their life, so the students who know what they're doing (yours truly) sit in the back jammed between other students while the truck shudders, gears grind, and we all suffer.
In 6 days of training, I logged maybe EIGHT HOURS of wheel time, all because the school is packing students in as fast as they can and don't have enough trucks.
Driver training consists of driving circles around four blocks in an industrial complex. Over and over and over.
Freeway training consists of getting on an on-ramp, driving to the next off-ramp, and getting off.
Remember I mentioned DOT?
On the 4th day of "driving", the yard full of trucks was useless: DOT had set up a tent 200 yards from the Advance gate and was stopping every single Advance truck they saw.
In one day, our training fleet went from 5 trucks to 1! Four trucks were red-flagged, leaving only one road-worthy truck for ALL the trainees.
They also give you a photo-copied booklet that teaches you everything about how to pass the DMV skills test.
IF you can read it!
The "book" was written by someone with bad grammar who never heard of a spell-checker.
It referred to illustrations that either weren't there or were so dsrk as to be useless, contradicted itself on matters of technique, and was generally unusable.
I'm a writer, and offered to edit the book for them. "Just email me a copy and I'll do it tonight" I told them.
Turns out they don't have a copy to send, so they just keep on making copies of the same messed-up crap year after year.
I finally told the "Director of Operations" that I was leaving, that they didn't have the training facilities they had promised and were unable to fulfill their end of our contract. He apologized, and told me that they would not be billing CRST for the training I had received.
To his credit, I never got a bill.