Today was my last day here in Lebanon, TN and as beautiful as this place is, I am definitely ready to leave. As my trianer, Wilbur, said, “the’s crazy people everywha’, it’s jus’ a diffrent koind a’ crazy.” Though I have grown quite used to the kind of crazy people I meet in Southern California, the kind of crazy that are out here kinda freak me out just a little bit. Luckily, none of the people I have had to deal with directly are crazy. Wilbur, my trainer, was one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met. Though we came from opposite worlds he treated me with respect, and was always friendly even when correcting me. Alot of the people here were quite hospitable. I should, however, explain to my fellow Californians that Southern Hospitality is very different from our own brand. Allow me to make a comparison:
Southern=”Here! Have some candy!”
Californian=INNER MONOLOGUE:”I might offer you some candy if it looks like you want some otherwise I will leave you alone”
Note the use of the imparative versus the subjunctive. In Southern hospitality, your acceptance of the gift and gratitude is assumed. WARNING: do not refuse the gift. Don’t even hesitate. Smile broadly and say “Thank you!” Anything less could get you into trouble or at least mark you as being very rude. Enough said. Moving on…
My training here in Lebanon was great. One-on-one training with patient, courteous, experienced (10 years minimum, though I think Wilbur had more like 50) instructors who taught us good practical habits and techniques. By all acounts this was the best training I will get. The next phase of my training will be “over-the-road” or actual cross country hauling of real freight with an Over-the-road trainer. By all accounts, over-the-road trainers are a cantankerous, ill-tempered, unaccountable bunch, and from what I have seen with my own eyes, I believe it…and I tremble. Poor Don. My classmate from Colorado met his OTR trainer yesterday. A ornery looking round, white-bearded man sporting a stars-and-stripes bandana on his head (the kind that are tailored specifically to be worn this way), he briefly introduced himself before questioning him about how much luggage he was bringing, and what kind of “sleeping aparatus” he used and then warned him about the nervous chihuahua that he kept in his truck. He then proceded to tell Don what a horrible student his last one was and how he eventually kicked him out of the driver seat and declared his training over. According to others who heard the other side of the story however, it was the student who elected to end his training with this guy because of innapropriate racial comments among other things. Good luck Don! I really hope he makes it through. All he has to do is log 200 hours with this guy and come back to finish his orientation, but it looks like it might be a little rough. Don is also one of the nicest guys I’ve met, and I really hope this guy doesn’t make his life too miseralbe for the next month or so.
As for me, I’m off to Washington. Tomorrow I fly out of Nashville, TN, make a layover stop in Chicago, and then on to Seattle, WA where I will meet a shuttle that will drive me the rest of the way to Tacoma,WA. There I will meet my OTR trainer. I am hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. These trainers are mostly unsupervised and the stories I keep hearing are not encouraging. Either way, 200 hours which will be over in maybe a month, and then I get my own truck!
There is definitely light at the end, so I will press on. Overall, this has been a great adventure so far and I keep forgetting that it’s actually a job. It’s a long and sometimes hard road, but the scenery along the way is well worth it. I am glad I did this. Wish me luck!