Monday, April 14, 2008


I never would have thought I'd end up being a truck driver. Hey, I may not drive a semi, but I do drive a very large, very wide (duelly) truck while towing an unbelievably long (40 ft) and heavy trailer. What can I say, I'm a woman of many talents.

Although, I'm not entirely sure driving is one of those talents, certainly not an inherent one. Today and Saturday, I spent the morning hours practicing backing up with the truck/trailer in the stake center parking lot. Saturday morning, my boss (who I love, despite recent comments that sound like I don't) re-explained the basics of backing to me then let me practice on my own while he played with his son on the nearby grass. I appreciated that he was letting me try to figure it out, but I was very self-conscious knowing that he could see every mistake I made. Today, once we got to the stake center, he rode his bike home and didn't come back for a few hours. You see, I only have my permit, so I need a licensed CDL driver whenever I'm driving on public land. It's okay to practice in the parking lot without a licensed driver because it's private property. We even have permission from the stake president. Woohoo! It was nice today to be able to do whatever I wanted and not feel like he was wondering what the heck I was doing. After a couple hours, I finally started to get the hang of it. A little.

The true problem about backing up with a trailer is the seemingly (to me) illogical fact that if I want the back of the trailer to go right, I need to turn the steering wheel left and vice versa. My boss and his uncle and my dad all explained to me why this was so, and I could even understand what they were saying. However, when I got behind the wheel and needed to actually do it, my brain couldn't adjust. When I wanted the trailer to go right, I'd steer right and it'd go left. It was very frustrating, especially on Saturday. Finally, I stopped trying to back into the lane created by cones that my boss had set up and just backed up wherever I wanted, just to get the feel of how the truck and trailer moved. That helped a lot. By the end of the morning, I was finally beginning to catch on. Today, I worked on backing into the lanes; straight back, off-tracking, and 90-degree angle backing. I still need to practice a lot, but I'm feeling tons better.

Tomorrow, I'll be driving in town!! It'll be the first time I've ever done so. Up 'til now, I've only driven on rural roads and on I-70 (on the trip to Colorado), so I'm a little nervous about making turns with this huge monster while being surrounded by other vehicles. Did I mention it's huge??? I'm just praying I don't hit another car, run over a stop sign, or - worst of all - take out a pedestrian. Hmmm. I wonder what my boss would do if I do any of the above? Probably laugh if I do the second, but probably not so much if I do the first or third. Hey, if you live in my town, stay off the roads during the morning if you can possibly help it!! I'll be driving from 10am to 12pm, so consider yourselves warned.

I take the CDL driving test on May 1. I'm nervous. I'm a fairly intelligent person, academically speaking; I can tell you the year England was last successfully invaded (1066), discuss the impact of Keynsian economic policies in the United States, and form a fairly adequate regression analysis. However, give me something practical to do, like screw in a light bulb, and I end up figuring out the hardest possible way of accomplishing the task. Hence why I usually sit at a desk, in front of a computer screen, and compute things instead of working with my hands. Hence why, of all the people in this world that I know personally, I'm 4th to last on the list of people I could ever picture driving a huge truck and trailer. 4th to last!! That's significant; I know a lot of people.

And yet, I'm driving a monster truck and trailer. I may even (heaven help me!) pass my driving test and get a class A CDL with an air brake exception. That means I'd have the same license class as a semi driver, but couldn't actually drive a semi because they have air brakes and I don't know anything about air brakes.

So...just call me J-Rigg. I'm a truck-driving, trailer-towing, backwards-going, stop sign-avoiding hottie with an attitude the size of her rig, dark shades, red lipstick, and country music blaring in the cab.

And, thanks, Natalie, for coming up with the name; every truck driver needs a trucker name. Now I have mine. :)


James & Melissa's Family said...

J-Rigg, I love it! Thanks for the warning, I will not be driving around town tomorrow(today)so you will not have to worry about me. James has a great saying, "It's not his driving that worries him, it's the other peoples driving that worries him." I am sure that you will do fine and will get better as time goes on, just watch out for those other drivers. There isn't much that you can't accomplish and I am sure that this isn't one of them, so relax and safe driving.:)

Alyson said...

What's up J-Rigg! That's a great you have a CB? What I'm dyeing to know is, who are the three people below you on the list of people you could never picture driving a big truck and trailer?

Good luck on your practicing and on your test.

Mellissa Hunt said...

There are few things people can read that cause them to laugh and be scared for their own personal safety at the same time!

Yes, J-Rigg is loads better than Duelly Julie!

Should I make my kids wear their helmets while they are outside or are you staying off residential streets?

Just kidding!!! Like Melissa said, you can put your mind to anything you desire and it works out.

It was funny to read that you have trouble applying yourself in practical situations. I always knew you were intelligent (honestly, do I know what a regression analysis is? NO) so it surprised me to read that you have trouble screwing in a light bulb. To me, that just makes you more lovable!

Good luck with your test. You'll pass with flying colors!

Framed said...

I'm safe in Vernal so I'm not worried. Like Alyson, i"d like to know who's the bottom three on the list?

Booklogged said...

My first thought, too - Am I one of the 3 people lower than you on that list?

J-Rigg is definitely better than Duelly Julie, although not as funny or as rhymey.

Cardine said...

On Saturday I was talking to my coworker in his office, and of course, you were practicing driving that lovely thing. And I was like, that's Julie in that truck. And he was like, "REALLY?!" as if it were surprising or something. :)

The trailer is big enough to be a house. I'm just saying.

It is so cool and amazing that you are acquiring this talent. In reality, trailer-driving is a really good talent to have!

Cassie said...

Alright J-Rigg! I'm very impressed that you are getting the hang of that thing. I haven't seen the trailer but the truck itself is huge. Keep it up!!

Madman said...

Hmmm, well, I've only known one or two CDL-licensed, female truck drivers, and seen pictures of others.

They are a, shall we say, special breed or people.

You definitely break the mold.

julie said...

Melissa - I am one of those people James needs to worry about! I ended up not going driving out on the roads today, I just practiced backing some more. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

Alyson, I don't know what a CB is, so I don't think I have one. I'm not telling who the three are, to protect the not-so-innocent (me).

Missy, I have actually learned how to screw in a lightbulb! :) It was just an example of things that are relatively simple that I have difficulties doing. I'm glad you love me anyway. :)

Framed, hmmm...maybe I'll come to Vernal and shake things up a bit. You sound way too comfortable.

julie said...

Book, no actually, you were't one of the three. You drive a Denali, that's just one step away from the beast I'm driving, so I'm sure you'd be good at it. Thanks, I like J-Rigg better, too. It sounds more "professional" somehow. :)

Cardine, I know - I think a family of 12 could easily live inside of it fairly comfortably. Except that the "facilities" don't work. That could be a problem. I don't know, I think I'd be surprised too if I were your coworker, if it's the one that used to be in my ward so knows who I am.

That last sentance reads weird. Sorry.

Cassie, thanks. To help you imagine how long the trailer is, picture the length of my apartment and double it. That's roughly the length of the trailer. :)

Madman, you saved yourself with that last line. I was going to have to go down there and thump you. Actually, I think often about that Weird Al song that you burned for me about the female truck driver. I hope I don't fit that stereotype too much. :)

tearese said...

Wow, that would be hard to do. I still haven't mastered a stick-shift, and will probably never own one.Hey, I knew that 1066 thing too: when the Normans invaded Saxony. See, we're both so smart. Except now you can drive a truck and I can't.
What happened in 476AD?

Mellissa Hunt said...

I didn't take the comment about you screwing in a lightbulb literally! I was also just using it as an example of your practical side. I hope you didn't think I seriously thought you were not capable of replacing a light bulb!

You and Tearese both have me beat - I had no idea about when England was invaded and I can't drive a big truck. I do however know how to get the smell of vomit out of many, many things.

Madman said...

Well, I hope you don't fit the Weird Al song mold. He's singing about a male, cross-dressing truck driver!

Cardine said...

Yes, it was he. :)

julie said...

Tearese, 476 AD is traditionally considered to be the year the Roman Empire "fell". Is that what you meant?

Missy, I know you didn't think I was serious. That's just part of my warped humor. Sorry. I think a vomit smell extracting talent must be very, very handy with kids! If I ever have kids, please try to impart your knowledge to me!!!

Madman, are you serious??? Huh. I guess I never listened to it close enough. Honestly, I only listened to it a couple times when you first gave me the cd. It was a little too...uh, weird for my tastes. I may have to listen to it again, though. Huh.

Cardine, I thought so. :)

tearese said...

woo hoo you got it! Those are the only two dates I remember from European history. Good times.

Indy said...

Hey J-Rigg,

I am glad you told Anthony about Shawn. It is important to know how to talk about the tough stuff with boyfriends.

Alyson said...

J-Rigg, I was referring to a CB know the radios they talked to each other on. I figured if you have a handle (trucker name), you could start learning some truck talk. Things like:

10-4 good buddy.
What's your 20?
Plain wrapper at mile marker 231.
Come again?
Over and out.

It might be fun. :)

Alyson said...

Oooh, I just thought of a few more.

Back 'em up.
Breaker breaker 19.
Got your ears on?
Do you copy?
That's a negative.

anfurnee said...

Glad to read about you are a truck driver in training. I'm Tony and currently in the process of getting my class B licence. But I don't have the help I need to really learn the right way, so it will take me longer then it should. Right now I'm just reading the book and haven't drove yet. So now I'm stuck with the word off-tracking and don't have anyone to ask that would know the answer.

What exactly is off-tracking?

What exactly is off-tracking in a turn?

You wrote,
Today, I worked on backing into the lanes; straight back, off-tracking, and 90-degree angle backing. I still need to practice a lot, but I'm feeling tons better.

In driving, what exactly is backing, straight back, off-tracking, and 90-degree angle mean?
Any and all information you can give me will be appreciated.
Thank you, Tony.