Month: November 2008


This really is going to be a quick one, 6-2 tomorrow. However, have to say after me getting all nervous in the interlude, my four hour session today was the most productive to date. I had the older chap, who’s company it appears to be, taking me. If only I’d have had him from the start!

He was, until he retired from the game three years ago, a driving test examiner. So he was telling me what to do as a driver, why I’m doing it (such as having to brake down before a corner to accelerate through it, this transfers the weight of your load backwards onto the rear wheels and you drag it through the corner under control. As opposed to going in too fast, trying to brake, the weight shifting forward and pushing you across the road.) When you understand why you’re doing something you can apply it to every situation that needs it. You don’t have to guess when to apply rules.

Also there are set drills for every situation, pull in to a stop, it’s mirrors, indicate, allow a count of five for following traffic to register and react, brake, stop, handbrake, neutral, (range selector) button down, cancel indicator.

If you do that every time you can’t go wrong. You have come to a safe stop and you are in a start position. You can’t roll back because your handbrake is on, you can’t set off in the wrong gear as you are in neutral in low range (so you have to select the appropriate gear. If you don’t, you can easily forget and select ‘3rd’, but because you didn’t click the button down to the low range gear box, you  are in fact trying to set off in 7th. Then you stall. And feel very foolish. And panic, and let the truck roll back as you are fighting with the gears. Only done it once, but it was on a test!) Also you have cancelled your indicator so can’t move off with the wrong signal.

That was a long-winded way off demonstrating that if you have a procedure to follow you can drill it in so you can’t do it wrong. One less thing to fail on.

Also being with him he showed me some basics, how do you check for air leaks? On the Q&A sheet it just says ‘check the gauges are reading the right pressure, audio warnings are off, walk around the vehicle and listen for obvious leaks.’ Fine as far as it goes, but he said ‘turn on your engine, watch the gauges are at 9 or 10 bars, then turn it off one click and check that the dials don’t drop when the engine isn’t charging them.’

That is what you need to know not just to pass a test, but to survive having a fault. If you have no air, you have no brakes. That could prove entertaining, briefly, on a hill descent with a full load.

Anyway, it was a really informative session, if not wildly entertaining to read about. By the end of it though I was actually sat back in my seat, and holding a relaxed conversation. Previously I have been sweat-soaked, rigid with tension, and unable to finish a sentence before the instructor was yelling at me not to kill some other driver or demolish some roadside structure. (They knew the risks!)

For posterity, I was going down the East Lancs today, a dual carriage way, (so although it says 60mph, trucks can only do 50) when Peter said to take  a lane to follow a certain direction, which meant moving over into the right hand lane. I did so and a car came flying up the inside lane beeping his horn the whole way!

How big do they want the L plates? I was doing everything exactly to the letter of the highway code, and I got that! I was more amused than anything. If anything had happened as a result of that incident I would have been blameless. I can only assume the Muppet in the car had no idea that different rules apply to trucks.

Round ours there is a Walkers crisps warehouse, and the artic’s are always going from the warehouse to the motorway, down the one lane access road. They must have go sick of complaints because the trailers all sport a big 40 sticker on the back, saying ‘on a single carriageway trucks are only allowed to do 40mph.’ ‘It’s the law.’

So much for brevity. Well we’ll see if I have finally got this sussed on Monday. Watch this space!


My Bad

This is going to be a quick one, got hardly any sleep last night and I’ve said I’ll work my day off tomorrow, which means I’ll not get a day off now till next Tuesday.

Anyway, had to write again as I have been dwelling on what I wrote yesterday. I was tired (as ever on the 6-2 shift) and ranting. As pertains to Luke and Mandy (his chick), that is. Been feeling guilty all day.

A more balanced view of the status of quid pro quo of favours earned and used would have to take into account the fact that this computer is one that Mandy gave us / me. This fancy monitor was given to us by Luke, as is an even fancier one he recently left for us. And what little computer literacy I have was learnt from Luke. I feel a bit of a heel in short. Still, I have a natural reserve of guilt so vast you could run a medium sized Catholic country on it, this is just one more drop in that vast ocean.

On the positive side, I had some brilliant news today. I was getting a bit concerned that I was running up all this debt for a job that only pays just over a pound and hour more than my current one. With the working time directive stating that you can’t work more than 45 hours (48?) per week, I was thinking that it was going to be a long time before the job paid for the training. Then I got talking to one of the drivers at work, and the hours per week refers to driving. So, with (paid) breaks that’s 53. Also all the hours you are sat around waiting for trailers and such is paid and not out of your 45 hours. He was saying that most of the drivers get £500 per week, and that he had earned 32K last year!

That is well worth running up the credit card for! OK, so it’s a lot of hours, but it beats having to work your day off, and the sweat and graft part is fifteen minutes per store, not constant for the whole shift. Good for my elbows, good for my bank balance. And he and another driver allayed my fears about driving such a big and scary vehicle. They said that once you’re used to them, trailers are easier to drive than rigids.

Right, sure there’s more but I have to hit the Z’s.



Irony is not O’Sullivans autobiography

Another quick one. After swopping my shifts (and escaping the freezer, huzzah!) and effectively working two weeks 2-10, I finally got to go to Taekwondo on Sunday. There we were all practising what we needed to pass our gradings. This should have given me a clue, as on the website it said the grading was the week before, when I’d had to work due to the (bloody) great escape.

After putting me through my paces Sah bum nim said can you make it for the grading on the 29th? I was dead chuffed as I thought I’d missed it, said "oh yes", thought for a minute, then realised, that was the only day they could get me in for a (hopefully) final four hours training before my truck driving test.


She said "it’s all right, we aren’t leaving ’till 12.30".

My lesson is 12-4pm!

Bleeding typical.

I said that I had my HGV driving test that day (got it slightly confused off the top of my head), so Sah bum nim said "you’ll have to see if you can cancel it." (!)

Two thousand pounds, near enough, a month or so wait for a re-test, and I should reschedule it so I can take a grading!

OK, I would really like to take it (time is not on my side when it comes to succeeding at physically demanding tests) and I have to admire her single-mindedness, but real world I can’t not take this test!

On the subject of driving licenses, today is the big day! My license is now clean, my endorsements have run out. I could send away for a new clean license, but it would cost £17.50, so I might as well wait until I pass my test and get it taken off when I get my new entitlement put on. I think it’s free, if not it saves paying for it twice. It’s not like I’m desperate for another job anymore. I plan on staying where I am until I’ve passed this test, the artic one, and seen a secure driving job. In the current economic climate I’m clinging to my job.

Also on driving, I’ve put the Micra through it’s MOT, cost worst part of £400 to get everything sorted, MOT’ed and re-tested. Still, that should be that. And now I’ve stopped trying to slide it I shouldn’t crash it, thus should not need to cough up next time.

I was cursing the crap-heap before I put it into the garage, then had to ride the six (ish) miles to work, then back, on a push-bike that’s stuck in top gear. My arse was killing, and the small of my back was that bad that I had to get up and stretch off after four hours sleep! I picked it up, and was stroking it saying "I love my Micra, I love my Micra."

In work I have a problem. The boss has his two sons working on the department (Sugar Ray, and Stallone! I guess the dad was into boxing! "He’ll grow up to be a fighter with a name like that."  – I’m guessing was the thinking-See ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’.

Anywho, the lads are twins and like peas in a pod. I have real issues remembering peoples names, and putting two indistinguishable lads on the same shift as me is tantamount to mental cruelty.

Luke moved out again yesterday, gone back to his bint’s. So I came in from 6-2, absolutely knackered as it was my first shift so I couldn’t sleep the night before, took the car to the garage for it’s retest (didn’t even check it over, rolled it onto the ramps shone a torch under for effect, that’ll be £20, please. Bastards!) then had to come home and run Luke and all his crap to his chicks (who wasn’t in, knowing we were coming was around her mates, and hadn’t given Luke a key). Then I get in today and Wendy says Luke had been on the ‘phone saying it was all over between them and he was coming back, (so I was supposed to go and pick him and his crap up again) but happily they decided to give it another go an hour later, so by the time I got home Bucky’s removal service had been cancelled.

Better get off, was only supposed to be saying about my grading, but it’s all come pouring out. I have to be up for work in under six hours.