The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
I didn't quite know what to expect on my first day at Werner. I was told that they have a two day orientation and that I would be expected to take a new physical exam. As noted before, I have a physical disability and was worried about the exam.
Werner had told me that if I did not live within 30 minutes of the terminal, I would have to stay in the motel. I lived about 50 miles away. I was to check into the motel the night before (a Sunday) so my wife took me down there and we went to dinner and said our goodbyes. Werner paid LaQuinta for double occupancy and unless I wanted to pay for half the room I was to get a roommate. My roommate was a nice guy that was gone most of the evenings and I was always asleep when he came in so it wasn't too bad. He did tell me that he had been there for over a week waiting for a trainer to be assigned. I had been told that there could be a wait and if you had special needs that wait could be longer. The only question they asked me though was “smoking or non-smoking?” But some women might want a woman trainer and that could take longer. As for me, a trainer at AIT told me that most truck drivers smoke so non-smoking could take longer.
Monday morning I took the shuttle van to the Werner terminal and got off with several other people. I almost expected a drill Sargent to come out and start screaming at us to push his ground down. Instead there was an announcement over the PA that we were to report to the orientation room, wherever that was. Someone pointed us upstairs and we were faced with a pretty young woman that needed to see our licenses and school loan information since Werner had tuition reimbursement. After we all found our seats she began to tell us about Werner and what would be expected of us. We then went down 3 at a time for our physicals. I was in the first group. It seemed to take them awhile to get organized but the nurse gave us our eye test and administered the urinalysis test. Then we had to wait for the doctor to see us one at a time. In the meantime another group came down to begin the process and I noticed that one of the younger guys in my class walked with a limp and a bit of a drop foot. This is similar to my problem but I wear a brace and it is not as noticeable. When the doctor gets around to me he asks me about my foot and I tell him. He tells me to wait right there and he will be right back. When he comes back, he tells me to follow him and takes me into someone else's office and I am told to wait there. A man then comes out and tells me to follow him, I get the impression that he is pretty high up there. He asks me a few questions then takes me out to a truck and has me get in and operate the clutch for him. This is not a problem, it's my right foot that has the problem and I do show him that I can operate the brake and the throttle but he has me work the clutch several times. He seems satisfied so he takes me back inside and tells the doctor that he can pass me.
This is a big relief to me. I should point out that while Werner 'pre-hired' me I was given no guarantee of employment and have not had a face to face interview with anyone. We went back upstairs where we found that lunch had arrived. I went up to the box last and found the 'egg salad' that I ordered was a fried egg (over-hard, luckily) on wheat. I looked in the box for the diet coke I wanted and all there was was a mountain dew and a regular coke. So much for the free meal during orientation. During a break I talked to the young guy with the drop foot and he said that he had palsy and showed me his hand as well. I asked if they had him go into the office to talk to someone else and then go out and show that he could work the controls and he said no.
After going over employment paper work we went back to the motel. I am guessing at this point that I was hired. The next morning we went back for more of the same except in the afternoon we just watched videos on the computer. That night we went back to the motel with the knowledge that it could be a week or two before we got a trainer. I settled in for a long week of watching movies. My roommate was finally assigned a trainer, but he was in Albuquerque and would take a day to get there. The next morning I went to the morning meeting and the little motel room was packed, there was no where to sit most people were standing, some outside. I did see a familiar face, Susan from school, She had also been there a week and did not yet have a trainer assigned. Of course she was looking for a non-smoking, female trainer. The man running the show took roll call and told about 12 of the people that they needed to check out because they were getting on a bus for Dallas to wait for trainers there, Susan included. I was a little disappointed because I enjoyed talking to Susan before class, she is about my age and was a teacher. But I went back to my room and watched some tv.
My roommate is still there, his trainer got sent down to Nogalas and was trying to get a load up to Phoenix. Looking back now, I realize that living in Phoenix may mean that I have a harder time getting home because the trainers probably get priority. Tinker was not able to go with me for orientation.
Next time – I am assigned a trainer.