Uncharted Waters

What I thought was going to be a slam-dunk, turned out to be a lesson in humiliation.

I have decided to pursue getting my class A CDL drivers license this winter while work is slow.   I would legally be able to drive a dump truck, cement truck, or semi, as long as I was not hauling  hazardous  chemicals, etc.

I decided to take the test driving a clutch vehicle (rather than an automatic) That would give me more options.  I called John (someone  who offers a short CDL class) on Tuesday.

He asked  “Have you ever “double clutched” before?”

“No,” but how hard can that be I thought.  My first car had a three in the tree, and at least four of my work trucks over the years  have been 4 and 5 speeds, so driving with a clutch should not be too hard…right? 🙂

Just to be safe, I booked a lesson with John using a double clutch.

To use a word picture,  if you are driving in the mountains,  there is a danger  if you use your brakes too much,  they will overheat,   and   quit working. (You won’t have any breaks and won’t be able to stop.

Well, that’s what happened to my brain half way through the lesson last night…  John, eventually lost his cool and started to holler.  He said I was not paying attention. (I was)

*technical detail here…* when double clutching, instead of pushing the clutch pedal all the way to the floor, you push it 1/2 way, to take it out of gear, then push it 1/2 way down again, as you slip it into the next gear (either higher or lower, depending on what you are doing)  If you push the clutch pedal in too far, the clutch  goes into “break” mode, do it too often, and you will burn out a clutch.

That is a $2000 repair. (or maybe more)

Learning to driving a semi means learning a whole new set of  terms and skills.

Just like wading out into the unfamiliar waters of self-publishing at age 40.  Learning  the difference between a PDF and Word, the pixel number of your photos, how to upload the file to a publisher…

Or  going into teaching  at a local community college for the first time at 50. Where you are required to create your own metrics for grading, creating lesson plans, knowing how to handle conflict in a class room with high school students….

Or my favorite… “Attempting” to learn how to roller skate for the first time  at  age  22 with a group of 8th graders.

We made it back to his shop….finally.

As I processed last night after I got home, I came to the realization, I am again in uncharted waters.  What looked simple from the outside, (double clutching and driving a large truck) turns out not to be so simple.

Also came to the conclusion, John could be a better instructor, in terms of explaining things.

I need practice time behind the wheel. Next step is finding someone with  a truck I can practice with, (and who is very patient.) 😉

I have been here before.

Growing up, if my dad got really ticked,  my hand/ eye coordination driving the tractor with scaffolding would evaporate.  No one around, and I was a master.

Cool, calm, crisp, and accurate.

Do you know what I’m talking about?  Can you relate?

Tell me your story.

uncharted-waters

Uncharted waters.

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17 thoughts on “Uncharted Waters

  1. Oh man. I can relate. No one likes to be under the microscope. And there’s nothing worse than a driving instructor with no patience. Hello!? Why teach if you have no patience? When I was new to nursing, everything was scary. I would seek out people with experience to come along side me to offer emotional support. I just always needed someone in my corner to say you’re doing fine or you can do it. Sometimes they’re hard to find. I hope you find that person. I believe in you. You are more than able. You can do it! Keep on keeping on! You’ll be a master of the double clutch before you know it!

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    • Thanks! That is a great idea..(finding someone with experience who can give emotional support) That is one of my next goals…finding that person, before I go back to see John 🙂

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  2. I get it DM. Give me someone who can show me what to do, but then leave me alone to practice and puzzle through the task. It’s too nerve-wracking to have someone hovering and watching and critiquing. That whole clutch story reminds me of when I learned to drive a manual transmission. My dad always had old trucks and they would sit during the week while he was at work. When I got my driver’s license he said I could use the truck to drive to school. The only problem was that it was a stick shift. My home sat diagonally across the road from a church with a huge open parking lot. Every day, after walking home from high school I would grab the keys to the truck, turn that big old clunky thing around, (reverse was easy!) and limp my way over to the lot in 1st gear, then drive around and around in circles learning to shift between gears and downshift. You can bet I was determined and it didn’t take me long to get the hang of things. A teenager with the offer of a vehicle can do just about anything if they need/want to 😉

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    • That is a great story! That is exactly what I need to do now, just with a larger truck. 🙂 I am going to call our local cement company later this morning and see if because we’re in the slow time, if they might not have an old dump truck I can practice with 😉 I will keep you posted.

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  3. That brought a smile to my face this early in the morning. 😊 I’ve driven standards most all my life – if I get into an automatic I catch myself trying to use an imaginary clutch and reaching for an invisible stick to shift. In very simplified terms – all you’re doing with double clutching is allowing one set of gears to be partially left behind so you can move the synchro collar onto the next set of gears – therefore not blowing the shift (which would leave you in the predicament of frantically trying to find whichever gears are most closely lined up so you can grab those instead). Should that happen, you could find yourself in a runaway – as that transmission spins around as long as your moving and if you’re ‘in between’ gears – good luck trying to grab the next set.
    Pay attention to your tach – you will notice each gear pretty much coincides with a particular rpm range (when the gears are moving at that ‘speed’ they will be easier to engage). Knowing this is also helpful if you find yourself with no hydraulics – you can (and I have been in that pickle on more than one occasion) shift with no clutching at all by simply matching the rpm with the gears.
    No, I don’t drive ‘big trucks’ but I’ve had many a transmission apart – they all operate in the same fashion and haven’t changed design.
    You got this!

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    • Thanks for the link! A ride in an out of control semi with no brakes is the stuff nightmares are made of. It happened to me once on a small scale with a backhoe.(going backwards no less) I was climbing a steep driveway with a backhoe, went to downshift and found myself in neutral/ unable to get it back in gear…rolling backwards…the pedal my boss told me was the brake, was in fact the clutch. I was pumping that clutch for all it was worth/ picking up speed..eventually stopped when I slammed into a tree.

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  4. A good friend of mine is a truck driver and has told me all about the ins and outs of it and it sounded VERY VERY Hard!! I’ve been told on many a night how people have no clue that when they pull in front of a semi that a semi can’t stop on a dime!!!

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    • Yep, you have that exactly right…a semi going 55 mph on good dry pavement, will take over 450 feet to stop, once the driver perceives a danger, and applies the breaks…..that’s at 55 mpg…at 70 mph it’s more, and if it’s raining or snowy…double that… that is why I never/ ever allow myself to get sandwiched in between 2 semi’s on the Interstate. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. DM

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    • reminds me of the first time I installed replacement windows…old farm house..someone else measured the windows..they were about 1/2 inch too tall..could not send them back, and the sill was out of level on the old opening, so I ended up taking a wood chisel and “custom” fitting several of them, all the while, the homeowner, sat in her chair and watched. 🙂 Remember..this was the FIRST time I’d ever put one in (and there were 1/2 a dozen as I recall. I had a splitting headache by the end of the day…and I do remember learning how to drive a skidloader..(tore down a wood fence as I was dumping manure over it) when it started to jump back and forth… had to keep the pigs from escaping.. 🙂

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      • Whoo, boy, skid steer story is a good one. I never damaged anything, but it sure wasn’t pretty. I got my pride involved and practiced a ton. Now I’m a very smooth skidsteer operator, at least with foot controls.
        The windows… You’re making me nervous for my first windows install… 🙂

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  5. So many comments/thoughts come to mind here. But mainly I’m thinking that venturing into new waters at all ages makes for an interesting life and a person that never “gets old”. Also reminds me of my first car at 16, I loved it. It was a three on the tree classic 66 Ford Falcon. A dumpy one but still cool. I burned out my clutch so often that the mechanic I went to “Bob” -who knew I paid for every repair put of my own money from an after school job- started fixing it for free. Amazingly, after that I got better. I think it was the guilt of taking it to him and having it done for free!

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