Rodeo Clowns

As I was pulling through the security gate Wednesday @ Menards, a semi with “CDL in a day” written on the cab was exiting in the other lane.  He was pulling a 28 ft flatbed trailer.

Sharp looking rig.

I got the phone number and called him, to ask about costs, scheduling, etc.

If you’re a regular reader, you know  I have been attempting to get my  class A CDL license. (That would enable me to drive a semi or large truck, and  dovetail nicely into my skill-set.  If  when construction work slows down I could always pick up some hours hauling grain, bulk milk etc.

Tim (the owner of business/ CDL in a day) texted me  yesterday. He had a cancellation and wondered if I had time to  practice driving then take my test at the D.O.T  on Saturday?   (today.)


So yesterday,   I showed up at his shop to spend an hour (ended up being three) prepping for my driving tests.

I debated  whether or not to tell him about my last experience with the CDL instructor, 

I decided to let him know about  the other instructor and his hollering at me.

Best decision of the day.

Tim told me, he himself had tried to get his CDL through John.  Had spent $450  and never did get his license.  I didn’t want to slander John, (even though the whole experience did leave a nasty taste in my mouth), so I just listened.   Tim went on to tell me,  I was not alone.  He has had several pupils come to him for instruction who have  also spent  hours and hundreds of dollars with  John, none of them ever passing.  (And all of them talked about getting hollered at)

The day I spent an hour with John, we spent 1/2 the time sitting with the truck idling, while he talked about horses, rodeos and a rodeo clown.

Tim had  heard the same stories, the same yelling.  We laughed.    My conclusions about John as an  instructor were not so far off after all.

Getting back to yesterday…

So there I was,  a slightly traumatized class A CDL student getting back in the saddle.  (Yea me)

Since my last lesson, I have watched video’s on YouTube, spent an hour with my neighbor driving his semi, and saw yesterday, a 50 percent improvement in my ability to up shift (go from low to high)…

BUT when it came to downshifting,  I was still grinding gears/ forgetting to flip the high/low button..etc.  At least three times, when it came time to downshift, my mind went completely blank…


Imagine being behind the wheel and being responsible for 26,000 pounds of steel,  going 55 MPH in traffic.  You are still  confused with  how to bring this mass of metal, rubber and glass to a predictable, safe stop… (that is a peek into my brain)

Hour number two, I had a bad case of cotton mouth.  Haven’t experienced that since I was in 8th grade  wrestling.

Have you ever experienced cotton mouth?  You’d know it if you had.

Hour number three was brutal.  More road time/ plus the skills portion of the test (straight line backing/ 90% backing and parallel parking which I did OK on).

I texted Tim last night, thanked him for the lesson but had decided not to test.  Then I e-mailed the company I had tentatively gotten a job offer  with for seasonal truck driving and told them, I had a change of plans.   It was not going to work to drive.   I have already spent 5 hours of one on one instruction, plus several hundred dollars and it just isn’t clicking.

I would be a liability on the road.

I am going to put the goal of acquiring a class A CDL on the shelf for now.  I gave it my best shot.  I’m sure if I had a truck up on blocks/ and a day to practice I would have it mastered…but I don’t.

I feel no embarrassment or shame in taking a step back.

I have a right to change my mind.

I gave it my best shot.  When I got home yesterday, I felt emotionally like I had been in a ring with a silver-back gorilla. (or a rodeo clown) 😉

As I was processing out loud this morning with my wife, she reminded me, I had quote “been in the arena.


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Teddy Roosevelt from his speech The Man In the Arena

That’s how things are currently rolling (or not)   out here in the heartlands of Merica.  Later!  DM




18 thoughts on “Rodeo Clowns

  1. I have always wondered about how difficult it was to drive one of those enormous trucks. Apparently , it is much more difficult than it appears. I am sure some other opportunity will arise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have to unlearn how to use your clutch when you double clutch….so that is 40 years of muscle memory I am fighting against…throw in different vehicles have different “feels” and it is possible to clutch just once and shift/ even though that is an automatic “fail” @ the DOT..driving in traffic/ using my mirrors/ none of that bothers me..I consider myself somewhat mechanically inclined…I’ve driven lots of different pieces of construction equipment/ tractors/ trucks/ etc. with manual and automatic transmissions..I found out, it is not (necessarily) a simple skill to master.


  2. Wise move, and hopefully an idea you’ll come back to at a later date.
    I always wanted to drive a military tank, you know one with a spout. I got as far as having a ride on one at the Dorset Steam Show, and looking inside the ‘cab’ I would’ve had claustrophobia to the nth degree and embarrassed myself in the bathroom department. Well, they say adrenalin is brown! It was a fun ride from the outside though and my friend and I screamed like hell as we bounced down through the pot holed course!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you got validation about John! He sounds like he should come with a warning label!
    I thought back to learning to drive– just a regular stick shift– and my absolute conviction, at the time, that I was not going to learn to drive if I kept learning with my mother…who, like John, seemed to think yelling was a useful teaching technique. (To be fair to my mom, I think her anxiety got the better of her and it just wasn’t going to be a situation where she could stay calm enough NOT to yell). I remember getting out and walking about 3 miles from my house–because I just couldn’t stand to even be in the car with her anymore. 😉 ). Thank goodness my father and a good friend stepped in– I got enough practice with them– non-shouters, both– that I managed to learn.
    So good for you– you got in the arena! And good for you– you listened to yourself and saw what your limits were, at the current moment, with regard to this particular aspiration. (That said, I am with pensitivity101– hopefully, if it’s meant to be, this is something you can come back to at a later date, if the timing is right and the opportunity arises).
    Great post, DM!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love, love, love that quote by Roosevelt. It does take a certain amount of “moxey” to put one’ self in situations where you will probably look like a fool to the casual observer. I’m secure enough (now) where I can dust myself off and not look back…once I process..(which is what this blog helps me to do) I can still see double clutching in my future..maybe 😉


    • Yep, Tim was a good guy. Very patient, sense of humor..and the fact both of us had spent some time under John’s tutelage, was good. He could relate.


  4. Hmmmmm. I taught my son to drive stick in a parking lot in an old brown dodge power wagon. Let him lurch about for around a half hour then pointed at the road and suggested we head for the McDonalds drive thru for breakfast. Early in the morning, not much traffic – and if we went over a few curbs – oh well, it was a full time four wheel drive.
    He took his class 1 license (what it’s called up here) as soon as he was legal to do so and has been hauling logs or low bedding equipment ever since.
    So – to get your class one here – the air brake certification alone is a 20 hour course (not including the test). To get the class 1 – is an 88 hour course (not including the test). That’s 88 hours of intensive behind the wheel city/highway driving with an instructor, with a trailer, with a low bed, loaded, unloaded, up hill, down dale, B-trains, trailer with jeep, tridem drive, back up, go forward, back up and shift through all three gears in reverse…..
    88 hours of hands on the wheel.
    I think you’re being just a wee bit hard on yourself expecting to accomplish what you were aiming for in such a short period of time.
    The fact that you managed to go down the road and not put truck in the ditch or turn the clutch into a giant ball of smoking asbestos…..tells me you’re more than capable of the task. You just need more hours behind the wheel. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • there is a local community college that offers an intensive class (which sounds a lot like what is required where you live) for $4250.00… 6 days a week/ 4 weeks. I completely agree with you…I need more hours behind the wheel. Going “blank” three times Friday did not reassure me I was even remotely ready for the driving test :-)..just the opposite.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My experience?
    Section sargent says “Take the 4 tonner (Foden) and that 6 tons of trailer across the airfield to the radar site.
    Me. “Can’t drive boss”
    Him, “Learn”
    So someone gave me the basics in an intensive 2 minute course.
    3 hours later, in driving snow, on my own, together with using a handheld get permission to cross runways, etc, I arrive at the radar site.
    New boss. “That’s not wanted here, take it back”
    Me, You’re kidding right?
    New Boss, “Do I look like I’m kidding?”
    2 hours later, pitch black, still in a blizzard, I get back to the workshop.
    Greeted by “Job done then”
    Me. “Nope not wanted”.
    Him. “OK, we knew that, here’s your licence”.

    And I never looked back.
    Forces training, can’t beat it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love that quote DM. Amen to that.

    I have a cousin who drives a big rig. I couldn’t do it. He told me that one of the first jobs he got after getting his license was hauling a load to Philadelphia. He ended up in a tight and busy part of the city and had to back his rig up to a dock with only a few inches clearance on either side. I can’t even…

    You did the right thing of course. My guess is that if it ever comes to it and you had to, you could get your license and drive safely. Me? Never would happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, I find myself looking @ loading docks lately and imagining backing up 🙂 Now just waiting for a partial refund from the instructor. He seemed to be a man of we’ll see.


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