Phase 1, Day 17: The Day of Reckoning

Today I woke, packed my bags, spent two hours on the practice range, then turned in my paperwork to upgrade to Phase 2. I was still not 100% confident in my backing, but I believed, with patience and perseverance, I can conquer the upgrade driving test. My trainer had confidence in me, and that helped. His time with me was complete, and I was leaving the nest to prove my abilities on my own.

After finishing the paperwork and speaking with the head of the training department, I waited for them to call me for my upgrade test.

When the time came, I’d been talking with another trainee preparing for the test. We were anxious and excited, ready to move forward and make some good money but hoping we would do well on the test. We had to straight-line back, drive a serpentine pattern around trailers, then do a 45-degree back into four spots with widths of 18′, 16′, 14′, and 12′.

When it was my turn to test, I was anxious, but I knew what to do. I nailed everything up until the 12′ backup, but then I got my setup all wrong. No way would I be able to get the trailer straight in that hole! But rather than panic, I pulled up, backed the trailer around the side of the trailer to the right of the opening, then pulled forward to straighten up. After that, all I had to do was straight-line back the trailer into the spot, and I was golden.

I passed my test by the skin of my teeth. If I’d had more practice backing it probably would have been easier for me, but I was just glad to pass. I know in Phase 2 I’ll get a lot more practice backing, since I’ll be the one doing it all, so I feel confident my skills will improve.

After completing some final paperwork, I returned to the hotel for “finishing school.” We learned about various skills we’ll need during our day-to-day activities as a driver, such as manual routing with paper maps, safe driving, and working with the Qualcomm communication system.

After class, I checked into the hotel and went to the local buffet. Can’t beat a free buffet!

So all that’s left now is to find a Phase 2 partner. I’ve talked to one guy about driving together, but he didn’t pass his test on the first try, so I’m hoping he passes on the second, otherwise I’ll have to find someone else to ride with. Which isn’t really a problem, but I don’t like to let people down.

I’ve also got wifi again, after so long away… and I plan to take full advantage of it while it’s available!

Today’s been a good day. Let’s hope tomorrow holds equal promise!

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