"BIG BEN", THIS IS "RUBBER DUCK"
"BIG BEN", THIS IS "RUBBER DUCK"
There have been some programs on the Discovery Channel that have some sort of appeal to yours
truly and have become compulsive viewing. The "Deadliest Catch" is one that stands out with the
dangers and harshness of the environment in the freezing waters of the Bering Sea. There is no way on
earth that you would ever see me on one of those crab boats as I've had a few very unpleasant outings
on the oceans of the world, namely crossing the English Channel en-route to the Jersey 2 Day Trial, a
couple of crossings to the I.O.M. and rounding the top of Scotland on the destroyer HMS Liverpool, and
some of you might remember my stories from the Falklands scrabbling up cargo nets in full uniform to
get on board HMS Bristol and a Supertanker in a 30 foot swell. If the sea is for you good luck but I think
I'd rather fly.
Other series that trigger the adventurous flair are "Man V Wild", and I've had my share of that in the RAF
with all our survival exercises, and more recently "Ice Road Truckers" with their 2 different locations in
Canada and Alaska. Now while I do not wish to depart to the frozen north in search of employment there
is an appeal to driving a big rig and having driven 3 different RV's with trailers over the last 8 years
maybe here is an opportunity to earn some extra cash moving RV's from factories to dealerships. In
normal use the RV, irrespective of it's GVW is exempt from the requirement to be driven by a CDL
holder, but if you wish to drive it for financial gain then you must have a CDL with an air brake
Explain this one to the Boss
Let the quest begin, first thing is obtain all the required literature and see what the DMV requires.
Seems there is the standard medical which is yet another rip off for $95.00 and once you have that then
you can go and take the written exams. Of course you need to know what is in the syllabus and that can
be purchased from various trucking companies for yet another $95.00 and they claim they will send you
all you need with standard questions and practice exams for the basic license and all the
endorsements. Having ploughed my way through that lot, and I know what this will be like as its similar
to the MSF course that I teach for the motor cycle license, same requirement, multiple choice, 80%
pass mark, and in most cases fairly logical. Once through all those I can then get the CDL permit for
another $14 and then apply to take the 3 part skills test. Some research required here as you have to
take the test in a representative vehicle. Sadly the Safari does not have air brakes! Of course the 2
Beavers did as did all my 10 wheel dump trucks when I had the Grading company.
Better know what you are doing along here !
Next step is to find out whether the private testers have vehicles available and get that set up. Today its
phase 1 so off I go for the medical, fill in the forms and wait. Usual prelims, height, weight, pee in a cup,
eyesight, hearing, temp and blood pressure. Now sit in a room in splendid isolation and wait........ and
then wait some more........ and after 43 minutes of nothing in comes the Doctor.
10 minutes later I have my $95 medical certificate so I can now move onto phase 2 and go to Durango
and take the written tests, General, Air Brakes and lastly Passenger vehicles. So an exciting evening
revising and making sure I'm up to speed and don't make any dumb mistakes misreading the
questions, a bit like getting a "5" for missing a split !
5 ? I never saw the split under all that snow
Today drive to Durango and find the unlikely looking DMV office in a shopping complex. Explain what I
need, namely the CDL general knowledge test, the airbrake test and for good measure the passenger
vehicle test. The lady says its all set up and I'm on console 1. Well this is all new, totally electronic and
all on a touch screen! ....... let the dumbness begin, so here we go into 50 questions but the questions
only have 3 answers unlike my test papers which all had 4. Some of the questions are completely new
to me but some are adaptations of ones I have seen previously with one answer removed. All seems to
go well and as I move into the last 10 questions the system shuts down and says "congratulations you
have passed" .......... very strange!
On to the airbrakes section, same format but here I have seen most of these questions in a different
form and I know the answers so this is pretty easy having done the homework. Same deal "congrats
etc" so move on to the last one for passenger vehicles. These are equally easy and I've seen 95% of
these before so another "congrats" comes up on the screen. An easy way to do the testing but a little
impersonal as you don't know your "actual" score ?
Back at the main desk I now encounter the "problem of the day" as they don't accept credit or debit
cards despite this new amazing technology! Checks or cash only, so I'm out in the street and forced to
go into Office Max and buy some pens and then get cash back to pay the $14 for my CDL temp license.
Never mind the job is done and I'm moving through the boxes collecting ticks along the way. Now all
that remains is the "skills test" encompassing various reversing games, the pre trip vehicle inspection
and finally the road test.
Flush with success I bound headlong into the next problem. The local testers do NOT supply the
vehicle! Where can I hire one locally to take the test? Seems I'll be on the phone today trying to find
something to drive. The easiest option is either hire a RV with airbrakes which won't be cheap but
means I don't need someone riding shotgun, or drive up to the Denver area and use their vehicles for
a day of practice and then a day of testing....... and that might not be cheap either! Then when it all
comes together its yet another $175 to take the test. Further research shows Denver might just be the
Nice looking bus, let's hope its easy to drive