So... I took my CDL test today. As you (might) know, the test consists of three parts: the pre-trip inspection, the basic skills or slow maneuvering course, and a road test.
Pre-trip: I think I did fairly well on the pre-trip. The tester actually stopped me in the middle of doing my rear drive (tractor) axles since I'd already named everything on the front drives, giving me full credit for all axles on the vehicle at once. That really helped my confidence. I didn't see my score, but apparently I missed quite a few more items than I thought, judging by the number of blank boxes and circles on the test sheet.
Basic skills: Um... wow. I really don't even want to write about this. It went, in a word, horribly. The straight-line section was easy, but then I came to the 45° alley dock. And missed. And missed again. And again. By the third time I'd missed and about the eighth pull-up, I was barely holding back tears. The tester saw me losing it and told me he was stopping the test to give me ten minutes to regain my composure and start again from the beginning. By the time I'd pulled back around, I couldn't hold it back any longer and started crying right in the middle of the truck. Conveniently, it was the only truck that had tissues on the dashboard; I needed two or three of them.
During the short break, the instructor from the academy helped me do two 45° docks while there was a chance. I hit them both just fine, but when I came back to the test again... I missed again and again and again and again. Finally, after more pull-ups than I cared to count in the truck, I got it in the box and honked the horn a few times to let the tester know I'd (miraculously) finished the maneuver. Then I continued around, did the right turn, and came to the parallel park box. I knew I had it, since I very, very rarely screwed up that move. Sure enough, I needed just one pull-up and I put it dead-center in the box. "Dead center" still cost me another point, since you're supposed to get the rear bumper within two feet of the back of the box, but I didn't care. I passed. That's all that mattered. I saw my score sheet after the fact, and it looked something like this:
- Straight line: 0
- 45 Alley dock: 9
- Right turn: 0 (yes, I got within about six inches of the cone without hitting it)
- Parallel park: 2
- Total score: 11 (14 or lower is passing; 15 or higher is failing)
Unfortunately, since I lost about half an hour in my first (failed) attempt to take the test, and another 20 or so minutes on my second try at the alley dock, I ran out of time to take my road test today. Everyone was giving me a bit of a hard time (as if I didn't already feel bad enough). The tester said something to the effect of "Alley docking isn't your strong suit, so I hope you never have to do it. Unfortunately, I've seen a lot of alleys and a lot of docks in them." Gee, thanks for stating the obvious. At least we were able to pull a few strings and get my road test scheduled for 9:30AM tomorrow, giving me exactly one chance to get it right. I'm pretty confident that I can get it in one try; driving around is my favorite part, after all. I actually have fun driving in the truck. So, now, there's just one last obstacle between me and a class A license. I just have to pass the road test in one try tomorrow.