With a heart attack and a stroke under my belt, that was a monumental task in itself, but a doctor eventually gave me the required medical clearance.
Next up: Classroom work.
I know how to fill my gas tank, add oil, and put air in my car tires. That’s pretty much the extent of my automobile prowess. So, learning about governors, air compressors, air dryers, air brakes, and other mechanical parts was like learning foreign language.
What are you doing here, Peter? I’m an intelligent guy, I can do this. Go big or go home.
Next up: DMV permit test – 50 multiple choice questions.
I passed. I was on my way to being able to drive a vehicle like the one in the picture above.
Next up: Static course driving: Straight forward and backward, parallel parking, and backing into an alley at a 30 degree angle – WITH A TRAILER.
Note #1: I had never driven any vehicle with a trailer before. Never!
It took me one full day to execute pulling forward/backing up in a straight line with competence (not mastery.) I spent 2.5 days running over traffic cones (simulated walls or parked cars) before I could parallel park with any consistent success. Backing into an alley at a 30 degree angle: that’s a painful story in itself.
You see, all the “rules” for driving a car get mixed up when you are towing a trailer and going in reverse. Everything is backwards. You have to turn right to go left AND you can’t see out the back window or stick your head out the driver’s window to see what you are doing. You have to use your side mirrors (which really messes with your mind.)
I had to unlearn 30 years of normal driving experience (mental and physical muscle memory) and learn new driving techniques – in two weeks.
Note #2: I had a stroke two years ago which basically means parts of my brain had died. So the odds of success were stacked against me.
I struggled mightily. Did I think about giving up and saying “to hell with it”? Sure did. Numerous times. It took me months to recover skills I knew how to do like walking, talking, and driving a car again. How would I possibly “get this” in just two weeks?
Peter, you are out of your freakin’ mind! You’re not even passionate about this. Why bother?
Was being a truck driver a life-long dream? No. Did I enjoy the discomfort, anxiety, and stress that the instructors and I imposed on myself. Hell no. Would I regret taking the easy way out and dropping out of school? Absolutely. Did I want to prove to myself that I could overcome another hardship? Hell yeah!
I continued to struggle and fail in class. It was an uncomfortable and humbling two weeks.
Cathy and I had a conversation the night before my test day. She told me, “If you fail, you are still a good person. You have done the best you can. That’s all you can ask of yourself. At least you didn’t quit when things got hard.”
I passed my exam. I obtained my commercial driver’s license. I accomplished my goal, despite the odds.
However, the new license is only a symbol of a much greater success.
Among the many obstacles, among the many failures, among the incredible discomfort, among the intense fear, and among my exorbitant self-doubt lied a struggling seed of success.
Find YOUR seed of success in the harsh growing conditions of life. Water it, give it sunlight, and nurture it. Pull the weeds of failure out of your garden. Let yourself grow and blossom!
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.