Friday, December 11, 2009

Third Drive

I can't think of a better motivator for nailing the pre-trip than 45 mph wind gusts on a cold December day.

Penske again. Another 26-footer, but a different beast than the last drive. How do I know? Because again, I had trouble with 3rd. I've got no problem finding it when upshifting, but downshifting? Nope. Hoss says my right arm must be deformed somehow. ~sigh~

We drove to our street behind McYuppies (in the interest of full disclosure, it's actually an Outback nestled behind a Chili's and a Barnes & Noble) and went through an amazingly fast pre-trip. I'm getting better, but still missing a few things here and there, and mainly the in-cab portion, for some odd reason. I need to practice it in my head more often.

Although I've done pretty well with parallel parking, Hoss gave me a different perspective to use. Rather than drop it in like you would a car, he suggested cranking then adjusting the angle as necessary while continuing to back. It feels like you're taking a mile to get parked, but it can be done in less than a truck length. That worked very well, and once we adjusted the mirrors so I could see the lower corner of the box, I was good. Straight backing is a cinch. In fact, at one point I'd parked very close to the curb and Hoss warned me that doing so means I'd have less leeway on the straight back and it would have to be done perfectly. So I backed straight as an arrow and with the thickest self-congratulatory sneer asked "Do you mean more perfect than this?"

Once again, we headed south on 481 and picked up 690 west. Traffic wasn't as heavy as our prior drive, but with stiff wind gusts bashing us, I had to concentrate. I was 15 when I had my last road test. You can pick up an awful lot of bad habits in 35 years - driving one-handed, letting the wheel slip under your palms after you turn, speeding, etc. I need to be aware of them and make sure I don't use them during the test.

We got off at Jones Road and practiced more tight turns in Seneca Knolls. I'm sure the neighborhood is wondering why that big yellow truck shows up every few days and aimlessly lumbers around, but so far no one has come out of their house with a shotgun to chase us off. I seem to have turning down pretty well, so we drove back up 57 to our McYuppie street and pre-tripped some more. Pointing out the obvious is tedious and takes concentration. Yes, I'm quite sure I'd notice if lug nuts were missing or my hood latch had popped open or a leaf spring had broken, but the objective is to prove to the tester that you're looking for and making note of their status. You can glance at a wheel and note several things at once - the condition of the tire, the depth of the tread, the condition of the wheel, whether the hub is leaking, if all the nuts are present and secure, if the valve stem is centered - but you have to verbally point each one out or points are deducted. Hence, the never ending pre-trip practice.

After only three hours, we topped off the fuel and took the truck back. Hoss shmoozed the rental agent and she knocked fifty bucks off the rental bill because we'd brought it back so early. He's such a character.

So, drive number three was another success!

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