At Last!

Train first tour driving day

Disappointment is not easy. Dealing with it takes time.

Back in March I had taken the road exam for the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) – a prerequisite for driving as a tour guide for the company. The test did not go well, as I have already described in my last, several weeks ago post. Sporadic training on bus driving – mostly backing up techniques – had done little to instill confidence that the next test would be much more successful. It was a dilemma.

So weeks were filled with driving shuttle vans throughout St. Augustine, learning back streets and alleys and always honing my narrative skills and knowledge on each and every passenger. And then it happened. I was told that train driving lessons would begin. But, what about the CDL? It seems the management had more confidence in my next driving test than did I.

So, fire up the train I did – with the best driving instructor in town. All geometry he said. Axels and radius’s, turning points, weight distribution,etc. Very nice. All I wanted to do was show people the city and talk about it. But, somehow it all came together. Until I had to learn how to talk and drive. Simple? Not nearly. See, the training consisted of first talking – giving the narrative tour – while someone else drove the train. Talk what you see was the motto. Problem was, different drivers = different speeds and when I would see what. Add to that, I’d sometimes get the sideways “short eye” look of disapproval. “What did you say”, I’d hear? “What did you just say”? My response, “Huh”? It seems some of these Southern boys think I have an accent. Well!  They’d ask,”where y’all frum”?  “Kin-et-e-kit”, I’d tell them. Their look said it all. What we had was a “failure to co-mu-nee- kate“! Another learning curve to overcome.

Next, was the drive and talk test. After figuring I could speak somewhat intelligently about the Ancient City, the bosses judged it was time to drive the train and give the tour – with only an instructor aboard, of course. Without a CDL – no passengers.

O.K. So, off we go down San Marco Avenue with me wearing a microphone headset. Since I was driving, the headset was plugged in so the mouthpiece was on my right side. Something new.

Me: “So, in 1565 Pedro Menendez landed ashore just to our left in the Indian village of Faigy“.

What the *&^%$)@#!  Was I having a stroke? Or did the Timucuan Indians really name their village after my beloved Redhead? The instructor couldn’t answer me. He was too busy choking on his morning coffee and laughing.

O.K. Gibby, I thought, keep driving. This will get better.

Me, again: “Now we’re heading toward the city gates of North Benson”.

Am I really back in Fairfield? Seriously, somebody better call an ambulance or get a straitjacket. I’ve lost my mind!

Instructor: “Why don’t we take a little time to figure this out? Pull over”.

Check list: Am I sick? I don’t think so.

Did I really pass the City Board test for Tour Guide? Yes.

Think, Gibby.

Boing! The light goes on!

The microphone is on my right side and I realize that I can’t think or speak with a telephone in my right hand. Always the left!! So, a quick change of the headset and and rearranging of cords and voila!

Instructor: “We’ll, that was interestin'”

It certainly was.

Weeks go by. I’m mostly a “talker”, giving the narration on tours while an experienced guide drives the train and observes me. And some more train driving and a bit more bus driving and backing up practice – the key to everything going forward, so to speak. That’s a thought. Sometimes to move forward you have to first go back. Hmmm.

And then the day of the bus test is announced. May 9th.

And then the next day everything changes. Good news for the company: The test has been scheduled for sooner – May 2nd. Good news for me: No backing up, parking, etc. I had, unknowingly, already passed that part of the test. Countless days and nights of worry – for naught! All I had to do now was drive forward. And remember speed limits and railroad crossings and not get rattled by the tester telling you to do something quickly and forgetting – safety first! O.K.

It goes well.

On Wednesday, May 4th I took a train out, with passengers (and an experienced driver as an observer) for my first tour. St. Augustine had a gale blowing in that day, but it was o.k. Just another test.

The next day another tour. This time the instructor sat in the passenger seats.

There will be another week or so of testing, instruction and observation. But things seem to be on track again.

First day giving tours (576x1024)

And, while my Redhead is always with me in thought, Faigy is not the village of the Timucuans. I now make sure the microphone is always on my left!

Hope to hear from you,

Bill

 

3 thoughts on “At Last!

  1. Heather May 12, 2016 / 10:33 am

    High Five Bill!! Way to go!! I can’t talk (or listen!) unless the phone is on my right side…! Funny how something so small can throw us off balance so easily. So glad you’ve found your new calling in FL! And I think your comment about sometimes we can’t go forward until we go back is spot on!

    Like

    • BillGFL May 13, 2016 / 4:58 pm

      Thanks, Heather! Switching the headset from right to left seemed to help with focusing on what I was saying. But. having the cord wrapped around me and the steering wheel presented some interesting times this past week – not to mention how it must have looked to the passengers! Been walking around the house with the headset on my right side seeing if I can get the hang of it. My wife thinks I may have “jumped the track” completely.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heather May 16, 2016 / 8:00 am

        LOL! Well God is in the details! Here’s to his provision of a headset with cords and mics on the sides that suit you best! : )

        Like

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