Semi-big day for yours truly. Today I passed my Illinois Secretary of State exam and now have my CDL-A (Commercial Driver’s License–Class A). I am only shy three endorsements which I will have by next week’s end or thereabouts. For the uninitiated, endorsements are simply certifying that you can drive particular scenarios such as double/triple trailers, tankers, hazardous materials (which are the three I lack) and one could even get approved for busses. But if a job arises that doesn’t require these endorsements I lack, I can drive their big rigs.

So nice to get that little monkey off my back. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be, though I prayed a lot, for both myself and the other candidates (though two out of four failed—perhaps my prayers were only half as good as I thought or I needed to pray twice as much as I did). I got a good natured examiner and light traffic with all the lights in my favor. Only one spot on the road course presented a challenge. I was idling in sixth gear approaching an intersection where I could see the left turn arrow had been on for a while. Four or five vehicles in my lane began to move, but the last care didn’t move at all (the dude wasn’t paying attention). At this point in the course, I would normally have downshifted only to sixth and if necessary, just stopped at the intersection. With a vehicle in front of you, you have to be able to see the pavement between you and not go closer (gives you the chance to go around if the guy stalls and is also a safety issue). I was at a point where I probably should have just stopped and then started over from second gear, but the dude began to move. I was already flipping the selector button down for the low gears and the stick just slipped out of gear. As I was still rolling a bit, I revved and tried to put it into fifth and got a bit of grind, so I revved again and it slipped nicely into fourth and I was able to proceed as if nothing special had happened (showing I was in control, when actually for a second there, I wasn’t—there was no real danger, though, it just doesn’t look good on such a test). Had I had trouble shifting to fourth, I probably would have failed the test. The rest of the test was uneventful except for the congratulations from the examiner when it was over.

For the rest of the day I didn’t want to do anything. I was more anxious having passed than I was waiting for my turn to test. So nice to have it behind me. Now, of course, I have to think about if I even want to do this work. The liklihood of having to go over-the-road is very high and though I part of me wants to do that, it’s also the part of me that wants to be a cowboy. Not really practical for who I am now at this age. I may have no choice, but I gotta see what I can find close to home that’ll get me home every night. My life is what I do AFTER work. I don’t want to live to work, I want to work to live (that is if I MUST work). All the things I like to do, all the things that mean I have a life happens after I punch out. At my age, I don’t want to do less of it, I want to do more. And the worst of it, being away for extended periods from my wife and child—-not good.

But I am happy that I passed the test and did so on the first try. No re-takes necessary for ole Marshall Art. Now I can focus on another test in three weeks, that being my first rank in ju jutsu. This should have happened over a year ago had I not developed a need for another ACL in my knee. Then the lay-off and less money. So now I can get anxious all over again.