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Well that didn’t take long did it?

After getting bored rigid by instructors being around all the time and expressing their wildly varying opinions on my driving I lucked out on Friday by getting one who told me I was crap. Well, he didn’t actually but he was perfectly happy to point out what I should be doing that I wasn’t and what I should know by now that I didn’t. This was backed up by him telling me that many of the critiques the other instructors had made reflected more on their own driving styles and should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Now none of this sounds good but it is. I’m aware that my driving ability is generally pretty good and I felt stifled by having to drive in the style of the different instructors because that was what they were comfortable with. While I have gained some useful information from them I feel that having to concentrate on jumping through hoops was a distraction from being able to learn the things I need to learn. And as I was told on Friday, what I really need to learn are things like signalling, routes and the locations of various bits of equipment.

In theory I was supposed to do my test this week. But today I went to the Line Standards Manager and asked him to put it off until next week. Naturally he was somewhat put out because he has targets to meet and as far as he is concerned I’ve been given all the training I should have. Which I don’t dispute but having had something explained does not necessarily mean it has been learnt fully. As I am somewhat dyscalculic I find it difficult to absorb some types of information. It’s not that I can’t do it but that it takes me longer than most others to work out some things. I explained this to the LSM but he still felt I should do the road test and then he would put me with an instructor afterwards. This idea is so crazy that I almost burst out laughing. Doing a road test is an indication that one is ready to drive alone – to then immediately put a newly-passed-out driver with an instructor turns that on its head.

The LSM was insistent but I pointed out that before my test I’m required to sign to say that I have had all the training, understand it and am confident that I can drive alone. As this would not be the case I would not be signing it no matter how many arguments he put forward. After a while he gave up and told me I’d have to go and explain myself to the DMT who was doing the assessment. I presume this was meant to be offputting to me but I’m perfectly happy to quietly state my case and the DMT in question was fine with it. So much so that I later received a message sent by the LSM that I was to put in writing my reasons for not wanting to do the test this week. Again, I am taking this to be an attempt to apply subtle pressure but its something I am happy to ignore. I’ll be handing in a written explanation and it will be carefully worded so that any further pressure by the LSM would render him in a poor light.

On the one hand I do understand why he wants me to do the test. He has targets like any other manager and ideally should be on track with that. But if somebody says they are not quite getting it then I can’t see what difference a week would make to the training schedules. In fact, it can only benefit the training schedules because given my current level of ability I’ll be straight back at the training centre within a few weeks due to some mishap or other. Last week I noticed a few times that I was sailing past signals I hadn’t even seen, let alone noticed the colour of. Obviously I had an instructor with me who was ensuring I didn’t have any problems but towards the end of training a driver should be aware of where the signals are and predicting what comes next.

That began to happen on Friday and I think that was the first day that I actually grokked how the various signalling sections linked up. Today I was much more able to run the train as my own and to predict what was coming up. I was helped immensely by an instructor who was happy to sit back and not say much. At this stage I need a babysitter rather than a teacher so that I can be allowed to drive more-or-less unassisted. Technically I could do the test on Wednesday and pass it but I think it is better to wait for a week to allow things to settle and build my awareness of the line. So for the time being it will be severe delays at the training centre. (Seriously, that joke never gets old does it? 😉 ).