Friday, August 10, 2018

"Describe any other special training you've completed or skills and experience you currently possess that you feel would make you the best-qualified person for this position."

Once, when I was applying for a job, I had to answer the above. This is what I had to say about that...


When I was recruited for the position of Outreach Coordinator at Northfield Public Library (read bookmobile librarian), the old bookmobile they had did not require a commercial driver’s license, which was good, because I did not have one of those. I had a quick driving lesson from the children’s librarian then set off on my own.

I quickly restored and expanded the bookmobile service, so they soon purchased a newer, larger, more reliable bookmobile. I asked what the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) was on the new bus and was told 24,000 lbs.; a weight which does not require a commercial driver’s license. We moved the collection to the new bus and I got in it and started driving from day one, believing my standard, class D license was sufficient.


About a year later, our children’s librarian had an accident while driving the bookmobile and it required repairs. I took it to the shop and the mechanic there asked me a question about the specs on the vehicle. I did not know the answer to his question, so we opened cabinets looking for the information, which he said should be on a metal plate affixed somewhere in the cabin. We opened a small, locked cabinet which I had never accessed and there was the plate we were looking for, complete with the information he wanted and the GVWR, which read 32,000 lbs.! (WUT?!?!?!!!) I knew the Minnesota statute set the cutoff for not needing a CDL at 26,000 lbs. and I soon discovered that someone caught driving a vehicle that requires a CDL without the proper license could be fined up to $10,000, so I was quite shaken up at the discovery that I had been driving the bus improperly licensed for nearly a year!

Fortunately, I had a two-week vacation scheduled beginning the following week, so I informed my supervisor that I would be studying for the Class B CDL that was required while I was on vacation and that I had scheduled the required written and driving tests for the week after I returned. I hoped to have very little bookmobile service interruption after my vacation.

I spent most of that vacation at the beach with my family studying the thick CDL driver’s manual and took the written test when I got home. I passed that and then needed to tackle the driving test, which would have been the easier test of the two, except that I was required to alley dock the bus; a maneuver that requires you to park the bus while you are driving in reverse and turning at a 90 degree angle, all in one fluid, non-stop motion. The vehicle has to land precisely between set markers to the rear and both sides of the vehicle or you do not pass this test.


Because the bookmobile had no rear window and little visibility to the rear and most of my stops involved children who were drawn to the bus like magnets to steel, I had avoided backing it up as much as possible for fear of accidentally running someone over. I had very limited experience traveling in reverse and no experience at all with alley docking because I had never needed to do it. I had one window of time in which to practice alley docking on the evening before my driving test, so I set up cones and practiced until it got too dark to see. I only managed to alley dock the bus properly that evening about 50% of the time.


The following day, my driver’s test went perfectly up until the final alley docking maneuver. At that point, the instructor directed me to stop the bus, then told me to alley dock the vehicle once he got out to watch from the curb. I was very nervous because I only had one attempt to get it right, so I told myself, “You will or you won’t. Either way, it will be over in a couple of minutes.” I took a deep breath and perfectly alley docked the bookmobile in one fluid, unbroken motion as if I had been doing it all of my life. To this day, I am amazed that I was able to do that. I like to imagine what the instructor would have thought if he had known I had so little practice and had failed at it so often.


So, yes, I have a few unique skills, but the one that makes me the best candidate for ANY job is my willingness and ability to learn new things quickly and well. Any other questions?