Women in Trucking - One Woman's Journey
Randy picked me up as scheduled. I moved my personal belongings from my three-bedroom house with a pass through fireplace and a garden tub into the bunk of a tractor-trailer rig. I couldn't take my "things" or my garden tub or my color television set. I left behind my rose bush and my strawberry plants. I said good-bye to my daughter and my neighbors and settled into the truck, which was to be my home for the next 3 weeks. A moment of panic swept across me. "What am I doing?" Then he softly kissed my forehead and said "Thank you." Then I knew exactly what I was doing.
So, with a clear head and a purpose for leaving all that I knew behind me, I buckled my seatbelt and we were off. Our first load was from Boise to St. Louis, MO. We had 4 days to get it there, we made it in 3. Randy drove like a man possessed. I do not mean he was unsafe or went too fast, I mean that he was on a mission. He stopped for a break every 2 hours or so and we had lunch and dinner at stops, but he didn't seem to have time to look at the beautiful parts of the country. He was at work. For the first time, it really hit me that, even though I would be traveling across the country, I would see very little of it. This was not the fantasy I had imagined. My bubble started to burst.
We arrived at our destination way ahead of schedule and there were no other loads to split with, so we spent all day Sunday at the truck stop. It rained and it was hot and muggy. We watched a lot of TV, talked and ate. It was nice to be alone with him and I actually had time to read a book. But it was not like RV'ing or sitting in my living room. I didn't have a car, so I couldn't go check out the sites. We were stuck in that truck, in the heat and rain for over 24 hours. I was very grateful when we finally got to move.
He delivered the load the next morning and we got another load to pick up in the yard in St. Louis. The driver who dropped of the trailer drove it up from Florida with a tire so bald that the steel was showing. This meant that Randy had to get it fixed and weighed and to Omaha by 11 that night. On top of that, we had to go through a weigh station with a bad tire. Road repair said to take the trailer to the TA and get it fixed. The TA was 1 mile from the weigh station and the weigh station was open. Well, they saw the tire, pulled us in for an inspection and wrote Randy a ticket. After fuming for about an hour, I calmed down. We got the tire fixed, ate lunch, called safety and road repair and told them all the story of the driver who couldn't fix the tire before we got the ticket and then drove on. Our company agreed to pay the ticket. I learned some very valuable lessons. Number 1 - never move a trailer with a tire that is that bald and Number 2 - get the name of the guy in road repair that tells you do that.
Anyway, we were off. But since all this had put us behind schedule, a shower and dinner were out of the question. So, we pulled into Omaha without benefit of food or a shower and I was at my wit's end.
"Can I tell you my first impression of all this, or do you want me to lie to you?" I asked.
"Be honest with me."
"I don't think I am going to like this."
"Why?" He was like a kid who was being told that there was no Santa Claus.
"I have been on the road for 4 days. I have had 1 shower. I haven't eaten since lunch and it is past 9 pm now. I was in St. Louis and didn't get to see the Arch. I am hot and tired and I don't like the way I smell. I am bored. Between the CB and the radio, we have to yell at each other to hear. And I would love to sink into a bubble bath right about now." I watched his expression change from hope to sad and I was heartbroken.
"Maybe you will feel better when you get to drive. You won't be so bored." I could tell he was hoping that I wouldn't give up yet.
"Maybe that will make a big difference. I do love you and I love being with you. I'll give it 2 months, but then we may need to have this conversation again."
His spirits picked up. "Okay, we'll talk in two months." He was happy again and I got a renewed sense of what this was all about. Training with our company lasts two months and I figured it would be long enough to decide if I could do this every day.
I am not a woman who walks two steps behind her husband. I am strong enough to have faced many obstacles in my life. I have a high IQ and I could do anything I wanted to do. What I chose to do is be with him. If that means that I have to give up my big house and my garden tub and my color TV, so be it. It also means that if I am miserable with this new life, I have to tell him. I know that I will have to go back to being a trucker's wife and spend most of my time alone, but it also means that I gave it a shot and that is really all he is asking of me. And it is all I am asking of myself.