458: Trucking On

I am a prisoner in this truck. I am not even a CDL (commercial driver license) driver, I am merely a passenger. I was trying to visit my husband, who IS a newly-certified, licensed, tested and inspected CDL driver. When his company-owned truck developed problems and he was stuck waiting for repairs over Christmas, I cashed in a previously-purchased American Airlines flight ticket I would otherwise have lost had I not used it for this purpose, and flew out to Omaha, Nebraska to see him, after I spent a couple of days visiting the rest of my family in Georgia.

I expected to ride with him on his drives for about a week, since he was supposed to be routed on deliveries to Atlanta to pick me up, and to drop me off, for this jaunt. That was December 28. This is January 7, and the next run is to some freaking place in MICHIGAN. That has absolutely nothing in common with ATLANTA, GEORGIA. The next delivery after that is scheduled for Missouri, which is also further north and west of where we are now, in West Virginia. Wrong direction, dispatch!

I got desperate enough to check the tickets to Atlanta on Greyhound buses, for Pete’s sake. The bus costs nearly as much as it would cost to freaking FLY. Bus tickets were supposed to be cheap enough for people who do not have enough money to buy airline tickets to buy them instead. At least, they USED to be cheaper! Buses are certainly less comfortable than the airplane, and there is no snack served, either, so the bus ticket should be considerably less expensive than flying. Not so!

Ah, well, as I write on the truck stop provided Internet while serving the mandatory 10 hour refresh down time to be able to drive again, I have discovered that my brother’s expected children have been born January 6th – twins: one girl and one boy. Graydon James and Elise Drew – making me a new auntie twice over. In addition, while visiting my family, my daughter announced that she and her husband are now expecting their first – making me a grandma-to-be later this year. It is quite clear that life does go on – even if I am stuck in a truck!


456: Along For The Ride


For the first time since he qualified for his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), I am riding in the lower bunk of my husband’s tractor-trailer semi cab. He HAD a CDL before, but with that one, he trained for and drove exclusively school busses for a number of years. A school bus and a tractor-trailer are completely and totally different worlds, let me tell you.

I have a bird’s-eye view through the big front window of America passing by from my perch in the bunk. In three days, I have seen Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado (so far). We are currently on the way to Illinois. I have seen the inner workings of the rig, and the inner areas of the truck stops as well. Truck stop showers are quite nice. LOTS of piping hot water and thick, absorbent towels, to boot. There are washers and dryers for laundry on-the-go. And there is a variety of bewildering equipment that runs off of the 12 volt DC current of the truck; adapters for the computer, phone and music/DVD player, the GPS (global positioning system) navigator, small portable stoves and ovens, coffee pots, refrigerators, televisions, microwave ovens and more. The truck I am in has two sleeping bunks, and numerous fascinating compartments, cabinets, and cubby holes for storing clothing and personal belongings.

It is interesting, to say the least. The part that is the most fun is bedding down for the mandatory 10 hour breaks after every 11 hours of drive time. There is even a cargo net that buckles across the front of the bunk for the safety of the sleepers. TALK about fun and games! Truck stops have arcades, and many offer free wi-fi, not to mention free merchandise for truckers who gas up their rigs there. That is the incentive for truckers to choose one truck stop over another one, since usually their freight companies’ gas credit cards are accepted at a variety of stops.

I do understand why most truckers gain weight. Nibbling on snacks as the miles roll on by is quite tempting, not to mention the infinite variety of snacky foods available at all those truck stops! Plus, SOME of the truck stops have gyms for working off calories and getting a decent amount of exercise after 11 hours of sitting and driving, but not all of them do. Yet.

The whole process of dropping off trailer loads of merchandise and picking up new trailer loads of merchandise is interesting and intricate. Parking them in tight spaces and maneuvering those big trailers and rigs around is not something I want to do. It makes me nervous to watch it, even when the driver has years of experience and manages it flawlessly. And there are endless safety regulations to observe and sign off on that are completed. I am gaining a new appreciation of the amount of work that goes into getting all that merchandise to the stores where we buy it, that is for sure. And I am having a great mini-vacation seeing part of America, to boot!