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!