I desperately wanted a job or a story to sell.
Basically, I wanted money and something to do. I was still trying to find another career and running out of choices.
I was hoping to”think outside the box” in hopes that I could get another career with the abilities some human resource expert always tells me are”transferrable,” but not understands any company that’s hiring someone with more than 20 years’ experience in another industry.
I needed to do something, even though it was incorrect. I’d always done all of the right things during my life, but even a stupid person knows that you can not continue doing the same things over and over and expect different results.
On the lookout for a job wasn’t getting me a job. There are too many unemployed people with great skills, education, and tons of expertise and, still, too few jobs to spread around. I believed if I could ride in the next seat of a semi-truck, it’d give me an chance to actually learn what the job was about before I spent time and money into getting my Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and looking for a company willing to cover an over 40 year-old girl to push for them. I’d still need to pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) medical evaluation too. I worried that age may be a barrier also. With so much to be worried about, I had been finding it hard to prioritize what to worry about most.
So, with this in mind, I went into a local truck stop to interview a few of the drivers. I was contemplating driving a semi-truck as a possible second career because my father was an over-the-road truck driver when I was young.
Then, a couple years after, he taught me a few basic maneuvers like how to drive the tractor around a warehouse parking lot and dock the trailer so the warehouse guys could unload it. That was how I’d spent one Saturday afternoon.
I stood back and watched. I watched as the truck drivers carried their bag and shower kit out of their semi-truck through the rear door reserved for”professional drivers” on their way to the 24-hour restaurant, the coin-operated laundry area or to buy a $12-ticket for a personal shower.
I watched as the motorists fueled their trucks. I watched them drive through the parking lot and rear their big rig at a slot. A truck driver is judged, not by how quickly he can drive on an interstate, but how easily he can back his trailer between two trucks. I saw that the other drivers observe the other drivers.
Mostly, I was amazed by how many female drivers I saw climb out of the truck. I was invited to see them climb from the driver’s seat. I spoke to some of the girls as they headed towards the door.
The majority of the girls I talked with were over-the-road (OTR) drivers that meant they drove long-distances, cross-country and, thus, were not home often. All of them were solitary; a lot of them traveled with a dog for companionship. Among the girls traveled with a dog and two cats in her truck. She had been an independent driver with her own truck. She drove”solo,” she said, and favored her animals to people as companions. She’d been driving for many years and would not return to office work for love of money. That is pretty much what they said.
As I stood and watched the truckers fuel their possessions, inspect their trailers and try to find a parking place for the night, I tried to imagine what it could be like being a professional semi-truck driver. I was hopeful that my limited understanding about the fundamentals of semi-trucks and the trucking business might give me an insight into a new business where there may be a job available for an over 40 year old, white lady, with no kids and you don’t have to come back to a home base to go to family or friends.
I thought I may have found a new road to employment. I was anticipating a new job which would permit me to work independently in the conveniences of a semi-truck using a mix trailer complete with surround-sound stereo, a mobile 24-inch flat-screen satellite tv, a midsize fridge, a microwave and, obviously, a full-size sleeper. What more could a woman want? There was an onboard International Positioning System (GPS) to help me map my way across america. With a single touch, on the 7-inch touch-screen, I could find the nearest rest stop, truck stop or my final destination.
The job was beginning to sound ideal – particularly considering my present situation.
It was a job which would let me see the countryside without needing to pay for a plane ticket or a Greyhound bus ticket. It was a job where I could eat, work and sleep in 1 vehicle. I could travel the nation, with a paycheck in 1 hand and a steering wheel at the other. I wouldn’t even need to go home to see family and friends because after being unemployed for so long – I did not have anything better to do. I could work day and night and package my savings account with money.
I shut my eyes as I tried to picture myself sitting in the driver’s seat, enjoying the scene, while listening to my favourite music as I traveled the countryside from one country to another. I had noticed some of the newer versions that one man called a”condo taxi.” He said they’re called condo cabs since they’re large and have nearly as many conveniences as a recreational vehicle. A few of the men explained that some of those interiors are custom designed and, of course, are really nice. I didn’t get to see the interior of one though. I did talk with one female motorist, however, who called her standard-size sleeper a”bedroom suite” because she enjoyed it so much. She confessed to having it”out-fitted” in pink with goose-down cushions, a goose-down comforter, floor rugs and curtains to match.
The notion of driving a semi-truck with the interior decorated in pink was attractive to me. I was beginning to get caught up in the decorating while still trying to consider the actual task of driving. It was beginning to work for me. I could combine my desire for the comforts of home with the necessity to earn a paycheck and that I would not even have to give up my notebook computer.
The on-board email system should not pose any significant problems either. Half of my problems were resolved. The notion of transporting about 80,000 pounds of freight in an aluminum trailer during rain, hail, sleet and snow rarely happened to me. I could push by day and write through the night. I thought this may be the best solution. I could solve two problems with a single job. I could make a paycheck daily and use my computer at night to freelance my writing career. The key is in the decorating.
Besides decorating my tractor-trailer mix vehicle in calm, soothing colors, I could have my name painted on the side and look very cool. The majority of the tractors could be recognized by the writing on the driver’s door that identifies the owner or operator of every vehicle. Many motorists will have their name published on the driver’s door. Other drivers paint a favourite expression or scripture which generally matches the custom paint job. All vehicles have to get custom amounts; nonetheless, these are provided by DOT. I guess that is a something or regulation. But, that is fine, black goes with everything. Besides, it is going to make the large, black tires noticeable and supply a more”grounded” appearance to the automobile.
Salesmen will tell you that they help the air flow within the tractor and trailer and, thus, reduce wind drag and increase fuel mileage. I think they just did it because it looks cool and provides more head room in the cab.
More headroom allows the trucker to really stand in the cab. More headroom also gives a great open feeling to any space; that appealed to me and my awareness of the outdoors. The extra space also allows the trucker to easily open and close the fridge door while he sees satellite tv on his brand new, 24-inch flat screen tv, with an integrated DVD player.
Many truckers reported that they particularly like the remote control that enables them to change television channels while sitting on the sleeper. This enables them to stay seated and, thus, not need to stand or move to change the station or insert a new disk.
The fridge is generally situated next to the sleeper, which can be convenient. This permits the driver to open the fridge to grab a drink or a bite without getting up. Only a guy would think to engineer the cab of a truck this way. Men live in their trucks the exact same way they reside in the home; food in one hand and the tv remote in the other.
The Automated Power Unit (APU) was also considered by the majority of truck drivers to be a popular feature. It’s responsible for making all these appliances and conveniences works so readily in a semi-truck. The APU provides power to the fridge, microwave, lights and other electric type things which make living in a truck more pleasing. All the truckers needed an APU. The APU makes luxury occur.
The dashboard within a semi-truck is cool also. It’s a judge for all. The interior of those trucks look like the interior of an airplane. They have enough indicators to track almost everything on the trailer or truck. They’ve gauges to monitor fuel levels, oil levels, manifold pressure as well as the gross weight of the cargo in the trailer.
State patrol inspectors are also fond of their weight gauges also. They especially enjoy the burden gauges that they can track while sitting within the”shack” in the port of entry. The state patrol is now able to track a semi-truck’s front and rear axle weight”in-motion” since it moves the port-of-entry. The port-of-entry is automated nowadays. The highway department put scales under sections of the interstate that permits the state patrol to check the weight of the cargo as the semi-truck travels beyond the weight station. The truck drivers no longer need to stop at each port-of-entry when entering a new state; rather, they can simply drive-by while the state patrol monitors the burden on a monitor screen. If the freight weight is too thick, based on Federal regulations, the state patrol still has to get in their cars, turn on a siren and chase the truck driver to give him a ticket. Some things have not changed.
While riding in a semi-truck, I heard a lot about the trucking business. I learned so much that I decided to get my CDL license so that I, also, could haul cargo throughout the country. It’s a tricky task, but does have the main advantage of not having a boss within the cab. Having a boss within the cab is comparable to getting a back-seat driver who would like to tell you how you can drive. This is the advantage that encourages many truck drivers into getting truck drivers. They get to control the truck, their paths and, if they provide on-time, they get paid to drive. They also get to select which radio channel they prefer to listen to while they travel the countryside. It’s important when selecting a trucker to ride , that you select someone with similar taste in music. This is quite important.
I rode with a single trucker for more than two weeks and, according to his log, we logged over 10,000 miles in his semi-truck. I believe that I criss-crossed the United States five times during these two months.
But after talking to many recruiters and truck-driving schools, I learned that there is not a high-demand for girls; but they were ready to give me a opportunity. I applied to work for a motor carrier that’s known to employ inexperienced drivers. I borrowed money from a friend, took a Greyhound bus to another country and, after one failed attempt, I received my license to drive a semi-truck. Sadly, the school wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. After two weeks, I dropped-out, took a bus back home and began searching for jobs in my career field. I also went back to writing and chose to do what I intended all along – to compose a short-story about my experience traveling cross-country in a semi-truck for 2.