It is almost 11:30 PM currently. My husband and I just started our work day now. Hashtag truckerlife, right?
People often ask to know more details and stories of our job, and I’m often encouraged to post more trucking stories on my blog. So, with the whole night looming ahead of me, and this having been an extra weird trip, I decided to go for it.
Besides, my husband is currently on the phone chatting with two other truck buddies. And let me tell ya, a phone call with other truck guys can take hours. Hours. I should ask my husband what he thought his record for longest call ever was, but I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if it came close to 5 hours. 5 hours is not the norm though; but 2-3 hours is the norm. When a phone call has lasted only 30 minutes and it’s over, I have to ask what happened, why it was over before it had a chance to start. Ha ha.
What never ceases to amaze me is the number of topics those guys can burn through on the phone. And by number of topics I mean they have 1 topic. Trucks. One can’t imagine that “truck” could be so fascinating a subject as to garner conversation for hours, but somehow they do it. They tell each other stories of everything that has happened to everyone on the road, stories that have happened today and yesterday all the way till 30 years ago. They discuss mechanical issues. And logbook habits and mistakes. Different trucking companies. And the kinds of loads they have. DEF systems and reefer models. I’ve heard them talk about Espar heaters for 45 minutes straight. I’m sure you get the picture.
Sure, sometimes they digress a little. A few times I’ve heard my husband explain in great detail how a certain dish was cooked. He mentioned the recipe, the ingredients, the steps, the whole process. It was like listening to a cooking show. I loved it ;). Or sometimes they talk about grilling and summer outings.
I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for telling y’all this. But sometimes I catch him saying something about me on the phone (maybe something I’ve said) and when I look at him he says to the other guy “this will get me in trouble later yet”. Haha. Truth is, I feel honoured my husband thinks some things I’ve done or said are worth mentioning to other people. (Still not sure how he’ll feel about this post though, even though he is extremely supportive of my blog, :))
My husband has this incredible brain for remembering things. He knows hundreds of stories. He knows all the best routes for traveling all over the United States. His mind astounds me every day. Here’s an example:
*A few weeks ago, one of his friends called him and asked for a bit of advice for planning a road trip. Darren says something along the lines of: “if you want to drive along lots of greenery and scenic views, take the I-10 till Riverton and from there take the 310 till Kentucky. From there go east till Shreveport and get on the I-40 till Stuttgart. Then you can either take the 70 north or the 79 till the Canadian border. If you want to see less green scenery and more national parks, take the I-10 till Batesville and then the 54 till Mayfield. If you want to see this certain park, take the I-90 and if you want to see this certain park, take the 85 west. From there you’ll want to be sure to go to Shelby….”
It’s like he’s a living map. Ask him about a road or town or whatever, even small ones, he’ll be able to talk about it. It’s just one of the things that makes him such a good driver.
Anyway, considering all the stories he hears, sees, remembers, I sometimes think that I’m the wrong person to write this blog. If he had a blog, it’d be a hoot. When he tells other people stories, he uses the most unexpected expressions and crazy descriptions to make it memorable and hilarious. He’ll be a wonderful grandpa one day 😉
So about a week ago was his birthday. We took another couple along and went out for dinner and bowling. We got back pretty late and exhausted. The next day we got up super early (like before 5) and went to our boss’ yard to get our truck and leave on another trip. Needless to say, so early in the morning, as exhausted as I still was, I went to bed, pulled the curtains, and conked out. My poor husband was tired too but he started driving. He drove for a few hours and loaded the trailer. The whole time I was sleeping and didn’t notice a thing.
A few hours later, I woke up and we stopped for a bathroom break. At that point I was feeling rested and bright, so I took a turn behind the wheel because he was feeling tired and drowsy.
“Taking a turn behind the wheel” sounds casual enough but it’s kind of a big deal for us. I don’t have a full truck license yet, but I do have class 1 learners with airbrake endorsement, which means that I can drive in Canada if there’s a full class 1 holder along. In the states I can’t drive at all, so because we mostly just drive in the states, I don’t get a lot of “turns behind the wheel”, ha. But I felt super important and helpful to be able to give my husband a break when he was so tired. I think I drove for about 6-7 hours that day.
I’ve noticed that always the first day of each trip is more tiring than the other days. We need more breaks, keeping awake is harder, and by the time we can finally go to sleep, we pretty much pass out right away. I don’t know why this is. I guess it always takes a little bit of time to get in working mode after having been home for a few days.
But I remember the very first trip we ever made together. We only drove to south Texas and back, so it can’t have been more than a week long trip. But after that week we got home and we slept. And slept. And slept. We were exhausted.
Sometimes people are amazed when we say we’re tired. “You’re tired??! From what?? All you did was drive all day.”
Yes, we get tired from driving, believe it or not. Dead tired, sometimes. Even though I sit and “don’t do anything all day”, I get extremely tired too. By the end of the day, we’re just as tired as if we’d worked all day. And the fact is, my husband has worked all day. Really hard.
Guiding a 53 foot trailer along the road, keeping it between the lines, sometimes in strong winds that threaten to blow the trailer into the other lane, sometimes in pouring rain, and in all kinds of weather and road conditions, looking well ahead to keep an eye out for hazards the whole time, is hard work. Heavy loads can’t break suddenly. It’s somewhat stressful to keep it safe.
After that first trip, we got more used to the whole make your living with driving thing. The second trip was easier. I at least don’t remember needing to sleep so much after after we got home that time. It’s the same as with any other job; the first few days/weeks are always more tiring than usual. After you get used to doing that particular kind of work, you just get less tired.
The first several months of our trucking career, we just went to Texas and back. I thought those trips were super long. After a while, we started out on our first Calgary trip. Meaning we left Manitoba, drove south to the Texas/Mexican border, and then North towards Calgary, Alberta and then home. Yowza that was a long trip at the time. Now? When we get a Calgary trip I think “wow we’re gonna be back home in no time”. Calgary trips feel short at this point. Now we’re used to California and British Columbia trips. We’re usually gone for about two weeks, give or take.
I think I’ve rambled on long enough. So yeah, this whole trip was a bit different than our usual trips. My husband had to get up around 5 am every morning, which meant that we had to stop driving really early in the evenings. Which is not ideal for us but, logbook rules. I’ll not get into it, but basically we can only drive so and so many hours per day until we have to stop so and so many hours for the night.
That’s the same reason it’s now 1 am and we’re on the road at this ungodly hour. Logbooks are weird and extremely confusing and have the power to mess up your comfort.
Besides that, my husband and I actually endorse the logbook. The whole thing is designed to make sure professional drivers don’t overdo it and get enough rest, which is extremely important for safety reasons, obviously.
If anyone asks us if we love this job, the answer is a non hesitant yes. We do. We love it. Even if we have to drive all night and sleep all day every now and then.
Some people are genuinely amazed my husband and I like each other so much that we can be together all the time. A while ago one man told me literally that he and his wife could never do this. Some other people say that “I love my partner, but gahhh we’d kill each other.” I don’t know what to tell ya. My husband and I don’t have a perfect marriage (sometimes I’m hard to live with) but we do like each other. I can’t imagine any other life for us right now.
*This wasn’t at all accurate because I forgot the exact words he said so don’t try to follow those directions. You’ll get nowhere.
The photo of the truck is not a stockphoto for once. It’s the 2014 Peterbilt we drive right now. Our home away from home.