Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Guest Post: This is the Life. We All Have to be Somewhere. This is My Life. By Jean McHarry

May 26, 2011

Hey! Todd here. Yes. I know you were expecting me, but I won’t be the one entertaining you today. Let me explain. You and I both know I’m a blabbermouth, but sometimes I just don’t know what to say about a particular subject. I had one of those cases back in July of 2010 with a post called Riding Along with a Trucker.

This post was written due to a question I got from Lucinda, a woman who was planning on riding along with her trucker husband, but only as a passenger. She was asking for advice. Well, I’ve never done that and neither had The Evil Overlord, so I enlisted the help of a couple of Twitter friends. Patty, a.k.a. @luv18wheels and @CB_SnowAngel (who apparently has given up on Twitter) gave some sound advice, but I knew I’d want more eventually. That’s how we arrived today at my first guest post.

I don’t plan on doing this a lot, but I thought I knew someone who could both answer the question better than I could and reach meet my required level on the Snark-O-Meter. Recently, I decided to hit up Jean McHarry, a.k.a the infamous @raysunshine77 on Twitter. She’s a first class smart aleck on Twitter and she always cracks me up with her sarcastic sense of humor. I’m also beginning to wonder if she’s a long-lost sister of The Evil Overlord. After much manipulation (I lied and told her I liked her), she finally acquiesced. I think you’ll be glad she did. She did a bang-up job on what she admitted was her first writing assignment since high school. I’ll let her introduce herself. That’s her standing next to her devastatingly handsome husband. Love that macho mustache. Hey, wait a second…

This is the life. We all have to be somewhere. This is my life.

By Jean McHarry

Don’t call me a seat cover! Don’t assume I’m a lot lizard! Don’t disrespect me because you don’t want women taking away a man’s job! Don’t accuse me of not having knowledge of this industry because I ride! Don’t ask me to run away with you cause you have a bigger, badder truck! And for the love of all that is chrome, don’t ask me to move the stupid truck!

I have driven, I’ve dispatched, I’ve loaded and unloaded trailers and I’ve run a truck stop. DOT assumes I’m a driver and will sometimes ask for my log book. I have to produce paperwork to show that I am allowed to be here, that I won’t do anything that would be considered work and I pay for this privilege. I love my life, I love being out here on the road. I enjoy every aspect of being a truck driver except I don’t drive the truck and let’s make this clear, I don’t want to drive the truck and no one is going to make me.

My husband has diesel running through his veins. He says it’s all he ever wanted to do (that’s a small lie, he also wanted to be a train engineer or a boat captain) and I believe it’s all he’ll ever do. I enjoy being out here. I love going new places, meeting new people and just being a little bit of a gypsy. Waking up someplace new and not knowing where I’m going to be tomorrow is a thrill that I truly appreciate. I am a passenger. That’s all I want to be.

I call myself a rolling assistant because I do more than just sit here and look pretty. I spend about a quarter of my time playing navigator. Between maps (both truck and city versions), a functional GPS, the company’s routing, the local directions, and my notes on the local directions, I can tell where we’ve been, where we’re at, where we need to be going and just how long it should take to do it all. This knowledge also helps me with keeping an eye on the weather. Twitter really has been my best friend in this endeavor. Those up to the minute updates that tell me it’s raining in Texas helped a whole lot when we were dealing with blizzards in Buffalo. I keep track of loads and payroll, keep up on all relevant news and generally just keep him company.

I cook. That sounds so simple when you type it. Is there any way to make it simple in the truck? We don’t have a refrigerator, so storage of perishables must be done in a cramped cooler that also holds our water. Canned goods have one cabinet available to them and it can’t be opened without something landing on a foot or head. I carry a crock pot, a lunchbox (it’s shaped just like those old lunch boxes your dad took to work and functions kind of like a crock pot) and an electric skillet. One of these days when I find room, I want a rice cooker but at this point something else has to move out for it to have a home.

We try to eat out of the truck for 18 out of 21 meals. Sometimes we accomplish this, most weeks it’s closer to 14 out of 21. Sometimes, we just need out of the truck. It’s not like eating dinner at the house. Imagine you had to eat every meal with your spouse in the bathroom (just throw a mattress over the tub and put the lid down on the toilet). At some point, you would need a break. Restaurants have so much more space and other people to help carry on conversations. These two luxuries can make a really long day seem like a vacation. Because when there are just two of you, there is only so much to be said and quite frankly if he asks me one more time “whatcha doing?”, I might hit him with a tire thumper.

I clean. That’s another one of those things that sounds so simple but is never as simple as you want it to be. Mirrors need to be cleaned. Glass on both the inside and the outside. Dusting (I hate dust and in a truck, the stuff just reappears the moment you knock it off). To sweep and mop (something I try to do every other day) requires half the truck be picked up and put someplace else while I accomplish such an easy task. The cooler (loaded down with ice, half a case of water and whatever perishables have been purchased for the week), the crock pot, the lunchbox oven, the trash can, 4 pairs of boots, 3 pairs of tennis shoes and the rugs. They must go somewhere. I just wish I knew where. The bed is already loaded down with luggage, a shower bag, my purse, laundry baskets, and a dozen bags of other stuff that one of these days will eventually find a home. Once the floors are all pretty, it all has to be put back. At least until bedtime. Then everything has to be moved back up front so we can sleep.

My goal is to try to make his load a little lighter, especially since I increase the weight of the truck (I have to bring a lot of stuff). Didn’t you see all the stuff I just mentioned? I’d like to have so much more, but there will never be room and I probably wouldn’t use it if I finally got it in here. My resolution each year is to try that whole minimalistic lifestyle. One of these years, it’s gonna happen. Trust me.

I spend my day trolling for news articles to read to him. I download podcasts that we both enjoy to kill the hours of driving. There is only so much music and news you can listen to in an 11 hour day. Even less now, since every hour the whole thing seems to repeat. We joke, we tease, we argue, we repeat.

I spend a huge chunk of my day online. I harass people I’ve never met (and some I never will) on Twitter. I stalk people I do know on Facebook. I farm and tame the frontier. I troll truck driving and cooking forums. He used to complain that I spent most of my day on the computer and phone. He’d ask what could I possibly be doing that would waste 7 hours a day. Why wasn’t I looking at the beautiful scenery and enjoying just relaxing while he drove? Why wasn’t I paying more attention to what was going on around us? That’s what he does. Why couldn’t I do that? I tried to explain.

From my side, with no vehicle to control, just looking at scenery that I’ve seen 100 times isn’t entertaining. It’s like staring at a wall. Now when we go home, I drive. That’s 8 to 12 hours, depending on who we are going to visit. He whines the whole time that he’s bored. I tell him to relax and enjoy the scenery, pay more attention to what’s going on around us. That’s how I get new toys.

I’d like to say we are unique, but that wouldn’t be true. I know plenty of couples out here that are in the same boat we are; one drives and one rides. Anybody that has met him will ask how I spend 24/7 with him. I am heavily medicated. All kidding aside, we love each other and we take care of each other and we are co-dependent on each other. We’ve spent time apart. I didn’t like it. He didn’t like it. I respect couples that team. I respect women that stay at home while their husband is out here on the road. I’ve been there, done that and I don’t plan on going back.

*Todd here again. Please leave your comments and/or questions here and I’ll make sure Jean sees them. You can also contact her directly through Twitter @raysunshine77, email her at janedean77@yahoo.com, or check out her Facebook page. I hear she also doesn’t mind the occasional stalker. ;-)*

Why I Do This

December 16, 2009

Most everyday on my Twitter account, I post a little ditty about trucking. Here was my post from a couple of days ago:

Daily Trucking Tidbit: As you do your Christmas shopping today, remember that every item you see was delivered by a truck driver.

That’s seems fairly benign, doesn’t it? Well, for this, I received a message from a follower (and fellow trucker) that basically told me to check my bloated ego at the door and do my job like every other American worker out there. His point was that lots of workers are responsible for getting a product onto the shelves. Everyone from the forklift driver to the secretary in the front office all do their part in the process. He’s right.

Now here’s my point. How many people do you hear complaining about unsafe forklift drivers ? Ever heard of anyone complaining about the nuisance of having too many secretaries? I didn’t think so. Now when was the last time you heard someone having the same complaints about truckers and trucks?

As I explained in a message to my attacker, I’m not looking for any sympathy out here. I chose this job and I can leave it any time I feel like it (or so I like to tell myself). One of my goals for writing a blog and tweeting my fingers to the bone is to let the general public have a glimpse into the life of a trucker. I’m thinking that the more someone knows about what we go through to deliver the goods that they need and love, the more respect we’ll get, both personally and professionally.

On the personal side, I’m not too worried about what folks think about me as a person. Sure, most people love me because I’m so freakin’ adorable, but even if they didn’t, I wouldn’t slit my wrists over it. What I’m really hoping is for people to give trucks a second thought when they encounter them on the road. Yea, I know. I may as well wish for an obedient wife that hangs on my every word, but hey, what’s life without hopes and dreams?

Think about it. Other than truckers themselves, who are the people who are most helpful to a truck tooling down the road? You know, the car that lets you change lanes in front of them. Or the minivan that stays back from the intersection so you can get around that tight right turn. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of these helpful drivers know a truck driver. I’ve had friends tell me that they pay more attention to trucks nowadays, simply because they know The Evil Overlord and I drive one. How about you, truckers? If you’re anything like me, before I started driving a truck, I hated trucks. Then again, some days I still do.

Nowadays, when I’m off-duty, I help other truckers when I can. Usually it’s just helping a driver merge into traffic or something easy like that, but one time it called for a bit more effort. One cold Christmas day, we stopped to pick up a trucker who had run out of fuel. To make matters worse, he didn’t even have a gas can. As you can imagine, it took quite a while to find a store that was actually open on Christmas, buy the gas can, go fill it up, and take him back to his truck. When the engine wouldn’t start, we made another run to fill the fuel can. After that, he insisted that I go on with my day, saying that if it still didn’t start then, there wasn’t anything I could do to help. At that point, I was kinda glad.

Now I’d like to think that I’m a helpful kinda guy, but if I wasn’t a trucker myself, that guy might still be sitting on the side of the road. I can easily see someone who has a friend or a family member who is a trucker doing the same thing. I believe I forgot to mention that I had a carload of eight family members at the time. Not one of them complained. I apologized to them when the guy went in to pay for the second can of fuel, but they just said, “Hey, what if that was you guys? We’d hope someone would stop for you.” Once again, consideration because they knew a couple of truckers.

So that’s my goal. To have world peace through my blog and a few tweets. Okay, not realistic. Still, if shedding a little light on the trucking lifestyle makes a few more people drive a little safer and friendlier around trucks, then I’m not wasting my time. And if you still aren’t going to help me change lanes, then you better start scooching over! I’ve had my signal on waaaaaay too long. Freakin’ jerk.

*So what about you? How do you help truckers? Or do you? Leave a comment to show us all what a thoughtful and caring human being you are. And consider passing this on to a friend or two. I know you’ve got at least one that drives like an idiot around trucks. Or do you look at them every day in the mirror?*

Friendly Truckers Haven’t Vanished

August 26, 2009

Photo by @boetter via Flickr

Many older truck drivers have fond memories of the way truckers used to help each other. They say that all of the truckers nowadays only care about themselves. They also say that selfish drivers are causing truckers to have less of a community. Well, I’d say that they’re partly right, but I’m too concerned with myself to care about anyone else’s opinions. Kidding.

The biggest compliant I’ve heard is that “back in the day” you’d never see a broken down truck on the shoulder without another driver who has stopped to check on him. That’s true. I rarely see two trucks pulled over together anymore. But why is that?

I’ll admit something here. I never check on a stranded truck anymore. The only time I do is when it’s 20 degrees outside and someone’s life might be at risk. But by and large, I don’t stop. “Back in the day” I tried to be the good citizen. I rarely stopped, but nearly always contacted the broken down truck via CB radio.

Over the course of my 12-year driving career, in every single case, the driver had either contacted someone for help via their in-truck satellite system, their cell phone, or both. So the fact is that with modern-day technology, the need to stop and help has been rendered unnecessary. Furthermore, I don’t even bother contacting them by CB anymore. I figure that everyone and their Gerbil has a cell phone these days.

As for the lack of community, well phooey on that. Walk into any truck stop restaurant or driver’s lounge and you’ll witness plenty of community. Drivers still tell stories to each other like they always have. They talk across tables as they eat. Even further out of site is the myriad of truckers that have taken the community on-line.

There are trucking websites, trucking blogs, trucking forums, and social websites such as Facebook and Twitter, just to name a couple. Even more convenient is that all of these websites can now be accessed through a smart phone. No computer required! Many of these truckers talk back and forth on-line like they’ve known each other for years. Maybe they have. It’s just that they met on-line. The fact is, they’ve probably never met face-to-face. But does that matter anymore?

The point is that, like every other industry, trucking is being affected by technology. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to the individual. Sure, there’s nothing like quality face time with real live people. But I’d be willing to bet that some of these old timers who complain the most could actually be more involved with the trucking community if they’d trade in their dial phone and typewriter for an iPhone and a laptop.


%d bloggers like this: