Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Who’s a Trucker?

September 27, 2011

No, seriously. That’s a real question. Does just driving a truck make you a trucker? Or is there something more to it? Sorry, I realize I didn’t put a quiz on your syllabus, but hey, that’s the nature of the dreaded pop quiz. Deal with it. And don’t you dare stick that gum to the underside of your desk.

Here’s the reason I ask. I don’t really consider myself a trucker. Neither does The Evil Overlord. It’s not a conscious decision that we made. It’s just been that way ever since we started driving in the summer of ’97.

Every time someone asked us what we did for a living, we’d say something like, “We drive a truck for a living.” We’ve even told people “We’re truck drivers.” But I can’t ever recall us saying, “We’re truckers.” I’m guessing I’ve probably said it before without thinking, but if so it’s rarer than road kill tartare. So why is that?

Well I don’t know about you, but I guess I have a stereotype trucker in my mind. I think of a trucker as someone who looks, acts, and talks the part. They buy miniature truck collectibles. They know all the NASCAR drivers. They never drive without their CB turned on. But for the most part, I’m talking about drivers who talk about trucking all the time.

I’ve got some family friends who have truckers in the family. Every time we get together, they talk about trucking. A lot. I always find myself heading to the ladies table before too long. Go ahead, make your jokes about my manliness, or lack thereof. I can handle it. And I’ve got my mascara handy for when I start to cry.

Hey, I drive a truck 11 hours a day for 3-4 weeks at a time. The last thing I want to do is talk about trucking. When The Evil Overlord was my co-driver, we never talked about trucking unless it had something to do with our current load. Now that she’s off the road, we still don’t have long talks about trucking. It rarely comes up. That’s just the way we are.

I know I’m not the only one. Take my friend Alan, a.k.a. @alanqbristol, who I met on Twitter. Twice now we’ve shared a meal when I was in the Denver area. Sure, we talked about trucking matters a little bit. We have that in common. But you’d think two guys who met on Twitter because they both drove a truck would talk about trucking… but no. We’ve talked about our pets, our friends, relationships, politics, religion, and the cesspool this world is becoming. Now I’ve never asked Alan if he considers himself a trucker, but I’ll bet he doesn’t. Maybe I’m wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

I guess I’ve always considered myself to be a truck driver, not a trucker. Maybe that’s just a matter of tomayto-tomahto. Is it? Once again, I really don’t know. Am I a trucker because I’ve driven a truck for 14 years? What’s the time limit? I know many hard-core truckers don’t consider rookie drivers as truckers. Heck, many times they don’t even consider them truck drivers. They call them “steering wheel holders.” Other super-truckers don’t consider you a truck driver if you drive a truck with an automatic transmission.

Maybe I’m just being retarded. Once again, that wouldn’t be the first time I’ve ever been accused of that. The Evil Overlord is full of loving comments like that. Does it even matter what I call myself? I think it does.

I’m not a trucker. I drive a truck for a living. I do my job each day and then I pursue other interests. I’m doing fun stuff on my Mac or playing a game on my iPhone. Even when I’m sitting in the cab of my truck or sitting in a Wendy’s writing a blog post, I’m not really thinking about trucking. Heck, you folks have read my blog posts. It’s not like a spend a lot of time researching and pondering these topics. An idea just pops in my head when I’m driving, I take note of it, and then I sit down one day and write a rambling string of 1600 opinionated words. Sorry about that.

I think perhaps the biggest difference between truckers and truck drivers may be how they look at the job. Listen, I know this is going to sound bad, but that’s never stopped me from saying stupid crap before. So here goes. Send your hate mail to… ah screw it. Send it to Alan. I don’t want it. LOL

I drive a truck. I know how important the job is. I know the skill that’s involved. I know how hard it is to be away from your family for weeks at a time. I know that I should have more pride in my job than I do. But I don’t. I’m ashamed to say that when someone asks me what I do for a living, I don’t say, “I drive a truck” with my chest stuck out. I say it expecting them to think less of me. Heck, I usually say, “I drive a truck for a living” and then with a whisper and a smile I say, “But don’t tell anyone.” Even when they act interested, I can’t help but imagine they’re thinking, “This guy must be an uneducated loser.”

I guess that’s just the way I feel about it. Is it wrong that I don’t feel pride in doing a job that I know deserves it? What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this topic. And let me know, are you a trucker or a truck driver. Or is there a difference?

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. ;-)*

A Trucker’s Home

December 6, 2010

I’m 42 years old and The Evil Overlord has been 29 for several years now. We live with her parents. How pathetic is that? Well, according to many of the truckers I’ve spoken with, it’s not pathetic at all. Well, at least it’s not that uncommon anyway.

I was reminded of this again yesterday when my company asked me to pick up a driver whose truck had broken down. He needed a lift home and they needed me to rescue him and the load he had been hauling. I’d be willing to bet that they were more concerned with the load than the driver. Carriers are “family-oriented” like that.

I knew immediately that Clint was a non-smoker. If he had been a puffer, all his stuff would’ve smelled like smoke and it would have taken a week or two to fumigate my truck after the 4.5 hour trip to his house. I did, however, put my foot down when he tried to bring his 13-gallon trash can into my cab. That would be the one that was caked with Skoal spit. *shudders* I was also grateful to discover that he wasn’t one of those annoying drivers. That would have made it seem like an 8-hour trip.

As we talked (and no, I didn’t do all the talking), I discovered that Clint was an avid sportsman who loved hunting and fishing. Well, there’s two things right off the bat that we don’t have in common. I’m certain that I don’t have the skill to shoot a fish or cast far enough to snag a deer.

As the conversation progressed, I discovered that he was a 41-year-old single guy who had never been married. After serving a couple of terms in the Navy, he got his CDL (Commercial Drivers License) and moved home with his dad. His father had recently passed away after a nightmare called Alzheimer’s disease.

I asked him if he had moved in with his dad because of the Alzheimer’s, to which he said, “No. He got that years later. I drive a truck. I’m never home. What the hell do I need a house for?”

Good point. While it may be pathetic for most grown adults to live with their parents, I believe that truckers might be one of the exceptions. People with special needs such as physical or mental disabilities would be understandable too. Now that I think of it, a lot of truckers might qualify for the mental side of that.

After The Evil Overlord and I got married, we moved to Dallas where I attended The Art Institute. During that time, we rented an apartment and suffered through life as most poor, uneducated, newlyweds do. They were some of the best years of our lives. Doesn’t everybody say that?

After graduation, we came back to Missouri and moved in with her parents until we could get our lives in order. We got into trucking after discovering that my degree was a worthless as a bartender at a lemonade stand.

As truckers, we stayed out on the road for 3 weeks at a time. Many drivers stay out much longer than that. When we did get home, we were only there for 3-4 days at a time, so we never really saw the need to get a place of our own. Her parents were happy to see us when we got home and they had an extra room to spare, so what the heck?

Years later, we got the itch to own a home. Since we were making good money, we thought we’d build a house that we could enjoy when we finally quit trucking and came off the road. We built that beautiful house, but there was one big honkin’ problem. We didn’t see any immediate end to our trucking careers.

I’ve got to tell you, it really sucked paying a large mortgage payment on a place that seemed to only be good for doing your laundry when you came off the road. It didn’t take long before we sold it and moved back in with her parents.

Fast forward to present day. The Evil Overlord is no longer driving. She quit for a while, then came back for a year-and-a-half, then quit again. Fickle woman. This time it’s for good though. Now she’s back at school and living with her parents while I’m out here on the road. And that is why we’ve put a deposit down on one-half of a brand new rental duplex.

Parents are fine. Actually, they’re more than fine. Without those two people feeling frisky at least once in their lives, you wouldn’t even exist. We should all thank them for doing the nasty for us. Still, they aren’t someone you want to live with for the rest of your lives. That’s why the Bible says to “leave your parents and cleave to your spouse.” God knew even back then that your parents would eventually drive you bonkers.

After The Evil Overlord put the deposit down on the place, she gleefully called me up to ask me if I was excited. I was less than enthused and she was perplexed. I explained that, while I understood her giddiness, I was still out here on the road for 3 weeks at a pop. She was happy to be getting some personal space and that was understandable. Since I’m rarely home, all it does for me is make her happy. And after all, I guess that’s part of a husband’s job. I’m sure I’ll enjoy getting back to the way it all began. It’ll be just me and The Evil Overlord again. And those pesky nephews, I guess. Unfortunately, my glee will only last for 30-40 hours a month.

My point is this. You’ve got good reason to raise your eyebrows when you meet a grown adult who still lives with his/her parents, but if you find out that person is a trucker, give them some slack. Would you want to spend a good chunk of your monthly income to own a home or maintain an apartment that you rarely get to visit?

*Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this subject. And if you’re feeling particularly nice, go up to the top of the post and give it a star rating. Thanks.*

Really? A Good Dispatcher?

November 17, 2010

Photo by mboperator via Flickr

Yes, I know that’s a rather comical statement for us truckers, but hang on and I’ll make my point. But first, let’s start this out by explaining something to my non-trucking readers. You drivers out there can zone out for a second. As if you weren’t doing that already.

When you drive a satellite-equipped truck, here’s the way the dispatching process is supposed to work.

  1. Your satellite unit beeps at you. If your company believes you to be incapable of reading a short message and hitting a few keys while you’re driving, then you pull over. If they actually treat you like a professional, you can do the remaining steps while you drive.
  2. You examine your load information, which includes a load number, the shipper and receiver, their addresses (and sometimes phone number), the pick up and delivery times, possibly some fuel stop and/or routing information, and any additional information you might need, such as pickup and delivery numbers,  weights, piece counts, etc.
  3. If everything you need is included in the message and you have the hours to run the load, you respond with a canned message that says you got the info and you accept the load.
  4. You pick up and deliver on time.
  5. You wait for the next beep.

That’s the way it works if you work for a normal company. Now I swear I’m not going to start another whine-fest, but I’ve got to explain what happened this morning to get to my point.

I had set my PTA (Projected Time Available) for 1:00 p.m. So naturally, I get a beep at 10:30 a.m. I’m not exactly shocked about getting woke up. The message says to call in for a “verbal.”

As long as I can remember, there has always been a need for verbal dispatches. Maybe the load is too complicated for a satellite message. Maybe it requires special instructions; like you have to go to a different location to weigh your empty tractor-trailer before you go into the shipper. Maybe it’s a high-value load. It could be a lot of different things. These loads are fine for verbals. They’re actually appreciated because they shed light on a confusing situation.

However, lately, nearly every load I get requires a verbal dispatch. I don’t know why and according to every one I talk to, they don’t know either. Basically, everyone is just repeating something that someone else has already said, which just so happens to be the exact same information that is included in the satellite dispatch. Take this morning for example.

I call in and my dispatcher tells me where and when the load picks up and delivers, including the extra stop. She tells me to call another phone number. I call that number and the woman tells me the EXACT same information. Then that woman tells me that I need to call yet another number because there is 19 pounds of HazMat on board. That’s hazardous materials for you normal folk.

Okay. First off, 19 pounds isn’t even a reportable quantity. It still has to be listed on the Bill of Lading, but it doesn’t require any other special handling. Secondly, I’ve been hauling HazMat since 1997, so do I really need to be told to keep the papers in the side door or on the seat when I’m not in the vehicle? Thirdly, I’ve been woken up early and told to call three different people. Lastly, I think the stupid beep interrupted an especially interesting dream. I’m assuming that because I woke up grumpy, and frankly, that’s just not like me. Unlike The Evil Overlord and the wrath of her mornings, I usually wake up in a decent mood. Not today. Which brings me back around to the point. Yes, finally. Hush.

When I called the HazMat guy, I said these exact words: “Hi. This is truck #### calling in for a HazMat verbal, because clearly I haven’t learned how to do HazMat loads in the 13 years I’ve had my HazMat endorsement.” Okay. I admit that it was dripping with sarcasm, but it was in no way said with a mean or violent tone. I’d be willing to bet that if he would’ve laughed, I would have too. But that was not to be.

His response? “Do you have a problem.” I said,“Well, yes. This does seem a bit ridiculous, don’t you think?” His reply? “I can always route you to a terminal if you’d like to turn your truck in.” After a moment’s pause of disbelief, I said, “Wow. This company sure has changed for the worse.”

Now I realize that he didn’t deserve my sarcasm, but I didn’t deserve that kind of threat either. That’s like giving your pal a friendly punch in the arm and getting a swift kick to the nuts in return. I think he realized that immediately, because he started explaining that he had a job to do and that he didn’t make the policies. I apologized for the sarcasm, but again explained to him that this kind of nitpicking does nothing to make us drivers feel like the professionals that they claim us to be.

And now to my point. Yes, I know. It’s about freakin’ time. You know, I’m fully aware that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I just prefer to get from point A to point B like an alcoholic wastoid trying to walk a white line on Cops. (sings Bad Boys)

I immediately called my dispatcher to tell her what happened. I explained to her what I had said and how I had said it. Knowing me fairly well, the sarcasm bit didn’t surprise her much. Still, she said that the HazMat guy shouldn’t have said that to me. She said she was going to turn him in, but I asked her to give the guy a break. Who knows what kind of day he was having and our conversation had ended on a friendlier tone. I suppose my forgiving nature might have had something to do with some unnecessary sarcasm, too. Just maybe…

After that, I went into a mini rant about how things are changing at this company and where I thought the company was heading if they continued to treat experienced drivers like 4th graders. Although she’s heard similar rants from me before, she calmly listened, agreed with certain points, and disagreed with other points. By the end of it all, we were laughing as usual. And that, my friends is the key, and the point B at the other end of my oddly shaped line.

Sure, a dispatcher needs to know what they’re doing. They need to know the rules. They need to try to fight to get you pulled off the crappy loads. They need to try to get you home when you requested. But that’s not what makes a great dispatcher. First and foremost, they need to have the ability to listen, understand, and remain calm; even when you aren’t. Some examples? Glad you asked.

  • When the person on the other end of the line is having a hissy fit, they need to understand that life on the road isn’t a picnic. The Bible says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” It’s true. When she’s calm, it always calms me down. If a dispatcher gets combatative back at you, it’ll only cause things to escalate. My dispatcher is always calm. Even when she’s having a rough day, she always manages to stay cool with me.
  • When you call to inquire why you only got 1500 miles last week, they need to understand that you’re not staying away from your family for weeks at a time just so you can sit at a truck stop while you wait on a load. Not to mention, poor miles make them look bad. My dispatcher comprehends this.
  • When you call complaining about some stupid policy that you both know will never be changed, they need to realize that you just need to blow off some steam. My dispatcher always has an open ear.
  • When you get woken up, causing you to cop an attitude at them or someone else, they need to understand that a trucker’s schedule is as wonky as SpongeBob on a Peyote vision quest. My dispatcher understands that I don’t hold the same hours as she does. She always apologizes when she has to wake me up to pass down the holy orders from the trucking gods.

Now I fully understand that truckers haven’t cornered the market on crappy days. I have no doubt that working in an office must really suck. I know that dispatchers have bad days too. But what a good dispatcher must realize is that at the end of the day, they get to go home and relax, while we’re stuck in our truck waiting for the next beep and our next idiotic verbal dispatch. And we’ve still got a week-and-a-half before we’ll see our family again.

So drivers everywhere, if you’ve got a good dispatcher, hang onto them. Tell them you appreciate the fact that they understand your life on the road. Maybe even get them a gift card this Christmas.

If you’ve got a crappy dispatcher, ask for a new one. And if you can’t seem to get rid of them, I’ll be barreling down I-29 tomorrow. Just bring them out and shove them into my path. That oughta do the trick.

*Please leave a comment and give this post a rating. Feel free to lie and give me 5 stars. ;-)”

Non-Truckers: Don’t Take It for Granted

September 11, 2010

As I’ve stated before in “Why I do this,”  one of the main reasons I have an online presence is to inform non-truckers what it’s like to live as an Over-The-Road trucker. Sure, bad days can come off sounding a bit whiny sometimes, but the idea is not to gain sympathy. The plan is to help people stop and think when they’re around trucks. From what my non-trucker friends tell me, it’s been working.

Driving a truck isn’t the hard part of trucking. Living the life is. Once you learn how to drive the monster truck on steroids, the actual driving is usually a pleasure. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the desert, a hillside full of fall foliage in the Northeast, or a glimpse of Lake Coeur d’ Alene in Northern Idaho never gets old. It also helps not to have a boss who is constantly trying to catch you surfing the web instead of working.

Of course, there’s also the threat of crossing snow-covered Rocky Mountains, fighting rush hour traffic, and the very existence of New York City, which is about as much fun as a titty-twister from a professional arm wrestler. Still, the majority of time it beats staring at a cubicle wall and kissing some jerk’s buttocks day after day.

So what exactly is so hard about the trucking life? It’s the little things that most non-truckers rarely, if ever, think about. For instance,

When was the last time you:

  • had to wonder if your shower was going to have hot water?
  • had to worry about having good water pressure in that shower?
  • had to worry about even getting a shower?
  • had to get dressed in the middle of the night to take a leak, or worse?
  • had to blow a non-family member’s pubic hair off your toilet seat?
  • had to brush your teeth while smelling someone else’s butt funk or five someone else’s?
  • couldn’t easily get to a hospital when you were puking up something that resembles cottage cheese and hot dog chunks?
  • had to be a contortionist to make your bed?
  • were up all day and were then told you need to drive 500 miles?
  • got out of your vehicle and the parking lot smelled like boiling urine?
  • tried to pass a vehicle for 5 minutes before you gave up and got back behind the freak with the fickle right foot?
  • couldn’t find a place to park?
  • had to sleep in a pool of your own sweaty B.O.?
  • couldn’t sleep because your toes felt like they’d been dipped in liquid nitrogen?
  • got bad directions, cursed, missed your turn, cursed, and couldn’t turn around for 10 miles, cursing the whole time?
  • were woke up and solicited by a hooker? Sorry men. Dreams don’t count.
  • were separated from your spouse for over a week… and that happened every month?
  • were forced to have a marital spat over the phone?
  • missed your child’s big event because you were in another state delivering a load of really important ketchup packets?
  • had to post a “Beware of falling objects” sign in your vehicle to remind you every time you open a cabinet door?
  • couldn’t get to a Starbucks when you really, really, really needed a fix?
  • realized that your restaurant choices were limited to where you could park?
  • had to get out of your vehicle 10 times just to back into a parking space? And you weren’t 16-years-old.
  • had to drive up a painstakingly long 6-mile hill at 25 miles per hour?
  • had to drive down a painstakingly long 6-mile hill at 25 miles per hour?
  • were told you couldn’t drive any further until you got a nose-hair-sized crack in your windshield repaired?
  • had to account for every 15-minute period of your day?
  • had to sit for 10 hours just 15 miles from home because the Department of Transportation has deemed that it’s too dangerous to drive another 15 minutes?
  • had to live in a room the size of a walk-in closet, sometimes with another crabby person?
  • had to sleep in a bouncing bed? On second thought, don’t answer that.
  • had to pack a suitcase to go to work?
  • had to do 15 loads of laundry in 30 hours? I should have bought stock in April Fresh Tide years ago.
  • had to pay twice as much as another driver for the exact same traffic violation?
  • were issued a DUI after one beer? CDL holders can be; because we all know that the type of plastic card you hold makes all the difference in how your body handles booze.
  • had to fuel at a particular station, even if the lines were longer than an NBA star’s criminal record?
  • had to take a particular route to work, even if it took longer than the way you’d prefer to go?
  • had to cancel a vacation because your employer couldn’t get you home in time?
  • were told you could go home on Friday afternoon, but you didn’t actually get there until the following Thursday?
  • got a 30-hour weekend after working for 3 or 4 weeks?
  • said “TGIF” and it actually meant something?
  • had a friend that didn’t involve an Internet connection?

I rest my case for now. I urge my non-trucking readers to appreciate the normal lives that they lead. Your life may seem mundane at times, but please don’t take it for granted. When you’re on your way to your weekend golf game or a baby shower, remember the truckers that are en route to the docks at Golfsmith and Babies-R-Us. Hopefully, those thoughts carry over into the weekdays too.

To the folks out there who are considering driving a truck for a living, I’d like you to think long and hard about what you’re getting into. While it’s true that you’ll never really know if you’re cut out for the trucking life until you’re actually doing it, you can do everything in your power to be informed before you try to enter the industry.

Talk to truckers. Read about trucking. Ride along with a trucker for a week or more if you can manage it. Whatever you do, please don’t get into trucking without careful consideration. The last thing we need out here is another whiny trucker. Just follow me on Twitter if you don’t believe me. 🙂

*So, what is it that I missed? What do you think people shouldn’t take for granted? Let us all know by leaving a comment. And please pass this post along to all your non-trucking friends. Who knows? Maybe they’ll started giving us truckers a bit more consideration out on the road. Thanks.*

The Annoying One

July 24, 2010

Photo by tourist_on_earth via Flickr

In my 13-year driving career, I’ve experienced a phenomenon within the trucking industry. In EVERY orientation class I’ve ever been involved in, there is always an annoying guy or gal. To my shock, this phenomenon was cracked during my recent job switch.

Usually you know who “The Annoying One” is the second you meet them. The unfortunate sucker that gets stuck in a hotel room with TAO, is the first to know it. I have the most sympathy for this guy. At least the rest of the people in class can avoid TAO once class is over. The roommate is screwed.

TAO will grind on you and every other person being hired. Sometimes it will even frustrate the instructor. So what is it about TAO that gives me fantasies of reenacting the torture scene from the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale?

Sometimes TAO is just born that way. It’s nothing in particular; they just drive you friggin’ crazy. Maybe it’s in their DNA. I’m sure you know a TAO too.

Sometimes it’s because they feel the need to tell a trucker story for every policy that gets brought up in class. If the instructor starts discussing the bad weather policy, TAO will pipe in with a story about getting stuck in a blizzard on Donner Pass. If it’s about cash advances, he’s got a story about how it took him 5 hours to get a cash advance. New policy, new story.

But most of the time it’s because this TAO hasn’t figured out that he no longer works for his old company. This time, when the instructor addresses the bad weather policy, this guy feels the need to inform everyone how his old company handled bad weather. Same with cash advances. And that’s where I stepped in for the first time.

You could feel the tension in the room every time this husband/wife team started talking. At the time, I had never heard of the company they were whining about, but to this day I remember the name of their old company. “Armellini did it this way… Amellini did it that way… Yadda-yadda-yadda.” This had gone on the entire first day of orientation, and although I could tell that everyone, including the instructor, was getting annoyed, no one said anything to Mr. and Mrs. Armellini.

The second day, they started up again. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a confrontational kinda guy. Especially when the guy was big enough to smoosh me with his pinky finger. I told The Evil Overlord that I was going to say something and she urged me keep my trap shut. Perhaps I should stop to explain.

Orientations suck. I hate them more than the taste of liver and onions; and that’s saying something. I’d rather have each individual taste bud plucked out with tweezers than eat liver and onions. Orientations are filled with boring subjects. Filling out paperwork, discussing company policies, and watching slobber-inducing videos on defensive driving and hazardous materials is NOT my idea of a jolly time. Most drivers just want to get it over with. Any extra stories or useless information is just making things more difficult. So back to the story.

There are few things in this world that are more dangerous than defying The Evil Overlord. Yet I did. We were sitting right behind the offending couple and as soon as one of his stories ended, I said, “You know, this class would go by a lot quicker if we could all keep our trucker stories to a minimum. You ARE aware that you’re not working for Armellini anymore? Right” It got a few laughs from the rest of the group, but The Armellini’s didn’t think it was all that funny. Luckily, the instructor finally piped in and backed me up.

Although Mr. and Mrs. Armellini didn’t talk to me the rest of the orientation, I was a hit with the other drivers. Nearly all of them came up at one point or another and thanked me for saying something. Even the instructor thanked me. While I was glad that I had spoken up, I really didn’t like singling this couple out. They kept to themselves the rest of the class. And by the way, I’m not bashing this Armellini trucking company. For all I know, they’re a top-notch outfit. They may have just been a bad fit for these drivers.

Anyway, this incident did teach me something though. Do like Barney Fife and “Nip it in the bud.” Now when I go to orientation for a new company, I wait until all of the drivers are together for the first time. It may be at breakfast in the hotel lobby, or it might be while we wait in front of the hotel for the shuttle van to pick us up. When I get the chance, I’ll say something like this: “Hey guys. I’d like to ask a favor. I hate orientations, and this class will go by a lot quicker if we could all keep our trucker stories and talk of our former companies to a minimum. And reach over and smack me if I start doing it.” You’d be surprised how well this works. Not only does it get the job done, but it also does so without singling out TAO. Try it at your next orientation and you’ll see how well this works.

I do need to say that this will not keep you from identifying TAO. There are still breaks and lunch at orientation, and the time you spend at the hotel. When I first went solo, The Evil Overlord drove me to orientation and spent the night in the hotel with me. The company paid for my part and we had to pay for the extra person. She was going to leave the next morning, so while I was at breakfast, I quickly identified TAO, and casually asked who was rooming together. Sure enough, TAO was in a room by himself and they were planning on transferring me over to his room that night. He seemed ecstatic to have a verbal punching bag, but I told him I was paying for my own room. Best money I ever spent.

So back to my recent orientation experience. I couldn’t afford my own room this time. My roommate, Andrew, was a man in his 50’s. I had been dreading having a roomie, but he was clean, nice, and hilarious. We had a lot of laughs and some good conversations. The only woman in the group wasn’t easily offended, as shown by her retaliating fart on the final day of class. She did have the decency to get as red as a baboon’s butt as we all scattered. She was a solo driver. Brave woman. I kept getting her name wrong. It was Kathleen… Katherine… Kathy… oh screw it. Mark was middle-aged and extremely quiet, so much so that if the instructor hadn’t asked me to teach him how to use the satellite system, I might have forgotten he was there. Elliot, the 32-year old single guy was funny too. And then there was the old guy in the group.

Rocky was quiet the entire first morning. So naturally, I looked over at him at lunch and said, “Rocky, you should really quit monopolizing the conversation.” He chuckled, but didn’t say much. Everyone else thought it was a hoot. The instructor was new to this company, and he had read in the files that I had worked there almost 2 years at a previous time. Since I knew the company better than he did, he was asking me a lot of questions as the day progressed. During one such question that afternoon, I mentioned that I had been Driver of the Month for this company. And THAT’S when Rocky decides to break his silence with, “All the other drivers must have been off duty.” Everyone, including me, erupted in laughter. Rocky was a smart-ass and I liked him on the spot. He wasn’t nearly as quiet after that. And guess who he liked to target?

The rest of the class, we all ribbed each other, helped each other out, and generally had a good time. We called Rocky and Elliot perverts (because they were), Elliot commented on how loud Andrew was and how much I talked. I know that probably shocks you to find that out about me. Still, we didn’t have one annoying person in the whole class. Although, I suppose the old adage, “if there isn’t a TAO in your orientation class, you’re probably him,” could be in play here.

*So have you ever met TAO? Other than me, of course. Tell us about the annoying people in your life by leaving a comment. Thanks.*

Riding Along with a Trucker

July 3, 2010

I like Lucinda. Not only is her name really close to The Evil Overlord’s name (Lorinda), but she was also kind enough to drop by, read “Go to bed angry” , and leave a comment. I love getting comments, largely because it means someone other than my mom is reading the blog. So here’s what Lucinda wrote:

What are your thoughts on a wife joining a husband on the road when the children are grown, more as a companion not as a co-driver? This is what we have been thinking of doing. We have our own authority so we would be free to schedule loads to places we want to visit and stay as long as we want.

Well Lucinda, that’s a good question. My initial thought was, “Wow. This lady must be really bored.” However, after some deliberation, I thought, “Wow. This lady must be reeeeeeeeeally bored.” Seriously though, I see what you and the hubster are after.

The little critters that used to laugh while peeing in your face soon evolved into pesky ankle-biters, who eventually matured into know-it-all teens. Before you know it they’ve changed into human beings. That’s when they move out and the freedom begins; both yours and theirs. Better hurry! They’ve got four years of college before the inevitable move back into the parents house. Time for some fun. Time for a job that pays you to travel. That’s what we’re talking about here.

I think that the last sentence of your comment is the key. If the hubby was a company driver, I’d have second, thirds and possibly even fifteen thoughts about this, primarily because you have little or no choice regarding your destinations. Company drivers know this well. So do Owner/Operators. A what?

Now Lucinda has been a trucker’s wife for a long time, so I’m not telling her anything new here. I’m speaking to my non-trucking readers now. A quick lesson for ya. Company drivers are simply hired hands. We do what the company tells us to do. Sometimes we even do it without whining. We drive company-owned trucks. Although there are exceptions, typically, company drivers have little choice over what loads they get and where they go.

Owner/Operators, or O/O, are a step up, or down the rung, depending who you ask. They own or lease their own trucks, and can set them up any way they want. Although they are their own company, they usually associate themselves with a larger carrier. That carrier gives them a bunch of loads to choose from. So in that regard, they’ve got more choices as to where they go.

But Lucinda’s husband has his own authority. When a trucker has their own authority, they’re in complete control. They own their trucks and they have the “authority” to book their own loads. They can do this through sources of their own or load brokers. They can go anywhere they choose whether they’re loaded or empty. Of course, if you’d like to see Niagara Falls, it’s always best if you can find a load to Buffalo. May as well get paid to go there. (Thanks to @lawsonbulk for his help with the different types of trucking.)

Now back to Lucinda. The last line of your comment was the most important. If you’re truly looking at this as a way of working and vacationing, then having your own authority is the only way to go. I give you my blessing, not that you needed it. Still, there are some things you should beware of, especially since it doesn’t sound like you’ve spent much extended time in the truck.

When I started responding to your comment, my mind immediately went to a couple of my Twitter friends. @luv18wheels has been a passenger riding along with her husband for a long time. I asked her advice and here’s what she had to say:

Todd,

First of all she best make sure that her and hubby get along really well in their relationship. Because as you know first hand, there’s a lot of stress on the road and arguments about decisions made while on the truck can really get heated. I rarely get bored as I have my PC, Twitter, Facebook, and navigate directions for hubby. I also use the Qualcomm for him to speed things along, and I like to read. Also, having a pet on the truck can be very entertaining, and they are good stress relievers. Plus, you have to take them for walks, which is good for the both of you. When I’m back on the computer we rarely interact, so when I do come up front it’s like a visit, and then we can talk about what’s on our mind. Heck if she wants alone time she can pull the curtain and go in the back to read or watch a DVD. There’s a lot to see in this beautiful country so boredom has never been one of my issues. We also have Satellite Radio, which keeps us up to date on what’s going on in the world, and it entertains us as well. Just being in a truck with only the space of a large closet can cause problems in the relationship if you don’t get along well in the first place.

Thank you Pat, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Although watching a DVD in the bunk while we’re bouncing down the road would probably make me blow chunks from here to Hawaii. But as I said in “Go to bed angry”, getting along with your potential co-rider is paramount. Being married for several years doesn’t necessarily mean that you can be stuck in a tiny space with them for weeks on end, especially if you’re not used to being around your long-haul-truckin’ spouse. This goes for Lucinda and anyone else thinking about doing this.

I also think Pat’s advice on finding a hobby is important. Pat’s thing may not be your thing, although I expect her having multiple hobbies has kept her from going stir crazy. Just find something to keep you busy.

Another passenger-only Twitter friend, @CB_SnowAngel says that she doesn’t have to worry about getting too much of her boyfriend. She says he’s so focused on the job, that it sometimes feels like she’s not even there. So if Mr. Lucinda is a focused-kinda-guy, maybe finding alone time won’t be an issue. Sabrina also backs up Pat on two things. If you need to get away, escape to the bunk area. She too, thinks that a computer is a great way to wile away the miles.

So, Lucinda. Other than what you’ve already heard, I’d suggest one more thing. Take it slow at first. Only plan on staying out on the road for a week or two at a time. If things get stressful, you can look forward to getting home and away from that annoying person.

However, if you and the hunk-of-burning-stud are having a blast, stay out and have fun. And if you ever get to Niagara Falls, look around and see if you can locate my buns. I’m pretty sure I froze them off there one cold January day.

*So, do I have any riders out there? Have any additional advice for Lucinda? Or maybe you’ve got a specific question. Leave a comment and we’ll see if we can’t get it answered. Thanks.*

The Split

June 9, 2010

Photo by sacks08 via Flickr

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally happened. The Evil Overlord and I have decided to part ways. At least it was an amicable split.

If I’m honest with myself, I knew it would happen eventually. Quite frankly, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Relationships are hard. Throw a big rig into the mix and things can get messier than a pelican who decides to drop in on BP.

A truck can isolate a solo driver from their better half for long periods of time. And you know what they say about long distance relationships. Team drivers have the opposite problem. Tight quarters cause issues. If you doubt that, why don’t you and your spouse try living, sleeping, and eating in your walk-in-closet for a week or two. To get the full effect, go to your neighbor’s house every time you need a toilet, sink, or shower. Let me know how that works out for ya.

Here’s the thing. I’ve got mixed feelings about the whole situation. Will I miss her? Sure. It’s always nice to have someone to share life with. On the other hand, my life just got a heck of a lot easier. For instance:

  • I’ve got half the laundry to do.
  • When it’s time to hit the road, I no longer have to load and unload 400 bags of crap that we “might need” someday.
  • No more will I have to get up in the middle of the night to fuel or walk her into a creepy-looking rest area.
  • I can eat whatever and whenever I choose.
  • I’ll sleep better without the truck moving.
  • If I have to skip or delay a shower to deliver a load on time, at least now the cursing, mumbling, and whining is only in my head.
  • I can wear two different shades of navy blue if I feel like it.
  • I can fart without get punched.
  • And perhaps most important, I am no longer the poor sap that has to wake her up every day (she isn’t called The Evil Overlord for nothing).

While all these things make this change tolerable, there are definitely things I will miss, such as:

  • Having someone to eat with.
  • Having someone to keep my stomach happy.
  • The way a single rub on the shoulder can calm me down when I’m cheesed about something.
  • Her wicked sarcasm.
  • Having someone to patch me up when I get one of those mysterious “I don’t know where that came from” cuts that most men get.
  • Getting to laugh at her morning hair (after she gets past her evil phase, of course).

So to wrap this all up in a tidy package and FedEx it to whoever cares, part of my life has changed. Some parts of it have been made more difficult. Some parts have been simplified.

Now I know some of you are probably thinking, “Hey! What about those last two blog posts, where you said that your relationship with The Evil Overlord was misunderstood by others, but fine between the two of you?” Well, that still stands. I mean, she’s only quit trucking. It’s not like I was talking about our marriage splitting up or anything. Sorry if I misled you. *smirk*

P.S. Whether I suckered you or not, please don’t tweet and give away the punch line. If I did sucker you, feel free to leave my scolding in the “comments” section. HeeHee

Go To Bed Angry

May 18, 2010

Photo by hang_in_there via Flickr

“Never go to bed angry” is a bit of relationship advice that you’ll get from every relationship guru on the planet. Clearly, these know-it-alls have never driven a team truck with a co-driver. Well, in my infinite knowledge *cough*, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to go to bed angry. Sometimes it’s even the smartest thing that you can do.

When The Evil Overlord and I started looking into truck driving, I talked to a lot of truck drivers. As a dock worker, I had access to plenty of them. And as you well know from reading my blog and my twitter stream, it’s not exactly hard to get a truck driver to talk. Anyway, when these truckers discovered that I planned to drive as a team with my wife, nearly every trucker had the same advice: “Don’t do it if you want to stay married.” There’s a lot of truth to this.

Many a story has been passed around about team drivers not getting along, whether it be husband and wife teams, two members of the same-sex, or even two unmarried members of the opposite sex. Nearly everyone has heard stories of two co-drivers duking it out on the shoulder of the highway. Quite frankly, I’m a little peeved that I haven’t witnessed even one knock-down drag-out in all my 13 years. Other tales involve one of the team members being stranded somewhere by a co-driver. I’m sure that The Evil Overlord has contemplated this on numerous occasions. Luckily for me, she hasn’t had the cojones to do it just yet. The point is, if you want to drive a truck as a team, you had better choose the right co-driver.

So who is the “right” co-driver? Well, it better be someone you get along with… a lot. Not just someone who you think is okay. Not just someone who seems like a nice person. You need to know this person intimately. Husband and wife is a likely pairing, but if you already get annoyed by your spouses habit of picking their toenails and leaving them lying around, getting into a truck cab with them is only going to make things worse. That’s like those demented couples who think that having a baby will help their already-stressed relationship. Yea. A crying infant that craps more than a herd of water buffalo is great for one’s nerves.

Parent and child teams can sometimes work, although I’d imagine that would take a certain kind of relationship that I can’t possibly comprehend. More common would be co-driving brothers or sisters. After all, your sibling already knows all of your annoying habits yet they still answer the doorbell when you ring it instead of diving behind the couch. Best friends can manage it too, but you better make sure you’ve known this person long enough to know most of their faults. Another plus is that you can slug a best friend now and then, and still remain friends. Still, losing a best friend because of trucking would kinda suck and stuff. I also hold little hope for two people who choose to team together just to make more money. Likewise for someone who wants a co-driver just so they won’t be so lonely.

Now every team is going to have spats. There’s no getting around it. Any time you have two people crammed into such tight quarters for weeks at a time, bad stuff is bound to happen. And let me tell you from experience, that certain bodily functions really don’t help matters any. The key is knowing when to drop, or ignore, the subject. In other words; when to go to bed angry.

I’ve found that the longer you remain in the truck together, the quicker the tempers get. The Evil Overlord and I have figured out that it’s dangerous for us to stay out more than three weeks at a time. Any longer and someone is likely to wake up with a bungee cord wrapped around their neck. Your threshold may be different. Sometimes you’ve just got to realize that what you’re fighting about has little to do with the topic at hand, and much to do with the fact that you’re just edgier than a wet golfer in a lightning storm.

When you get to the point that the sound of the other person’s voice makes you want to drive into the nearest telephone pole (after putting your seat belt on, of course), the last thing you need to do is stay awake and try to talk the issue out before you go to bed. The thing is, it takes time and experience to know when there’s a legitimate argument going on and when you’re just pissed off about nothing in particular. Until you’re able to figure that out, you’re treading on thin ice. But if you can go to bed angry, many times you wake up and life goes on as normal. Turns out, it was a stupid argument over stupid stuff.

Again, I stress that this is only if you both realize that you’re fighting over trivial things. If you’ve got big, legitimate issues, you probably need to have some overnight talks. I’m sure that your dispatcher will give you a night or two down if you tell them that someone’s going to be murdered if you don’t get a break soon.

The fact is, team driving is hard. When you’re a solo driver, you get to shut the truck down and sleep in peace. If you’re a team that’s working for a good company, you’re going to be busier than a corn cob pipe vendor at a hootenanny. That means that you’re going to be moving most of the time. Learning how to sleep while you bounce is perhaps the hardest thing that team drivers have to get used to. On I-40 in Tennessee, you’ll sleep like a stoner. On I-95 going through New York City, you’ll think your co-driver has learned some sic black magic skills and is practicing levitating your prone body.

People get crabby when they can’t sleep. Crabby people attack the person within reach. Solo drivers would have to go find somebody to scrap with, but a team driver has someone just sitting there asking for it. I’m convinced that the lack of quality sleep is another factor in the ongoing battle between co-drivers. Unfortunately, the driving route you take isn’t always in your hands. Neither is the choice to shut down to get some real sleep.

So here’s my advice to those of you who may be considering team driving. If you like your potential co-driver, and are willing to accept that you might occasionally, but briefly, hate this person for no reason whatsoever, go for it. If you have a history of working things out and tolerating each other, go ahead. If you have any doubts, either drive as a solo driver, or not at all.

Now, if it’s too late and you’ve already chosen a co-driver that is driving you to the loony bin, here’s my advice. For now; go to bed angry. As soon as possible, find a new co-driver or go solo. And you should probably toss that steel-tipped tire thumper out the window before someone gets hurt.

*So do you have any co-driver related stories? Or even better, have you witnessed a thrown down on the side of the highway? Delight us all with you stories by leaving a comment. If you enjoyed this post, please pass it along on whatever social network that you’re addicted to. Thanks.*

Feel The Love, You Mean Ol’ Hag

May 1, 2010

The Evil Overlord (my wife and co-driver) and I have been noticing an awful lot of love going around online. Social networks are teeming with couples professing their undying love for each other. They’re usually followed by the obligatory “MUAH,” which Google informs me, is the sound of a kiss. I guess I just don’t make enough kissing noises in my daily life to have recognized that.

To these people, I say good for you. I also say, “get a room.” I do so with a 🙂 Seriously, I’m glad that there’s love in the world. I’m happy that there are people who MUAH at each other, even if it does make me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I do hope it’s genuine though. I truly hope their home lives reflect their real life. I’m sure many do. On the other hand, The Evil Overlord and I know some couples who are miserable in real life, but you’d never know it from their online love-fest.

And then there are those who get offended when I take a verbal jab at The Evil Overlord. It happens all the time on my blog and on Twitter. My mother, whom I know will read this at some point (Hi Mom!) is one of those people. I believe that after our marriage of nearly 17 years, she now understands and accepts the way things are. The part that disturbs most folks, including my mom, is the language we use, or perhaps the language that we don’t use. For one, I don’t tell The Evil Overlord that I love her everyday, or even every week. She returns the favor.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. One thing I truly love about The Evil Overlord is that she can’t stand Oprah. She thinks all this self-love, build up your self-esteem stuff, is highly overrated. Tack on the fact that she thinks flowers and cards are pretty much a waste of money, and you’ve got yourself a keeper. Maybe all this Oprah mojo is fine for those women who have some deep, dark past that has left them with self-esteem issues, but not everyone needs a cheerleader pushing woman-power on them. Fortunately for me, confidence is not a problem The Evil Overlord faces.

Many wives need to hear the words “I love you” numerous times a day. They constantly need their husbands to reassure them that they look good too. The Evil Overlord, on the other hand, doesn’t need or want this. She knows when she looks good and when she doesn’t. Sure, she’ll ask my opinion on an outfit now and then, but she usually ignores me and wears the one she thinks looks better anyway. Good choice, as my sense of fashion is pretty atrocious.

Now for this language stuff. Here’s where we really get to some people. We’ve got A LOT of sarcasm in our relationship. Throw in a few insults and some name-calling and you’ve pretty much got the picture. For example:

  • She’ll say something like, “Hey lazy-ass. Why don’t you make yourself useful for a change and fix the shower faucet.” I’ll respond with a loving, “Don’t tell me what to do, woman. Don’t you know your place by now?” She’ll walk away threatening my life as I’m gathering the tools.
  • When I’m sitting on my can watching TV, I’ll yell, “Hey wench! Serve me my food.” She’ll holler back telling me where I can put said food. Two minutes later, I’m looking at my old Transformers TV tray with a heaping plate of vittles.
  • When I get up in the middle of my sleep to back into a dock or put fuel in the truck, I’ll say, “Good Lord woman, you’re totally worthless.” With a smug look, she replies, “Get out there and do your manly duty and quit your whinin’.”
  • When she tells me she wants to buy a MacBook, I tell her that only an idiot would pay that much for a computer. She mumbled something like, “I’ll get it if I want it. That’ll teach you to mess with me.” Instead, she refrains from buying one. When I finally catch the Mac bug, she secretly orders ME a top-the-line MacBook Pro for Christmas. She doesn’t get hers for another year-and-a-half.
  • When she asks me to quit playing Guitar Hero: Metallica to drive 15 miles into town to get her “the ones with the wings,” I say, “Man, I really hate your guts.” I hear a mumbled “You love me,” as I’m walking out the door with a grin. “No, I really don’t” is the last thing she hears as the door closes. I know she’s grinning too.

The fact is that we don’t feel the need to say “I love you” all the time. We’ve never had a deep, heart-to-heart, tear-inducing conversation about this, but we both know we’re loved by the actions that the other takes. As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” If I felt that I had to hear it every day, I wouldn’t consider myself to be very confident about the fact. Same with her. Granted, our actions don’t always reflect an ooey-gooey feeling of love. We are married after all.

As for the name-calling, well, I call her The Evil Overlord because she can be as mean as a newly-castrated bull when she wakes up. When we’re home and she’s requested that someone wake her up at a certain time, it turns into a session of, “I’m not doing it; you do it.” Luckily, I’m bigger than my nephews. Out on the road, it’s all on me. Although you can sometimes hear me pleading for help on Twitter.

When she calls me a dumb-ass, well, I know that she’s only implying that I can sometimes act like a childish, brainless turd-flinger. Sometimes names are given for a reason, ya know. Seriously though. I’ve never flung even one, single turd in my life. That’s not any thing my youngest nephew can claim.

So why are so many people hung up on the words, “I love you?” Too many times I’ve heard couples exchange “I love you’s” as one of them walks out the door or hangs up the phone. It doesn’t seem to mean that much to either of them. I’m sure you’ve heard it too. Maybe that’s you. Maybe without you realizing it, it’s even become your version of “See you later.” Gee, that means a lot.

One thing is for sure about my relationship with The Evil Overlord. When one of us says the magic words, it means something, and that’s largely because we don’t say it every day. The words tend to show up at the oddest moments too, catching the person completely off guard. This turns out to be an added benefit because, not only have you told them that you love them, but considering the surprising nature of the situation, you have to explain yourself to them. More examples:

  • I might hear the words after I crawl out of bed in the middle of the night to walk her into a dark rest area. When I look at her suspiciously, she’ll respond seriously, “Most men wouldn’t do this.” Whether that’s true or not, I don’t really care. It makes me feel good. Oddly enough, I don’t get the same treatment when I wake up and start whining about freezing my butt off on the way into the rest area.
  • The Evil Overlord might get surprised with it as we’re gathered around the Playstation 3 with our nephews; all of us screaming trash-talk at the video game. With her hair up in a bun and no make-up on, she laughs and looks at me like I’m crazy. I’ll reminder her that most wives don’t like for their men to play video games and that I’m lucky to have one who actually joins in the fun. I mean, c’mon guys. What better time to tell your wife that you love her than when you’ve just splattered the walls with some demon bosses guts.

Now please don’t get me wrong here. I would never try to tell you how you should interact with your spouse. You do what’s right for you. Just don’t go hatin’ on me and my heartless wench.

*So what do you think about all online lovefests going on? Or tell us all about your warped relationship with your partner. We can do without the graphic details though. 😀 Tell us all about it by leaving a comment. And be sure to pass this post along if you enjoyed it. Thanks.*


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