After our oldest daughter left for college, and we watched our youngest daughter prepare for college, we were unsettled. Both of us had good jobs, but we were both supervisors with no advancement possibilities. The prospect of doing those same jobs for the rest of our working life was becoming depressing. We were looking at a quiet, empty house and positions we were tired of going to each day. Who wants to live the rest of your life looking forward to Friday and dreading Monday?
Bob and I both had 9 – 5 workdays, and then we went to our other job. We had an after-hour diesel repair business where we would go to our customer's place of business to perform repairs. Bob would fix their trucks and trailers with me helping, then I did the billing. Most of these trucks and trailers were used in the oil field. One of the companies we worked for delivered oil field tanks to the western United States. These drivers were super proud of their over the road trucks and kept them immaculate, even after hauling pipe down dirt roads to a drilling unit. One of these trucks belonged to the owner’s son and he decided to enter his truck in a truck show with Bob’s help. Neither of them had been to a truck show, but had read about them in magazines. After working for several months on the truck, they left for Louisville, KY to attend the Mid America Trucking Show in 1998.
The truck was older, but everything on it was just about perfect for a working oil field truck. After getting the truck cleaned and polished, Bob had time to visit with other drivers, and he got an ear full. He met several team drivers and asked them a lot of questions. He then went inside the convention center and started looking at trucks and asking even more questions. The truck did not place, but they knew what needed to be done before the next show. Bob came home with a plan that sounded unbelievable, exciting, and extremely scary.
The show bug had bitten, and the truck was entered into another show. Bob asked me to come along to meet other husband/wife team drivers. The trip out to Las Vegas with the truck pulling a flatbed trailer was awesome. This was my first long trip in a truck, and it was love at first ride. I could see myself doing this every day, now looking back, boy did I have on my rose-colored glasses! Now it was my turn to talk with other women drivers and see that team driving was something Bob and I could do. There was hope now, instead of dreading our dreary future.
We had a little less than two years to plan, and the only people that knew of the plan were our daughters. The plan was two-fold as we had to pare down our toys, as we would not have time for all the odd vehicles we owned. The next was research, and boy did I research. Since we lived in the middle of nowhere, in Kansas, we did not have access to a truck stop to ask drivers questions, face to face. We were only able to talk with one team that came through the small town of Elkhart, KS.
As Bob and I drove to work on trucks in the evening, I would tell him about what I had learned that day and stories I had read. We were looking for a starter company, and it started dawning on me that even though we had our Class A licenses, we were going to have to go to school. Even though I was doing all of this research, I was too timid to ask questions, which would have made my research much more straightforward.
During the summer of 1999, we decided to start finalizing our plan, and we flew to Dallas, TX, to attend the Great American Trucking Show. It was time to ask recruiters questions and to hand out resumes. I spent a lot of time working on those resumes, and for those of you that have attended truck shows, you can imagine the look of surprise we would get when I handed out the resumes. We learned a lot, but what made the trip worthwhile is we learned of a truck driving school about 350 miles from our house in Drumright, OK. The school had an excellent reputation and was affordable, which was great because we did not want to start our career indebted to one company.
We left Dallas with stars in our eyes and building excitement for our future. The decision was still a secret, and we were bursting to tell someone, heck, tell anyone of our plans, but we stayed quiet. The reading continued, and I researched the school, the living conditions, and the length of time Bob would need till graduation. We decided Bob would attend the school while I kept working, and then I would ride with him till he had enough time to be my trainer. As the day approached that he would be quitting his job, we were on pins and needles. Another question in our mind at this time was if our marriage of 22 years could survive us living together in such a small space? We were still going to keep quiet about me, as I needed my job to pay the bills.
Let me say that when we told friends and family what Bob was going to do, we were not prepared for the reactions we received.
To be continued in Part II...