CAREER Smart

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unnamed-(2).jpgOur journey from being an office manager and shop foreman to driving a truck full time was not a smooth path.

Once the decision was made to go forward with our plans, it was time to tell family and friends. We did not get the reaction we expected. The idea was met with “have you lost your minds?” and many comments along this line. “Why would we leave our secure jobs to become truck drivers?” “How could we leave our home and our benefits?” There were a lot of “how’s” & “why’s. We were looked at as fools and that we had lost our minds. Talk about a downer. 

We did not let the doubters slow us down, and we continued with our plans. Bob breezed through school and learned a lot about how to fill out a log book.  Towards the end of school, recruiters from various companies would stop in and give their pitch. We decided on one company for many reasons, one being they allowed riders and pets, and there was a terminal in Oklahoma City, OK.  Finally, graduation and then it was time for him to get in with a trainer for a month. Bob drove by himself for about five months before I joined him in the truck. Luckily for me, Bob learned a lot from the time spent with a trainer and then on his own, as he was my guide.  

I can still remember the excitement of climbing up into the Freightliner for our first trip. We were headed to Boston, Massachusetts, and I am glad I had no clue what we were in for. The excitement of being in the truck, the elevated view, Bob and our Cocker Spaniel Molly, was like a dream come true. Finally, I was away from my office job and in a big truck headed off into areas of the country I had read about.

Before leaving on that first trip, Bob had to load all of Molly’s and my things in the truck, and we did not travel lightly. Who knew when we would be back? I had a lot of crafts that I planned on working on, books to read, and my computer. For some reason, I could not grasp that we could go to a store while we were out. Bob,patient as ever, came up with some pretty creative ideas on how to use the upper bunk for secure storage, for all my stuff and comforts of home. We also loaded all Molly’s stuff, which consisted of her food, bottled water, and treats.

On the first day in the truck, I was in for several surprises. Molly, who had ridden everywhere with me, was terrified in the truck and would not get off my lap. She was a thirty-pound Cocker Spaniel, and I had bruises on my legs from how many hours she sat in my lap. The truck rode much rougher than expected. I could not read, and there were very few crafts I could work on while Bob was driving. It was hard for me to learn to sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Bob explained how the Qualcomm worked and how to interpret the messages about the load we were on. My new job would be to handle the paperwork, the route, fuel stops, and to plan where we would park each night. Being a rider, as I was soon to learn, is not as easy as it sounds. 

We stopped for the first night and got in line to take a shower. Who had ever heard of having to stand in line to take a shower? We waited, and then we waited some more for our number to be called, I was exhausted. It had been a very mentally challenging day, and standing in line for a shower was not the best way to end my first day in an over the road truck.

The top bunk was full of the important stuff that I could not leave home without. So, Bob, Molly and I climbed into the bottom twin-size bunk, and we all fell asleep immediately. 

What I remember most about that first day:

  • Fear of traveling fast in that massive vehicle and looking down at our fellow travelers.

  • Traffic, Traffic, Traffic.

  • A very scared Cocker Spaniel.

  • We did not have a GPS in the truck (2000), and how much work it took to find a bathroom.

  • A hard copy map became my best friend.

  • The feeling of isolation (no Cell Phone).

  • How big and long the truck and trailer were.

  • Thinking about the small area that we would live in for months at a time.

  • The regulations we had to follow, enter or not enter scales, when Bob could start driving and when we had to end the day.

  • Pride of being in that big truck and the adventure we were on.

There was a lot to take in and learn that first day. Would it have been easier if I had attended school first before going with Bob across the country? Maybe, but it was a day in my life I will never forget. In reality, that first week was a week I will always remember as Molly, and I transitioned to living in the truck.

Continued in Part III...

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Linda Caffee

Bob and Linda started their driver careers after their children left home for college in 2000. Bob started as a driver for a large motor carrier with Linda as a rider. They decided to enter the Expedite industry as team drivers in 2005 and purchased their first Freightliner. Both, Bob and Linda have had their Class A licenses since the early 80's starting out driving in the oil field and hauling grain as fill in drivers where Bob worked as a diesel mechanic. Linda worked at the local country courthouse in data processing.

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