If Bob had not been a diesel mechanic for a shop that sometimes-needed fill in drivers I would not have pursued getting my Chauffeurs license in the eighties. There were a few options to drive local; harvest trucks, trucks in the oil field, or possibly pulling a cattle trailer. The harvest trucks had the most women driving as they were usually a family member of who owned the farm. In the oil field or the local livestock trucks there were very and I mean very few women drivers.
My self-confidence was not high and I knew working with a bunch of men I was bound to make lots of mistakes and be laughed at. Not something I could handle at that age. I never could get past that the men also had to learn to drive and they made their own mistakes and were laughed at. When first learning to drive every time when I missed a gear I cringed and I learned the hard way as we had to float the gears, no way could we use a clutch. Learning to back was another challenge and I never did perfect this but I could get the job done. The only confidence I had was the confidence that I was going to screw up, get lost on the dirt roads with poor directions, or the worst have a wreck. Yep once again I knew that I had to be perfect even though I also knew the men all had all of these things happen to them.
The option of driving a truck full time by myself was not something I really wanted as we had our two daughters at home. The job that I did have after the girls went to school allowed me to be there if they needed me. If they got sick at school I was only a phone call away, when it was my turn to bring treats to school for a party I could take the time off. Being in a truck would never have allowed me the freedom to be there for our girls or to attend track meets and the million other school events they were involved in. I believe I would have hated driving a truck as I would not have been able to take the time off and be there for my family.
For us the time was right when we got into the driving side of trucking. Brandy our youngest daughter left for college at the same time we left for our grand adventure. There was no doubt we would have the empty nest syndrome as so much of what we did evolved around the girl’s activities.
Many women that I talk to that team or drive solo waited till their children left home. One unique situation I know of is a woman that was raising her son by herself. Her mother was in a financial bind and they came together with her mother helping to raise the son and her making the money by driving a truck. Their situation was very interesting on how they worked out the dynamics of raising the boy and it worked great for them.
I know there are women that drive solo from a young age and do very well. Men or women that start driving young in my mind have to have the same problem of forming a relationship. There is a huge difference between a man and women when it comes to raising a family as it is the women that is carrying the child, has to go to doctor’s appointments, and give birth. After the baby is born either parent can take the child to doctors’ appointments, feed them, change their diapers, and pace the floor with them when they are crying. Not many women I know can very easily give up a new born baby and be gone for a week or more at a time. Women though are tough and they will do what they have to in order to make ends meet.
Over the road trucking often fits an older women’s profile as the children are gone and sometimes the spouse is gone as well. Why not get into a truck and see the country and be able to make a good wage? The same applied to us and many other couples, we raised our families, and then either went as a solo driver or got into a truck with our spouse, either as a driver or as a full-time passenger.
To me one of the best things about driving is our Freightliner Cascadia as it easily fits Bob who is over 6’ tall and me who is almost 5’ 4”, with in a minute everything can be adjusted for either driver. The ride does not beat up our bodies as the trucks did that I learned to drive in the eighties, granted most of those vehicles were off road trucks and they were built to be tough.
Most of the women that I know who have made the jump to becoming a truck driver later in life are having the time of their lives. Being able to see extended family often and having the option to take time off when in an interesting part of the country is part of the allure. The income does not hurt either. For us the timing was perfect and I have never regretted my decision eighteen years ago to get into a truck and I still look forward to the next load and where we will get to go.