Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hold that thought

It’s been a while since I’ve jotted down my thoughts and adventures. We spent most of the summer on Long Island with Aboy’s job. I didn’t travel with him much because most of the work he was doing was local (and I was not interested in sitting in traffic on the LIE), so I spent my summer near the pool and hanging out with my friends. That is also the reason that my Trucker in Training adventures came to an abrupt halt. I love Aboy for affording me a vacation. To be honest – summer on Long Island was fabulous compared to the Texas summer that the kids dealt with (60+ days of 100+ temps) and for that I am TRULY grateful!

I fancy myself on being a “Jane of all trades”. Because I’m an independent woman (and the only son my father raised), I have worked on cars (dropped a tranny, changed starters, thermostats, etc), drove a cab (a male dominated industry), moved furniture (dressers, sofas, mattresses)… I think it’s safe to say – I don’t put limits on myself.  If something needs to be done, generally I jump right in. 

In saying that, I am going to put my truck driving aspirations on temporary hold. As I’ve worn many hats over the years – the one I wear most proudly is my “MOM” hat. It is a job I take seriously. I have adult children (all over 18), but that doesn’t mean that my parenting and obligations ceased. I am committed to my children’s success, no matter how old they get. What’s crazy is – it’s not like they need me to make sure their homework is done or that they wake up on time for work, it’s more like I bring “calm” to the house and it allows them to worry about their priorities. I don’t allow them to shun their responsibilities and I don’t involve myself in their personal relationships or business – but, they know – I’ve got their back. So, as I’ve done many times over the years – I’m putting “me” on hold for a little bit. It just means that I have a couple more years until I can truly commit to a life on the road. I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

So, stay posted for my newest hobbies and adventures. My life is never dull and most of this stuff – I can’t make up!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A trucker’s wardrobe

While you’re traveling, if you ever have the opportunity to stop in at a truck stop I encourage you to do so. For the maximum understanding of my lesson – stop in about 7pm; you won’t be disappointed. Truck drivers are a different breed and come in many sizes, shapes and styles. I’m not a judge of anyone – I just really call it like I see it. I don’t knock anyone’s hustle either – like my Dad used to say “to each, his own”.

The men...

The company driver – usually in a uniform with shoes that lace up. A baseball cap with the company’s logo is sitting prominently on the dashboard.

The cowboy driver – he’d rather be out riding ponies, but someone has to pay for the feed so he took his show on the road. Big belt buckles, a pair of cowboy boots and a big ‘ol cowboy hat are staples in the Cowboy’s wardrobe – he won’t leave home without it (I’m saying that in my best southern drawl)!

The playa driver – everything matches including the chunk jewelry and pinky ring. The outfit is color coordinated with the shoes and there are no signs of wrinkles or “truck dust” anywhere.

The ex-jock driver – he was either a basketball or football player in high school. Preferable choice for footwear is a pair of Adidas slides (with socks) and a pair of basketball shorts and a loose fitting T-shirt.

Then, there’s women…

Some women drivers you have to look real hard to see if they are actually a woman. Their outfit is not feminine and I’ve even seen some wearing a chain on their wallet.

Other women drivers prefer to remain feminine.  They may border on the comfort side of dressing but, they do wear make-up and take the time to do their hair. I’ve even seen Soccer Mom types driving and thought “whodathunkit”!

There are a lot of women riders that are doing what I do – act like a seat cover on the passenger side. Almost all of the seatcovers are like me – hair, nails and make-up is done and their clothes are comfortable but fashionable.

Now, in no way am I claiming to be a fashion guru – or do I think that anything is wrong with the way anyone dresses… Live & let live, right?


I do know that it’s a fine line between beauty and busted. I’m also finding out that my taste in fashion is aging. I’m old and fat so my fashion is driven by clothing that doesn’t bind or itch. This becomes most important when you’re cooped up in a truck all day – sitting for hours.

I don’t remember when I transitioned from tom-boy to woman, but I do know that even though I prefer to shop in the women’s section now, I don’t like my clothes to cling and I like to hide the cellulite that has magically appeared since I turned 40 (better known as saddlebags). I prefer to wear shorts that come down to at least the knee.

Now, if Aboy had his way – I’d wear lace tank tops (no bra) and daisy duke shorts  - and don’t forget the 4 inch spiked heels. This suggestion always gets an eye-roll and sometimes I even suck my teeth or let out a big sigh. I appreciate that he thinks I could be a super model, but I grew up in an area that going to the store requires make-up and color coordinated (conservative) outfits (ya never know who you may run into). Can you imagine me running into an old classmate wearing an Aboy suggested outfit – I would probably end up on and be the laughing stock of the world.

I do have to find clothes for the truck that are (1) comfortable, (2) functional, and (3) not too masculine/ not too feminine. I also don’t want to spend a lot of money on clothes because it still is, after all, a truck – grease and dust (and spilled coffee) are hazards of the job.

We stopped at a Walmart on I-70 in Illinois. I was getting tired of wearing basketball shorts and wanted to get some outfits that were more within my observation’s guidelines. I found a section of capris that were made of stretchy cotton. PERFECT! I got 4 pairs in dark colors with matching tops. I thought to myself “this is excellent! Kind of girly, non-binding, and durable!”… until I got to the check-out.  

The cashier was old enough to be my grandmother. As she scanned each pair of capris she kept saying “I need to get over there and find some of these for me!” I turned to Aboy – eyes widened – looking at him with the “maybe I shouldn’t get these, now” look. I mean if grandma is jocking my style – what is that saying about my style!

A couple weeks passed. Aboy and I were at a truck stop somewhere in Arkansas. We decided we were going to take our showers in the morning – so we could have a fresh start on the day. I packed up my bag. I put a pair of grey capris and a Yankee shirt in the bag with matching flip-flops. I got out the shower feeling like new money!... until we got to the coffee island and there was a 60-something lady standing there making coffee in the same style capris I was wearing.

So at this point I’m open to suggestions (beyond losing 40 lbs) for comfortable functional clothing that is not the preferred wardrobe choice of the 60 and over generation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I’m not a meteorologist, however…

Cohabitating in a space that is not even the size of a decent walk-in closet has its challenges!  I don’t care how much you love and care for someone – when you exist in a space big enough to hold your wardrobe, nerves will be tested. Add in the fact that Aboy and I are both cut from the same sarcastic cloth – it makes for some snipey exchanges.

It’s all good – it’s not like the early days where I’d say “Let me out!” and he’d pull the car over and say “Get the fuck out!”… now it’s more like – silence. I did mention I’m an only child, right?  I’ve mastered the silent treatment.  I have pouting, tantrums and determination (a hint of hard-head) in my arsenal too and I’m NEVER afraid to use them. Getting my way is the ultimate goal – I have a competitive personality so the goal is to win! Plus now that I’m older, I know which battles are worth picking.  

Let me give you an example.

It’s July. We’re driving through the south. We stop in West Memphis, Arkansas and we are literally 5 miles from the Mississippi River. We are going to call West Memphis home for the night. We pulled into the truck stop around 7 pm. There were puddles on the ground – which looked like at some point during the day, they had got a substantial rain fall. We’re in the south which means - rain PLUS heat EQUALS humidity, right?

Aboy finds the perfect spot. We’re in Garden City if you put us on the Long Island to City commute scale. We’ve got grass and neighbors but, we’re not living on top of anyone. Cool, right? I didn’t get to the good part, that’s why! Aboy decides since it’s in the high 70’s, we should sleep with the windows open.

We’re settled into the parking spot. Aboy shuts off the truck. Now, for an hour or so – heat is going to rise through the floor of the truck as the engine cools. I have a screen that fits (and locks) into my window, so I put the screen in. As I open the window – I can feel a gush of humid air.  I say to Aboy: “Wow, it’s really humid!” to which he replies “that’s just the hot air coming off the truck”.

I have kids – 4 to be exact. I understand - they think I was born yesterday – but I’ve been with Aboy for 23 years… he KNOWS I’m not a dumbass. I’m not a meteorologist, but I know what humidity is – I grew up on Long Island for cripes sake! So, we had a little heated exchange, then a little silence - no biggie.

We walk to get some dinner and come back about an hour later. It is hotter than an oven in the truck – but I don’t say nothing (I don’t know what I’m talking ‘bout, remember?). The little breeze that is kicking around is sticky, add in the heat coming up from the floor of the truck, and 2 fat asses… the conditions are deteriorating quickly (but I still don’t say nothing).

I can tell Aboy is trying to prove a point – but he cannot stand to be sticky when it’s time to go to bed. He washes off to get the stickiness off of him – which lasts all of about 30 minutes.

I’m going with it. He’s trying to prove a point and my silence is screaming mine – I’m just waiting for him to admit that I am right.

Another 30 minutes pass and Aboy finally gives in and turns the truck on – so we can run the Air Conditioner.  I win!

We wake up in the morning and there is dew dripping on the outside of the windows (that’s how humid the air is). We walked into the truck stop, took a shower and got coffee. When I walked from inside the truck stop to outside, my glasses had fog on them. BUT he’s still insisting it’s not that humid.

I just laughed and rolled my eyes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Just like life, a little rain must fall

I am of mixed nationalities. Italian is the dominant gene, even though if you did the biology – I’m probably more Irish.  I have a big nose, wide hips and thick wavy (frizzy) hair. If my hair gets wet, there is no chance it’s going to dry nice and neat – the best I can do is tie it up and hope I don’t run into anyone I know.

Traveling through different states gives you a first-hand look at Mother Nature at her finest (or worst). We called it a night at a truck stop in Kearney, MO. We arrived about 7pm, it was still in the low 90’s. I have “The Weather Channel” app on my phone – so, naturally – I checked the weather conditions once we found a parking spot. I checked the hourly forecast; Partly cloudy, low of 75. Sleeping with the windows open (and the truck turned off) was not going to be an option.

I generally like Aboy to park the truck away from the building.  It’s kind of like living on Long Island. You’d rather commute a little bit – as to avoid the noise, smells and congestion of the City. The closer you park to the building, the smell of urine is magnified by the engines idling. Plus, there is truck traffic all night getting fuel and doing other shit truckers do. Our walk is a little longer to get to the building – but our quality of life is a little better.

At 2:45 am, I was rudely awoken by a monstrous clap of thunder and rain hitting the roof of the truck so hard it sounded like someone was just dousing the truck with a hose, no filter or spray nozzle attached.  I thought to myself, “I didn’t see rain in the forecast!” rolled over and went back to sleep.

Aboy started moving around at 4:45 am. It was still raining. I heard the truck door open then a few minutes later Aboy was climbing back in the truck. He has the option of watering a tire. I told you, I have a trick hip and a shower problem – I can’t entertain public urination… under any circumstances.

Let me paint the picture:  It’s 5am, my bladder is full and I have to walk a quarter mile to get into the truck stop… in a torrential down pour. I know doctors and experts say you shouldn’t hold your pee – but if my hair gets wet, I’m limited to a ponytail until I can straighten my hair again. Not to mention the fact that we are living in a space that is smaller than what a prisoner gets during incarceration… not a lot of room for hanging wet clothes or freshening up.

I’ll wait.

Well, I’m not a native of the heartland. In New York, it may downpour for 15 minutes or so – but eventually, it lets up. NOT IN MISSOURI!  No shit, it rained for like an HOUR!! Like teaming rain that came down sideways!  The wind was so hard that it was rocking the 10,000lb truck that we call home.  

“Holy SHIT!” I’m thinking… “I gotta pee!!! What the fuck, man!” Finally, it was back to a normal downpour – so Aboy pulled the truck a little closer to the building – so we only had to walk a city block to get inside. I put on a hoodie and speed walked into the truck stop – about to BURST!

Don’t you know when I came out of the truck stop it was a light drizzle?? Mother Nature certainly has a sense of humor!  HA HA – very funny Mother Fucker… I mean  - Mother Nature!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Earning potential

When we stop at a truck stop, I pick up the periodicals that are located near the exits. “Trucker Jobs”, “Jobs for Teams”, “Owner Operator’s” and shit like that. I’m trying to learn as much as I can and since Aboy’s extent of teaching me things consists of “Shut it up Boo, all right?”… I have to do my own research. I knew truckers made a living wage (somewhere above poverty), but did you know that there are truckers out there making between $100k-$300k per year???

Prior to reading all this, I was all ready contemplating driving full time as a team with Aboy. I mean the training part seems to be working out OK. Besides a sore ass and not being able to straighten my hair when I want to – it’s do-able.

We were talking one day and I proposed to Aboy: “What if, after Raquel finishes playing basketball, we sell everything and just live out of the truck for a few years? We could drive as much as we can, save up as much as we can and then assess the situation to see if we’re where we need to be to retire.” Of course, Aboy jumped all over it. We talked about it for hours and the only dilemma that we could think of is what we’ll do with our plants (all 27 of them) and turtle (whom I refuse to give away).


So, as I was walking out of the truck stop this morning – I picked up the latest edition of “Jobs for Teams”. As I was drinking my coffee, I read an article about a couple that did exactly what I proposed to Aboy. Get this – they’ve been doing it for 5 years and have made ONE MILLION DOLLARS in earnings to date!  Is that crazy?? One million in 5 years?!? With no bills! They live out of their truck and take their breaks in places like Vegas, Disney & the Grand Canyon!

This trucker thing is getting more and more appealing – I have to admit!

Anyone interested in babysitting a 40lb African Sulcata Tortoise for a few years?

It’s a journey, not a race

When the kids were little we would take road trips. We’d pack the car with juices, snacks and lunch meat and they’d get the speech – “Yous better pee when we get gas because the next break is not till the next time we fill up” and "Yous don't want shit, don't need shit and don't ask for shit".  They knew better than to ask for anything when we were on the road – everything we needed was in the car.

I was something like a staff-sergeant while they were growing up. There was no “He’s touching me”, “I’m bored”, or “Are we there yet” type of exchanges. On many occasions we were complimented on how well behaved the kids were and I never minded bringing them out in public. Plus they knew a trip to the bathroom would be in order if anyone stepped out of line. Generally “the look” was sufficient to bring order to mischief.

Unfortunately, I’m not as disciplined as the kids. I take a little too long when we stop at Walmart. I like to collect mugs (and I’m currently on the lookout for unique salt & pepper shakers for my cousin) and window shop. I have spur of the moment urges for things like buffalo wings and chicken fingers. AND, I’m spoiled – so I usually get my way (or I pout).

Now that the kids are grown – I can say they stayed true to their roots and take road tripsthe same way as when they were little. Recently, Ben & Raquel drove from Texas to New York. They did a 26 hour drive that took them 24 hours (without stopping) – apples right off the (old) tree. They only stopped for gas and took care of all the necessities (food and potty) during those breaks.

Truck driving (for a living) is a different animal. First off, it’s regulated by the Feds. A truck driver can only be on duty for a maximum of 14 hours per day and of the 14, can only drive for 11 hours. If you have a trip that takes 15 hours – it’s going to take a day and a half of driving. How a truck driver is kept honest is with their log book which tracks when they were resting, working (loading/unloading), driving and completely off duty. If they go through a weigh station or get pulled over by a cop – the first thing that’s asked is “let me see your paperwork”.

Riding with Aboy, I had to change my mentality of “road trip” to “job”. He drives for a couple hours, stops and takes a break.  He’ll drive for a couple more hours and stop for lunch. When he’s closing in on 11 hours of driving, he starts looking for a place to shut it down for the night.  His day usually starts about 5am and ends somewhere around 8pm. It’s a job.

Just like driving a cab – in order to make money in a truck, you have to put in the hours. It’s not hard work, but it definitely deserves some respect. I have a new found level of respect for what Aboy does and if I were to drive solo, don’t think that it would be something that I could jump into whole-heartedly.

The good thing is we like riding together. It makes it more like “quality-time” and less like work. Plus we’re seeing the country together.

Good thing we’re friends!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The fat of the land (and other random thoughts)

As I’ve mentioned, being a trucker in training is not really about learning the road but more about learning the survival skills needed to be a trucker and if I have the stomach to handle the trucker lifestyle.

I’ve always loved traveling and moving around. I have no affinity to setting up shop somewhere and never moving again. I’ve always liked the “clean slate” feeling of moving somewhere and being the new kid in town. I have no problem making friends or socializing. I attribute my social skills (being able to conversate with anyone) to my 19 years in the cab. If you want to make any money (tips), you have to be able to talk about anything because you have less than 10 minutes to make an impression. There’s no room to be shy and you have to know a little bit about everything.

So, the traveling part – I sincerely love. Every day is a history lesson or an opportunity to stimulate my inner student. Having the internet and a laptop at my disposal allows me to google what I have immediate questions about. I’m learning geography, national cultural differences and regional cuisine preferences.

Just for the record – there are not a lot of Italians in Arkansas – just sayin’.


Since Aboy has been driving over the road for some time, he’s found some tricks of the trade for maximizing space and cutting costs. I like to call it living off the fat of the land. If you want to make any money in the industry – eating out and sleeping in hotels has to be avoided. Using the amenities available at truck stops is in a trucker’s benefit to saving money while they’re earning money.

Space on the truck is limited too. There are 2 bunk beds.  The top bunk is the size of a cot, the bottom bunk has a twin size mattress on it.  There’s a closet that’s about the length of a long-sleeved shirt. Above the closet is a cabinet that holds a TV with a space for a DVD player underneath it. Some cubby holes above the dashboard where we stow fresh fruit, instant coffee and napkins and stuff. There are also some small cabinets where I keep my laptop while it’s not in use – so it doesn’t get bounced around.  It’s a tight fit, but very efficient.

There are 12 volt sockets (like car lighters) throughout the truck and there are things that truckers can purchase that have a “car charger” socket to plug in. Over the years Aboy has had an electric cooler, crock pot, electric frying pan and hot pot – all powered with the socket that looks like your cell phone’s car charger. Aboy also has an inverter – so I can plug my laptop plug in – and it “inverts” the car charger into a house outlet.  I plugged my flat iron into it.  Let’s just say it didn’t work out favorably. It can handle some smaller items like a cell phone house charger and rechargeable car vacuum, though.

Since space is limited and the type of over the road driving Aboy has been doing is limited to 1 to 3 day ventures, he is using a cooler (that requires ice). Once you put the ice in… you lose some real estate for storing things. We keep some juices in it, cold cuts, whatever dinner is for the night (there are microwaves in the truck stops), and some snacks like yogurt, cheese and stuff. It’s cheaper to go into a grocery store and purchase grocery items than it is to go to a fast food joint everyday (and much healthier).

There is no room in the truck to store salt & pepper shakers, a bottle of ketchup, mustard or hot sauce. Keeping a canister of sugar or anything like that – that you may store in your cabinets at home – is out of the question… so we make use of things like packets of splenda, creamer, ketchup and hot sauce. They take up less space, are included in the meal (or coffee) costs when you make a purchase and keep nicely in a zip lock bag. I like to drink coffee all day – so to cut back on $10 a day in coffee, we bought a canister of instant coffee and when we stop at a truck stop – hot water is free and we have all the stuff needed. $60 a week in coffee (plus add in eating out costs) can defeat the purpose of earning a living on the road.

 photo IMG_20110518_100556_zps3b8f3341.jpg


I guess once we take our show on the road, we will really try our hand at investing in items that in the long run will save on operational costs. I just wish someone would invent a flat iron that can work with an inverter!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Assumed understanding

As I mentioned earlier, we have to revisit my past – so you can understand how I got here. You all ready know – I drove a cab and I’m currently a Software Consultant… but I have also worked in the transportation industry (not just as a cab driver). I have been a Data Analyst, Shipping Supervisor, and Night Operations Manager in a distribution environment.  I’m not coming into the Trucker in Training program completely green.

Plus, I’m an inquiring mind – I ask a lot of questions. I used to go to work with my Dad. He drove a truck for Coca-Cola from the time I was 8 years old - literally till the day he passed away. I would ask things about “Why can’t you drive on the Southern State?” and “Why don’t you use the clutch when you get out of 1st gear?” Plus, I’d get to change the gears, lift or latch up the tailgate and roll CO2 tanks into fast food joints. My Dad also used to drive a tow-truck on the weekends, part-time and I would get to sit on his lap to help him back it up to a car and get to work the levers and crawl under the car to help hook up the “J-Hooks”. My grandfather owned a land clearing business in Bay Shore. I used to ride with Daddy when he’d take the bulldozer out or drove one of Pop Pop’s dump trucks, too. I told you – I was the only son my father raised.

Not only do I ask questions – I listen. When the drivers that I used to supervise would walk in telling their “war stories”, I would pay attention. I tend to learn a lot of things the hard way – but I am a true believer in paying attention to other’s trials as to not reinvent the wheel when deemed unnecessary.

I know what a 5th wheel is, landing gear and the difference between a van (53 foot trailer) and a pup (24 foot trailer). I know the difference between pallet loaded and floor loaded. I can read a log book. I know a parkway is for cars and an expressway is truck friendly.  So, some of this stuff will be review for me.  I’m studying now to understand air brakes and weight regulations.  Most of my studying is just a brush-up though.

 Aboy is not the most patient teacher.  I am probably an annoying student. It makes for some pretty colorful dialogue when I’m asking 20 questions and he’s trying to concentrate on the task at hand.  If he was a little more forthcoming about what he was doing – prior to doing it, I could watch and learn. But, for some reason – he feels the need to keep things a surprise and I have the need to aggravate the shit out of him until he tells me what he’s trying to accomplish.

Me: “Why don’t you pull up and do a U-turn?”
Aboy: “Shut it up Boo, all right?”

Me: “Why don’t you back it in – wouldn’t it be easier to get it out?”
Aboy: “Shut it up Boo, all right?”

Me: “I think you should put another strap on there – it looks like it’s going to shift while we’re driving.”
Aboy: “Shut it up Boo, all right?”

So as you can see, the educational exchange is not conducive to learning. I’m probably going to have to back into some shit before he tells me the right way to do things. Call me psychic – but that’s my prediction.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ready, set…

We met up with Aboy’s cousin and her husband. It was nice to see a familiar face. We caught up on life, had some lunch and parted ways. The truck was being loaded while we were visiting and by time they were ready to leave, the truck was done and we were ready to go too. We had been in Houston for close to 5 or 6 hours… it was now rush hour.

It’s a 4 hour (or so) ride from Houston to Dallas. Any major metro you go to in the nation – you’re going to hit traffic. Add in people that stop in the fast lane because someone is trying to merge onto the interstate in the right lane – makes a new breed of clusterfuck. I give Aboy a lot of credit – he only blew his horn 3 times, cursed out 2 people and flipped the bird, once. Not bad – considering, I probably would have ran someone off the road. 

People in cars have the need to jump out in front of an 80,000 pound vehicle and then slow down.  It takes a little extra time for a tractor trailer to stop – but, they don’t teach you that when you take your road test around orange cones.  When we pass the culprits – I just look down in their vehicle and shake my head (the look on my face  is screaming “You’re a dumbass!”) I would make some Italian hand gestures – but Houston does have a gang problem and they may think I’m throwing up gang signs or something.

We got past the traffic. Aboy asked me did I want to drive.  What the hell, right?  So, with the truck in cruise control, Aboy stood up and I scooted in the seat. He set it for 65 mph and all I really had to do was keep his big ass truck between the lines. Not so hard. 

I drove for about 30 minutes. Aboy drives a flatbed, meaning the load is open and held down with straps. There are a lot more things to worry about with a flatbed than there is when you’re pulling a 53 foot box (correct industry term: Van).  You have to make sure the straps are not flapping around, shit is not hanging off the edges and the load stays stable (open loads tip easier). I think I did well.  I didn’t lose the load and I stayed between the lines – that’s most of the battle right there!

It is a different feeling driving a tractor trailer than driving a car. First, the view is different. You’re sitting about 10 feet in the air. Not only can you see for miles in front of you – you can look in people’s cars. Second, you can feel the power of the truck and the weight of the load you’re pulling. Third, the load is attached by a hinge (correct industry term: 5th wheel). If you’ve ever pulled a boat or a small trailer, you know if you jerk the wheel, it will make what you’re towing, sway. Finally, you’re always in “pay attention” mode. Staying in lane is harder than you think!

Once I do get my CDL, I think I’ll save all the hard stuff for Aboy.  He’s an expert at backing up. He’s an expert at traffic. I’m very competitive by nature but don’t have to prove anything when I have someone that’s riding with me that can handle all the stuff that can cause agita[i]. Besides, I think I look kind of cute sitting in the passenger seat playing on my laptop J

[i] Origin of AGITA

S Italian dialect pronunciation of Italian acido, literally, heartburn, acid, from Latin acidus
A feeling of anxiety or agitation.
Sounds like: Ahh - Jih - Tuh

Speaking of driving…

Years ago in Bay Shore, before it got over-developed and over-populated, it was fun to do donuts in the mall parking lot or at the Jr. High, when it snowed. I remember going with my Dad to the mall doing spin outs and screaming and laughing with fear and excitement. 

I got my permit when I was 16. My Dad had the papers waiting for me when I got home from school that day.  It was against my mother’s wishes, but I was the only son my father had.  My practice usually came from me being the designated driver. My grandfather (Dad’s Dad), lived on Brook Avenue on the Southside of Sunrise Hwy. We lived on the Northside of Sunrise behind the Jr. High. We would go to Pop Pop’s house, Daddy would get crocked… and I got to drive home. 

It had snowed a few weeks before my road test and Daddy thought it was the appropriate time to teach me how to drive in the snow. We took his car (he always had a hunk a junk) and went to the Jr. High parking lot.  The snow hadn’t been plowed yet and there was ice under the new snow from a previous storm. Daddy made me put on my seat belt, floor it, then jam on the brakes. The lesson that was supposed to be taught was how to “react” to what the car would do under those conditions. We did it for about an hour and tried different scenarios like turning while braking, driving out of a skid and then we got to do donuts – as the finale.

Nothing replaces experience. Having a good teacher (my Dad) helped me understand the road, how to drive defensively and practicing under different conditions (weather, traffic, time of day). It gave me confidence to be a good driver (and borrowing the car – without permission - from time to time helped too!). I learned that a car should be treated with respect, but not feared.

NY’ers get a bum rap on a lot of things. Driving is one of them. I have lived in 5 states and have traveled up and down I-95 and as far west as Vegas… NY’ers CAN drive, it’s the rest of the nation that can’t.  NY’ers understand things like the far left lane is the fast lane, what a merge lane is used for and that you don’t have to plan for, schedule and send a memo - to make a right turn (you just do it – from as far right as you can get off the roadway, so you don’t interrupt traffic flow).

We also know that when you are on an expressway (parkway, interstate, etc) – there are no STOP lights for a reason – the idea is to GO! There is no need to tap your brakes when you are cruising in the left lane because someone in the far right lane put on their blinker to get off on an exit ramp.  We don’t have to look at people picking up trash on the highway. We don’t have to slow down because someone is trying to merge into traffic – it’s called the “right of way” for a reason. If you’re driving and have the “right of way” the merge lane was developed so people trying to enter the traffic lane can adjust their speed and fall in line (and maintain the flow of traffic).

People develop road rage because of individuals that took a road test around cones.  The testing instructor didn’t actually make them get into traffic, parallel park with cars coming in both directions in a space that’s big enough for a Chevette (but you brought Daddy’s Caddie to the road test) or had to make a right hand turn around a snow bank that jutted into the driving lane.  If people had to take a road test, like they do in NY, the roadways would be clear of idiots that are only able to drive when there are no other cars around them.


Challenge #2: If someone cuts me off while I’m driving an 80,000 pound vehicle – will I be able to resist the urge and possess any remorse if I just run them over with the truck?

I think as part of my trucker in training curriculum, I’ll need to add in road rage anger management. I know I have boasted and bragged about the fact that I don’t have a “better than” attitude, but when it comes to driving there is some common sense involved – and more often than not, people earned their license – not based on their ability to make a split second decision, but because they were able to navigate past an orange cone without knocking it over.      

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Important things I'm learning

Some of you may follow my journey and make a life changing career decision based on my findings.  Most of you won’t.  This profession is not for the meek, that’s for sure. You have to deal with things like a sore ass, poor selection of radio stations for long stretches, and the truck doesn’t have enough electricity to push a flat iron (I know because I fried Aboy’s inverter).

You have to find clever ways of being a woman and not cross the line of appearing busted. There’s not a lot of time to be feminine because you have destinations to get to and usually there is a deadline to get there. You can wake up in Virginia and go to sleep in Arkansas. It’s like being a modern day gypsy.

I have to be honest, I’m not really learning a lot about driving.  I’ve been driving (professionally) since I was 19 years old.  I understand the road, having close to 700,000 miles under my belt. This is more like training to be able to handle the daily 12-14 hours cooped up in a truck with someone that likes to fart and wait till I smell it to admit he did it. I have to admit – eating truck stop food makes for good revenge and my timing is usually better.  I also have a poker face.  It’s become quite the game.

Wet wipes have become a staple in my beauty arsenal. We take a shower at night at the truck stop. Aboy wakes up way too early for me to go into the truck stop and act like I have any good sense – so, I just go in to use the bathroom and come right back out to the truck. I let him take care of all the important things like making coffee and any other important trucker shit. I’m usually ready to get my act together by time we make our first potty stop.

I have found that a lot of these truck stop parking lots smell like a subway station.  The piss smell is magnified by the engines idling.  I have a pair of flip flops that are exclusive truck stop shoes and once I get back in the truck, they get cleaned off with a clorox wipe, tucked under my seat and I wash my feet off with a wet wipe. I also use my hand sanitizer on my feet – one can never be too careful!!

At a previous job, Aboy said he had rode with an old guy and his truck smelled funny. Come to find out when he rode with another guy from the same company – the old guy used to poop in a bucket in his truck because he didn’t like to poop in public. So you can imagine some of the stuff that these truckers do. Needless to say when I heard this story – I gagged. Another time, we were riding through the truck stop and there was a full bottle of soda in the parking lot – I said, “Oh, man! Someone dropped their soda!”… Aboy said – “that’s a bottle of piss”. ILK!!!! 

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That’s one side of being a trucker – I don’t need to learn about!!!

Time to face the music

We got to our destination in Houston just before lunch time.  I never paid too much attention before (because I’m usually the one doing it), but drivers (in cars) are very inconsiderate of truck drivers.  Aboy had to back 70 + feet of vehicle into a gate big enough for a car to get through – across 4 lanes of traffic.  I mean, don’t get me wrong – Aboy showed his ass (he is after all, a NY’er), and blew his horn, flipped the bird and called some individuals out their name, but you’d think people would give him a break – he’s just trying to earn a living. A fellow trucker (that’s what we call each other), helped hold up traffic, so some dumbass didn’t creep up on the side of Aboy when he had to pull up to straighten out the trailer, to finish backing in. Aboy returned the favor when it was the other trucker’s turn to back in.

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I texted Aboy’s cousin and told her we had arrived. She texted me back to let me know her husband was getting dressed and she would text me when they were leaving their house. We were in downtown Houston – at the place where they had the NCAA Men’s Final Four. She said she lived about 20 minutes away.

Aboy had got the truck situated. I was on my laptop uploading all the pictures from Aboy’s fabulous skills getting his big ass truck in the small ass entrance.

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I was pretty impressed. This is, after all - the same man that is not allowed to touch things that can cause sparks or fire and has broken all the lug nuts off my tire – trying to change it  (another flaw – action & consequence).

As I finished uploading – Aboy was trying to lay down in the bunk. I announced “I have to use the bathroom”. Aboy said, “it’s inside to the right”. Now you know, he’s not getting off that easy.  I am not walking inside, by myself. I am a female getting out of a tractor trailer…. I need a male escort. So, begrudgingly, he got his shoes on.  I asked “where’s the toothpaste?”.  The time has come – I might as well get it over with.

I drove a cab for Tommy’s Taxi on and off for 19 years.  I wasn’t your typical cab driver.  I took a shower every day.  I wore make-up, perfume, I tanned, had acrylic nails and I used hair styling products. My shirts were pressed (we wore uniforms in the summer). I would make frequent trips home during the day to refresh myself. My cab was spotless, inside and out. Like I’ve said – I know that the visual perception people have is how they judge you and it was very important that I present myself in a way I felt about myself. I mean – I was driving a cab for cripes sake, I wasn’t digging cesspools for a living.

It used to amaze me the types of shit people will do in front of complete strangers.  I’d have customers get in the cab stinkin’, belching, farting, and I even had 1 guy throw up out of my window. Some people just don’t give a fuck, I guess. I try to hold myself to a higher standard.  Maybe it falls in line with the “high maintenance” thing, but farting or throwing up in front of a stranger is a real stretch for me. I guess that’s why I battle with this idea of brushing my teeth in public.

Aboy walked with me into the convention center.  He directed me to the ladies room, which was immaculate. The part of the convention center that we were in – was more for special events and staging equipment and there’s not a lot of women that work in that area. This public restroom obviously didn’t see a lot of traffic.

I brought my essentials – including the toothbrush.

After I used the bathroom, I washed my hands.  I gave myself a mental pep talk. I put the toothpaste on my toothbrush, closed my eyes, said an “Our Father” and put it in my mouth. Not so bad.  Not so good either. I think I’m more thankful no one walked in while I was brushing.  I mean it could be worse and I guess after a few times, it won’t be as bad. I don’t think it will ever be something I’m completely comfortable with, though.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The power of the (virtual) social network

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn… I belong to them all. Social networks have really changed the landscape on how we live and do business. It has removed the excitement out of catching up at a class reunion, for sure.  I’m positive that by time my kids are preparing for their 10 year High School reunion – it will just be a formality.  Facebook has let them stay in touch with their classmates – so there is no “Wow, how have you been?, What have you been up to?”… if a friend crosses their mind, they can click on their friend’s Facebook page – and find out.

Facebook has been a crutch for me – living so far away from New York.  I’ve been able to keep up with family, rekindle old friendships, and coordinate meet-ups.  For instance, not too long ago and old friend’s brother was in a motorcycle accident in Dallas.  My friend lives in Arizona and flew in to Dallas to check on his brother.  Aboy and I picked him up at that airport and dropped him off at the hospital – all because of Facebook.

Now that I’m a trucker in training, Facebook has brought a whole new dimension to the social network. I can post real-time pictures of my trucking adventures. I can update my status and within seconds my family and friends are right where I am – touring the country with me.

I had posted a picture of the (ghetto) truck stop that we stayed at in Dallas on Facebook. There was a caption that we were heading to Houston in the morning.  Aboy’s cousin saw it and sent me an instant message through Facebook chat. She’s from Bay Shore and had moved to Houston a few years back. She said we should meet up and we both agreed it was a perfect opportunity to connect, since she lived in close proximity to where we would be with the truck. So, we’re 1,700 miles from “home” – but Facebook has made the nation a smaller place.

Once we got all the contact information straightened out - it dawned on me, I'm going to have to address the issue of brushing my teeth. <sigh>

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MMM… Coffee!!!

I became enamored with coffee when I was a little girl. I wasn’t allowed to drink coffee – they said it would stunt my growth.  I loved how it made the house smell in the morning. If I spent the weekend at my grandparents’, early Saturday morning I’d go with my Pop-Pop to get a buttered roll at the corner deli. He’d get a “regular” coffee and I’d get a hot chocolate. We’d drive down to the bay in Sayville and watch the clam boats go out. He’d let me take a sip off his coffee and it tasted just like the coffee flavored hard candy that my Nan would buy for long road trips.
Forty years later – I still feel the same about coffee.  The smell, the taste… there’s something comforting about it to me.

My life as a cab driver fit right into my personality and lifestyle. The harder (longer) I worked, the more money I could make. I could meet people and ride around Bay Shore all day – being a social butterfly. I hung around with a bunch of foul-mouthed dirty old men and when I had enough – I could tell them to “shut the fuck up” and not get in trouble by my boss.  AND – I could drink coffee all day long!

Driving a truck brings back the romantic attachment I have to coffee. If we stop at a truck stop – there’s always a fresh pot brewed. We have extra supplies on the truck if the store doesn’t have Splenda or the right type of creamer. I miss the old Deli style coffee – you could walk in and say “Yeah, gimme a regular coffee”… and they knew exactly what you wanted. They made it with just enough sugar, just enough milk. Self-serve coffee islands (started by 7-11) took the customer service out of a good cup of coffee… but, in saying that - there’s nothing like a fresh hot cup, regardless to who makes it!

It’s funny because when Aboy and I are at home together – we have a morning ritual of having a cup of coffee and watching the news.  I can sit and finish the entire pot then go take a nap. After Aboy’s first cup, if I need the house painted, the car washed and the front yard turned over… it’s the perfect time to ask.

Aboy thinks I should drink more water.  I tell him all the time – “Honey, I don’t like that health food shit!”… besides, what is the main ingredient in coffee…??... WATER!  I win again!

Unforeseen obstacles

April 7, 2011 (about 7am) – Somewhere along the ride Aboy stopped to get coffee. I thought I heard him say “Get up Boo! I have coffee!” Apparently (according to Aboy), my response was a “MMMPH” and I did the rollover.

It wasn’t long before the cab of the truck smelled like coffee.  I started moving around and asked (to confirm I wasn’t dreaming) “did you get me coffee?” Aboy said “Right here, Boo!” – pointing to a cup in the cup holder. I got up from Aboy’s bunk, got into the co-pilot seat and drank my coffee.

I’m not really a morning person. I have never really been a morning person, either. Every once in a while, I may get a burst of energy early in the morning – but as a rule, my brain starts to function efficiently at about 9:30 am.  This is what makes living with Aboy pretty comical.  He can wake up in the morning without issue.  He can jump right out of his bunk and into the driver’s seat – and pull off. If I get up to use the bathroom before 6am - I stumble into shit, pee with the light off and walk back to the bed with my eyes closed so I don’t have to disturb my eyeballs for little things like using the bathroom.

So, as I’m sitting in the co-pilot seat, making love to my coffee… Aboy (who’s been up since 4:30) is wide awake and wants to talk. For those that don’t remember… I’m an only child.  I have a gift that I developed at a very young age called “tuning you out”.  I can look right in your face, watch your lips move and the shit you’re saying sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown – “Wah, Wah, Wah…”. I cannot tell you what he said. I honestly don’t remember.


Once the coffee kicked in, I was good.  I needed another cup and a potty.  The last time I used the bathroom was 4:30 am – it’s now almost 8 am. I drank a 20 oz coffee and all the bouncing in the truck feels like it’s pushing the liquid into my bladder like a gutter into a storm drain – I’m about to overflow!

We pull into a gas station. I make the mad dash to the bathroom.  Aboy meets me by the coffee island, I get a refill and life is looking even better with another 20 oz.

Aboy says, “When are you going to brush your teeth?”. 

Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about that. It was one thing I hadn’t given consideration when I made the big decision to be a trucker. Using a bathroom in public is a phobia I’ve overcome over the years.  Driving a cab – if you gotta go… you gotta go! If I had a trip to the city, I would try to hold it until I got back to my house, to the cab stand or try to at least get to Southside (the E.R. bathroom is usually pretty clean).

I shrug my shoulders and walk to the cashier.


So, when I say I’m “high maintenance”… it’s not because I purchase and wear high cost retail items… it’s because I don’t like icky stuff. I didn’t eat jelly until I was 17 and the only reason I did that was because I had smoked a joint and got the munchies.  There happened to be an episode of the “Little Rascals” on TV and Spanky tagged along on a camping trip and was the only one that thought to bring food.  Bread and jelly. I was high…and that jelly looked good. Jelly is still not a “must have” on the shopping list.

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t eat pancakes because the syrup was sticky. I wouldn’t eat ice pops because they would melt on my fingers. The thought of smelling sewage makes me gag, hearing someone vomit makes me gag and seeing blood – I’m going to pass out.  High maintenance or prissy; same difference.  What makes me laugh at myself – I can beat somebody up with a baseball bat but can’t look at a scrape to put a band-aid on it.

In saying that, it’s really a battle for me to bring myself to brush my teeth in a public bathroom.  UGH!! This is going to be a problem!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

And we’re (almost) rolling!

April 7th 2011 (4:30am) – The alarm went off and I could hear Aboy moving around.  I didn’t sleep that great, there’s nothing like your own bed. The top bunk is more like a cot. The bottom bunk has an actual twin mattress and I really thought I was going to sleep with Aboy (till I realized our fat asses would not fit).

I had to pee and the only place to go was inside the truck stop.  Years ago (we’re talking high school days) - I didn’t care about dropping my pants behind a bush if I had to go. Now that I’ve matured and I’m a lady I can’t just whip it out and handle my business.  I’ve got issues like a bad hip and a pending shower problem – so if some pee drips down my leg or on my foot, I would have to deal with that all day.  So, I do the racer’s walk into the truck stop. Aboy takes us into the bathroom and we take turns. He’s used to all this so while it’s my turn, he’s washing up in the sink and preparing for the day…. I’m just worried about not getting any truck stop cooties on me.

Stereotyping is something I’ve had to deal with because I married a black man when it was frowned upon to do so.  People don’t talk about it as much anymore but I remember like yesterday my father worried about people thinking I was “white trash” for dating outside of my race. I could give a fuck what people think about who I'm with – but I understood that physical appearance is a huge part of people’s perception and they will judge you solely on how you look and present yourself.  Although I’ve relaxed over the years (I wouldn’t walk out of the house without taking a shower, make-up, yada-yada)… I still make sure (at the minimum) I am wearing a bra, my face is clean and my hair is tied up when I go out in public.

I just recently learned about “lot lizards” and I’m sure many of you are unfamiliar, so let me explain.  At truck stops, some females prefer to make their money the old-fashioned way (hookers). A “lot lizard” (or chicken head) goes from truck to truck – earning her “paycheck”. After I finished using the bathroom – I washed my hands and looked in the mirror. I realized that if I were in my real world – people would think I was a “lot lizard”.

Challenge 1: I need to find a way to still look like a married woman at 4:30 in the morning, at a truck stop.

We finish up in the bathroom and as we’re walking into the store area of the truck stop, Aboy asks “Do you want something before we get on the road?”. Remember I mentioned that Aboy has some flaws?  Timing is one of them.  I didn’t even dignify his question with an answer - I just gave him the “OMG, SERIOUSLY?” look, rolled my eyes, and went back to the truck.

Since it’s dark, too early for me and interfering with my (much needed) beauty rest – I get back in the bunk.  Training can wait till the sun comes up!

On a side note: Before I post my blogs, I run them past Aboy to make sure they are accurate.  Aboy is a movie buff and almost everything in our life is compared to a scene in some movie he’s watched. As I was reading today’s blog to him he said it reminded him of a scene from the movie “LIFE”, with Eddie Murphy (Ray) & Martin Lawrence (Claude).  He said I was acting like Claude ‘cause I’m SOFT! “Yeah, I said it! – S.O.F. Capital T!” 

Sarcasm: the glue that bonds our family.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A little about my trainer:

Life is much easier to face every day when you share it with people you like being around.  When you’re looking for a companion to share your life with – the most important quality they must have is being your friend.

Think about it… TRUE friends don’t always share your point of view.  TRUE friends don’t always think you are heading in the right direction.  TRUE friends have your best interests in mind. TRUE friends stand there with you when the rest of the world has walked out.  Doesn’t that make a great foundation to a relationship?

Aboy and I hit it off from day one.  There were no uncomfortable silences. There were no awkward moments.  Don’t get it twisted… we’re not perfect – in any sense of the word.  We’ve had our share of arguments and break ups over the years, but reflecting on that – it was our friendship that brought us back together.  Especially as we’ve grown older and weathered some severe storms.  We share a mutual respect for each other’s feelings and I can honestly say – I like hanging out with him. He’s funny, sarcastic, understanding, thoughtful and insightful. His flaws are forgivable (and most of the time, they make me laugh) and because we’ve withstood the test of time – makes me appreciate him even more. 

We’ve grown up together. Now we’re growing old together.  I know it sounds cliché, but he is my best friend. 

HOWEVER, Aboy is not the most patient teacher.  He’s a little blunt, not too good at explaining stuff and he gets aggravated when I laugh at him when he’s trying to show me something. I’m probably not the best student either. I’m spoiled, determined (Ganny Guy always said the Guy’s are not stubborn but “determined”), defiant and a little confrontational (just a little). Oh well. We'll work through it.


Aboy has lived in the south (on and off) since the 90’s too.  If you think for one second that racism is not living and breathing in the south, please send me an email and I will give you a documented list of proven racist situations. Aboy is not the “yes sir” type either. Add in a belligerent white woman and we’ve given the south about all they can handle! He grew up in Carleton Park. He is very confident and comfortable in his "blackness". Some guys that are in a relationship with white women are viewed as a "pushover" or "wanna-be"... I can tell you, after all these years - Aboy's still a thug.   We make an odd-couple, to say the least.  I'm still a nerdy white girl - he could be a body guard for a rapper.  It works.

I also forgot to mention. Aboy is an ex-boxer.  He can throw his hands a little bit.  He can’t argue all that great, but I’ve seen (first hand) big shit-talkers get knocked (the fuck) out with one punch.  That kind of opens up a can of courage for me because for a woman, I border on the “tough” side (and Aboy taught me some boxing stuff) - knowing I have a guy standing next to me that can knock yo ass out… gives me a license to talk some shit.

I piss him off from time to time.  He pisses me off too. We’re friends – and life goes on. Relationships can be very complicated and they constantly evolve– but when you find the perfect person, it doesn’t mean they don’t have flaws – it just means they’re perfect for you.

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The journey begins

April 6, 2011 (almost bedtime) – As I said previously, Aboy picked me up and we headed to Dallas.  We needed to get an early start on the drive to Houston and Aboy thought it was best to stay at a truck stop near his job, so we could pick up the load and “roll out” when he woke up. 

Sleeping on the truck and staying at a truck stop: VERY different. I’ve only stayed at a truck stop once before.  Raquel had a basketball showcase event at Boston University.  Coincidentally, Aboy had a load up that way.  The truck stop was about an hour away from the school so, the night before the showcase I picked Aboy up at the truck stop and we stayed at a hotel closer to where she needed to be.  After the showcase, it was about 5 pm, so instead of making the schlep back to Bay Shore, we stayed with Aboy on the truck. 

I have slept on the truck before.  When Aboy drove for a guy from Long Island, the closest he could get the truck would be Jersey City – it was like a staging point. It didn’t make sense to pay a toll to get home (his boss was beyond cheap) if he would be picking up a load the next day in NJ or PA. A couple times I drove to Jersey and spent the night.  He’d park the truck in an empty lot. There was a Greek Deli and a Dunkin Donuts next door and an IHOP down the block. Not the same as staying at a truck stop though. Using the bathroom at Dunkin Donuts is different than using the bathroom at a truck stop (trust me!).

There were also times - early in his driving career, I would go with him on overnight trips.  We’d get close to his drop off and stay at a rest area or at the place where he was dropping the load.  Again, not the same as staying at a truck stop.

The truck stop we stayed at in Dallas is not in the best part of Dallas (have you ever watched “The First 48”?).  It’s in an industrial area (rightfully so), but it is on the outskirts of the ghetto.  The clientele may or may not have brushed their teeth before they came to make a purchase. The parking lot needs to be ripped up and repaved – there are pot holes the size of craters. The building looks like it was built in the 70’s and they haven’t done much maintenance on it since then. The bathrooms are clean, but there is dust on some of the food (for purchase) on the shelves.  The clerk is sitting behind bullet proof glass.

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Well, it’s no secret… I’m a NY’er.  I’m pretty proud of the fact that I have never had a “better than” attitude towards anyone and I can adapt to almost anything thrown at me – but this shit is GHETTO!  Aboy says to me, “Do you want to take a shower before we roll in the morning?”… so, with a hint of sarcasm, I told him – “uhhh, I’ll wait”.  I’m probably on the high-maintenance side of most female truckers but I’d rather wash up with a wet-wipe than to get caught with my clothes off in this rat-trap! Aboy laughed.  I gave him the “Ha-Ha – very funny mutha-fucka” look (in my best Eddie Murphy {Raw} imitation).


It’s been some time since I’ve even slept on the truck.  Back when Aboy first started driving – I was probably about 30 lbs lighter and Aboy was about 50 lbs lighter.  One of the drawbacks of being married, we’ve gotten old AND fat together.  Both of us are not going to fit in 1 (twin-size) bunk.  I always sleep on the left side of the bed – meaning I’ll get the outside and Aboy will have the wall. He’s a restless sleeper - I’m either going to get punched in the head or end up on the truck floor.  I opt for the top bunk.
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So, out of a scene of “I Love Lucy”, we’re going to sleep in separate beds.  He wants to “cuddle” so he can go to sleep.  I am much more pragmatic and know that his motive is selfish because he’ll fall asleep and when I try to move to the top bunk – he’ll wake up starting the “let’s cuddle” bullshit again.  So, I make an executive decision and just get into the top bunk.  He gripes (and as usual, gets over it)… but we both get a half ass night of sleep.

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I’m officially a trucker! J