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

Getting started

Monday, April 4, 2011 started extra early.  Since Aboy drives over the road – someone always drops him off in Dallas, at his job – so the car is not sitting there for days at a time.  I had work, and Aboy had to be in early to be down in Houston to drop a trailer off for the temporary seats that would be disassembled after the Men’s NCAA Final Four that evening.  So, I was elected to make the 30 mile schlep.  We left the house at 6 am (we woke up at 4:30am), got to Dallas by 6:45 am and waited.

I didn’t sleep well the night before. I stayed up late watching the NCAAW Notre Dame/UConn game.  By time I fell asleep – it was way after midnight.  Then up at 4:30am… let’s just say – I need my beauty sleep!! 

We had to wait at Aboy’s job because no one was there to give him the key to the truck.  It was cold and rainy.  I was getting more and more in the “Fuck it” mood – and thinking about calling in.  The week before I had finished the original project I was hired for at Sally and was moved to assisting the regulatory department to help get their data organized.  If you had bamboo shoots to shove under my fingernails – it would be less painful than doing that regulatory crap.  Finally at 8 am, someone showed up. I got on the road and was at work by 9 am. 

Now, one of the main reasons I didn’t like doing the regulatory work – they didn’t move as fast as I do.  So, she gave me (what would take the other temps) 4 days worth of work – I got it done in 40 minutes.  I have always been the type, when I was a manager – “if you don’t have anything to do, don’t do it here”.  It’s not like I didn’t warn them. The previous Friday I sent them an email and asked them to have some work ready for me to keep me busy for the entire day on Monday.  When I got to work at 9am there was literally 10 minutes of work for me to do.  That was it for me.  I emailed the temp agency and told them I couldn’t do it anymore.  I am not good at acting like I’m busy and especially when it’s something I despise doing.  I told them it was my last week. 

I left at 12.  I was exhausted, there was no work to do and I was having a bad hair day (any excuse will do). I went home and took a nap.  When I woke up, I had an email from the temp agency that I didn’t have to go back. Sally understood how frustrated I was and the temp agency was going to send someone else over.  YEAH!! 

My intentions were to stay at Sally’s – until I could study for my CDL and get my permit.  Change of plans.

Wednesday night April 6, Aboy came to Denton in the truck and picked me up.  He asked me earlier if I wanted to ride to Houston.  It’s not like I had to get up for work in the morning!  I packed my bag and we headed back to Dallas and the Trucker in Training program began.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The decision

I boast a diverse professional background and can do almost anything related to business management, operations and administration.  I have a BS in hard work and a PHD in life.  I’ve worked my way up the pay ladder over the years. 

I’m a software trainer by trade.  Not exactly what I used to tell people when I was a kid… you know when you get asked that age-old question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”… Software trainer was not on my list.  Opportunity and ability presented itself and because I don’t have the traditional 9 to 5 mindset, I saw the potential to use my creativity and charisma and turns out – I’m pretty good at it.  If I earned a real degree – I’da probably made a good teacher… I hate kids though (I’ll talk about that later).

In saying that, I’ve been working for myself as a software consultant.  My largest customer was finally ready to become independent and was no longer in need of my services.  I was happy that they were independent of me, but found myself with next to no income.  I’ve always been a hustler.  In NY when I needed money, I’d hop in the cab for the weekend and make a couple hundred bucks to hold me over.  Problem is: I’m in TX – not exactly the cab Mecca of the world.  Everyone here has a vehicle. I could probably make a couple hundred in a couple weeks… not a couple days.

So, I did what else I’m good at – I signed up with a temp agency. My first (and last) assignment was at Sally Beauty Company. They brought me on to help them catch up with some data entry that they had fallen behind with.  About 8 to 12 weeks worth of work (by their estimation). I was done in 21 business days.  AND, I made less than 1/3 of what I was used to making.  Very frustrating - to say the least.

I was almost done with the Sally assignment.  Aboy had a load to NY. Ben & Raquel were all ready in NY, visiting.  I wanted to go.  But, I had the commitment to Sally.  So, I went to my supervisor and told her the situation.  I explained that I hadn’t been to NY since 2009 and my family was up there and it was a great opportunity for me to go. I told her to get me remote access and I would dial in from the truck and do my work from there.  Long story short, she said “no”.  Honestly, I was ready to walk out.  But, I finished the assignment and made up in my mind that no one will ever have that much control over my personal life again.

Like I referenced earlier, people would ask me that question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and they’d usually finish it off with “a nurse like your mother?”, and I would defiantly answer “NOPE! I’m going to drive a truck like my Dad!”. 

I just turned 45 in February.  Old if you ask my kids, not even middle aged if you look at the longevity in my family and at a crossroad in my professional life.  Do I want to work in a corporate environment, a slave to someone else’s demands?  Do I want to work for myself and all that goes with that (feast & famine)… or do I get my CDL, team with my husband and tour the country while we’re getting paid for it? 

When Aboy and I first got together, I remember like yesterday laying around on the weekends and talking about “when we get older”, “when the kids get grown” - you know those “when I hit lotto” conversations J.  Well, we used to say “when the kids get grown, we should buy an RV and ride across the country”.  The kids are grown.  The time is now. Even better, we don’t have to pay for gas and someone deposits money into our account for riding around all day.

So, now the Trucker in Training journey begins!

The introduction...

Every journey starts with the first step. I guess that means every blog begins with the first word.

Before you read any further, I have to warn you… I am a retired NY cab driver and a “Trucker in Training” so, I am going to use colorful words.  I’m not trying to offend anyone and if you are offended by “Fuck”, “Shit” and “Dick”…there’s no need to read anymore. Sometimes I make up my own words too; just try to follow along. 

I’ve lived in the south on and off since the 90’s.  I can’t say it has rubbed off on me, though.  I don’t say “y’all” – I say “yous”.  When I offer directions it may come out like “Youzzle have to take a right at the corner, then youzzle see the gas station on the left” and shit like that. I don’t like biscuits and gravy (the white gravy that looks like puke) or mustid on my boiga’s. I drink soda. I stand on line when I want to pay for my groceries. I love buttered rolls with my coffee and a danish is a meal when you buy it from a diner. This probably means nothing to you if you’re from NY but trust me, once you get past Jersey – the nation becomes a whole different universe!

So, sit back and enjoy the ride with me as I take you on my journey.  I’ll visit some of my past because you’ll have to understand where I came from. My past is the foundation of what got me here today.