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.
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!