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!