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Gloria’s Trucking Saga: Part Four

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2008-06-23


My first trainer was upset that I decided to get off her truck. For the first time all week, I was happy. I even did a decent job of backing up the truck to our final delivery point, but as usual, my trainer finished the job. I didn’t care, though. I was going home.

Instead of leaving my car at a secure site, my trainer was confident I could leave my vehicle parked all week at a Meijer in Columbus, Ohio. For the life of me, I can’t understand why I went along with it. I guess the reasoning was that we’d be passing by the parking lot every day and could keep an eye on it. However, I parked the car closer to the front of the store, and to really see it, we’d have to pull into the lot. Of course, we never did.

Bobtailing back to Meijer’s, I was relieved I’d be going home for a few days and looking forward to having a competent trainer. I’d spoken to Debbie on the phone, and she promised to put the “joy back into trucking.” I wasn’t sure there was much joy to be had driving a big rig; I just wanted three meals a day, regular showers and someone who knew how to train. Debbie encouraged me to go home and rest up. Her southern drawl and concern about using my CPAP machine let me know I was in good hands.

Debbie wasn’t much older than I was, but if you worked hard, she would take care of you like she did her own daughter. The company desperately needed female trainers, and was eager to talk anyone with boobs into instructing students, but not everyone is cut out to be an educator. The lure to be a trainer was the money. Only a few saintly types actually wanted to create a better breed of truckers. Debbie was one of the few. And I would need her laid-back attitude and professionalism and time-management skills.

Our run was simple, but grueling. Our mission, because we chose to accept it, was to run high-dollar merchandise (electronics, motorcycle parts, and a motorcycle itself) from Groveport, Ohio, to Boston, Massachusetts. Once we got to Beantown, we set a spell to sleep, relax and grab a shower before hauling more pricey stuff back to Groveport. It was a 16-hour trip with little time for meals or bathroom breaks. This was an account for serious drivers. Slackers need not apply. I’m proud to say we had a 100% on-time success rate. The only time we didn’t make it was because of mechanical problems, and those didn’t count.

Debbie had all sorts of creature comforts on the truck (she had a laptop complete with wireless Internet access) a mini fridge and a plug-in saucepan, along with a well-stocked pantry, cleaning supplies, paper towels, atlases and spare log books. Yet when you sat in her truck, it didn’t look like she had anything on board. The truck had cabinets with basically everything except the kitchen sink. This didn’t include the storage bins on the sides of the truck, which held oil, tools and all the necessary fluids needed to keep a truck running.

After a while, I had the route memorized. There were quite a few highways and exits to remember on the way out east, but Debbie was right: the joy of trucking bubbled up in me again. Pennsylvania became my favorite state to drive in with the mountains that provided just enough challenge to a beginning truck driver. The truck was governed to go no faster than 65 m.p.h., but I hit 75, courtesy of the terrain, and I never got caught by the troopers that sometimes planted themselves at the bottom of those mountains, looking for people taking advantage of gravity.

One of the best parts of this account was being able to spend time in Boston. I’ve never lived in a big city, but I’m positive I belong in one. Walking along Boston Common, I got to see the city dressed up in all its Christmas finery. It wasn’t all hunky dory though. I also saw a t-shirt that said “Yankees Suck.”

We got into a routine: Boston on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; Groveport on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Sundays, our day off, Debbie would drop me at an Amerihost Inn not far from her house. I usually stayed in my room, sleeping late and occasionally going out and grabbing some food. I was too tired to do anything except watch cable and surf the ‘Net. (I brought my laptop too.)

It came to an end December 23. I was sad it was over, but satisfied I’d stuck it out. I went home, celebrated Christmas, and tested out a few days later. I now was officially a certified driver. I had to provide some extra documentation to appease the safety department, but after I delivered the goods, they would assign me a truck and a job.

Eventually, I ended up with a brand-new truck and a driving assignment that was too good to be true. Of course, I promptly $%&# it up, and lost my truck. But hopefully, I will be able to hang on to this route for as long as possible.

Next column: It was fun (sort of) while it lasted.

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