16 tons and a cup of coffee
The alarm clock goes off at 4AM now. Before this week I used my own internal alarm clock, which meant I usually woke up after 7-9 hours of sleep. Not now. Now I’m up with the alarm because my husband (affectionately known as Mr. Truck Driver/Mr. Rockstar) has a local job–no more OTR (Over The Road) for a week or more at a time driving a 16+ ton 18 wheeler. He’s still driving a big truck, but now he’s driving what is known as a tri-axle or a roll-back. I’m a trucker’s wife, a writer, a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a domestic goddess, a photographer, a chauffeur, a counselor, a banker, a secretary, a gardener, a jack of all trades and a master of few since my list could go on and on…
The perfume commercial from the 80s.and the song…. “I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan…” comes to mind right about now.
I don’t work outside of the home. In this day and age, I suppose that’s a rarity. I never thought I’d enjoy staying at home…being a domestic goddess, which is such a sweeter sounding term than “housewife.” Before this week, when the alarm clock went off I was up making a pot of coffee, organizing Mr. Trucker Driver’s things to take on the road: his clean uniforms, food “stuffs,” personal items such as towels, shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc….and sometimes putting them in the trunk of car while he showered and got ready. By the time he was out of the shower, (usually a long one because it might be a couple of days to a week before he could enjoy the luxury of a long, hot shower again–not all truck stops or yards (as his previous company has) allow for such, and at $11 a shower or free if you purchase a certain amount of fuel (at least $300+ in fuel) he often chose to wait until he got to one of his company’s yards (where the minimum amount of time the water stayed warm was about 5 minutes) he often went without a shower for a couple of days–Thank Goodness for baby wipes.)
With a cup of coffee in one hand for myself, and a cup of coffee in the other for Mr. Truck Driver…I’d spend a few minutes with him enjoying the first cup of coffee of the morning (sometimes it was 3 AM, other times it was 5 or sometimes it was Sunday evening and he had the night shift so to speak). An 18 wheeler empty weighs approximately 16+ tons, once you put a “load” in the trailer it goes up from there. I went out on the road with him for 5 weeks total. During that time I enjoyed many cups of coffee over the road. The last week I was with him, we saw a big rig (from his company, one of his fellow drivers) turned over on its side at the foot of the Saluda Mountains in the Gorge. The wind toppled it right over. It looked like a giant had flicked it with the his fingers and it had toppled over just like a domino. I saw various trailers swaying back and forth from the force of the wind while we were out that week, but seeing that truck from his company lying on its side like that in the Gorge made my stomach queasy, my heart wrench, and left me with nightmares. When he got the phone call about the local position and wanted to jump on it even though it doesn’t have benefits, I supported him in that decision.
My job(s) wouldn’t allow me to do anything else. His safety and well-being are my primary concern. For some people, going OTR is fun, enjoyable, etc… Gives them a sense of freedom out on the open road…and you don’t have someone hovering over you at work either. But for others, being away from home for a week or weeks at a time is depressing–truckers spend an enormous amount of time alone and that life is a lonely one–it’s not for everyone. It’s definitely not for my husband, who values family above all else. I got that sense of freedom, the beautiful back drops that you just don’t get from an office window, the sense of accomplishment that what you’re doing is important even though others take it for granted. Much like a domestic goddess position. Truckers are often looked down on by others, unappreciated, and taken for granted. Without a trucker our groceries wouldn’t be in the grocery store, our gas wouldn’t be at the gas station…how do you think vehicles get to the car lots, or the items on the shelf in Wally World or the hardware store or the drug store or the parts that your plumber, mechanic, heating and air guy, electrician, contractor, etc use…
Housewives are also another position that is often looked down on, unappreciated, and taken for granted. Luckily, my husband appreciates every thing I do–from the simple things like making coffee and making sure he has one cup to drink on the way and another for later that he can put in his coffee warmer cup, to the larger things like making sure he has clean clothes to wear and clean towels to use, as well as clean sheets to sleep on or making sure he has plenty of food to eat, including veggies and fruits in that. He also supports my writing, as well as my photography, though I don’t get paid to do either. One day I might get paid for one or the other, maybe even both, but for now it’s something I do simply because I love it, because it’s who and how and what I am–a part of me.
It’s not often that I spring out bed, I’d need an automatic coffee maker next to my bed that actually handed me my cup of coffee right after the alarm clock went off for that to remotely happen–I’m not a morning person, and neither is my husband, but I do look forward to every day. Do I enjoy doing laundry (yes, but I hate folding clothes), do I enjoy doing the dishes (not at all unless we’re doing them together), but my job(s) keep me sane. If I couldn’t write, or take pictures, or some other creative pursuit I would go mad. Just as staying out on the road any longer than he did would have driven him mad. I’ve had that job that sucks the very life out of you and drains you of any and all joy, creativity, and life. When the moment the alarm clock goes off you’re pissed off because it’s a new day but to you it’s just yet another day of drudgery. That “soul-destroying” job that turns you into a drone. I ended up with ulcers, stress induced panic attacks, headaches, and an overall piss-poor, grumpy attitude. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
My husband was singing “Take this job and shove it…” yesterday afternoon after he was offered the local position and found out he started this morning. Should he have given at least a one week’s notice? Yes. Do I blame him for not doing so? No, not at all. The company he worked for wanted drone’s. They took the human factor out of trucking, and wanted worker bees instead. No don’t think, or need to eat, or rest, or anything else. They didn’t factor in 10 hour breaks that are mandatory by law, or meal breaks, or weather, or traffic, or the weight of the load, or anything else. They didn’t pay for real miles, or even actual practical miles, but some crazy mileage that only a plane or bird could have actually accomplished…My husband called it “as the crow flies” mileage. A straight line from point A to point B, which is impossible in a vehicle, much less a big rig. The new company he’s going to work for is a small company, thus no benefits yet, but they already know his name. He’s more than just a number to them. He won’t be a drone, he’ll actually be part of a team not just a slogan, and he’ll be appreciated.
Every time I wash a load of clothes, wash dishes, sweep and mop, etc… I am partaking in an activity that 1. doesn’t get done by itself, 2. is appreciated, 3. gives me physical exercise, 4. gives me a break from my desk and writing while allowing me to be part of the team–our home team. For example, yesterday we both were out in the yard with a push lawn mower cutting our lawn. It was a team effort (once we fix the riding lawn mower things will be easier–we have a large backyard and a decent sized front yard, we could fit a pool, a small barn, a shed or three, and a deck in our backyard and still have areas of grass that would need to be cut). When we were finished mowing the lawn Mr. Truck Driver says to me, “Thank you,” and I ask “for what?” and he replies, “for helping me…for being you,” and that’s all the pay I need. There’s no place I’d rather be than where I am right now.
DPChallenge: SIxteen Tons: How do you feel about your job? Do you spring out of bed, looking forward to work? Or, is your job a soul-destroying monotony of pure drudgery, or somewhere in between?