Friday, April 8, 2011

I had a little help

At the recent Mid-America Trucking Show I was given a very prestigious honor, something like a lifetime achievement award – at least that’s the way I see it. I think they got the wrong guy, but I’ll take it. This was an individual award, but it never could have been without my wife Geri by my side.

Whatever success I’ve had in a long career of trucking, I owe half the credit to her, whether she was on the road with me or at home.

I never tried to get rich trucking by running like a wild man or owning more than one truck at time. All I ever wanted to do since that first day is drive a truck. My first time with a wheel and a stick in my hands, I thought “Hey! This is fun and I get paid, too.”

I (we) were owner-operators the last 25 years. During that time we bought and paid for four trucks and never paid a late payment charge. That’s the downfall of many: Get behind a payment or two, and the penalties and interest make it nearly impossible to catch up. We were fortunate and never had serious downtime, health issues or accidents that can put you out of business.

We dodged all that stuff and – here’s where Geri comes in – got that payment in the mail no matter if I wanted to put it off or not. And I did a lot, thinking let’s do this or that and let it go till next week. No dice. Same with the house, on the road or home. She stayed on top of whatever needed attention.

Geri went on the truck when she wanted, we traveled all 48 plus, mostly at our own pace. She is a certified driver and did some of the driving although we never bought into the “team driver” concept. We always liked to be parked by early evening. On the other hand, we didn’t run hard enough for two people to even bother recapping logs. We always had plenty of hours available, and if we wanted could trailer truck 10 or 12 hours every day as long as we wanted without running out of hours.

When she was on the truck, I could count on a spotless cab and sleeper with clean comfy made up bunk every night.

When I went out by myself, in two days it was a disaster area … newspapers, pop cans and chicken bones all over and the bunk just like I left it in the morning.

When we came in together off the road, she wouldn’t chill out even a little. She’d dive right into it, clean out the truck, do the washing, pay the bills, clean house and do the yard work and what ever else needed doing while I mostly kicked back and took it easy. She told me several times she enjoyed going on the truck because there wasn’t as much work to do.

There have been many articles written about truckers’ wives who keep the home fires going, being the handy man, soccer mom and everything else it takes to run a home. I had the best of both worlds. When Geri was on the road with me, we shared many good times going places and seeing things, visiting friends around the country. Well, there was one time when we were in Florida in January and I accepted a load to Montana. That didn’t go too well for me, but all in all the good outweighed the bad a thousand times.

And when I was out there by myself, I knew I had a nice home to come home to and the work would all be done so we would have time to do whatever we wanted. The late Red Sovine, famous for his trucking songs pretty much said it all with his song “The Woman Behind the Man Behind the Wheel.”