“What are we going to do when we have to live in the same place all the time?” MacGyver asked me this weekend.
It’s the 20th consecutive weekend — starting in Lac Poisson Blanc, Quebec on Victoria Day weekend, the start of Canadian summer and ending here today, the end of Canadian summer and in between such highlights as Victoria, BC, Marfa, Texas, Chicago, Illinois, Nakusp, BC and Hay River, Northwest Territories — that we have been someplace different.
It was an aren’t-we-lucky kind of statement, and it shows that five years into this rolling escapade, we are amazed, amused and grateful to have fallen into this lifestyle
It all started with a Newsweek article about a husband and wife team who had left the corporate world to become truck drivers for Schneider National. The idea hit me like a hammer at a time that I desperately wanted a change. To humor me, we checked it out.
I’m a pampered creature, with regular manicures and pedicures and a penchant for Chanel-style jackets
and Stuart Weitzman shoes—lots of them. I like fancy hotels and room service. I am a fair-weather everything. I sail downwind, I walk when I won’t sweat, and I only do the après ski thing.In July 2007, living in New York City, I hadn’t driven a car in ten years. MacGyver did all the long-distance driving, and I was the one who cringed on the passenger side whenever he passed one of those big rigs.But I have been known to surprise people.
Everything is on the Internet, including pumpkindriver.com, a forum for current and former Sch-
neider drivers. We read message boards, online magazines and trucker trade association sites.
We rented a car and drove out to meet a recruiter. He looked at my perky hairdo and red lipstick as I peppered
him with questions. “You have a lot of energy,” he said. “In three months, you’ll be on that cb radio giving it to the other drivers.” That didn’t happen. We drive so slow, 58 mph loaded, 55 mph empty, that if we turned on the CB we’d only hear drivers cussing at tus.
By October, we’d done our research and liked what we’d found:
- Team drivers earned more per mile than solo drivers. Teams go farther, faster.
- At Schneider, 21 days on the road got you four days off, 28 days was rewarded with five.
- Pay was deposited weekly. This happens for Owner Operators leased onto carriers. If you’ve every run your own business you know this is SWEET. No chasing invoices.
- Your truck gives you the equivalent of one big office window with constantly changing scenery, but no actual office. And when you get tired, your bed is right behind you.
- There’s no boss to hassle with every day. Assignments come via a satellite computer and nobody talks to you unless there’s a problem. Now we use an Internet load board and talk to agents and brokers.
- Customers do not require follow up. Once the freight is delivered, no one will call you to ask “Remember that trailer you delivered in California? I think it was in May. What was the weight?” A big perk since I’m in my grumpy 50s.
Once we knew we liked the lifestyle, which took about three months, when the terror wore off, we knew we’d become Owner Operators as soon as we could. This month marks four years owning our own tractor and now trailer.
So today, I am thankful that I am still open to crazy ideas and that I have an adventurous partner who likes to excel at everything he does.
And the tour rolls on. Next year — Deadhorse, Alaska where the longest day of the year is 63 days long and the shortest day is 45 minutes.