I guess that my “career” has almost come to its end, if there is one. And if there is one, one thing that makes me happy and pretty satisfied is that I have gone through with all I have; with what I am capable of; and with 100% of me and much more. As in baseball slang, there was a career start, with first career hit and many hits that followed. But, home runs happened rarely. There were so few and so far apart. As far as I am concerned there were no career shutouts.
Nevertheless, I have lived to what I have been longing for. And it provides me with lessons, simple means, strength and endurance to carry me further into the future. Hopefully, it can be equally worthwhile.
While not knowing when and how my body and mind are gradually giving away, it is time to think about shifting my “second career” into gear as an 18 wheeler (6 wheels for the tractor and 12 for the trailer). This time I should have more options than I’ve ever had. At least, I don’t have to worry about jobs, to make ends meet, to pay kid’s tuitions or to save aggressively into 401Ks or Roth IRAs.
With memory slipping away and blood pressure going in the wrong direction, I still manage a number of 700-mile-a-day driving with few stops and without too much hassle. I guess to become a truck driver is always one of sweet dreams of mine, especially driving a real truck of 18 wheels. Additionally, highway romance with my “holding hands” is equally thrilling and timeless. Along the way, I can also enjoy people or sceneries and be challenged by more rigorous routines.
Trucking is always a fascinating thing to me. Every time, I talked to the truckers at stops along the highway. Or, at one time, I talked to a couple of husband-wife truckers stocking up on their supplies in a parking lot of Wal-Mart, ready for their cross country run. They all warmed me that, besides families and friends, I should think about:
- Annually, the number of large-truck occupant fatalities in the US is around 750 and overall fatalities in accidents involving large trucks are 5,000.
- People generally think 18 wheelers in rather nasty and negative ways – uneducated, dumb, mean, dangerous, and intoxicated with no “real” job skills.
- Or, trucks should pay more gasoline, transportation and vehicle taxes. The roads are just not designed to withstand the wear and tear of those big wheels with heavy loads. Furthermore, trucks’ emissions are choking the earth.
- If a truck is slow, the driver must be a pain in the neck that shouldn’t be allowed on the road. If it is fast, the driver is a S.O.B. anyway and shouldn’t be allowed on the road either. Either way, for sure, trucks are no pets.
Ideally, just forgetting about all these necessities hauled by trunks daily, around wealthy neighborhoods, on scenic routes or “Marine Drive” of coast lines, along lake shores, near resorts and inside cities, no trucks should be allowed. Or, a little bit sympathetic – “No Trucks, 5:00AM till Midnight” or “No Trucks, 1 ½ Ton”.
- Pay special attention to motorcyclists and small car drivers, especially, when they stay close or pull in front of the truck too soon. Rethreaded tires are banned from automobiles for years, but most trucks still ride on them. If one should blow, the energy it releases is equal to that of a stick of dynamite; a motorcyclist happens nearby would not stand a chance. It did happen. Along the road, one can see the remnants of rethreaded tires together with many pitch-black markings coated on the highway.
Besides, when hauling a load of steel, there is absolutely no way the truck can slow down before running over the car in front that pulls in and slows down suddenly.
- It is not easy to try one’s hand at pulling 80,000 lbs of truck across the Rocky Mountains, especially during the winter months (I agreed whole heartily with my own experience. About a month and half ago, during a localized light snowfall in Copper Mountain, ~40 miles west of Denver, CO, on Interstate 70, I almost got stranded inside my 4,000 lbs Crown Victoria).
There are those office people and dispatchers who are constantly on one’s back to hurry things up. They always say that “the load is hot” and “take a shower later”.
It is illegal for a dispatcher to force one to run over one’s legal time (10 hours for every 24-hour period). However, some dubious operators know how to pay one so little, that one can’t make a decent living by working legal hours. Therefore, working overtime is the only way out. Or, they can master the art of making logs appear legal for the record.
But, I think I can manage. Still, trucking is fairly fascinating to me if my “holding hands” comes along. The following things are what I am wondering about:
Currently, Rena & I are working on the gloveboxes for re-processing surplus weapon grade plutonium to much lower civilian grade materials for nuclear power plants. It will render fusion materials less harmful in the hand of terrorists. This is especially true for those stockpiles in the former Soviet Union. Due to gloveboxes relatively small sizes, we named our efficient studio suites, the “Glovebox”.
I can tell, unmistakably, Rena does not like our “Glovebox” too much. Therefore, I don’t know if Rena can remain inside the upper deck cabin of an 18-wheeler all the time when hauling is going on. Maybe, a small kitchenette up there will do (she likes to cook and her food is delicious, especially her carrot cakes). Or, may be, she can be converted into a real “born2run” lady-trucker.
Truckers have far more excitement than any desk job can offer. Imagine, pulling an 80,000 lbs rig downhill on a long-winding highway with slopes of 6% or more while gazing up at those sky-pointing emergency ramps with barricades for runaway trucks, what a feeling!
Talking to people on Citizens Band (CB) radios would be fun too. One can talk about his own trucks, bikes, motorcycles and I can talk about mine. Maybe, we can share a meal with a few of them along the way. Sometimes, it is awful nice to meet ordinary people with hard jobs.
- It earns good money too. I guess if one drives diligently and safely, one can earn a decent salary.
Of course, first, I have to persuade Rena to be my companion on the road. The second is to get a professional license by attending a truck driving school. Maybe, great senior rates are available for qualified applicants🙂. Or, I might secure some financial assistance from the Employment and Training Administrations for my midlife career change.
10 months ago, I found one driving school for trucks in Pittsburgh, PA, very close to where I stayed. Too bad, I did not have time to attend. Neither in Denver, CO, our stopover here is just too short. Besides, Rena and I are just too busy to take action. In the meantime, adjusting ourselves to being suddenly inside the arm’s length of each other 24-7 is indeed a mind-occupying obsession
Hopefully, there is a trucking school near Aiken, SC, our next pit stop.