When Ian and I dated and got married, I never thought that I might become a trucker wife. Not that there is anything wrong with the occupation, just in all of our conversations he talked about various careers with regular hours, home everyday and risks were, well, minimal. Even when Ian left for CDL school, we thought that trucking would be temporary and so as the years passed and Ian finally came out with he likes his work, it was very difficult for me. I was so happy that he was happy, but I was unprepared to be a spouse in this profession. Here are a few things I’ve learned and situations we’ve had to deal with.
Almost all truckers have to go over-the-road at some point in their career, whether regional or national, this is just a part of gaining experience and the nature of the job. The job descriptions lay it out nicely saying weekly home time or 14 days out 2 home and it sounds so doable, but then they are gone. Yes, cell phones, internet and video chats make it easier, but when you don’t get a hug after a bad day or three, it’s hard. And trying to catch up in the 36 hours that the company had advertised as 2 days is near impossible… especially because Ian is a sleeper and would use 12 of them enjoying the comfort of a real bed. I on the other hand had 48 hours of activities I had thought of to do together or that I had needed help with over the last 2 weeks. Ian and my lack of communication through these separations lead to us nearly getting divorced… twice. Neither of us were meeting the other’s expectations or needs and the majority of the face to face time was then spent fighting. The fighting made Ian not want to come home, which hurt me and the cycle went round and round until we were finally able to talk about what we needed from each other on a day to day basis. I pray that Ian never has to go over-the road again and every spouse (both the driver and the one at home) is in my prayers every day, it is not an easy path and can be lonely for all involved.
I’m a fairly organized and straight and narrow person. If someone invites me somewhere at noon, it is very likely I will be there by 11:50, unless something extreme comes up. So I have had a very hard time adjusting to the fluidity of trucking. With nearly every company Ian has worked for there was a struggle in making pickup and delivery times work for all parties involved, whether making Ian sit for hours before loading or only giving him six hours for a ten hour drive or getting him half loaded and then changing the rest of the load or destination all together. It seemed rare to have a smooth load all the way through. Even in his current position He is going to the port one day (up at 1:30am) then hauling grain the next (up at 6am) and won’t know the next day until 7-8 pm the night before. This fluidity is very difficult for me.. the constant changes, never knowing what’s next. At his old companies I would have to really bite my tongue to keep from asking if they even knew what a calendar was or why they couldn’t at least google the hours of where Ian was delivering, because he was frequently scheduled for deliveries at places when they weren’t even open causing him to lose his next load and have to sit. Where he is now, I understand the flexibility of farming and grain work, but I still complain sometimes that we can’t plan 2-3 days out. I have come to terms with the fact that it is just something that is a part of the industry, but I still loose my temper sometimes telling Ian that it shouldn’t be so hard to have a plan for a whole week. I have found with trucking you just have to go with the flow and be thankful for the check that comes from it.
Perhaps the hardest adjustment for me in Ian becoming a trucker is the risk. When Ian talked about being a geologist, teacher, insurance agent, etc, even though some travel would be expected, truck drivers travel hundreds on miles every day in some of the worst weather conditions and other drivers on the road give them little to no respect, not to mention the thousands of pounds they haul make trucks harder to maneuver. The odds of accidents are significantly higher than just a simple commute to the office. When Ian was over-the-road, if I didn’t hear from him with in a regular number of hours as he and I talked as often as we could either with calls or texting, I would begin to dread that something had happened and that I might be getting called or visited by a state trooper. I also have had a real fear that beyond Ian getting hurt in an accident, that someone in another vehicle might get injured or die and what effect that might have on Ian. I can’t imagine going through it myself, but with the weight and power of a truck and some of the drivers who don’t respect the laws of physics these semi drivers have to follow, it’s a miracle there aren’t more bad accidents on the road. I know most drivers will choose the worse outcome for themselves to avoid hitting any other vehicles, but it’s a scary possibility either way. Luckily, Ian has only had a few minor accidents and has always been able to call me himself. This Thursday was one, and it could have been so much worse. The road he was turning on is often very busy and were he was turning from is on a corner, so why this highway was quiet and no one sped around that corner and crashed into him or his truck, I can only thank God and guardian angels for. The call that comes in and he says,”let me start by saying I’m ok” is terrifying, not only do I worry about Ian’s safety and other’s on the road. It is common in the trucking industry to just fire drivers for any type of infraction, whether its losing a trailer in a ditch, loosing control because a car cut them off or even hitting a dock wrong. simple accidents can be career ending, even if you have years of a clean driving record and have gone above and beyond in working for the company.
Driving is not an occupation for the weak and neither is being a trucking spouse. While it is a great career and there are many jobs available, I do wish I had been more prepared for this life. Thankfully Ian has a job he likes and he works for wonderful people. I am still learning and adjusting to this industry, but I am thankful for what it has been able to provide for us.
Any trucking spouses out there, want to weigh in? How ’bout others any unexpected challenges of various spouse employments?