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By Linda Caffee
I admit I got into the truck with rose colored glasses on and no clue how to actually live in a truck for months at a time. The first truck was a Freightliner with an upper bunk that became my sanctuary. I spent a lot of time planning what all I could not live without and Bob, as usual, made it happen. At this time, I worked on several different types of crafts and I also needed my books to read and none of it could be left at home. Access to the internet was limited to when we parked and using dial-up or at the time Park-N-View. I was very fearful of getting bored.
My laptop, printer, and scanner were also in the truck and Bob made a shelf that hung down from the upper bunk that held everything securely. I was also reminded often that I had to be careful of what all I brought or we could be overweight which at the time meant nothing to me. We also had our Cocker Spaniel Molly who traveled with us often. The Freightliner had perfect places for her food as well as her treats. Even in her later years she always looked at the same cabinet when getting into a truck for her treat.
The upper bunk consisted of two smaller chests of drawers that were firmly attached to the upper bunk facing each other with clever latches on the sides to keep the drawers from opening. These drawers were stuffed full of my projects and I could set for hours when the truck was not moving in the upper bunk working away.
Now for the shocks to my systems and the rose-colored glasses came off. First, we were with a forced dispatch company and I always say we even though I did not drive as I was part of the team that did paperwork and took care of the Qualcomm. Bob drove and I took care of the rest including spotting for him when needed which was also another riot as I was not really good at this. Bob would watch my legs as he usually could not see much else and when I started jumping up and down he stopped. After I learned to back the trailer I became much better at spotting for him.
My first trip from our very small town in southwest Kansas all of the way to Boston and I was petrified of all of the people and traffic. When we stopped at my first big truck stop Bob stopped to chat with another driver and I headed in by myself and I remember how intimidated I was to walk past so many trucks all running and at that time I thought breathing fire and would run me down at any moment. Lucky for me and the others around I learned truck stop etiquette quickly. Learning how to walk safely in a truck stop is a must. I was pretty upset and shook by the time I got back to the safety of the Freightliner.
Once we got to Boston our directions were horrible and thankfully a car with a very nice gentleman stopped and led us to our crazy destination. Never will forget this place and after unloading we went to another crazy place to load thankfully going back to the center of the country. This taste of these first two places has stuck with me as the only person that was kind was the gentleman that helped us find our first location. I learned that many of the people in the North East speak differently than those of us from Kansas.
Another struggle I had was with routing Bob as it was my job to read the directions and the map. I will remind you that we were from a rural area of Kansas and our biggest town we drove in was Amarillo, Texas so my experience was not good nor were many of my directions. Whoever heard of a business loop or a belt loop? Well, I learned the hard way when sending Bob down business loops as he dodged trees and I admired the quaint little shops. I learned that when we see quaint little shops pulling a 53’ trailer is not usually calming on the driver. The first time we were routed on a belt loop I had to call into dispatch to clarify what in the world that meant.
Probably the worst was the forced dispatch as well as forced routing as we went places we shouldn’t have. At that time, we knew the truck might disintegrate if we did not follow the rules exactly and I remember a nightmare of when we were routed on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thankfully some fireman caught us before we could get on the highway and helped us get turned around, and another time being routed over a mountain with signs saying NO trucks. We did not take that road.
There are so many stories that are funny now that happened to us in those first years that we are very thankfully someone was watching out for us. We both survived our start but it was not long before we knew we needed our own truck and we needed rid of forced dispatch. The Freightliner though that was our safe haven and home away from home made us want one that belonged to us.
The rest is history as we discovered Expediting, bought our first truck in January 2004, and became team drivers. We paid our dues in trucking and then started fine-tuning what we were doing to fit how we wanted to live our lives.