A big change!

I’ll always be a truck driver, but for now, we’re gonna try a little something different.

So! I think my last post was in November of 2020 or something insanely too long ago like that. Why? A lot has been going on. I will certainly wade through all the weeds about that as we go along in this post, even getting into some pretty personal stuff, but if you’ve read any of my stuff, I’m not super-shy. But for now. The big change is that I accepted a new position with Midwest Carriers as a Marketer/Recruiter and I’m currently transitioning from Venus (my semi truck) to OFFICE life! Say WHAT!?

The decision: The decision to “get out of the truck” didn’t start with just wanting to not be over the road any more. In fact, I didn’t really want to get out of the truck. I love OTR (over the road trucking). It was a process that actually took a few months, and a lot happened to scoot me along into this decision. A super-brief prequel to the decision is this (I’m lying, it’s a long explanation, but this is the platform for me to do that, so bear with me!): Right when Covid starting locking stuff down in 2020, Adam had plans to start looking for full-time work after taking some off for his mental health. But not many places were hiring, in fact most places were laying people off and everything was unsteady and messy. I don’t need to remind you what that was like! Anyway, he decided to jump in the truck with me as a team driver again, because, well, trucking wasn’t going to be slowing down. We had to keep those tires rolling, especially since Midwest Carriers hauls a lot of reefer, aka refrigerated, freight – think food at your local grocery store. Nope, that couldn’t slow down and wasn’t going anywhere! So through the entire pandemic, it was business as usual (with the addition to masks, gallons of sanitizer, laser beams on our foreheads and more no-contact-with-people at shippers and receivers, which actually made things smoother in some cases!). But we rolled on. We teamed back up in the truck. And that went alright. For a while.

Then Adam had a mental breakthrough while we were out on the road. I think this happened sometime in January of 2021. It was an intense moment that made it clear he needed to get out of the truck. When it happened, I was sleeping in the bunk, and he woke me up and I worked on keeping him calm so he could get safely pulled over onto the shoulder. He put on his 4-ways, pulled the brakes and we crawled into the bunk together and he just broke. I don’t know how else to describe it. I’ve never seem him cry the way he did that night. It was something primal. It was incredibly sad, but also relieving in a strange way because he was allowing himself to feel something that he’s been holding inside for way, way too long. We got ourselves together so we could safely finish out our trip, but that was it. It started with him taking some time off and getting into therapy. Once in therapy, we realized that this wasn’t going to be a quick deal, so he softly quit, and I kept rolling solo again to keep the bills paid.

He received some diagnoses at the start of his therapy sessions – Tourette’s syndrome (just light tics like head and eye twitches – he doesn’t have Coprolalia, which is the term for folks with Tourette’s that can randomly speak in vulgar language. In fact only 10 percent of Tourette’s sufferers have Coprolalia), OCD and PTSD (in addition to past diagnoses of depression and anxiety). The PTSD that aligns more with him is actually a different version than what we’re usually used to hearing about when someone comes home from war, a major car accident, an assault, or any other very traumatic event. The type of PTSD he seems to be aligning more with is called CPTSD, or Complex PTSD. CPTSD sufferers have similar symptoms, but are caused from a prolonged exposure to trauma, like over several years.

In my own true style, this is the long story of this big change. But hang in there, I’m getting around to it.

So at this point, now Adam is at home, going to therapy (but not as much as he’d like to be going), and I’m over the road working. He’s having some okay days and some really bad days. There are days where he doesn’t get out of bed, and there are days he’s very angry and there are some days where he’s working WAY harder than most of us have to just to get through a day. And getting a list of typical day-to-day things accomplished feels near impossible. He’s broken. He’s depressed. And he’s at home. Alone. See where I’m going with this?

I got a really long text from him on one of his particularly bad days that concerned me. When I received it I just happened to be in an unusual situation at a shipper far, far away in South Carolina. I couldn’t call him right away, but as soon as I had a chance, I gave him a call to be sure he was okay and we talked for a good 45 minutes until we both felt he’d be alright. That was a rough day. And now that I think about it, that might have actually been the day that the thought of wanting to be home more got into my head. I just wanted to be there to hold him, hug him and help him. And I couldn’t. I felt like I had to just keep working, and so that’s what I was doing to help the situation. That’s all I could do to help. That’s what I had to do to help. It was necessary to make money for us both, but it didn’t exactly feel like the right kind of help. I was stuck.

Over the next month or two, I started to notice my tolerance for typical day-to-day trucker things like traffic, construction, time away from home, and long days was lowering. Little by little I found myself getting more easily frustrated and angry. This wasn’t like me. I felt like I was heading down a path I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to be the disgruntled, angry, road-ragey trucker. And normally I could apply some techniques to help me through this, but I struggled to find anything that would work. I couldn’t seem to kick myself out of this cycle. I was distracted. My mind and my heart was at home.

Time for change. Sometimes life requires things to get shook.

The decision took a hard hold one day when I was just cruising down the road, listening to a podcast. A girl was being interviewed and told a story about how her and her husband got a divorce early on in their marriage, when they were still in love. They had one of those big conversations about future goals, realized they both wanted to go in different directions and were pretty passionate about those differing directions, and decided to divorce to purse their separate dreams. She talked about how it was heartbreaking, but in the end was the best decision ever, because instead of pushing through and eventually maybe resenting each other, they separated while they still cared for each other. Now they support one another and are great friends. I think I hit pause and just stared out my window as the world flew by me at 63 miles per hour for a good long while. I thought about that girl’s story in relation to my job as an over-the-road trucker. I loved being an OTR driver. If I left the job, there were so many things I’d miss. But I could also leave it while I still loved it. And that felt… well, kind of right. I’ve always told myself if I have things to miss, it also means I have things I passionately care about and love, and that’s really a special thing. Missing something or someone can hurt, but it also means there is a deep love there. So I started to let the thought enter my head, “what if I broke up with trucking while I still love it?” I’m not gonna lie, the thought hit me in the feels hard, and I cried.

It was time. I was stressed to the max, and I was feeling those affects, even though I was being stubborn and not admitting it to anyone, even myself. When I finally let myself realize that, I started to think about life at home more and that sealed the deal. I had to make the change. But how?

I made the decision and sent a text to someone at work that I have a ton of respect for, just to let them know that I was thinking about getting out of the truck and asked what I should do. In my mind, I knew this would be hard, but I was going to find a way to make it work, and that first text message was the beginning. I made this decision and sent that text without telling Adam at first. I wanted to see what my options were and didn’t want him to get his hopes up if I simply wouldn’t be able to financially find a way to make it work. But then that first text message turned into another text message, which turned into another. I thought about driving local, or maybe doing something in the office, but when I mentioned running local I was asked to hold that thought for a minute and stop into the office for a chat. So I did.

This was when I told Adam because I was starting to feel a lot more excited at the thought of being home every night. Being able to make a dentist appointment and grocery shop any night of the week and sleep in every Saturday if I want to and maybe joining friends for a happy hour and helping to clean the bathroom and putting my shampoo and conditioner in my own shower and watch a Packer game on Sunday and listen to a record with a glass of wine on a random Tuesday and a whole lot of other little things that I hadn’t been able to do easily when I was on the road.

So I met with the Director of Safety and the President when I stopped in (both such amazing people, by the way!! I love working for a company where it feels like a conversation with a director and the president is like talking to a friend.) To my surprise they were very excited at the opportunity to have me join them in the office. So much that my thoughts of driving local was already fading out of my mind. And even more of a surprise, they brought up recruiting as a possibility. Well, that was a shocker – recruiting never crossed my mind. Ever. I think I gave them a blank stare for a few long seconds. The more we discussed it, the more they assured me they thought I had great potential in this role. I was unsure and decided I would give it some thought. And I did. As word got around, so many people kept telling me how great they thought I would be at it, that I started to let myself believe them. I oftentimes sell myself pretty short, and this time I decided to go into this with confidence. I could be good at this. Dang it, I can be good at anything when I put my mind to it. This would be something totally different for me, a huge challenge, a fun change… a whole new kind of journey. And I could totally do this.

Further conversations with the folks in the office gave me piece of mind after I decided to go for it. I’m a trucker, and I’ll have to toot my own horn here for a minute by saying that I got pretty darn good at it. In fact, I was told from several people in the office, “We’re really sorry to be losing a good driver, but glad you’re joining us in the office.” And so, on top of the ego-boost I was receiving from everyone that I’d be so good at this recruiter thing, they also said if it didn’t work out, like if I realized it just wasn’t my thing, there would always be a truck with my name on it. That’s a cool thing about truck driving, there will always be a need for good drivers, so it was kind of like a safety net. But I wasn’t planning on even keeping that card in play, because I was determined to make this new role work out. That’s what I do. And the excitement grew.

When it got really real: I was driving towards home from a run out east when I saw a notification pop on my phone that I’d received an email from work titled, “offer letter.” I had a couple of hours until I planned to stop for the night in Austintown, Ohio. I had to wait until then to read it. I was really nervous. This was the official letter asking if I’d like to accept this new position and it would outline all the details. I had a lot to ponder, and I had to be sure the offer was something I could swing for me and Adam, too. When I arrived at the truck stop and parked I felt a little bit like I was in the clouds. This felt really weird. I got out and did my post-trip, slowly got myself together and walked into the truck stop to use the bathroom. For some reason I felt like I was procrastinating.

I decided, finally, to open the email when I was sitting on the toilet. I mean, just my style, right? The offer was for the role of marketer/recruiter and would start the following Monday. It outlined all the details of the new position (including that I’d be on salary, which is a first for me!), and this happened to be the moment it all hit me. On a toilet. I mean, of course it did. This was so exciting! I was going to accept this! From a truck stop bathroom, of all places! I was going to sign this offer. And that was going to be that. I was going to be done driving.

I sat on the toilet and had a good cry… of relief, I think. It was one of those real life moments where you just feel so grateful because they don’t come around very often – when it feels like you’re just having one of the best days in your life. It just felt so right all of a sudden. I went for a long run that night (there’s a trail I run on all the time from that particular truck stop, and happened to be a favorite – how fitting!). I thought, I smiled, I ran, and when Adam called I told him it was official. I would be home for the weekend and that was it. The letter stated I would be starting the next Monday.

So that’s how it all came about. That’s how I went from an over-the-road truck driver to working in the office. As I write this I’ve been working from the office for three weeks. And I have so much to share about how that’s been going! I’ll be doing that in my next blog entry! Because guess what? I think (and hope) that I’ll have more opportunities to write now that I’ll be home more! That makes me happy, too, because this is a place I enjoy spending time. I also have a really kick-ass vacation coming up that I’m going to have to write about, so watch out for that, too!

Until next time, friends…

This was my last night in the truck. I got an ice cream cone to celebrate my change. I did have all kinds of mixed feelings in that head and heart of mine, but it was mostly excitement.

Tonight I love forcing myself into big challenges with gusto. It sure keeps life interesting!

In Venus’s true style, the night I decided to sign the offer letter, I got back into my truck and my fans stopped working. She knew. I had to pull her F60, but it wasn’t blown. I plugged it back in, and the fans fired up. I get it Venus. I’ll miss you, too. <3