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By Rick & Christine.

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Well, its over. The truck has been traded in for a 3-cylinder Geo Metro. We are unemployed, homeless, and happier than we have been in the last several weeks. 
 
After our ill-fated start with our first run to hell (San Francisco), things did not improve. In fact, they got considerably worse. The first week after leaving Fresno with the Wondermutt was a nightmare. The company called us at home a day before we were supposed to be back to work and asked us to take a run to Texas that very night. It was a 1700 mile run, leaving at midnight and due 32 hours later. 

We didn’t want to cause trouble, so we accepted the run. One positive note was it was going to a major distribution center, so we knew we would not have a problem getting it into a dock. We got all our gear in the truck, ate dinner, chucked Wrigley in the back and off we went. Unfortunately, we had both been up since about 7 am, so we basically started the trip tired. Wrigley was a mess. She hated the truck. She just stood there panting and drooling. Wouldn’t sleep, wouldn’t eat. She just looked so depressed. Things were a little better the second day, but she still never relaxed and would try to pull out of her leash and run away every time we had to put her back in the truck.

 

Well, after having Wrigley out for a week, we knew she wasn’t going to work out. Now we had some tough choices to make.

 
I don’t think I really made it clear before how disappointed we were with the truck we received. We had been told all throughout training that we would get a Freightliner Century Class truck. Nice tall 8 ½ ft. ceiling, skylights, side window in the sleeper (I was counting on this for Wrigley), lots of storage. Instead we were given this stupid Peterbuilt with a much smaller sleeper, a turning radius like a battleship, mirrors that are very difficult to back with and about half the storage of a Freightliner. It did however look cool, shift smooth as silk and ride much quieter than the Freightliner. We got used to backing and turning in it, but the small, dark
windowless sleeper drove us crazy.  
 
We might have considered giving away the Wondermutt and keeping the job, actually we DID consider this, but we were becoming more and more frustrated with our company and life as an OTR driver every day. Here is a quick recap of what happened to us in our FIRST week out of Fresno.
 
The run to Texas only gave us 32 hours to drive 1700 miles. We were about an hour late and we only stopped for a total of two hours during that trip. We were exhausted. We were chewed out by dispatch for being late and reminded how important it is to meet our delivery times. We were then given a run to New York City. Once again with just barely enough time to get there, and get this… an 8:30am delivery in the Bronx! Yeah, NYC at rush hour… that sounds like fun.

We refused this load and once again caught some flack from dispatch. As what I believe was punishment for refusing the NYC load, we were forced to sit in a dirt lot in 110-degree weather for a day and a half before being dispatched on our next load. This was heading back to San Francisco! Well, at least this gave us the opportunity to go back through Fresno and drop off the dog.

 
Well, after basically more of the same, Christine and I decided that we wanted to get back to Tacoma (headquarters) and discuss things. We wanted a new truck and we wanted to know why were we being given such hot loads all the time. We just figured that we would get broken in kind of slowly with some easier runs and this was certainly not happening. They didn’t seem to understand that when you first start out things take a little longer. We were still getting very little good sleep when the truck was moving (basically always) and driving tired all the time. It was really taking a toll on us.
 
Well, the company flatly said that there was no way they could give us a different truck for 6 months and as far as hot loads, that is simply what teams get. We were quite depressed at this point.
 
Did we really want to give away the dog  we loved, in order to keep a job that we were really beginning to hate? Besides the crappy truck, the hot loads, the inability to get good sleep, there is another major problem with life as an OTR team… PARKING!
 
All the truck stops and rest areas fill up by about 6 pm most nights. After that there is no place to park except the side of the road. What this means is that it is virtually impossible to stop for food, or even to use the bathroom, from about 6 pm to 4 am. Even if you do find a spot in a truck stop it might take you close to an hour to actually drive around, back it in, and get back out. It is hard to describe how miserable it is when you can’t even eat or use a bathroom when you want to. 
 
All of these things combined led us to the decision to bid farewell to life on the road for now. Instead we are on our way back to the beautiful redwoods and rocky coastline of Northern California. Christine still desperately wants a job driving a truck and hopefully she will find a local job there. She is considering going back out OTR solo for a different company if she can’t find a driving job. I will probably get a job in one of my previous fields, but I also would not mind a driving job. We both  LOVE driving those big suckers around, it is just life on the road that sucks. At least as a team it does. Solo would be better, at least you get to stop every night.
 
Well, it didn’t last as long as I was hoping, but I hope we were able to shed a little light on what thousands of OTR truck drivers are doing everyday, and what it takes to get there. Thanks for tuning in! Catch ya’ on the flip! Aloha!
 
Rick, Christine and the Wondermutt 


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