So, here is what a “typical” day looks like. Generally Anne drives during the day and will shut it down about 11 PM to Midnight. If we have time in the schedule, and we usually do, we both sleep for a few hours and then I get up about 3:00 AM and I start driving. It is hard to sleep while the truck is moving, I think this will get easier as we get more miles under our belts but those few hours of solid sleep are important. I am a morning person and I would usually be up by about 5 AM even if we were home so this works out pretty well. I think 3 to 5 AM are the most dangerous times to drive unless you are well rested. The Dept of Transportation will only allow a driver to drive for 11 hours before taking a 10 consecutive hour break. And after you go on duty, you cannot drive after you have worked 14 hours before the same 10 hour break. As a team this is not too much of a problem but it means that we cannot legally switch off on the driving as the 14 hour clock would start and we are on e-logs, which means the computer in the truck keeps track.
We stop every few hours for bathroom breaks at truck stops or rest areas. To save money we usually eat in the truck. We have a microwave and a tea kettle. We will be adding a refrigerator this week. (yeah!) We eat the Hormel Complete meals, Taste of Thai noodle meals (nummy) and Cup O Noodles. Water in the truck is kind of a big deal so we buy gallons at the dollar store and usually have 3 or 4 gallons on hand. Truck stops are very expensive so it is important to stay away if possible. I will usually go in and fill my thermos cup with ice and then fill with Ice tea in the truck. We fuel two or three times a day when we are running and each time you fill you earn a free shower. We always take the time to take a shower each day. You need to feel good and I do not want to look anything like half the truckers we see. You can make time almost every day to take care of yourself. There are times that the schedule makes it impossible. We will usually get by a terminal sometime during a week and we will immediately throw laundry in when we arrive so we have yet to pay to wash clothes. Terminals also have showers so you can take care of that if you have time also.
Your fleet manager controls your life so a good one makes all the difference. We have a great fleet manager. Another couple who are also a husband and wife team for USX told Anne they heard about an awesome fleet manager and they were going to try to switch to him. It was our FM. Pretty cool. Communication with your FM is key. Make a friend and make sure you have your weekend planned BEFORE the weekend fleet manager comes on duty. Our FM handles around 50 teams, the weekend guys handle about 250 teams each.
One of the hardest parts of this adventure is living with another person in about 45 square feet. I love my wife a lot but we are both passionate people and sometimes you just need to close the curtain and be alone.
I think it is also very important to keep the truck clean. We put everything away after using it, we use disposable plates and bowls (love my Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal in the morning) and the trash goes out a couple of times a day.
The bunk is just a little larger than a twin bed but we are newlyweds 🙂 We have a brand new mattress but you want a memory foam topper for it. We use the upper bunk for storage and we will be strapping our fridge up there also. There is a ton of storage in all of the cabinets on both sides and under the bunk (which lifts up) We have a bunk heater which is a small furnace that is diesel fueled and we have a thermostat above the bunk to control it. So nice to not have to idle the truck for heat. In the summer the company allows us to idle for air conditioning if the outside temp is above 70 degrees.
For entertainment in the truck we have a flat screen tv (amazing how many digital channels there are in metro areas) Satellite radio and the stereo has a aux input for the ipod also.
Fatigue is your enemy, make sure as your shift goes on you take the time to think through each move before you make it.
That is pretty much it. I have been asked by a couple of people to write this so if you have any questions, please ask.
So here are a couple of pics that kind of show why I love this job/lifestyle