Friday, February 25, 2011

ooooohnew twucks!

Okay, so they're just baby trucks -- class C box trucks, gross vehicle weight about 26,000 lb. But they're so cute! and so comfy!

Girl moment. They have cup holders (unlike our others which Used to have cup holders way before I arrived). yayyy! And cruise. and a little thingy to plug in my i-pod. (I drive an '02 Rav, what can I say? I have a cell phone that is used merely as a phone. Cut me some slack.)

Ahhh, but the other shtuff! 6 cylinder in-line. automatic transmission (by Alison). Plenty-o-power for our highway and town purposes.

Girl moment, again. I can reach all the dipsticks and belts and air break drain cords! ... Unlike that pphhhhltttt GMC where absolutely Every fluid and belt check item you need to reach daily is damn near impossible to get to. I'm particularly unfond of the option of standing on my tire in order to reach and pull the auto transmission fluid stick (some 3 freakin' feet long) ... while imagining myself falling into the big spinning fan. fun.

Ahhh, but the International MaxxForce (now there's the name of a pro wrestler or porn star) ... Its nobs, I can reach!

Having a great time reading the manuals. Like I said, these things must be boys cuz they're all laid out in a book. My Mack, #1 in my heart, but the Int's make the day happy, too.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why We Do It

Well, for one, there's my Origami Dog, our dalmation mix rescue girl who can fold herself down into something that would tuck easily into an overnight case. And there are her pug mix 'brothers' ~ all of whom think Sweet Babboo and I are the best hunter gatherers ever.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Come Home to Me"

We end our phone calls with, "I love you."

Somewhere in the conversation sneaks, "Be safe," or sometimes, "Come home to me."

The typical exchange of husband and wife drivers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Sky flares were a part of my childhood, growing up on a moth-balled army base along Highway 101, close but not too close to its civilianaive transit corridor. From my childhood home, a WWII-era barracks, I watched cars and trucks travel on their night-drives, along a far off section of the highway. This was the 70's, the era of big rig Christmas lighting, when the independent operators decked their tractor trailors in burning yellow and white and red, from nose to trailer.

Big-rigs offered the land-flares. In contrast or complement, the military sky flares cracked from the gun and hung in the summer air along an empty valley. No Viet-Cong (the enemy past) and no Taliban fighters (the enemy, as yet unimagined). Just the lazy, slow float of yellow light, witnessed by a child on a bluff above the river plain on a 90 degree summer night.

Even on those nights, big trucks featured in my fantasies. A truck, strung with lights and the hit Alabama tune "Roll On" braying over the FM -- In my dream, this truck and its driver would stop, and the paternal, safe, home-spun hero would take me along for the ride. I'd be his side-kick, his girl Friday, the Bear to his BJ. (Okay, now there's a dated tv reference for ya.)

What kid doesn't fantasize about being that gypsy spirit? And yet, how many kids have memories of the crack of the flare gun, the pop and glow and drift of the flare, and its interminably slow death as it fell in increments of night?

Another kind of flare impacts this adult me, its potential banked in 12-inch red tubes that are stored next to the emergency triangles. So uninspired and unimaginative, these flares are lit much as a match is ignited ... by the friction drag on a hard surface. They have their own beauty, I suppose, but they're the sad things hissing on wet asphalt next to fender benders. For that matter, mostly they're the tubes rolling around in my cab.

I'm not much on nostalgia. I'd be the last to say that the world was better, safer, more innocent in 'my day.' Still, flares in a childhood that experienced truly pristine night skies. Those were damn cool.


Monday, February 14, 2011

The Cupid Proxy

Ahhh, Valentines. *bubble hearts halo my head*

Sneer all you like, but if "Hallmark Holidays" weren't here to remind us to express our love and thoughts for others to those others, we'd likely take for granted the people who make us most happy. (Valentines Day reminds us lovers to take a pause to think about how fudged-up we'd be without our beloved other. What's so sucky about that?)

Ah, but Valentines for drivers on day v night schedules (and others like us). We've resorted to passing notes. Last night, I came home to a handmade card that assured me my Sweet Babboo loves me. And two roses from our front yard (yes, roses in Feb! It's not right, but it's tres romantic.)

This morning, he came home to a handmade card with one of those naughty IOU's.

Some lovers in days past sent a proxy to their heart's desire to tickle any embers that might be kindled. Our proxies were folded-in-half computer paper 'cards' decorated in ball-point pen. We're 40-something salt-of-the-earth types, my hubby and me. And I'll take our love affair over any Shakespearean pair any day.

To speak only of the driver's life for the moment, how do we keep the fire hot in a lifestyle that is 24-7 and (for some) spanning 48 contiguous states? ... Cupid proxies. Cell phones. Devotion despite absence. Letting the dogs sleep with us when the other is away in order to avoid the empty bed. Leaving our ghost in the house for the other to embrace when they arrive home.

An imperfect Valentines Day, but the gesture was there and the bond reaffirmed. And the dogs aren't complaining.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Year or So Later

It was January 2010 that I began training to become a class A driver, and I'm feeling nostalgic, one plus year later. I've also been reading a bunch of 2011 news reflections on the end of the 'Great Recession' ~ which apparently r.i.p.'d many months ago, although no one told me, nor my struggling friends, family, peers and coworkers.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for those who know me has been how very much I've loved this career change. My ten gentle readers know I spoke often of Sweet Babboo's amusement as I began this 'lark'. He's among those who never figured me for the kind of girl who would shoulder-march across asphalt to get an upward look at the under-belly of a tractor.

A year later, the husband is thoughtful and judicious in answering the ongoing commercial-driving questions I have for him. "Is 140+ psi too high for the air brake cut out?" ... "The tire is hitting the steer arm in right turns. That shouldn't be possible, right? What's supposed to stop it?" ... "Exhaust manifold? Injectors? Leaking injectors? What's that all mean?" ... "How important is it to have dust caps on the brake chambers?" ... "Does my Mack have a brake clutch (oops, I mean clutch brake)? One of the guys says it does but the Soop says it has a hydraulic thingy, not a clutch brake. What's he talking about?"

Babboo has always loved, honored and encouraged me, never fear. But this left-turn-o-mine took some convincing. He's convinced.

While waxing nostalgia and progress tonight, I also find myself revisiting the very fabulous* Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B Crawford. Again, I say, read it. And while I find I agree with him that simplicity is not the same as vocational work or craft work or skilled labor ... I also adore the knowledge that I can only do x in y amount of time. At the end of the day, when I shut down the truck, turn in the paperwork and clock out, I can do no more. Bliss! ~ the liberation of the email-shackled white collar 'information worker'.

The Great Recession is giving me many opportunities. To perfect poverty. To realize, as Thoreau knew, that our wants and needs mandate an exchange of life energy. And to honor my life energy, valuing it above the things I can let go. To learn what I can give up and who I cannot. My family, my husband, my self.

*Yes, I remember, fabulous is a superlative. You've probably noticed many many changes in the vocab over the year. ... Momala despairs over my potty mouth.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ask the Womb

So tonight, the Sweet Babboo asks me where the can opener is. I say, from my chair in the office, that I used it last night. Other than that, I couldn't say. He calls out from the kitchen again, "Can't find it!"... I say, " I don't know what to tell ya." A minute passes. "Can't find it!" I walk into the kitchen, open the dishwasher with its clean dishes. Bottom rack, silverware basket, can opener.

I hand it to him, and he says, "It's not my fault." Because that's what men say.

I reply, "I asked my womb. I said, 'Womb? Where's the can opener?'" and it told me.

In the warehouse this morning, I'm doing my thing, feeling the Monday grumpies, and wouldn't you know? The warehouse folks have put their crap on the transportation dock again. Or, more the the point, the men of the warehouse have. I ask Y-chromosomed coworker about the mess, and he says he didn't do it. To him, that's all that matters.

Thank God, the X-empowered coworker came along. She doesn't care who put the crap on our dock. Within 10 minutes, she's got the docks clear and the X-challenged working on working the trash compactor, clearing up boxes, putting things where they belong and generally just making order of the chaos.

So how is it men overwhelmingly outnumber women in jobs like ours?