Preparing For CDL School Is A Family Affair!!

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HomeHalf's Comment
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When my husband asked me if I would be interested in posting about my side of our “new life” I thought “nah, who could I help?” But then the more I considered it, the more I thought that if I had found the words of someone who had already gone through it, maybe I would have come to the acceptance much sooner. Trucking Truth has practically been his Bible since he made the decision to become an OTR driver so I guess I can share.

Hubs was laid off from his job 4 months ago. A job at the same company I am with, we worked from home. Together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Over 5 years with the same work hours, same days off. Separate rooms of the house so we didn't get on each others nerves (mainly because his taste in music isn't quite as good as mine) but for the most part together together together. When he was laid off due to downsizing we were faced with the decision of what now?

In our almost 20 year relationship, he had never been unemployed. He spent the first 2 weeks filling out applications and looking everywhere he could to get to work ASAP. We have lived paycheck to paycheck for most of our marriage so there was just no savings to rely on. I saw that he was getting worried and stressed when the phone wasn't ringing with callbacks. Then one day he came into my office, stood there with his hands in his pockets and delivered the news. “I have decided that becoming a truck driver is what is best for the family. I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck. I need to do what is best for us in the long run and I believe this is it”

Most of us associate the stages of grief with someone close to us dying. I have come to learn that those stages are real and can come with any major life change.

1. Denial and Isolation- Why is this happening? Why does he think this is the only solution to our problem? He can't just leave me here with 4 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats and my mother! Is leaving me here alone really the only option?

2. Anger: This is total BS!! How dare he leave me with all of the parenting responsibility. He is going to go out and see the country and live this wonderful life of freedom and open road. Thinking only of getting where he needs to be on time and safely with not a care in the world of what is going on here. Kids fighting, running back and forth for after school activities and jobs, housework and all the other normal daily duties.

3. Bargaining- It's okay, he can take a job that pays less. I can trim the budget more. Get a second job. Whatever it takes to keep him here with me!!

4. Fear and Depression- Oh my, this one took the longest to get through. The sadness was real. So many questions and so many fears. Was this the end of my marriage as I knew it? Will my husband one day feel that coming home is an obligation and when he is here will he be counting the hours to get back out there? Will he find someone that has the freedom to roam and live that life on the road? Will my days be spent dreading the nights that are sure to be filled with loneliness like I have never known? What if I am not strong enough for all of this without him?

5. Finally acceptance!!! We can do this. I can do this. We are strong in our love. Our children are old enough that we have already instilled the values needed to be decent members of society. Why am I questioning this??? He is the one leaving his home. Embarking on this scary life-changing expedition to better the lives of the ones he loves most. All I have to do is hold this fort down and keep us all chugging along the way we always have.

In rereading this, I realize just how selfish I sound in explaining it all. This is Trucking TRUTH right? No need to sugar coat it, that wouldn't help anyone. I have been fortunate to have had four months to prepare. He has been so patient with me and let me go through this myriad of emotions on my own while spending countless hours doing nonstop research. Determined that if there is an answer out there for our questions, he was going to find it.

Hubs leaves in 3 days!! I am so nervous, and excited and proud to be his wife. He is willing to sacrifice so much to give us a better life and peace of mind. I hope I can keep it together between now and Sunday.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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Welcome aboard with a fantastic first post that I have no doubt will benefit other spouses at home.

Turtle's Comment
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Welcome to the forum Michelle, and thank you for that wonderful post. We don't often get to hear the home side of the story. It's a side easily forgotten in our daily whines and complaints.

A trucking career is indeed something unlike any other. A whole new set of trials and tribulations will accompany this change. I urge you and hubby to keep an open mind about this, and know that it won't always be easy for either of you. With patience and determination it'll all work out in the end.

I also urge you both to communicate with us here anytime you have questions or concerns. We've all been there, and are more than willing to help when we can. Good luck and thanks again!

Old School's Comment
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Homehalf, that was beautiful!

He's going to go through his own set of emotions. You've already been processing yours, but his are going to hit him hard when he's out there training and starting his solo career. There were times when I missed my wife and kids so much that I'd just bust into tears at random moments when I was a rookie driver just getting started. There were times when all I could think about was quitting and going home to be with them. He's going to have those moments. I don't know you guys, and I don't know if he'll share those feelings with you, but you'll need to be able to be supportive and helpful.

I'm hoping that both of you will stay in touch with us. There's a lot of others who can and will benefit greatly from your experiences in this whole process.

Thanks for posting this. It's really instructive about things that a lot of people don't even think about when looking into this career.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Doug C.'s Comment
member avatar

Welcome HomeHalf, I appreciate your willingness to post and share your feelings with a bunch of strangers. I have been involved with Hospice for a long time, and know about the stages of grief. The way that you articulated those in regard to your feelings about the changes coming into your life is very good and interesting. I to, am leaving home for truck school soon and my wife Pattie is going to be in the same situation, at home without me around. She said her biggest concern is that she will miss me not being at home. I take care of everything at home now, except cooking, so she can enjoy her time off. But once I leave she will have to take care of things. One thing I worry about is our car breaking down while I'm gone. It's old and faithful but still it has it's issues. But she says she isn't worried. Our kids are grown. Three boys in Arizona with families. Two daughters one in Wisconsin, and one not far from us with her family. We are a close family.

I think you and your hubs and kids will do okay. It's nice to know that there other families who are about to undergo the same journey at about the same time we are. Your are absolutely right, that "Preparing for CDL School is a Family Affair." Good luck and I'll put you on my list of people I pray for. Thanks again for the post.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PJ's Comment
member avatar

Welcome, and you hit the nail on the head. So did Old School from the other side. Very well articulated. It takes very special people to make it work. When I started my girlfriend and I had been together about a year and had a committed relationship. We both went through the same process and came too the determination we were strong enough to survive it. Things went well for a few years, and we got married. However even after me getting a job being home every weekend, it was too much for her to handle. It takes strong people who can remain focused to make it work. Old school and his wife are an inspiration for sure. I wish you and your husband well and wish ya’ll the best. good-luck.gif

HomeHalf's Comment
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Thank you Gentlemen :) If I could only give one piece of advice for new families before you do this: Talk Talk Talk. Open your minds and your ears and let each other say out loud every single concern they have. No anger, no judgement. Just the truth. Then trust that their answer is the truth. If you can't trust that, then your issues are not just with the situation at hand. Sorry ladies but it is true that we tend to make mountains out of mole hills in our heads before we just say what we have to say. You can't do that when the other person is not going to be around when you finally get around to saying it out loud. Get it all out in the open. When I did that, it was like a huge weight lifted and I was able to join in and be excited for us. Okay sorry I need two pieces: Truckers remember that we at home are not going to change all that much. We are going to miss the heck out of you, but for the most part we are going to chug along the way we do when you are here. So when you do get home time, things that you may have been used to when you were here every day, might just drive you crazy. Kids arguing, homehalf yelling at them to stop, in our case mother-in-law being old and crotchety. We will give you space to readjust but we need you to communicate if it is too much. My big fear is that my trucker will start feeling like home isn't home anymore, but an obligation. Help us to help you not to feel that way please :)

Old School's Comment
member avatar

This is all great stuff Homehalf!

Can I give you a few tips? When you're man is gone things will change for you and your children. There's things that you don't even realize yet that he has always done that go unnoticed. All of a sudden you may be taking out the trash, or feeding a pet, or maybe mowing the grass, or paying the bills. I have no idea what those things may be at your house. I have a great neighbor at home. His name is "Charlie." He is always "on call" if my wife has something she needs help with. Like the time she was going into the garage to get in her car and she discovered a copperhead snake coiled up on the floor! One call to "Charlie" and it was dealt with. I suggest your husband have a friend or a neighbor lined up as a contact for you when he's gone.

Another thing is that you'll need to remember when he does come home he's going to need time to "decompress." This job can be grueling and stressful, especially on rookies. Your lives and schedules will continue on, but he's gonna feel somewhat like an intruder when he gets home. Let him relax for a day before you start hitting him with your "honey do" list. It's all a big adjustment for everybody involved. I'm sure you guys will handle it well, and I'm hoping you'll keep sharing your experiences from the home side of this adventure with us.

Also when you guys get to enjoy the occasional phone call together, try to focus on him at first. Ask him about his days and how it's going. Be careful about dumping too many of the problems you're having at home on him. Complaining about the "crotchety" mother in law to him will only cause him to feel guilty for being away. As you guys adjust to this new lifestyle those phone calls can change some, but at the beginning try not to dump too many of your home side troubles on him.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

What I am about to say is in jest, but it sadly is true as well. My home is in my truck. I visit my wife at her house. My clothes, my food, my entertainment is all in my truck. I pack a bag out of my truck when I go home. I spend 85% of my life in the truck.

So..... My home is in my truck.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

Welcome HomeHalf! That was a wonderful first post and it will be helpful to so many. It was beautifully written.

I've been on both sides of this fence myself. My ex husband was a driver/Owner Operator. He drove long before we got together but we'd been childhood friends. Between the two of us, I was working full time, raising the five kids between us (2 mine, 1 his, 2 ours), taking care of pets, the house, the yard/garden.. eventually I stopped working outside the home because it was just too much to take care of.

Old School's suggestion that the two of you have a trusted friend on call for those "crazy emergencies" that you can't handle alone is pure gold. I was lucky enough to have such a friend and his wife was totally okay with it, which can be unusual lol. Our children were best friends so we saw each other regularly anyway as we shuttled them back and forth. If he was coming into town, he'd swing by for a minute, just to make sure we were okay. Cell phones weren't real common back then (think bag phones), so we certainly weren't able to talk every day. The internet was new and mostly just a strange collection of electronic bulletin boards and only dialup was available. He'd try to call on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, but it didn't always happen. Couples today have so many advantages today that we just didn't have back then. Cell phones are more common than land lines and you now have plenty of ways to stay connected.

When your driver gets home, he will be very tired. In my case, the kids and the pets were "all over him" and extremely excited to see him. It was mayhem. To keep them busy and give him some room to breathe, I'd have them go clean his truck and get it ready for whenever he had to leave again. He'd often have little presents or souvenirs waiting for them out in the truck. He'd get his shower while I started dinner. Believe me, your driver will probably not want to drive or ride anywhere or take care of anything the day he gets home. He'll be too exhausted and just trying to decompress. Save any social plans, outings, or even serious conversations til the next day.

Since we owned our own trucks, there was a lot of maintenance to do and things like that as well. Being a company driver is the absolute best, because it sure eliminates all that wrenching. He taught me how to drive back then, and you could actually have a learner's permit indefinitely and I had one for several years. Sometimes 2 of the older kids or me and a younger one would go with him and I'd get to drive. I always loved driving a truck. We had Western Stars and Pete's back in the day when the WSTRs were still hand built. My favorite was a pretty cherry red star/car chicken truck. Chrome and lights for days. Gray leather interior, real burl wood. No plastic anywhere. 425 cat with an 18 speed transmission. Those were real fine trucks. Never cared much for the Pete's because the western stars floated along so smooth you could steer them with a pinky.

Fast forward, we ended up selling out as friends were getting shut down, trucks siezed.. none of us ran legal back then. We simply got out before we got caught. He continued on as a driver for a couple different companies before he finally quit driving altogether and started a mobile mechanic/fleet service business.

I returned to the healthcare world when we split up. After many more years of trauma and critical care, I decided I'd had enough. I tried my hand at a few different sales related jobs and hated it. I missed driving terribly and decided to go to CDL school and actually get a real CDL-A and get paid for driving. My extended family hated it, but I never really asked their permission lol and just went for it. I had the blessing of my kids and that's the only ones who mattered to me.

It's been a real adventure and I still love it as much as ever. Those first 6 months or so were grueling to say the least, but it did get easier as I got more experience.

I must say I love elogs and their simplicity. A couple of times I've had Qualcomm issues and had to run on paper for a week or two until they could get me back to Cedar Rapids to get it fixed. I can do paper with no problem, but it sure is a pain in the butt. My company has a policy that we're not allowed to run on paper for more than a couple days, but our logs compliance person says she's never worried about mine because they're always spot on, so yeah I've run paper for a couple weeks straight before. So to those old school drivers who whine about not having as many hours to drive due to elogs, I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. I think the 14 hour rule is stupid and think we should be allowed to split our breaks up like we used to, but that has nothing to do with elogs.

Sorry about the rambling and such here. Back to driving. So while I'm a driver, my other half isn't waiting at home for me, because he drives also. We're both with the same company and match up our hometime. It's funny because we get home and neither wants to do anything and need that decompression time so the going joke is that we come home and "do nothing" together. We did actually team for a while. Loved it, but our company just isn't set up for teaming. We have more quality time together and earn more running solo.

When your man gets home, be patient and understanding when he needs a little space. It's stressful out there OTR , but he's doing it for YOU.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Elog:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Elogs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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