390 days…

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I’m not going to lie, my lovelies, it’s been a rough couple of weeks.

I’m pretty in touch with my emotions and sometimes I can let a tear or three escape unbidden, but rarely do I outright sob. After my apple load, I got a call from my fleet manager which is a rare occurrence. We engaged in a bit of small talk and then the dropped the ultimate bomb…

“Well Tj I have some news. I’m not going to be your fleet manager anymore.”

I didn’t just sob, I ugly cried. I’ve been with Kyle since my last trainer and he was perfect for me. He got my idiosyncrasies and left me alone. I would touch base with him about once a month but other than that I did my job and he gave me the space to do so. He understood (because I told him) that I don’t respond well to micromanagement and he was completely on board with that.

After I got myself under control, I told him I was sad but I wished him well in his new division. We talked about my new fleet manager and he said he had filled him in about me and what I do and how I do it. He also told me to keep his cell number and to call him if I ever got into a bind and needed his help. ❤

We also talked about a few other possibilities for me. Those are what has been occupying my brain for the last couple of weeks. Decisions…Decisions…

More on that in a moment. For now, lets talk about those 390 days…

390 days…That’s how long it has taken me to get to the point where I can say I’ve traveled all of the contiguous United States. Finally! I did it.

The last state I needed to finish the route was Maine. After kicking around in the Midwest for a few days waiting to see if I was going to get a Canada load, I finally told my new fleet manager, who I’m still getting used to, that I needed a high dollar load to round out the week. I wasn’t holding my breath, but lo and behold, he came through. To top it all off, it was a load to Maine. The last state that Large Marge and I have traveled.

The route was mostly familiar, that is until I got to Massachusetts. I luckily haven’t spent a lot of time on the East Coast. For one, every road seems to be a toll road so it can be quite expensive. For another, the traffic just sucks everywhere you go and parking is a nightmare.

Once I got north of Boston everything seemed to calm down, I headed into New Hampshire for a moment and then….

(Please excuse the reflections in my window. )

I can now say that I’ve traveled to every state in the contiguous US. It only took me a smidge over a year but I did it. Yay me!

One of the more amusing signs I saw while in Maine was this one.

Because I was as bit sleep deprived and mostly because I’m silly, all I could think was “Do they use moose as speed bumps?” Alas, no moose were spotted by Large Marge, to which I’m actually pretty happy. I think that’s one critter she would be on the losing end of. I did have to dodge a few flying turkeys but no moose.

After dropping off in Maine, I headed back down to Massachusetts for my next two deliveries. After a wee bit of sleep I headed back towards the Midwest to get set up for a Canada run. I dont mind heading to the North East but I’m super happy to not kick around there for very long. The roads are small and narrow, the places to park are small and too few, and the drivers are right up there with Atlanta drivers for rudeness and dangerous behaviors.

As I was heading out I came across another fiery vehicle in the roadway. This time it was in the southbound lanes while I was in the northbound lanes. I felt sorry for the two miles of backups it caused and I sincerely hope no one was seriously injured.

Now back in the Midwest and loaded with beer (my trailer not me) I’m slowly making my way to Michigan. This may be my last Canada run. With the change of my fleet manager I’ve decided to make a change of my own. In a few months I will no longer be doing long hauls.

I’ve ultimately decided to change divisions and work in the Chicagoland area for our Intermodal Division (if they’ll have me.) This division picks up trailers from the rail yards and delivers them to customers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa. If for some reason they turn me down, I may be changing companies.

Making a major change is something that’s been on my mind for a while. After Ireland, I knew that I couldn’t keep running the way I was and something needed to give. I’ve been toying with several different options but this will give me what I want the most. Time to be with my family and to have a real life again.

I’ve enjoyed my time out here and getting to see parts of the country I haven’t before but it’s really starting to take a toll on me both mentally and emotionally. I should have everything in place within the next few months so until then, I’m just going to run hard and fast. I have a major tattoo appointment at the end of May in Salem, MA and then I will need a trip to Washington to settle my affairs there before starting the new gig.

I have a lot of respect for the men and women who can do this job for years, living full time on the road. For me, I need more socialization with my loved ones to keep me sane and healthy. I also need my family to help keep me in check when I start to make stupid impulsive decisions. Hey, I’m a Gemini. Impulsive is my middle name, or it would be if I had a middle name.

Last but not least by any means. This last week I lost someone dear to me. If you are struggling with mental illness, it’s ok. You’re not alone. There are people who care and someone will always be there to listen to you if you need to talk. If talking isn’t your thing there is also help available by text. Here in the US text HOME to 741741 for 24/7 crisis support. I see you. You are not alone.

For those who are not struggling, someone you know may be. Be free with your affection and kindness. One of the things I tend to do when I’m struggling is I reach out to a random person and tell them why they matter to me and that I think they are awesome. Almost every time I’ve done this the recipient has responded with “OMG you have no idea how much I needed that right now.” We all struggle from time to time and life has a way of making us feel isolated and alone even when surrounded by friends and family. Love on one another more. Tell people that matter to you why they matter to you. Perform a random act of kindness. Just be good to yourself and to others.

I love you all. Even those I haven’t met. I’ve got loads of love to give so come get some.

Until next time my lovelies.

Xoxo

My how time flies…

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One year ago I fell in love. It wasn’t a conventional love but it was hard and true. March 6th was the one year anniversary of seeing and choosing Large Marge.

I remember it as if it was yesterday. The first time I climbed up into her cab. That new vehicle smell of the VOCs tingling my nose. It really was love at first sight. She and I have traversed this country (and Canada too) numerous times and she’s never let me down.

After a small break in Chicago (more on that in a bit) we are sitting in the shop having our yearly inspection done and its a good thing we are. I’m pretty good at checking my truck while I’m on the road, it’s part of my job after all. Even then, sometimes you can’t catch everything. Today this little gem was caught.

This is wear on my steer tire in the front of my truck. That’s a nice bald spot and it’s not usual wear by any means. It seems as if the belt inside has broken apart and that is what’s caused the wear. This is kinda a big deal. Steer tire failures can be fatal especially if you’re traveling at full speed. I’m hoping my Road Assist people will be able to argue defect but it’s up to the field rep for the manufacturer to agree and they rarely do.

Large Marge passed the rest of her inspection with just a few minor things needed like new reflective tape. I want to celebrate by getting her a bath because the girl sorely needs it but I’ve got more winter weather to drive in so it’s almost a waste of money.

This last weekend I took some time off to head home to Chicago to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of my favorite people in the world; My good fried Keith.

He’s not short, I’m just wearing 4″ heels. Something I haven’t done for ages. Also, sometimes I just don’t know where to look in selfies.

Living full time in a truck doesn’t afford many opportunities to get dressed up so when I get a chance I tend to go all out.

Besides seeing some of my favorite people, I got to see one of my favorite local bands Dec8de.

These guys put on a great show and they also played all of my favorite 80’s songs. If you’re in the Chicagoland area and they are playing, do yourself a favor and go see them. Tell them I sent you.

I sang, I danced, I sweat my ass off, I drank all the gin (or tried) and I reveled in being out of my truck and around some of my favorite people. Earlier in the day I had someone who tried to bring me down and argue nonsense, but screw that noise, this night was Keith’s. I was there to have all the fun and I did it all in heels. RAWR!

As the night wore on, I started to feel a bit tired and that’s when the boys in the band gave me the wake up I needed. They played In A Big Country by Big Country, which has kinda become my personal anthem of late. There was no sitting for this song so back on the dance floor I went.

I also got to spend time with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Stef. She and I go all the way back to my freshman year in high school and oh the stories I could tell (but won’t).

She is the jelly to my peanut butter (because she’s sweet and I’m nutty) and one of the people I easily love unconditionally. She understands me and accepts me for exactly who I am and for that she has my undying loyalty.

I also got to spend the weekend with my son and Frobebe.

Tbis kid is an amazing person and I’m lucky to have him in my life.

This weekend was exactly what I needed. The last couple of weeks saw me letting someone treat me poorly and I needed a kick in the ass and a reminder of who I am. I needed my family around me and to have their love and belief in me. It helped to reinforce the fact that I am a very loved person and that I have people in my life who no matter how long between seeing one another we go, we always end up in a loving embrace like no time has ever passed and pick up where we left off. Of course social media helps as well as the occasional phone call, but there is nothing like being able to hug someone you love and tell them how much they mean to you.

This. This is why I do what I do.

Before being a driver, it had been over 10 years since I had seen my t-town girls. Now I see them a couple of times a year. The same goes with friends I have all over the country. This living allows me the time and ability to see all the people who mean so much to me. (Washington peeps, I’ll see you later this year.)

Until next time my lovelies.