You got the Witchy Woman here. Look for the large orange pumpkin and you will find someone like me driving it down the boulevard. For those too young to remember the CB radio, Witchy Woman was my handle and the large orange pumpkin was the handle of Schneider National Trucking company. My hub was out of Des Moines, Iowa and it served as my contact with the company.
I attended the USA Trucking School here in Denver, hired by Schneider, and went to an extended trucking school in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Very cool. I loved to drive those big rigs and taking a flat bed truck out on the skid pad was the best experience ever. Never knew when the instructor would hit the brakes to send us into a skid. Our job was to keep control, and it really honed my skills.
After graduating, I went to Des Moines to get my rig and a co-driver and it was clear sailing from there. My co-driver turned out to be another lady about my age. She was not a boring person at all. I found this out as we were pulling into a truck stop. I was at the wheel and she leaned out the jump seat window and yelled “Whoo hooo baby! You have a nice bod!” and waved to the guy. And I would say “Get back in here!”
Trucking can be very hard at times, taxing to your nerves, body and mind. Here I am driving an 80,000 pound rig in a snow storm and a little 4 wheeler (car) will move around in front and slow down. A truck can’t stop on a dime, as the load carries forward momentum a little bit longer. As I watch a kid waving to me from the rear window, I am hoping he doesn’t become an ornament on my grill.
My co driver and I were a great team. We had it down when we were on a mail run. We had to go from Atlanta, GA to Seattle, WA in under 60 hours. Our company did not allow our rigs to go more than the double nichols (55) and they had satellites to track us. So we would switch drivers every 4 hrs, while one was fuelling the truck, the other would go and get food, bathroom stuff then finish fuelling while the other got food. Quite an operation.
We would get into some adventures even I laugh about today. One time we pulled into Ripon, CA and the main truck stop was full. I found another Truck Stop just down the road. I parked and woke up my partner, told her where we were and climbed into the sleeper berth to sleep. I heard her say she would be right back. About two minutes later, I heard her come back, and fire up the truck. We were hauling a** as she was going through the gears. What is going on? I could tell she was stressed out and we were heading to the other truck stop. When she found a spot and parked, she started to tell me why we left so quickly.
She had gone up to the doors of the cafe and was met by a police officer with his gun drawn. He asked her if that was her rig, and she said, “Yes.” He said “Lady, get back in your truck and leave. Now!” She said “Yes, sir!” And that was why she came back so soon. She said that I had driven our truck right into the middle of a drug bust and we were surrounded by policemen. I remember her eyes wide as saucers as she told me what happened. After awhile, we both started laughing thinking about me just driving right into a gun fight without even realizing it. Now it made sense why this truck stop was so busy.
I have so many stories about my time on the road and will relay them to you. This woman was so funny and a good driver. I knew she was fearless when it came to driving in bad slippery weather and could sleep in the berth without a care. Our cabover truck had all the comforts of home.
We had a refrigerator that plugged into the cigarette lighter. We had a TV, and a library of music tapes. Our rig had a double bed size sleeper and some storage boxes. Life on the road for two women was most interesting. There were times when we stopped for a meal, we would get served after all the guy truckers were taken care of by google-eyed waitresses. We would vow never to stop there again and would voice our displeasure to the cashier. We too were on a timeline.
I was pretty good at maneuvering that rig, and could back up to any dock. My partner, not so much. I would take us to a very large empty parking lot near a casino and have her practice backing. After a while, she got better; but, if the dock was tight, she would have me back the rig. As a matter of fact, she would love to make bets with the guys about my backing skills. She would go in and asked what dock #. They could see that there was a woman behind the wheel and make a remark to her that we would have to wait for an easier dock. She would look at him and say “Any dock will do.” And the bet was on. Many times, a group would gather to watch me back that truck. Silly people. I have even had some man come up to my driver side and say that he would back it in for me. Just because I am a woman? Stand back and get the he** out of my way. I would back that sucker to the dock in one shot, just to prove that it doesn’t matter that a woman is behind the wheel.
On this same lady trucker thing, I got into the habit of wearing the company shirt after an incident in California. I like to park the rig in the lower forty so that I can stretch my legs while walking to the diner. On this occasion, I was about half way through, when I was stopped by security. He said that “my kind” wasn’t allowed in there and to get out. I asked him what he meant by “my kind.” He said “You know perfectly well what I mean.” Then the realization hit me. I asked, “Do you think I am a Lot Lizard?” (This is slang for a prostitute that preys on truck drivers for a living) I pointed to my rig and pulled out my company ID card to prove that I was a driver. I said “You, sir, should find out who you’re talking to before accusing someone of a crime!” Bare in mind that I had already served 6 years in the armed forces as a military police and knew exactly how to act. I said “I have every right to be here, and deserve to be protected as well.” He told me to go. No apology, just go. I decided to always wear company gear from then on.
Posted by Steffie Rae