4.5 Million Miles and Counting
His daughter Kathi is the only one of his five children who enjoys trucks. “She should be my trucker, but she’s not,” Dieu says. She is a variety manager for Safeway. Dieu’s two sons are log cutters, one of his daughters works at a school and his third daughter works in real estate.
Dieu says if he had his life choices to make again, he would have stuck to hauling logs, so he could have been home more with his family. “My biggest problem is when I get home for a couple days, and then I don’t want to leave,” he says.
Sometimes it has been difficult being the wife of a long-haul trucker, Patsy says. “You go to plan on something, and the company would call and say, ‘This load needs to be hauled.’”
Once, Dieu had to cancel plans because he had to haul a load. His wife got angry. In fact she was furious. She started trimming the hedge in the backyard and got a little overzealous. “I took my frustration out on it,” Patsy Dieu says. “It was better than tearing the house down, I guess.” When a stunned Dieu came home, all he could say was, “What in the Sam Hill did you do to the hedge?”
But trucking also has its perks. One year around Christmas, Dieu called and asked his wife if she had found a Christmas tree yet. She had, but he told her to throw it out. He came home with a Christmas tree from Pennsylvania. “It was beautiful,” Patsy says. Then Dieu got a call from the company and had to leave. He was gone for Christmas, but the family left the tree up and the presents underneath until he arrived after New Year’s Day. “We didn’t want to have Christmas without him,” his wife says.
Patsy and the children have adapted to being a trucker’s family. “They’ve never known anything else,” she says. “They grew up with their dad on the road, and that’s just the way it’s been.” When Dieu would come home, the family would all join in washing and polishing his truck.
His five children all graduated high school and have good jobs, and Patsy credits her husband’s good influence. “They have a very good work ethic, and I think that comes from their father,” she says. “He’s been so reliable.”
Patsy also praises her husband’s employers for making the trucking life easier when he’s on the road. “He’s worked for some great people,” she says. This is particularly true of the dispatchers. When Patsy needs to get in touch with her husband for something important, she knows the dispatchers will let him know as quickly as possible. Dispatchers helped Dieu be present for the births of almost all of his 12 grandchildren, including a set of twins.
In spite of a few tough times – like missing some of his children’s sporting events and trying to make it over the mountains when it’s snowing – Dieu is happy in his career. “I just enjoy trucking,” he says, “so whatever happens, happens.”
His favorite thing about trucking is seeing the country. With GP, he went through 45 states. “You’re not doing the same thing every day,” Dieu says. “Time goes by quickly.”
Dieu says he had intended to retire when he turns 65. But with only two years to go and a goal of 5 million career miles, he isn’t sure he will give up trucking so soon. “I’m still having fun,” he says. “I still enjoy my work.”
Just an Old-Fashioned Hero
George Dieu has shown willingness on more than one occasion to help those in a crisis.
On a run in California, a minivan in front of him stopped and picked up a young woman and her little girl, who were hitchhiking. Dieu drove behind them, and when the van stopped at a light, the woman flew out the back doors and rolled onto the pavement.
“Thankfully, I managed to stop before coming near her,” Dieu says. “They had just rocked the road, and she was all torn up.” He and another trucker stopped to help the woman. She said the men in the van had tried to rape her and she had jumped out to escape.
Dieu had taken down the van’s license plate number, so police were able to track it down quickly and rescue the woman’s daughter.