A double life
Already working two jobs in programs to prevent domestic violence and counsel victims of domestic violence, and with two college degrees, Cascio wanted to do something different that did not include textbooks and classrooms. So she signed up for a paid training program with Schneider to become a driver.
Cascio drove for 16 months and kept a journal of her experiences on the road. While new and exciting, the first months of truck driving were overwhelming for Cascio.
“The first three months are hard for a new driver,” Cascio says. “I was overwhelmed by the culture and initial loneliness.”
But solitude became the muse for her book, Joyce in the Belly of the Big Truck: A Modern Day Jonah Story. The book is a collection of life lessons learned on the road and how Cascio applied them to overcome fears and anxieties that were holding her back from achieving her goals.
“Being in the big truck gave me a lot of time to think about my life,” Cascio says. “It helped me put my life into perspective and find peace. I knew I had to write a book about it.”
Her book, now available with a companion workbook, is divided into anecdotes and ends each chapter with the lesson that Cascio learned about herself from each experience. In one incident, Cascio is attacked by dogs and injured because she did not heed a “Beware of Dogs” sign. Ultimately, the author discovers that when it comes to other people’s safety and welfare, she takes precautions to protect them. But when it comes to her own safety, she subconsciously decides her life does not matter. A theme throughout the book is finding inner strength and taking hold of one’s life.
Although many of Cascio’s experiences in the book are difficult, the author speaks fondly of truck driving.
“I didn’t respect drivers before I became one,” Cascio says. “But everybody should do a stint as a truck driver.”
In the first chapter, “The Zen of Trucking,” Cascio humorously describes the training process and her initial assessment, “How hard can it be?” After grinding gears and making a lot of mistakes, Cascio realized she had been living a timid life and had to decide whether or not she was going to pass the training program.
“I had come face to face with a truth about myself,” Cascio says. “I had settled in life.”
Her first bout with low self-esteem was in high school when a teacher told her she had no talent as a writer. Devastated, Cascio shied away from writing for much of her life. Truck driving gave life to her literary dream.
“It gave me the courage to face my greatest fear – putting something in print,” Cascio says. “But it is harder to write something personal and put it out there to be criticized.”