All Together Now
“I understand wanting to be with your spouse, your girlfriend,” says Alexander, whose husband was an owner-operator for 40 years. “I used to enjoy going with my husband. I loved it. No phones, no doors, no cats, no kids. But the risk was there, and we both knew it.
“Passengers are a huge responsibility and one not to be taken lightly, in my opinion. The most precious cargo you will ever haul is your passenger.”
Growing up Trucking
A family makes their home on the road
When truckers Mark and Renee Taylor decided to get married eight years ago, she was a paralegal and he was a trucker. They knew they didn’t want to live a life seeing each other only every other weekend, so Renee got her CDL and joined him on the road.
“I had that adventurous spirit, and my dad was a trucker, so I got my CDL,” Renee says. “We worked hand in hand. I drove and I did as much as he did. We work well together, and it was our life.”
When their son Lee, now 6, came along, they had no thoughts about leaving the road life. They just brought little Lee along for the ride in their Freightliner Classic XL with a condo sleeper and two bunks. It was an experience all three family members cherish.
“It was wonderful. He was able to bond with his dad in a way a lot of kids don’t,” Renee says. “Mark, of course, had 100 percent opportunity to be involved in every facet of Lee’s life. He would give him his naps in the afternoon, and he would play. If we had a regular 9 to 5 job, he wouldn’t have the opportunity to do that. I think that has really made a difference in little Lee’s life having his dad around all the time.”
The Taylors homeschooled Lee on the road through pre-school and kindergarten. “The child has the most awesome sense of geography,” Renee says. They also brought along their two small dogs, a Miniature Pinscher and a Dachsund.
Of course, the road life wasn’t all rosy.
“You have fusses, and you never know how loud a sleeper curtain will slam until you get mad,” Renee says. “Living in that close of quarters, you don’t have that ability to separate. When one person is driving, the other person closes the sleeper curtain and you go away for a while.”
But for the most part, the Taylors’ life was cozy – until January 2004 when Mark chose to travel to Iraq as a civilian contractor. The Taylors sold their truck, and for 17 months, Mark delivered mostly mail in the war-torn country, with the help of a military escort.
Renee and Lee, now at home in Warren, Ark., also had to accept a big change in their lifestyle. Lee missed his father, but he also missed being out on the road and the weekly stops to get fresh strawberries on their runs to California.
“Lee and I had to adjust to being home all the time and Mark not being around,” Renee says. “I was so thrilled when we picked Mark up from the airport because now our life was back to normal. I don’t think you really adjust; you adapt, you make do. There are a lot of things you have to figure out. But I don’t think you ever really get used to it.”
Unlike many of the wives of civilians in Iraq, Renee had support from her trucking family at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Trucking Bozo. “We all support each other; we’ve done it for years,” she says. “Being a trucker myself, it’s just a matter of maintaining with our groups of friends. I’m very blessed in that.”