Oh boy, down time!
He knows what he and Rachel want. “We’d rather be running down the road,” Dave says.
Most trucking companies give drivers layover pay. It’s not much, and it’s not supposed to be. “Otherwise drivers would be laying over all the time,” Dave says.
He appreciates the layover pay Western Distributing gives him. “At least it’s something,” he says. “It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye. It’ll pay for groceries and a little entertainment.”
Dave is a seasoned pro at handling downtime confined to a truckstop.
“In my truck I have a flat-screen television, a DVD player, a VCR, satellite television and radio, a refrigerator, a microwave and a coffee maker, plus a few other toys, too,” he says.
His wife Rachel, who rides along, does the best she can with downtime. “Sometimes I don’t handle it very well, especially if it’s been raining like it has around here. You can’t even get out of the truck and walk around or anything,” she says. “The satellite television helps a lot.”
Rachel puts her restless energy to work, too. “We clean the truck,” she says. “During downtime is when the truck gets good and clean.”
Another way to eat up downtime is surfing the Internet. Among his other toys, Dave keeps a laptop computer in the truck. It runs on batteries and has a wireless Internet plug-in about the size of a matchbox car sticking out the side: no wires to worry about.
“About all the cell phone companies have a little wireless card you can plug in, and it’s like being on the cell phone,” Dave says. “We can get online anywhere there’s cell phone coverage.” Dave says his wireless provider charged a service start-up fee, and now he pays about $80 a month for unlimited wireless Internet access.
“Do you know how much time a laptop computer will eat up?” he says. “If there’s anything in the world you want to know, it’s on the Internet. All you need is the time and the patience to look it up.”
When the Browns can’t run down the big roads, they substitute with the information superhighway. “You can find something you enjoy or something you’re interested in,” Dave says. “She spends so much time on the computer it’s not even funny.”
The Browns have learned to consider each other during downtime.
“It takes a very unique couple to get along in tight quarters,” Dave says. “You’re bound to get on each other’s nerves. You have to find ways to get away from each other just to give each other their own space and privacy.”
“Sometimes we have to get away from each other so we don’t kill each other,” Rachel says. “I came in here last night and played video games while he was sleeping. Then he got up early this morning and went out for a smoke.”