Monday, November 27, 2006

Gimme 40 Acres and I'll Turn This Rig Around

I think that is how the words to a song goes that I used to hear some of the truckers I waited on 20 plus years back in time mention.

And now, by all appearances, it looks like we will have a bonafide trucker in the family very soon who can be singing that song!

My son may soon be gainfully employed as a truck driver. Yippy skippy and hip hip hooray. The boy might actually have a job that will pay a reasonably good wage and may actually be able to get his finances all straightened out too in the fairly near future.

Clate's had some hard times in the recent past - or maybe too, not so recent past. Good employment seemed to always escape or elude him.

When he completed his four-year enlistment in the Army - back in 1997 - he decided then against coming back home to Pennsylvania at that time and opted instead to head down to Nevada where his Dad lives. His reason, as he explained it to me then, was that he wanted to get to know his Dad a bit better. Since Clate was 6 years old when Frank and I separated for the last time and almost 7 years old when the divorce went through, his years growing up without his dad were often very rough for him. Much as I wanted the boy to come back east, I understood completely his need to develop some type of, hopefully, decent relationship with his father and I had to let go of the reins I wanted to desperately to pull on and use to get the kid back here.

By 2000, the boy and his girlfriend (who he had met in Washington state, but who is originally from the Scranton area of PA) had decided they had spent more than enough "quality" time with Frank. Although Clate and his dad had managed to forge a relationship - somewhat rocky every now and again - overall they managed to get along fairly well. Amie, however, was a horse of a different color as she and Frank clashed almost on a daily basis.

Before I had even met Amie in person, one night as we were talking on the phone and she was telling me all the evils about Frank (as she saw them and many which I had to agree with that they did indeed exist), it dawned on me why she and Frank couldn't get along and I told her my theory. She is very much a feminist - card-carrying member of NOW if that paints a picture there - and she has no qualms about stating right up front where someone with the many male chavinistic beliefs and attitude as Frank has, that all he was seeing and hearing from her was his ex-wife - me!

After the kids moved back east and had settled down in Littlestown, PA - just outside of Gettysburg - Clate found a job driving a delivery truck for a meat packing firm across the Maryland line. His route normally was to load the truck and make door-to-door deliveries in and around the Baltimore area for quite awhile and then, just before he left that job, he was doing deliveries in and around Washington, D.C. As trucking jobs go, this one didn't pay all that well but it was better than minimum wage work. And, Clate learned he didn't mind driving all over the place in that job.

He left there for a factory-type job - assembly line - and the pay was ok, the work wasn't bad either but then the relationship he had with Amie fell apart and he decided to move back home. That was in April of 2004 that he came back to central Pennsylvania and his finances - and work prospects - have pretty much been in the bucket since then. This area is not notorious for having an abundance of good paying work for people with only a smattering of experience and just a high school diploma.

This summer, he lost the job he had working at the garage with his brother-in-law - Mandy's husband. And, knowing how difficult it was going to be to find something that paid relatively well here, he started looking into some type of training program and that is when he decided to try the Truck Driver School at the Vo-Tech in Clearfield. He applied, was accepted, got funding through the state for the expenses and began attending this school the beginning of October.

Now, his schooling is completed; he passed his CDL test a week ago this past Friday and that weekend, made contact with some folks who contract trucks to FedEx to see about signing on with them driving team, coast-to-coast. This past Friday he went to Harrisburg for his physical and to take the "whiz" test but wasn't able to get the "whiz" test worked in that day because the lab the company uses was closed that day - maybe part of the Thanksgiving Holiday.

So, today, he is now enroute back down to Harrisburg to finish up the testing stuff and as he puts it - "pee in the bottle" and since he already passed the basic physical and this test will not be a problem since (fortunately) he doesn't indulge in any of the bad test they test for, the company told him he should be in a truck and on the road by next Monday or Tuesday, the latest.

He's happy and very excited at the prospect of becoming a "paid tourist" as he puts it because this job will afford him the chance to see lots of the country he would never be able to see otherwise. And, as I said early on in this post, it will be a good paying job and one that might also enable him to actually begin to get the house he bought here fixed up in a decent manner!

And for me - I'm happy that he is happy. I will worry constantly about him being on the highways with so many others out there who might be the type of driver that has no business on the roads. I will worry every time I hear reports about bad weather conditions in this or that region knowing he might be having to contend with weather much worse than we see here. And I will also worry about the people he might meet in his travels too - "lot lizards" (truckstop hookers) or maybe lots of other unsavory characters who haunt the world today - or is he eating properly, resting as much as he should to be a really safe driver. All kinds of things will of course enter my mind and won't leave until he makes it back home or at least, calls old Mom every now and again to report in that he's ok.

So yes, I do have a lot of mixed emotions about the day, coming faster and faster on me (and him) now when he will begin this new endeavor.

But overall - as I said above too - I am happy and excited for him and the opportunity this job will give him and most of all, I am happy that he is happy, for a change.

And who knows, maybe sometime down the line, if he can arrange it - maybe Mom will even be able to go along on a run someday too!

Now, that's something for me to really get excited and happy about too!


East of Oregon said...

yay for your son! :)

Mike said...

One thing to consider is that being in a truck. he will be safer. I used to drive truck and I always liked it. A bit frustrating being tied up in traffic, but you do get to see a lot. I'm happy for him.