Sunday, July 26, 2009

Just Don't Call Me Late For Dinner

Yesterday, my mother's friend sent me this article from the local paper. Along with the link, she wrote, "The paper in Tucson this morning had the headline: WOMAN DRIVING TRACTOR TRAILER KILLED - guess she and hubby had been a team for 10 years. I tell you this why? Cause I am pissed off --- if it had been the man driving it would have said DRIVER only."

I do believe she is absolutely right about that. I think within the article they would have eventually gotten to the driver's gender, but if it were a guy driving the headline most likely would not have said, MAN DRIVING TRACTOR TRAILER KILLED. I sent an email to the reporter of the article, asking why he chose to point out in the headline that it was a woman driving, but he hasn't responded yet.

I often wonder about the discrimination part of being a female driver because I never seem to experience it. Mind you, I don't drive solo like
GiGi does and I don't drive as part of a girl team like the Hags do, but any time I approach a shipper, receiver or even a random person in the truck stop, I feel perfectly accepted and not discriminated against at all.

In fact, being a girl often seems to work in my favor - like in situations where I feel we've been waiting to long to get loaded so I go talk to someone about moving things along, or as I recently experienced, when being searched to get on a military base. The guard was so smitten with me, I don't even think he ever searched the truck; which was a good thing because I had loads of chocolate stashed in places Ed doesn't know about.

It may have been because we shared a birthday (which he noticed as he checked my I.D.), or the fact that I gave him the grand tour of our sleeper (he was amazed at my tidy kitchen and well-stocked pantry), or it may have been because during all our mutual flirting (he was well into his 60's) I told him I'd leave Eddie right then and there and take him on the road with me if he'd just let me in on the secret of what the hell they're actually looking for when they do this damn truck search.

A similar thing happened when I got pulled over in the wee hours of the morning in south (way near the border) Texas. The cop pulled me over because my license plate light was out and asked me to exit the truck and meet him at his patrol car with my logs. I got my laptop, which is where we keep our log, and my bills of lading and met Burly Cop at the rear of the trailer. By that time, he must have called for backup because another (very handsome) officer pulled up as we were standing there.

They were both super-nice and when Burly went to check out the truck, Handsome checked out my logs. He said, "This is pretty awesome. We pull over a LOT of 18-wheelers and this is the first time I've ever seen a log kept on a computer."

As we went through the log book, Burly came back and said to Handsome, "You need to go check out the truck."

"Didn't you just check it out?" Handsome said.

"Yeah. But you need to see it." Off Handsome went.

So now while Handsome was looking at the truck, all official-like, Burly went over my logs again and my bills of lading. He asked what we were hauling and whether he could look under the tarps.

I said, "Sure - do you want me to un-tarp it for you?" fully hoping they would say no, which is exactly what he did. Instead, when Handsome got back to the trailer, he told him to hop up and take a look under the tarp.

As he did, he asked, "So, d
id you check out that sleeper?"

"Yeah, real nice." said Handsome.

Burly walked back to his cruiser to check my license, etc. while I pulled up interior pictures of the sleeper on my computer to show Handsome while we waited. I said, "If my boyfriend weren't in there sleeping and it wasn't two in the morning, I'd give you the grand tour." He just laughed and oohed and ahhed over my photos. He said "wow" several times and then, "Are you shitting me? You have a shower in there? And a kitchen??"

A few more minutes of chit-chat and I was on my way. No ticket, no problems. I even asked Burly if he wanted me to fix that light right then and there and he waved his hand and said, "Nah - just pick one up next time you stop." Handsome told me where the nearest truck stop would be and that they may have the bulb I needed. See how smooth that went?

Ed is all business when he deals with people. I'm more of a schmoozer. Well, unless you're a total moron. Then I just can't bring myself to deal with you and I have to call Eddie in to take over because he's waaay more patient. But other than that, I can get just about anyone to do just about anything to help me out in my time of need...

The bitchy lady at the submarine base? She loves me now. It may be because I commented on her sweater, which just happened to be knitted by her late mother. Who knew?

Canadian border agents? They love to hear you talk about how wonderful their country is.

The manager at Home Depot or Lowe's when we need a place to park? More than happy to help. (email me if you want my secret parking spot in Long Beach...wink-wink)

And the toll booth operators? They give me candy. OK, that only happened once - but it did happen.

I have a friend who has been driving a truck for over thirty years and he's a bit hardcore in the thinking that if a women is going to be driving a truck, she should do everything the man does. Ummmm....that's just crap.

Ed tried to pull that on me. Once. His mother used to drive a truck with his Dad and early on Ed said to me, "my mother gets fuel for the truck" in an effort to have me fill the tanks.

Um, yeah, I don't care what your mother does. If she wants to get fuel, more power to her. But whether I'm driving a car or a truck, if there is a man present, he's pumping the gas. Blame my upbringing for that - specifically my father and my grandfather. Where I grew up, the men would never let the woman pump gas. It's not that I don't know how to do it. I just don't want to do it. And I really shouldn't have to if you're there - that's what men are for.

Same with loading the truck; I don't usually do any of the loading. Oh, I've helped Ed with tarps and chains and straps when he needs me, but it's dirty. And hot. And I don't really want to be climbing all over the trailer if I don't have to. Besides, Ed has such a system and does everything so quickly, I'd just be in his way anyway. He often says, when we show up at a location where there are also other teams loading, that he can strap and tarp his load alone faster than the two of them can together.

I guess I'm not too much of a feminist because I don't think these tasks need to be equally divided, lest I feel slighted for not being given the same opportunity as my male counter-parts to pump fuel, load trailers, take out garbage or kill big bugs. I'm traditional like that.

But to me, the headline of that article implies that the driver of the rig was killed because she was a woman, and it draws attention to the story because I think people will want to read and see what she might have done to cause the accident. I might be wrong, but I can totally see why my mother's friend saw it that way.

I always think of what my instructor at trucking school said to me when I was in class: Men may have a better understanding of the mechanics of trucking, but women make better drivers.

If that's the case, then I guess I don't mind being called a "woman driver".

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In This Case, R & R Means Recumbent And Recuperation
Posthumously Famous In The World Of Cheap Lodging
What Better Reason To Dine Out?
Hudson Valley Summer


Gil said...

I'm more of a schmoozer. That's definitely the Italian in you! The newspapers love this crap: woman truck driver killed, school board chairman, athlete arrested for..., etc. The guy at the register is just referred to speeder, drunk driver, etc. Please let us know if the journalist ever writes back.

Ed's mom said...

Well Written!! And yes, women are better, trucks, tractors, etc...I hope the guy responds to your email.

all things bradbury said...

just read your post, then the article...and i'm with you!...i may have to blog about this....i'll be anxious to see what kind of response you get from the writer.