One of those mind-boggling doors opened last week, and I ran through. It opened in the form of a phone call: "Can Christine drive for you on the 18th/19th?" Every now and then, a driver is needed to get the truck operator (technically, he's a satellite uplink technician) from one job to the next, if those jobs are back-to-back; the operator needs to sleep between jobs and can't drive. Fernando needed a driver, I had been cleared to drive, and the door opened.
Fernando had a transmission in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the evening of the 18th, then in Muncie, Indiana on the afternoon of the 19th.
Facts: Tulsa and Muncie are 10.5 hours (straight-through driving) apart. The time from the end of the Tulsa job (~11pm ET) to the on-site time of the Muncie job (12:30pm ET) was 13.5 hours. You get the math. This would be a bear of a drive, my first time out. But the door opened, and like I said--I ran through it.
I was hired. I am a truck driver. *goofy grin*
Just in case you want to know just what it is I'm driving.
Wednesday, February 16.
I've never visited the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but I've passed by it four times now--to and from, two times. Fernando was driving this third time as we headed west toward Tulsa.
Fernando had a hankering for some St. Louis barbecue, and thanks to my brilliance (ha!) with the Google Maps app, I found a local diner for our late lunch.
We switched back and forth driving the SAT truck, and finally ended up in Oklahoma. The next day was windy (an understatement!) with a smoke/fire warning (we smelled the smoke the night before when we arrived at our hotel). Fernando and I knew I would need to be able to get as much sleep as possible that afternoon, since I would be driving all night. He had run out of the sleeping aid he usually used, so we made a trip down the street to Walgreen's. As we pulled out of the hotel and onto the street, the heavens parted and the Lord shone His glowing rays down on a huge ice cream cone with a rotating sign: our hotel was directly next door to Andy's Frozen Custard!!
We got our sleep aid, saw a Chipotle, and stopped there to share a burrito for lunch. Share = I ate not quite a fourth of Fernando's burrito. :)
Dessert was a given.
Back at our hotel, I settled in for an afternoon of trying to get some sleep, while Fernando drove the truck to the University of Tulsa for the NCAA basketball game for which he was providing the uplink. The sleep aid was effective, mostly, and I ended up sleeping on and off through the late afternoon and evening. I ate some supper (microwave Asian noodle bowl--at least it was organic!) and waited for Fernando to return so we could get on the road.
And I waited. He was stuck at the site until another truck moved out of the way...
Friday, February 19.
By the time we were loaded up, checked out, and on the road it was about 12:15am. Remember the windy day? It hadn't let up, and I drove down I-44 East, traveling back through Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. It was interesting driving, to say the least, and a constant fight against the crosswind. I have a new appreciation for semi truck drivers!
At one point I passed an accident--a semi had most likely been blown off the road on my right, the trailer twisted and mangled at its front, and the cab lying there, all beat up from rolling onto its side. I prayed for strength and safety--and felt the prayers of my friends/family as the Lord buoyed me up and gave me His strength.
Driving all night is lonely.
The view from my seat at a rest stop somewhere in Missouri, 4:13am.
Lonely is okay, though. Fernando slept in the reclined seat next to me, and I sang quietly to the music playing on my phone, and I was filled with His endurance for the journey. Fernando cautioned me that I didn't have anything to prove, and we could tag-team drive if I needed that; I made it to about 9:30am without having to wake him up. I pulled off somewhere in Illinois to gas up (chanting diesel, diesel, diesel!!!in my head), wake up Fernando, go to the bathroom, and drag my spent body into the passenger seat.
Although I didn't sleep until we reached our hotel, the rest of the morning was a blur: driving, talking, stopping at Cracker Barrel for lunch, parking at the hotel. Fernando drove to Ball State University to work the basketball game (1pm arrival for set-up), and I crashed for three hours. Three hours can be completely refreshing!
Then, I had a friend to call--Magy, whose home was exactly 1.8 miles from our hotel. She graciously picked me up and we spent the evening together, talking, reminiscing, and sharing dinner with her and her family. They wanted to see Fernando, and were happy to drive down to the university, just 12 minutes away. We met Mark (I'll get his job title wrong--I think it was the production manager?), who is from New Jersey! Based on the fact that he and I share that birth state (that's what I say, anyway), he gave the L. family and me a mini tour of the production truck.
The L. family took their leave, with an open door for us to come back to their house after the job ended (I left my camera bag there, after all!), which we did before heading back to our hotel.
I experienced my first car rental adventure the next day, since I would drive home while Fernando continued on to Murfreesboro, TN for the next job. The four hours in my rented Toyota Camry was a breeze, for sure!
Back home, I shared lively conversation with my guys, who had (mostly) cleaned my kitchen. I whipped up a quick dinner, which my friend Becki and I shared together (she came to pick up her co-op order and to visit me for the evening.
Later on, as I relaxed on my couch and looked at the family room the guys had "decorated" in dorm-room style, I realized it didn't bother me. I was home, I was useful, and I was blessed. Nothing more was needed.
Today, this very afternoon, I savored the oolong tea I had been drinking routinely just a few weeks ago, while Fernando was gone all those January/February days. Life had taken yet another turn, down yet another new road--employment, for me. And not just a job, not just an open door for me. For Fernando, too. He had longed for this through all those years of travel with his job early on in our marriage: longed for his wife to be able to accompany him, to experience everything--new sights, new adventures--he got to experience.
And now she can.
Back to life,
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