NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Canadian Barbara Simpson remembers sitting on the steps when she was about four, watching the big trucks go by and wishing she could drive one someday.
But, she said, “I never thought I would have the guts to do it.” Then she met her husband of 15 years, Darren, who would rather be a trucker than anything else.
They both were going through a divorce and met through her sister and pretty much have been together ever since.
Once the children were gone said Barbara (they have a daughter, 26 and a son, 24), “I had no more excuses.”
Darren cajoled her into getting her license. But first, Barbara went with him for five years out on the road (not driving) just to see if she could withstand the lifestyle. At the end of that time “I loved it even more,” she said.
Darren taught her some of the basics, but he readily admits he didn’t have the patience to teach her everything she needed to know and she said she didn’t want the added pressure of his lack of patience so she went to driving school.
The day she received her CDL, Barbara said, “I cried. I realized how important it was to me that day. It was a goal I’d had since I was a child.”
In fact, she was crying so much Darren thought she had failed her test at first.
She’s the only trucker in her family and she got another bonus out of the deal. She made a pact with her husband that if she got her CDL that he would quit smoking.
He’s now on a nicotine patch, “And we haven’t killed each other yet,” he joked.
They’re out 21 days with eight days off and haul for Ayr Motor Express out of Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada, due north of Maine.
Although they run only about 30 percent of the time in the U.S. they’d rather all their loads be down below because they said American roads are better, there are more and better rest stops here and the U.S. is “more trucker friendly.”
They tend to run “super single,” meaning they shut the truck down for several hours to give them time to be together, said Darren, with Barbara adding: “We still want somewhat of a life.”
Their trucking life almost didn’t happen, however, because Darren was sidelined with a back injury that prevented him from driving at one point.
He had to have back surgery and Barbara ran a restaurant to keep them afloat, financially, but as his back healed Darren got more and more eager to get back on the road.
Both say it would have been heart-breaking if he had never been able to get back into trucking at all.
While he was recuperating, “My heart broke for him every time a transport [truck] passed,” Barbara said.
“I love it; I’d never want to do anything else,” said Darren.
The couple travels with a five-pound miniature Pomeranian named JoJo, who’s nearly 11 years old.
“He has it made. First he sleeps with Darren while I’m driving and then he sleeps with me,” said Barbara.
And, they said he doesn’t eat dog food, only tidbits from Arby’s or McDonalds. A dog’s life, indeed.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at email@example.com.
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