DALLAS — Family members can have a big influence on a person’s life, for good or for bad. Fortunately, in the case of truckers Joan and Johnmarc Landry, it was for good.
Joan’s two sisters, Debbie Balbach and the late Margaret Balbach, were truckers, and they talked Joan into quitting her job as supervisor at a Bay Town, Texas, grocery store and going to a nearby community college to get her CDL.
Husband Johnmarc, who had worked at a nuclear power plant for some 20 years, also quit his job and they took truck driver training together in 2004 and spent a year driving OTR in an 18-wheeler.
“I had an early-out option as a maintenance supervisor” at the power plant, Johnmarc explained. “I had had enough” of the other job so “we went into trucking as a team.”
Both will turn 55 this fall, and both, it turned out, were ready for a change.
“Our kids thought we were crazy,” he said, for going into truck driving, “but,” Joan added, “Our grandkids are interested in trucking.”
She said they had good trainers, and ample time practicing driving a big rig belonging to the school before they had to taker the driving portion of their tests.
However, being out on the road for weeks at a time away from their children was hard, said Joan, even though their three kids, Ginger, Johnpaul and Krystal, were grown and out of the house by that time.
“It was different,” said Joan. Maybe a little too different.
“I found out [that] what truck drivers go through on the road is unbelievable,” said Johnmarc. “I’ve never been treated worse in my life than as a truck driver.”
A year of driving an 18-wheeler OTR convinced the couple that there had to be a driving-related job that paid more, didn’t entail such long hours and was less stressful.
What they found was a career hauling “hot shot” expedited freight for Express 1. True, they drive a straight truck, now, but they couldn’t be happier with the pay or with the hours. “We haul anything and everything,” said Joan, and sometimes “we have 48 hours or less” in which to deliver a load.
Plus they still get to see the countryside and life on the road is still full of the unexpected, which is what they like after the “same-old, same-old” at the power plant and grocery store jobs.
Said Johnmarc, “When I worked at the power plant it was the same thing over and over. Now I don’t even know 10 minutes from now where I’ll be.”
Joan likes meeting new people on the road and seeing parts of the country she’s never seen before.
One special time sticks out in their minds:
They had a delivery in New York State and saw a small sign advertising a church social. On the spur of the moment they decided to attend. “There was gospel music singing and a potluck and afterwards they prayed for us,” said Johnmarc. It’s an experience that has stayed with them.
Their job flexibility also allows them to take time out to take in trucking events such as the Great American Trucking Show held here Aug. 26-28. They were wandering around the first day of the show enjoying the booths and exhibits, and promising they’d return the next day, the couple left, seemingly still very much in love after 37 years of marriage.
“We’ve never had an argument; we never get mad at each other,” joked Johnmarc, with a twinkle in his eye.
An obvious exaggeration. But it’s no exaggeration that they’re crazy about each other and that their life is far from humdrum, now.
“It’s nice to have a little adventure,” Johnmarc said.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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