If not for trucking, Sam Chatmon might never have met his wife, Glenda.
When Chatmon met her, she wasn’t a trucker, but he did meet her on the road, and “From the time we met we’ve been together 16 years,” he said. “After we got married I came off the road and stayed at a job at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock almost three years and [then] I wanted to come back out on the road.
“She worked at Baptist Memorial [in North Little Rock, Ark.] When I came back out she missed me and I missed her. She was burned out at the hospital so we sent her to school. She got her license and has been driving for 14 years.”
When Glenda got out of driving school he was able to train her at Celadon for 10 weeks. When it came time to road test her, however, the company had another driver trainer do that.
The couple drives team for Transco Lines Inc. (TLI). They live in Indianapolis.
He used to work with mainframe computers, which is what he did at Baptist Medical Center. Chatmon grew up in Chicago, then moved to Texas, then back to Chicago. Since he got out of computer work he has stayed with trucking.
Chatmon’s been a driver for 17 years, the last five as a company driver for TLI. He and Glenda drive a 2009 Volvo and run true team, unlike a lot of team drivers who are married.
“She sleeps, I’m awake,” he said. “I should be driving.” [At the time he talked to The Trucker, Glenda was asleep in the bunk. They had just had the truck washed and he was letting it “air dry.”] “It’s very rare that you’ll see us up together. We do our 34-hour restart together — usually on a weekend. We have about 30 minutes up together a day.”
Chatmon said they are usually out about three-and-a-half to four weeks at a time. Then they stay home about five days. He said at the time he spoke with The Trucker that they were heading home to Indianapolis and he was not looking forward to it. The Super Bowl was in two weeks and he said all the people in Indianapolis would be going crazy about the Colts in the Super Bowl. He doesn’t like the Colts. So just which is his favorite NFL team?
“Whoever plays the Colts,” he said.
The Chatmons haul general freight, mostly for FedEx, Con-way and Lowe’s.
“Our truck is going 24 hours except to fuel and switch drivers,” Chatmon said. “Probably 22 hours. We have to fuel three times a day, sometimes. Teams are the way to do it. The problem is there are people who want to team but have no idea what it’s about.”
Chatmon said they are doing good considering how the economy and trucking are, and that they “work for a very good company.”
Chatmon didn’t come into trucking totally without some family connection.
“My uncle owned 12 trucks when I was a kid. On weekends my cousin and I would go wash the trucks. That’s how we made our money. I just love to drive and I love to travel and I love to make money. It just works. I don’t want to sightsee. I’m out to make money. If you’re sightseeing, you’re spending money, not making any. It kind of defeats the purpose.
“We try to save. We are buying our home. We don’t have any car payments or credit card debt. America has you thinking you have to have credit to survive.”
When asked if it appeared the economy was on an upswing, Chatmon said, “Yes and no. We’re averaging between 5,000 and 6,000 miles a week. That’s real good in this economy. There have been maybe a couple of times it’s dropped under 5,000 miles.”
Many team drivers say that the Hours of Service would be better served with the ability to break up the 10 hours off-duty in smaller amounts.
“We would like to be able to log five [hours] and five instead of 10. It’s OK, but we’d rather log five and five. I can’t really sleep over about five hours and she’s the same way.”
When not sleeping, Chatmon said he reads books or just lies down.
“DOT can’t say you have to sleep,” he added.
Chatmon said that driving as a solo driver is hard when you have a wife, girlfriend, or children. It’s difficult to be gone so long and it’s costly too, he said. Being in a team with his wife is a lot easier.
“The best part of trucking,” Chatmon said, “is money, freedom and I am able to work with my spouse. Everything in trucking depends on ‘you.’”
The worst part, he added, is being away from home.
Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.