Anthony Stewart of Riviera Beach, Fla., lived more than half his life in Jamaica and decided to come to the United States for a “better lifestyle.”
He’s 35 years old and has been in the U.S. for 15 years after leaving Jamaica with four children in tow. He’s only driven trucks for six years and is an owner-operator leased to Carroll Fulmer Logistics Corp. where he hauls dry goods.
Stewart is married to Rosetta, who is a Certified Nurse Assistant. They met in the United States. In all, he has seven children and two grandchildren.
So just how does someone go about getting from Jamaica to the U.S., The Trucker asked.
“I got a visa,” Stewart explained, in his native language English with a Jamaican accent. “We flew over. I used to work for the U.S. Embassy back home. I worked in the diplomat service. I used to do security work.”
After arriving in this country, Stewart worked in a meat store for two years. He then began doing car detailing while working with a work permit, and later when the laws changed he obtained a green card which is what he still works under legally in this country.
“In a couple of months I’ll become a U.S. citizen,” he said. “I’m studying for the test now.”
While he was still in the detail business a good friend of his from Atlanta called him and said “let’s go in the trucking business together.”
Stewart told him he’d think about it and then “came 9/11,” he said. “After 9/11 I lost my job. I called up my friend and said, ‘I have some money saved up.’ So I bought a truck, a 1998 Volvo and we started a business, but we weren’t making anything. He drove the truck, but I stayed home with my wife and young children. I never did want to go on the road. He was hauling whatever he could get to haul.”
Stewart remained in the detail business while his friend drove the truck. Stewart then got into what he called “on demand work,” which included maintenance type jobs, but he said the money just wasn’t picking up for him.
“I thought, ‘I’m just going to get a license.’ My wife didn’t want me to leave the house,” he said. But told her: “’I said, a man’s gotta do what he’s got to do,’ Where I came from the man’s gotta be the provider. I said, ‘honey bee, if a man don’t provide for the house, he’s not a man and I’ve got kids to feed.’”
So he headed off to driving school, got his CDL and then spent three months learning more with a trainer at CFI.
“I still had my truck, but it was just sitting there, my friend wasn’t driving it,” he said. “After I left CFI I was kind of scare to run by myself, so I took a train to Florida and went back to detailing cars. Then I went to CRST. I did that for six months just to get the experience and go out and do my own thing. I worked there six months and then drove my own truck.”
And now he’s leased to Carroll Fulmer.
“I like it,” he said, “I’m doing pretty good. The load sometimes doesn’t pay as good as I want. I do make a living. I’m home every two weeks. I get home as often as I want. It’s my choice.
“I plan to do it for a while and get my own authority. I’ll probably have it in another month or two, maybe before I become a citizen. My wife misses me, the children do too. We have four kids at home ages, 3, 4, 9, and 13.”
Stewart runs from Florida to Texas, up to Pennsylvania and over to Ohio and Wisconsin and home to Florida.
He said his favorite thing about driving is just “enjoying it out on the road and the peace of mind and time to meditate on the Creator.” When home he likes to fish for snapper and said he catches a lot of them and then laughed.
Stewart didn’t complain about the rules, he said: “We have to have rules; that’s for sure, but sometimes they are hard to keep.”
He said he’s never had a wreck in his truck and drives 65 mph because, “I need to go home. My goal is to deliver my load safely and get home safely.”
As The Trucker walked toward Stewart’s truck with him to photograph it we were impressed with the beauty and he remarked, “This is my second wife! It’s how I support my family.”
He then explained that his friend had done the design work on the truck but left off the scripture he wanted. He said he might add one later.
“I’ll probably add ‘the Lord is my shepherd’ here,” he said as he pointed to a space in between the curving lines on the truck. “And on the front,” he pointed above the windshield, “I will put Jesus.”
Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.