Friday, April 20, 2018

When traveling is your passion, it’s good to be a trucker


Thursday, August 19, 2010
by BARB KAMPBELL

Eben Christian once had his own truck, but lost that and his life savings when his supposed daughter came knocking on his door and he was told to pay back child support. (The Trucker: BARB KAMPBELL)
Eben Christian once had his own truck, but lost that and his life savings when his supposed daughter came knocking on his door and he was told to pay back child support. (The Trucker: BARB KAMPBELL)

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Eben Christian has been driving trucks for 30 years and even owned his own truck until things took a turn for the worst over a family issue.

Christian was driving routes over all the 48 states and into Canada when at home one day a young woman knocked on his door claiming to be his daughter. The woman is now 21, and Christian said he didn’t know about her. However, her mother claims he owes back child support, and according to Christian he was thrown in jail overnight and hit with a large balance, causing him to lose his truck that he was just one year away from paying off.

Christian said he can’t drive into Canada anymore because he still owes child support and he might be considered a fugitive trying to escape payments.

Christian said he’s married and has no children, but since he didn’t show up for a court hearing about the child support, a court date he claims not to have known about, the court declared the woman to be his child and ordered him to pay the back child support.

“I can do the DNA test but the mother denied it,” he explained. “I can only do it through the court in the state she’s in, Missouri.”

Christian explained that he was hit with a $30,000 lump sum initial payment, a year’s suspension of his CDL and now pays $525 per month until he reaches a total of $89,000.

Christian said that he could fight it, but didn’t have the thousands of dollars necessary to hire an attorney.

The day The Trucker met Christian he was on his first run hauling dry van freight for WinRow Farms, a small company leased on to Transport Depot. He’d just returned to the road after almost nine months from a suspension for unsafe driving by Werner. The suspension came when he hit a fence.

“I’ve had two wrecks,” he said. “The first was my fault, but a sign was wrong and I ended up in a ditch. The second wreck I rear-ended a prisoner bus in a construction zone. It had just started moving forward after we had been stopped and I hit it. Nobody was hurt.”

Christian said he likes to run all 48 and especially likes to run coast to coast.

“I don’t like the New York City area; this company doesn’t do that,” he said.

When he gets home, Christian spends time with his wife, Wanda, and their three cats.

“I take a couple of days doing stuff together then go fishing for a day; spend a day getting the truck ready to go back out,” he said.

With his new job, Christian says he’ll be out a few weeks or longer depending on where the loads take him. And then he plans to be home three or four days at a time.

While jobless for nine months he said he “looked for a job, worked in the yard, fished, worked on my boat and got it repaired and running; [it’s a] fishing boat.”

Christian lives in the “middle of Florida” with the beach about a two-hour drive either way to the Gulf or the Atlantic.

“I fish in the lake, freshwater,” he said. “I don’t care for saltwater fishing. I mostly do bass fishing.”

Christian was a “military brat” and did a lot of traveling.

“I’ve been out here 30 years,” he said, “it’s really the only job I like. I just like to travel. We want to buy another truck together and get my wife back out with me. She was with me [on the road] for six years. She can’t get her CDL because she can’t shift or reach the pedals,” he said, explaining that she’s only about 5 feet 2 inches tall.

“Before trucking I was a dishwasher. I also worked in a car wash. I decided I ain’t gonna spend my life doing dishes. I was pumping diesel fuel and a friend told me about a job running byproduct locally. So I got the job picking up dead cattle at slaughter houses. It was a dump truck job. I did that for about a year-and-a-half and threw my back out and was laid up for about six months and then went into long-haul driving.”

Christian likes the excitement each day brings and that “each day you’re going to see something different and meet different people each day. With the economy going up and down you don’t know if you’ll have a job.”

He gets paid 20 percent of every load he runs and is not paid by the mile.

Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at barbkampbell@thetrucker.com.

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