NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Yvonne McKlveen, 44, never wanted to be a truck driver. “I played with dolls and wanted to be a florist,” she said.
Her best friend, on the other hand, wanted to be a trucker. Now the friend is a florist and McKlveen is the truck driver and has been — happily so — for the past 15 years.
It all started when her husband, Jerry, quit managing a pizza restaurant because he was tired of working 70 to 80 hours a week with low pay and few benefits.
He told her on a Friday he was going to trucking school the following Monday and “I thought he was joking,” said Yvonne. He told her: “You can look cute and read the map.”
But he really wanted her to drive. “I became a trucker because he got me into it,” she said.
Fifteen years later they’re still trucking together, with her doing the day shift and Jerry driving during the night.
She’s usually asleep when he’s driving and vice versa, except in the middle of the afternoon, when they go to shower and then sit down and have a meal together and talk.
An aging father handicapped by diabetes and three children in college “means we work a lot,” said Yvonne.
The couple lives in Fort Worth, Texas. Their daughter and her fiancée live with them and so does Jerry’s niece, plus they help out with her father’s medical bills and his house expenses.
They’re out five to eight weeks at a time and are home five to eight days. They spend their down time relaxing, catching up on TV shows, playing with their “four dogs, a blind cat and a retarded turtle,” and catching up on what their children are doing.
Two of the dogs, a miniature pincher and a rat terrier, travel with them on the road.
They used to haul truckload but now carry refrigerated goods LTL from one terminal to another from California to New Jersey, said Yvonne.
And although she was at first reluctant to become a trucker she now loves it.
She would say to women getting into trucking to “be careful, be safe and never ever put yourself in a position that’s unsafe; always keep yourself in view of other drivers.”
“Most men if you ask will walk you out to the truck,” she added.
Jerry said trucking has had its ups and downs but their current company treats them well although the first carrier they signed with right out of truck driving school was engaged in a leasing scam and went out of business, leaving them high and dry.
So, they’ll never lease again, he said.
The biggest change in trucking they see is the courtesy, or lack of it, on the road, now.
“It used to be when I started everybody was really courteous,” said Yvonne. “Now they’re not polite, anymore.”
And, of course there’s the age-old problem of parking, said Jerry, noting that they popped into an Ohio Walmart recently for a few minutes to buy dog food and came out to find their truck was about to be towed. The towing company charged them $170 just to unhook the truck and the police refused to interfere.
He also bemoaned that truckers must pay more for traffic tickets than four-wheelers. “I just wish it was fair and equal for everyone,” he said.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.