It's been three years since I left New Jersey and headed to CDL Class A trucking school. The adventures have been incredible, and I have made so many friends and memories. I had no idea what I was getting into, but my only regret is not having done it sooner.
My advice for anyone interested in trucking is this: Just do it. When fear keeps you from doing what you desire, you are filled with regret. I am happy to say that I will never die with regret. I have lived my life as my sister, Lee, had--- No fear, no regret, no surrender.
Please take some time to read my past "short & silly" posts. I removed all of the author and book related blog posts, and hope to find the time to continue my short & silly posts. Finding time to post while driving over the road in a big rig is quite an arduous task, but with some discipline, I'm sure it can be done.
For the past few years, I have been participating on a trucking forum, TruckingTruth.com As a moderator, I have written a couple dozen blog posts there pertaining to women in trucking and the lifestyle in general. I encourage you all to take a gander if you are interested in trucking or have ever been curious about the lifestyle. The site has a number of resources including practice tests for the written CDL exam, help on passing the skills exam, and reviews for various companies that will train new drivers.
Summers in my family can be described by just one word -- CHAOS
Many of my followers know my father died, leaving my mother with five kids -- ages 2, 3, 14, 16, and 17. Mom tried, she really tried. But sometimes I wonder how none of us were permanently committed to an institution.
Every summer, my mother loaded the station wagon with coolers, sandwiches, beach towels, chairs, her kids and the neighbor's kids and sat in the 70 mile long stretch of traffic headed for the Jersey Shore. In 100 degree weather with no air conditioning in the car, we sat yelling and complaining while my mother made threats we knew she would never keep. "Just keep fighting and I'll turn this car around right now." Yeah, okay. HOW? There's a thousand cars here and nowhere to go even if you wanted.
I'm still not sure why my mother preferred Brigantine, but us kids loved the haunted castle and pier filled with arcade games and junk food.
When I was about six years old, I distinctly remember all my siblings and the two neighbor girls standing in the velvet rope line, swatting at "green head flies" to keep them from biting us. We were so anxious, and all so very different in personalities.
My oldest sister, Renee, has always been whimsical, yet somewhat reserved. She's never been loud or aggressive like the rest of us. We talked her into a tour of the castle knowing that even at 20 years old, she was too afraid to go in. After waiting an hour in line, and walking about thirty feet into the attraction, she grabbed my brother's hand and ran out. She tried to tell us he was scared, but we knew it was her.
Our group was taken into a room with a fireplace, adorned with a portrait of Dracula. While a worker distracted us, the picture slid sideways and a live "Dracula" jumped from behind the picture ... threatening to suck our blood. Abby's response was, "Did you brush those fangs today? How hygienic is blood sucking?" He stomped his foot and threatened us some more before we were led to another room. Lee yelled at him, "You're not so scary!" Abby grabbed her arm, urging her not to push her luck.
This time, a mad scientist produced a fake hypodermic needle and lunged toward me. I hid behind my sister, Lee, who pointed in the woman's face, "You ain't touchin' my baby sister. Go pick on someone else." I think Lee was more terrifying than the "ghosts" in the castle. Our neighbor, Chantel, pushed her sister forward, "Here! You can shoot my sister with a needle. I don't even like her!" The two sisters jostled each other as screams were heard from other parts of the castle.
The next room was an undertaker asking us for our last will and testament in the event we did not survive the castle. We were assured black roses would be delivered to our funerals, then informed of the cause of our impending doom.
"Our pets have not been fed lately. Do you hear them scurrying across the floor? Monster-sized rodents who hate the lights, so we apologize for the darkness in the next hallway. Should you wish to survive, I suggest you repeat our chant: Ratsy, Ratsy, big and slimey, please bite the person that's behind me."
Abby started mouthing the words right away as we felt along the black painted walls ... until the rats showed themselves. Abby screamed, "Oh my God! I felt one across my leg! I can feel their tails!"
Lee shouted back, "Nah uh! And stop chanting, cause I'M the person behind you. Do you want them biting me? If I get bit, I'm biting you!"
Being so short, I figured out the "tails" they were feeling were rubber hoses glued to the walls. And naturally, I slunk between the girls and wiggled the hoses, making my sisters and the neighbor girls scream and shout.
By the time we got out of the castle, Abby was hyperventilating, Lee was threatening all the workers, I was laughing, and the neighbors were fighting with each other. We teased Renee for being chicken, spent the rest of the day playing games and hanging on the beach ... then headed home ... but with a "passenger" we didn't expect.
Lee found a jellyfish washed ashore and decided to keep it. A DEAD jellyfish. Unbeknownst to any of us, she scooped it into a soda cup and carried it the whole two hour car ride home. She kept it in her bedroom, and it smelled so badly, my mother finally put it on a paper plate and threw it out the back door on a the patio.
Thanks again for reading another "Short & Silly". And be sure to check out my FREE Kindle books in June! :)
MY CRAZY LIFE CONTINUES ...
Many of my followers know my writing career started when I published "Goin' Postal: True Stories of a U.S. Postal Worker." The wild stories in that book seemed indigenous to postal life. But perhaps they are indigenous to MY life.
Last summer I decided I needed some serious changes to my life and found an outstanding trucking company that taught me how to drive big rigs and I have since been driving coast to coast. Along the way, I have found my Jersey Girl attitude has created some serious laughs.
Upon meeting my trainer he said, "I take all my students over this one bridge on their second day. It will make or break you as a truck driver. It's called the GW."
Me: "Uh, forget it. I don't drive over the bridge with my car, I'm not doing it in a 75 foot long, 80,000 pound truck."
Trainer: "I do it will all my students."
Me: "I've never driven a stick before, and I'm not starting by driving that. You're last student was 23 and from California. I'm 42 and from NJ. I KNOW that bridge. Go ahead, try to make me drive it. I'll park that big bitch right on the bridge and walk to Jersey to have my brother pick me up."
Three days later the trainer got us a run to Connecticut. While leaving, the trainer set the GPS for the George Washington Bridge that connects New York and New Jersey. I took a different route.
Trainer: "Where you going? You gotta take I-95 South."
Me: "No I don't. I'm driving and I'm taking the Tappen Zee Bridge." He continued to protest until I told him "I just commandeered your truck. I'm driving and I say this way is better. When we head back to the Midwest where you live, you can tell me where to go. I live here and this is where I want to go."
When he told this story to another trainer friend the guy said, "That is the kind of student I want. One who won't follow the GPS and can make a decision regarding safety." I thought "Wow... a job where my attitude is a good thing!" hahaha
I realized while riding on my trainer's truck I could in no way ever have a CB on my own truck when I went out solo. Here's why:
One night I was driving through a construction zone with a 55 mph speed limit. The zone had concrete barriers on both sides of a single lane, shifted and curved, and the asphalt was tilted which made me feel I would roll over. I was doing 50 mph.
Driver Behind me on CB: "Hey driver, you can DO 55 here"
My response: "Hey Jerk, I can DO 45 here also. So keep talking and see how that works out for you."
On another occasion, I had my hazard lights on while driving through a 5 lane industrial park. I pulled all the way to the right at 15 mph trying to find the correct customer drive way at 3am. Not only was there a passing lane but also a center turn lane. I was in no one's way.
Driver Behind me on CB: "Hey, why you have your hazards on? You're in my way."
My response: "Cause I love the blinking lights! It reminds me of Christmas!"
The worst part about trucking is learning to back up. It's hard and takes lots and lots of practice. One day while I was backing into a dock door, a man came shouting "Hey, you almost hit the pole on the other side!"
Me: "Almost, or did?"
Me: "So it's still standing? What is your problem then?"
Thanks for reading today's Short & Silly. Now that I am out of training and in a truck of my own, I'm going to start posting regularly again. I have quite a few books I need to review for other authors, and I thank you all for the support you have shown me over the past year during my career transition.
Goin' Postal and Zodiac Lives will be FREE on Kindle during June, be sure to look for them!
Who could resist a job with
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Considering a Dalmatian?
Check out this video for some fun facts. They are not just "cute" like the in movie. They are smart and need training as well as room to run. They are extremely loyal, and sometimes goofy. They can be extremely protective.
It took me a long time to housebreak her. She knew she was supposed to go outside, but she didn't want to. She would pee right by the front door, staring at me. Taunting me. It got to the point where I wouldn't let her in the house until she squatted and peed outside. Her response? She would squat outside and pretend to pee, then come in and pee by the door.
During this time, I went on vacation, and my mother watched Rainy for me.
"Is she behaving? Is she doing her business outside?"
"Yeah, she's been really good. She's outside right now."
"I told you, you have to listen while she's squatting. Makes sure she pees, or she'll come inside and do it."
"Are you insane? I'm not listening to a dog urinate!"
Mom didn't listen. And Rainy did as I suspected. Stubborn dog.
She did eventually get fully trained, it took a whole year---I've trained other rescue dalmatians in two weeks. But she was just so stubborn. None of those "expert" methods worked with her. I tried them all.
Anyway... something funny about her was that she acted like rain was acid and would burn her spots off or something. No matter how badly she needed to go to the bathroom, she did not want to go outside. Rainy then decided to push her butt out the screen door to pee, as soon as she was done bolted back inside. I wish I could find my pictures of this dog with it's upper body inside the door and the back end outside. This became her ritual during rain storms from that moment on.
Everything with her was an adventure. One day I was on the phone with my mother, and as I looked out my back window I saw Rainy digging. digging deep. She pulled up a very large bone that looked like a femur. "Mom, oh my god. I think Rainy dug up a leg!"
The property had been in my family for about 25 years at this point, so I knew no one was buried there, but living on the creek, you never know if someone washed up and got stuck in reeds where it wasn't seen. My mother hung up, and as strong a person I am, I hesitated to go outside. I saw my dog drag the long bone to another part of the yard, then go back to her hole where she dug some more. "Oh Jeezh! She's looking for more body parts."
My mother arrived, and we went to the yard together. I sneaked up on the hole where Rainy still dug. Nothing. "The leg bone is over there." I pointed, nervously. I figured my directionally challenged mother needed me to point it out. Maybe she'd be able to find her way this time.
Her face went from one of fear to one of guilt. "Rhoda, this is a bone I threw over the fence about six month ago. I went to Petsmart and forgot to tell you." I never saw the bone, so Rainy must have buried it immediately. Which is weird, cause it's the only time I ever saw her dig.
Ordering pizza was a pretty crazy event in my house. Rainy hated the delivery people. She didn't want anyone near her yard. She owned it. She owned the street and even the playground across the street. Anything in her line of sight was hers. Fighting with a 100 pound dog who's viciously hopping up and down barking while you try to open the front door is not fun. So we wound up with a routine in my house.
When the pizza guy would arrive, I would scream, "Al!!!" To alert my brother of the arrival. Then he would go out the back door, get the food and come in the front door. At which time the barking attack dog would run outside into the yard, barking hysterically. But, with her entertained, we could eat in peace without her whimpering for food.
After awhile, we proved Pavlov correct. If I yelled, "Al!" at 3 am, Rainy would attack the front door, expecting the pizza guy.
And yes, she was a purebred, I have papers. She weighed about 96 pounds of muscle. The vet insisted she should lose weight because of her breed. However, the only time she ever lost weight was when she had worms, "I've never seen an overweight dog with worms." She ran constantly... I never had grass in my yard. My other dals were about 50 pounds. One vet suggested she was from the "British line of dals". Apparently, they are bigger breeds.
Hope you enjoyed my Short & Silly today. Please tell me about your dog's adventures!
Short & Silly: 04/20/2015
At 21 Lee became nurse, caregiver, rehab aide and much, much more. Mike was in traction, a "Halo", and a rehab center for quite some time. They said he would never walk again... but they did not know my sister. She was relentless and wouldn't give up. I remember him lying in the hospital and she was drinking a milkshake. He still hadn't spoken. His eyes moved all around, but she told him, "You ain't getting none unless you say it. If you want it, you gotta say it." Thus, his first word was milkshake. I was there at 10 years old.
Even passing gas was funny to her. The doctors told her he needed to move his bowels or they might never function properly. When he would pass gas, she would dance around the room singing, "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" by The Gap Band. Here was her boyfriend of four or five years---many people would have left. His own mother left. But she sat by his side day and night. She didn't drive at the time, so my mother was driving her back and forth between NJ to Philadelphia every morning and night--- before and after work and dealing with younger kids. So my mother needs to be commended here as well.
Mike eventually walked again, he even drove and rode the Harley. He could not grasp with the right hand, so the controls were moved to the left side. He couldn't write, so he handled all the paperwork. He'd never be able to have kids. Lee always said she would never marry, but she must have felt old when she hit 30. The day after her 30th birthday, they got married. By this time they'd been together for 13 years. They lasted another 7 years before chaos erupted. At 37, the marriage counselors told her, "Move back in together, but get divorced. You belong together, you just can't be married. That piece of paper makes a big difference in your dynamic." (Come on... how many times have you heard that?).
The divorce got ugly--much uglier than it should have for a guy who owed his entire life to her. I think that is my major problem with him. They had extremely good times and extremely bad times. But somehow he always felt he had the right to control her. He hit her in the head with his cane once, so she picked him and body slammed him, breaking his leg on the microwave. Now keep in mind, she was tiny, but had put him in and out of the tub bathing him for years. She had the strength. Then she called my mom, "Oh my god. oh my god. I just hurt him bad and I called 911 but the cops want to arrest me." That was their relationship though. Extreme, both good and bad.
So they got divorced, and although they always fought, they remained living together. Until "John" entered the picture. Now this gets really funny too... John was married with five kids, and his wife and Lee were friends--- and I mean, they remained friends while Lee & John moved in together. Lee watched the kids from time to time. It was a crazy situation. John was not the volatile personality that Mike and Lee were, so he didn't like the screaming and fighting. Lee wound up in an apartment where Mike paid the utilities and bought the groceries, and John paid for her rent, car insurance and more. I wish I could get some guys to do that for me. I often joked that neither guy wanted her, so they paid to keep her away. I once refused to bail her out of jail because I was just plain tired of it. Who bailed her out? Not her ex hubby cause he was the one who put her there. Not her boyfriend, cause he was the one she got arrested with. Her boyfriend's wife bailed her out!!! I'm serious. I couldn't make this up if I tried--and I write some twisted novels!
She eventually moved back in with Mike, and while living with him, he was still paying her $700 a month in alimony--- which in my opinion was nothing compared to the life she gave him. She got no marital assets in the divorce because the house, cars, everything was in his name before they married.
When she died at 47 years old at 4 in the morning on Mike's living room couch. The bastard saw her seizing and went to bed instead of calling 911. He "came back to check on her a half hour later, but she was dead." Then he expected sympathy. Jerk....
The funeral was funny though :) It was done the way she would have wanted.
Cell phones were not common when I was 16 years old, so it was impossible for me to contact my family when a cop came to the door. He told me my sister was dead and he took me to identify her body. Apparently 16 is old enough to see a dead body, but not old enough to take custody of her from a police station after an arrest... New Jersey is crazy.
The officer and the medical examiner gave me the "brace yourself" line-- like that ever works. The sheet was pulled back, and WOW... it's not Lee. When I told them, they didn't believe me. "This is your sister, you're just in shock. The car accident caused injuries to her face so she looks different."
No dude, I think I know who my sister is. We've had enough fist fights and broken enough furniture and windows while doing it for me to know who she is. The woman on the table looked like her, was the same size as her.... but it wasn't her. I called her stupid husband to ask where she is, "I don't know. We had a fight and she took off. Where did you say you were?"
"The Medical Examiner's office, why didn't you talk to them when they called?"
"Medical Examiner? I thought they said Mental Health Center-- I owe them $50 for our marriage counseling sessions."
"Wait... I'm 16 years old and was brought down to identify my sister's dead body all because you are a freaking idiot? No amount of counseling is ever going to help you anyway." Then I slammed down the phone.
It turned out that my sister's purse was in this woman's car, therefore because of the characteristics of the woman, they assumed it was Lee. Then I called her work. It was her day off and she was not really the responsible type. She floated around from job to job, often because her crazy, stupid husband would call and argue with her. (Can you tell I despise the man?). She answered the phone at the pizza place, and I asked her where her purse was and who she had been with. It turned out she had been with her friend, Desiree, got dropped off by her, forgot the purse cause her husband was already screaming at her in the street, then she got in her own car and took off. She figured she would go into work and make some money.
When she arrived at the Medical Examiner's office to explain, they told her she was already certified as "Deceased". What the point was of having someone identify the body if they were going to do what they want anyway is beyond me. She yelled and screamed in typical Lee fashion, then the man finally held up a picture of both women. "Can you tell these two woman apart?"
Lee grabbed her photo, "Yeah, this is me! You think I don't know ME????"
It took her about three months to get herself declared alive again.
Keep reading.... it gets better....
Little Sister -- Lee's favorite song to sing to me. I can't tell you how many times I heard this. :) Now I play it just because.
We got to the hospital and were told it was a three vehicle accident. One was drunk who caused it, one was dead, and the other was unconscious. For hours they had all three families in the same waiting room, not knowing if our relative was dead or killed someone else. It was the worst feeling in the world. Finally, someone pulled me aside and asked to take me to the body. I didn't tell my mother, I just followed. The sheet was removed, again... it WASN'T her! I started laughing from relief, then realized this was the daughter of the family from the waiting room.
"Oh my god. Where's the other family? Do they think their daughter's alive?" Yep, the staff took the dead girl's family to Lee's room where she was unconscious. Those poor people lost a 22 year old daughter because the other vehicle had a drunk driver. It took some time before they told us Lee was sober and just leaving work when it happened.
How did this happen you ask? The paramedics took them out of the cars and wrote the vehicles on the toe tags. They wrote the wrong car, so they believed my sister to be the other girl. She looked young, so even at 32 she could have passed for 22.
So now you can understand when I tell you this.....
On New Year's Day 2011 I received a call from my mother at 10 am, "Lee's dead." I blinked, "Lee who? My sister Lee?"
I didn't believe it. How could I? I didn't believe it until I saw the body. Her funeral is a post for another day... and YES.. my family even makes a funeral funny.
It's taken me a long time to come to grips with her death. Writing these stories online makes her immortal. She was 47 years old when she died, and I often think it is for the best. She was young at heart with such a free spirit that I think if she turned 50 the entire world would have exploded from the emotions she would have unleashed.
It's mean to say, but she hated old people. She refused to work her retail jobs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because they were "Senior Citizen Discount Days". The worst thing that could possibly happen to her would be to be stuck in line behind, or driving behind, some old person. She'd yell and beep. I think her life just moved really fast, and she didn't have time to waste. Yet, if an older person needed help with something, she was there...... she just couldn't be there on a regular basis. It was the same with kids... she loved kids, as long as she didn't have to put up with them for hours-- future posts on that topic will be coming as well.
"I'm never getting old," she would say. And she was right.
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