Have you ever considered team driving? There are huge perks to having another person on the road with you. The money is definitely there, and you have a consistent ground guide and another set of eyes if you need help parking or getting past obstacles. You get to keep the goods moving constantly and your productivity has potential to be through the roof. But if that person is your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, would it be a good bonding experience - or a complete disaster? I talked to drivers about their experiences and share my own perspectives about how teaming can make - or break - a relationship.
Depending on your company, your first few weeks training were probably spent co-driving with a trainer. This can clue you in to what it's like to share an incredibly small space with another person. Being in a truck with any other person creates an extremely intense work environment. But if you are in a relationship with this person, get ready to learn that person's quirks, communication tactics, and the dark side of his or her personality. I know this personally because I have been in the truck with my husband for two years now (one of which I have been a CDL holder), and we have come to know each other VERY well, for good or bad, in many ways.
I'll first say that there is a huge difference in your role being a co-driver or a passenger. As a passenger, I felt like I wasn't pulling my own weight. So even doing all the paperwork and small jobs like fueling and route planning, I couldn't help but feel a bit useless. I was dependent upon Eric for basically everything, and my sense of independence was noticeably absent. My husband was the captain and I was just along for the ride. So I was very excited to go to school and get my CDL, so I could be his equal in our careers.
It was difficult at first, getting used to driving all sorts of shifts and being stressed out about docking or parking. But after a while, the job provided structure to my schedule, and my communication with Eric became more limited, which was a good and bad thing at the same time. The teams I talked to also referenced the need to communicate effectively with your partner, as your time together is constant, but talking becomes necessarily limited. This is because, optimally, one person is sleeping while the other is driving.
Driving as a team, partners need to learn good communication tactics above everything else. A problem that plagues my own relationship is a deep depression that prevents me from being motivated to do anything other than forcing myself to drive my shift. I get emotionally void and unable to communicate well with my husband. No matter what your issues - because everyone has them - the pressure of your OTR life will only magnify them. Please recognize this before you enter a team driving situation; not everything is going to be okay all the time. And regardless of your career or lifestyle, I highly recommend personal or couples counseling. It can only make your relationship stronger. For OTR drivers who can't easily get to doctors' appointments, there are apps like BetterHelp that can give you a counselor to talk to no matter where you are, via video and text chat. My counselor gives me exercises to complete throughout the week, and this helps me get my feelings onto paper instead of taking them out on my partner.
You also need to learn to respect one anothers' boundaries. Don't be afraid to tell your partner you need space. There have been plenty of times we have stopped at a truck stop so I could get out and take a walk. Or if you have time, go for a solo shower and relax by yourself for a while. It is absolutely necessary to take time for yourself and remember you have a life of your own. It's admittedly a difficult thing to do when you're both living in your work space and working in your living space. Building trust that the other person is as invested in your relationship as you are is challenging, but you must keep in mind that you are your own person, and even if team driving doesn't work out for you, you were a team before the truck, and you can be a team after the truck. It just doesn't work for some people, and there's no shame in that. If you put your relationship before your career, there shouldn't be any problems you can't overcome.
Please recognize, though, that there will be good times, and amazing moments. I think about all the beautiful landscapes I've seen with my husband, the differing cultures of the U.S., seeing meteors shoot sparkling across the night sky, and so many other great experiences I would never have had without beginning this career with Eric. To me, it's worth the hard times, the hard-won battles, the times I've wanted to just quit. We carved out a lifestyle together, and today we're stronger than we have ever been. You can't know how good the good times are without experiencing how bad the bad times get. Like I said, there's a balance, and not everyone can walk that line successfully. Team driving puts you to the test every day, so if you're thinking about jumping in to a trucking team situation, take the time to solidify your bond with your partner. Think about counseling, whether or not you have any relationship issues. And get ready to share the (physical AND metaphorical) ride of your life with your loved one.
I hope everyone enjoyed this awesome guest blog by Lura Wooliver of Red Monkey Trucking.
See you on the road!
Hi! Welcome. I'm Mark and I've been a professional truck driver for over 33 years, the last 19 years at the same company. It is time that drivers got paid for every minute that we work and we are treated like the licensed professionals we are.