A trucking story, --- by Harry Rudolfs
"You know these times are gettin' rough, and there ain't nothing I can do... all I ever get from you is long distance love" Lowell George
This time of year we hear a lot about truckers and their loyal spouses waiting for them patiently back at the domicile. But how about those drivers who don't have a supportive partner serving up home cooking as soon as they walk in the door? Those drivers who have loved and lost, whose road to romantic happiness has suffered a breakdown or wreck along the way?
"I think drivers have a support network among themselves," says Debbie Walker, part-owner of the Fort Nelson Fifth Wheel Truck Stop Restaurant in Fort Nelson, BC. "They seem to be able to rely on each other whether they have a partner at home or not. And even the few souls who were in here over Christmas, who didn't have anybody waiting for them, didn't carry chip on their shoulder," she adds.
"I think some of the young guys who are single these days don't want to settle down," observes Bev, working the cash register of the Blackfoot Truck Stop in Calgary. "Itís not like it was 25 or 30 years ago. A lot of them don't want to permanently be with someone."
"What about waitresses, do they ever fall in love with truck drivers?" I ask.
"Well, a few of them have been caught climbing in and out of trucks over the years," she laughs.
Bev, herself, is partnered with a truck driver, and trucking flows in her veins: Her mother ran a truck stop when she was 12 or 13, and her dad had been a trucker as well.
Her romance with "Dougie the Cattlehauler" started while she was dating another driver. "I was dating this guy who had been a friend of my family when this other guy started sending me flowers. Then he'd bring me a stuffed animal or leave a card under my windshield wiper, things like that."
But Bev assures me this wasn't any instant courtship. "It was six months before I let him go out with me and six months more before I brought him home to meet my family."
That's almost the same story told to me by a waitress at Goobies Truck Stop on the TransCanada in Newfoundland. Her husband used to stop in for breakfast at her restaurant. "He would tell me to grab my coat and go with him. It was a year before I took him up on that."
Both women, on either side of the country, admit to being first attracted to their future partner's sense of humour and laughter.
"You need something to break the ice," agrees Ross Mackie, CEO of Mackie Moving Systems, and himself a great swordsman in his day. "Being able to make women laugh is very important. If you're the silent type, you better work on a few jokes."
"I learned a lot of from more experienced drivers," says Mackie. "I've been lucky that way and had a lot of fun. Eye contact is important... and flowers. Eventually you'll want to take them somewhere nice for dinner, other than a truck stop."
Well, my current trucking employer allows me one 15 minute break between Toronto and Montreal, hardly enough time to chat up a Tim Horton's girl. And to be clear I'm writing this from a male/hetero perspective. The industry is heavily weighted with male drivers and women truckers are often overwhelmed with unwanted attention. Just listen to the craziness that can erupt on the CB when men hear a female voice.
But meeting a compatible dating partner, whether you're a male or female of any sexual orientation, can be a difficult task for the single professional driver. Thank goodness for the Internet. Not only is wireless and WiFi service available in many truck stops, drivers can subscribe to free dating sites like plentyoffish.com which offer a vast catalogue of people and types. Thereís even a site specifically geared to truck drivers: truckerpassions.com.
Apparently, lots of truck drivers post profiles on these sites. One woman even displayed her truck and 53' trailer (reminding me of the joke about the fisherman looking for a wife-"please send photo of boat and trailer").
I broke up with my last girlfriend about 6 months ago. She's found someone else and that still pinches a bit. But we remain good friends and the best part of the deal is that I get to hang out with her ten year old son Zak every other weekend.
My kids are in their late 20s now, so this is another chance to fly model airplanes, go to ball games, ride bicycles around the park, go fishing, check out the jets landing at Pearson, practice archery, play computer games, watch the Leafs lose, etc.
Although me and my ex-gal never found the bliss we hoped for, I did discover this amazing bond with Zak. I was looking for love with a partner and found something deeper with a ten year old boy who needed a dad. My point is that love could be staring you in the face and you might not know it.
Unlike Ross Mackie, I'll probably celebrate Valentine's Day without a girlfriend. Of course, I'm still looking for that ultimate truck driving babe who likes literature, cycling and William Carlos Williams. But in the meantime I'll be out flying kites with Zak, or model rockets, or playing mini-golf or bowling.