I’ve been asked often over the years how on earth I ended up driving a big rig for a living. It all began when I became a School Bus Driver in southeastern Ohio. I’d be the first to say I certainly didn’t plan to use my school bus driving to transition into driving an 18-wheeler. I’ve liken my life to a tumbleweed pushed from here to there by the vagaries of the wind. I dealt with what happened in the moment never worrying about what might be around the next corner.
Thus this native Californian, who grew up in Sacramento, ended up living in southeastern Ohio when I married. My marriage, one of convenience, wasn’t made in heaven but I soldiered on with the choice I’d made. Talk about culture shock! Outhouses and hauling water were a way of life in this part of the country. It was an eye-opening experience to a life style I never realized still existed here in the United States in 1970 . I’m in the process of writing my second memoir, Pulling the Plug and Flush Toilets about the sixteen years I lived in Vinton County.
When my husband told me that because he earned the money, he’d decide when and if I could have money for anything other than my monthly grocery allowance. It was a decision I wasn’t happy with since generally, the answer was no. So, rather than argue with him, I looked for a job to earn my own spending money. I became a school bus driver a job, given the area, that paid reasonably well and had good benefits. As far as my husband was concerned I had no say in our finances. With that attitude, it goes without saying, I did not give him my check to handle.
Never mind that I’d never driven anything bigger than a car; with my intrepid spirit I stepped out and tackled the job. What I’d never considered when I hired as a school bus driver, was the winter weather in Ohio. It snowed! That’s a well duh! But remember snow in the California, I grew up in was something you visited then left and came home to clear roads or maybe rain but not more snow.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this was my training ground for a future driving an 18-wheeler. It taught me to handle all types of roads, mostly gravel in this area, and areas where maneuverability was limited. I also learned to share the roads with the semis that hauled coal out of the strip mines in the area and stay on my side of the narrow roads.
The following picture shows my next bus parked alongside the same barn in the snow. I don’t remember, now, whether or not I made my next run. It would have depended on whether more snow fell that day. One thing I do know is, if I did make it, I did not get back to the top of the hill. Our quarter-mile gravel drive never, despite tons of gravel being put on it, seemed to have adequate traction for our cars let alone my heavier school bus. Necessity made it crucial that I learn to back my bus up on the lower section of our driveway which was fairly level with a bit more gravel. This learning curve was nothing if not challenging and perhaps the main reason why I didn’t think moving to a big rig was that big a change.by