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Off To CDL School

Jai and I will be leaving tomorrow for CDL school in Strafford, Missouri. An 18,00 mile trip to begin a 30-day fast-track school to become professional team truck drivers. We’re going to Route 66 because it’s one of three schools approved by the company we most want to work with — Conway Truckload, out of Joplin, Missouri.

Up to now, it’s been so busy with DOT physicals, updating licenses and getting married! — that I’ve had little time to think about how major a life decision this “truck driving as a team” thing is.

Perhaps that’s a good thing!

Tonight however, I’m sitting outside in the quiet of late evening under the canopy, listening to the birds sing their last lullabies for the night and starting to feel a little more nervous…

Have I done my due diligence?

I do think so. I called dozens of trucking companies that take new drivers out of CDL school and asked every question I could think of.

Through each call I learned more about what to ask and what answers are better than others.

By the time I called the company we have settled on – Conway Truckload – we had all my questions lined up and all the answers we were looking for in mind. Conway recruiter, Keturah Wheat, batted 1,000. Jai and I couldn’t have hoped for more.

The pay is the best of any other company we talked to, for team drivers just out o CDL school. The trucks are up-to-date. The freight is 90% no-touch and dry van… no reefer. The company offers so many perks that I’m still pinching myself that we found Conway and havr this opportunity right out of the gate.

I also got all my paperwork in order over these last few weeks. Social Security card, drivers license, marriage license etc., etc… that was enough all by itself — but we also had to do physicals and take the test for our Class A Permit, which required a boatload of study. We both passed with flying colors though!

Honestly, I have no idea how big a change this really will be? That said, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s far bigger than either of us realize.

The reality is that a change was coming one way or another.

Over the last 12 months Jai has worked for 5 different contractors. No matter how you slice it, that’s ridiculous. Until last week, the reasons behind all those layoffs were a mystery to me. I know Jai’s work ethic and it just didn’t make sense… until I found it…

Unable to sleep one night, I got up and decided to see if I could find answers online. I researched the costs to small business – and electrical companies usually qualify as “small businesses” – of insurance for employees.

I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that while a 24-30 year old employees costs roughly $250 per month, an employee 50+ is nearly $1000 per month.

That’s when the light went on and all the pieces of this puzzle fell into place.

After Jai turned 50, instead of sending 4 or 5 resumes out and getting several solid offers for work… he was sending dozens and getting nothing. It was a shock. And…

Every layoff came right on the heels of becoming eligible for company paid health insurance.

In every case, he was promised months of work when he started. The week after he became eligible for benefits, he would get a letter saying he was laid-off – or – a visit in the late afternoon from his foreman saying jobs had fallen through and they had no choice but to let him go. But would of course like him to come back when work picks up again. (rolls her eyes upward).

Yes, it’s most definitely age discrimination… and very difficult to prove. Not to mention expensive and time-consuming. When your only desire is to use your talents and abilities to provide for your family — and yet, you’re hampered in doing that by circumstances beyond your control… it’s time to make a change.

Having solved the mystery of the lay-offs, both of us became resolute in our desire to move forward in a more positive direction.

In my whole life, I have always had my own businesses – in the music industry, the art world and online. However, the last couple of years were not as profitable… in fact, since 2009 my contributions to our household were limited. With Jai’s work situation becoming unstable, I knew it was time to look seriously outside of any box I’d ever known. Trucking is certainly that!

I’m not completely unfamiliar with trucking… my grandfather drove a truck for 45 years. My uncle did as well. And I have a few cousins who drive today… but I’ve never actually been in a BIG TRUCK. At least not since I was 5 🙂 when I stood on Grandpa’s lap and pulled the leather strap to blow the horn… over-and-over to my great delight!

I have no idea how this “adventure” will turn out. One thing both Jai and I do know is… there’s no going back.

We’re set to leap off this cliff. Failure isn’t an option.

I’m nervous… but excited at the same.

More soon….
Andrea



Andrea Steward

Andrea Steward

Before driving professionally for Con-Way Truckload, Andrea was (and still is) a professional photographer/musician/singer/artist/writer and serial entrepreneur. She has written and produced 5 albums (available on CD Baby). Now... she's driving in a husband/wife truck driving team and LOVIN' IT with passion. "Life in America depends on truckers... my Grandaddy did it for 45 years, it might be in my blood!" - Andrea
Andrea Steward

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Andrea Steward
About Andrea Steward (143 Articles)
Before driving professionally for Con-Way Truckload, Andrea was (and still is) a professional photographer/musician/singer/artist/writer and serial entrepreneur. She has written and produced 5 albums (available on CD Baby). Now... she's driving in a husband/wife truck driving team and LOVIN' IT with passion. "Life in America depends on truckers... my Grandaddy did it for 45 years, it might be in my blood!" - Andrea
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