Sign up for The Wire Newsletter!

Driver Lifestyles

Slamming the Curtains Just Does Not Work

By Sandy Long
Posted Dec 16th 2013 8:24AM

p315-3-jpg.jpgThere are many benefits to running team. One is never alone, one has someone to take over in case of illness or fatigue, one has someone to help with the work outside of the seat and one has someone to call on in dangerous situations. On the flip side, one is never or rarely alone and those 8x8 cabs can get awfully small and tight with two people trying to occupy the same space.

Most teams are husband/wife (relationship teams), two friends, two family members running together or in some cases, strangers matched up in the terminal to either train or just run together. Relationship teams are most common these days outside of training and very prevalent in expediting and other just in time freight operations.

Maintaining a relationship is hard enough when two people are at home, with different jobs where they are not together 24/7. Putting the two into a truck cab 24/7 and it is like tap dancing thru a minefield to keep the relationship strong and intact. If you are not in a team running situation and want to get a feel for what this is like, imagine yourself locked in the bathroom with your spouse/partner for even a full day; after the first hour, what do you talk about and what if a discussion turns heated.

When a spouse/partner joins the other on the truck, one of the hardest things for the experienced driver to learn is how to drive ‘team style’. This means starting and stopping easier, shifting easier, cornering less sharply and judicial use of the engine retarders. It is also harder for the experienced driver to sleep, at first, behind someone else unless they have run team before.

To overcome that, the experienced driver should become as tired as they safely can, pack pillows between themselves and the back bunk wall and lying on their side, hug a pillow against their chest; this changes the center of gravity of the sleeper. It is not the up and down bouncing that keeps someone awake as much as it is the rocking back and forth, it stirs up the ‘fear of falling’ fear everyone has.

Many spouses come into the truck to run team with their other halves thinking they will get to spend a lot of time together. Yes, to a degree, this is true, but in a hard running team operation, the time together may be an hour or two during shift changes if that, before the non driving partner goes to the bunk. Though many teams try to schedule enough time in the day to eat a meal together or take time to get a shower to break up the day and spend time together outside of the truck, the real time together is in downtime waiting for a load or waiting out an hours of service break.

During these times, many teams plan sightseeing trips or visits to family or friends in the area. The key is to spend time doing something fun together or make sure there is some time apart. For instance, while one remains in the truck reading or taking a nap, the other teammate goes inside to drink coffee or visit with other drivers. The purpose is to provide something besides trucking business to talk about and some time to work through stress without feeling hemmed in by the other partner, however, always make sure your partner knows your whereabouts and never leave the truck stop environs without notifying your partner where you are going.

Keeping up with individual interests is much easier now than in the old days with internet access and cell phones, this provides something new to talk about for teammates. Boredom can lead to arguments, so keeping from becoming bored is important. It helps if both drivers enjoy some of the same music, news channels or audio book types. If noise from the cab area is an issue for the off duty driver trying to sleep, use those clip on clips to hang an additional ‘curtain’ over the sleeper curtain to help muffle the noise, use a light blanket or heavy sheet.

Dividing chores on a truck usually goes along a set course in relationship teams; the male does the mechanical work such as checking oil, tires, fluid levels, fueling and supervising loading/unloading while the female does navigating, phone work, paperwork and cleaning chores. This is not a hard and fast rule, but how it usually works out. However, this can cause issues if the male goes down sick or has to leave to truck for family issues while under load.

A man was a long time trucker, when the kids were grown, his wife decided to come and drive with him. She went to school and the man finished her training. After about a year of running team, the man got a phone call that his father was dying and he should get home. The team was under load and even though there were other drivers going to the same place that could have helped the wife if she needed it to take the load on herself, the man refused to allow her to do so. This not only caused him to miss seeing his father before he died, but caused resentment issues with his wife.

It is important that both members of a team can do all aspects of the job. This way, one does not have to wake the other to fuel, navigate or back into a spot unless difficulties arise. However, most teams try to plan the trip so fueling or whatever can be done during shift change times, though there are those times when plans go awry. This also helps conserve hours on the log book.

Disagreements are bound to happen between teammates, there are after all, two distinct personalities cooped up together in a small space. Arguing while driving though is the worst form of distracted driving. Unlike at home, where one person can go into another room or outside to avoid an argument, one cannot do that going down the road at 65 mph.

One long time team developed a word to use when tempers were starting to flare. When either one used the word, in this case, teakettle, they stopped talking about whatever was raising ire. Later on, when stopped, the discussion restarted if necessary. This worked for them for over 20 years and is still working.

Another team keeps a ‘gripe’ book. If one or the other one does or says something that angers or annoys the other when working, they write it down in the notebook. When they stop and have time, they go over whatever it was. They report though that usually by the time they have time to go over the ‘gripe’ the mood has changed and they get a good laugh out of it.

The joys and benefits of running team are many, increased miles and pay, time to spend together enjoying the beauty the country has to offer and never being alone being the major ones. Remember the drawbacks too and develop strategies to deal with them before they happen, sleeper curtains just do not slam like doors at home do.

4 Comments

  • - December 31, 2013
    Ann Robertson-=|=- this article is right on the money, one thing I can say is my husband and I have ran team for about 8 years and yes all these things do happen. Usually a team is ran hard to get to their destination, but after we got our load delivered and had time to sit down and have a nice shower and a meal I would notice other teams ( husband /wife drivers) that would come into the resturaunt they would be holding hands and you could tell they had been running hard too. There is a special bond between a husband / wife teams even when you dnt agree about something
  • - December 31, 2013
    Ann Robertson-=|=- this article is right on the money, one thing I can say is my husband and I have ran team for about 8 years and yes all these things do happen. Usually a team is ran hard to get to their destination, but after we got our load delivered and had time to sit down and have a nice shower and a meal I would notice other teams ( husband /wife drivers) that would come into the resturaunt they would be holding hands and you could tell they had been running hard too. There is a special bond between a husband / wife teams even when you dnt agree about something
  • - February 14, 2014
    Lesly Fehn-=|=-Running teams with my boyfriend was the best time of my life. I saw this awesome country of ours and went places most people only dream of going. I enjoyed the companionship of being a team and the closeness of our relationship. Unfortunately, my love passed away from a pulmonary embolism while in the truck. That ended my driving career and for the most part, my life. I would like to go back on the road as a team but I am afraid to trust someone's driving that I don't know. Maybe one of these days I will get behind the wheel again.
  • - February 14, 2014
    Lesly Fehn-=|=-Running teams with my boyfriend was the best time of my life. I saw this awesome country of ours and went places most people only dream of going. I enjoyed the companionship of being a team and the closeness of our relationship. Unfortunately, my love passed away from a pulmonary embolism while in the truck. That ended my driving career and for the most part, my life. I would like to go back on the road as a team but I am afraid to trust someone's driving that I don't know. Maybe one of these days I will get behind the wheel again.

Please sign in or sign up to post a comment.  Or sign in with Facebook.