In the winter of 2008, I quit a newspaper reporter job in order to go to trucking school. I plan to spend the next year or so of my life on the road as a long haul truck driver, learning and growing and not doing what I'm told.
Such a lifestyle choice may seem odd for a college educated woman in her mid-20s, but the idea had been bouncing around my head for over a year, ever since I wrote a news a story about a local truck school. With each demotion and blow to my pride delivered by my former employer, I thought, "This sucks. I just want to quit the rat race and become a trucker." Finally, I did just that.
I've been a traveler all my life. I was born in Moscow, Russia; immigrated with my family to Baltimore, MD, at the age of 10; after college moved to Washington, DC, for a job; then to rural North Carolina for a job; then to northern California for another job - the one I left in February, lured by the whispered promises of open roads.
What follows is the entry I wrote in my personal blog about the conversation that started this whole thing. It is dated Jan. 11, 2007.
I am interviewing the president of a trucking school for a business story. I am sitting in the office listening to stories about trucking, about the road, about the hectic schedules that are somehow worth it for seeing the country, about the high numbers of professional people who quit their jobs as teachers and office drones to get behind the wheel of a big rig and leave everything behind in a cloud of dust and exhaust. And I am feeling the familiar wanderlust flooding my system, like a bird forcing its way through my veins, feathers straining thin membrane, something bursting inside.
I have an idea. An idea for a book. I want to drive a truck. For, I don't know, six months to a year? And write about it. A Ted Conover type book, first person immersion journalism with a good dose of social responsibility, fueled by an insatiable need to see everything and peppered with Kerouac quotes and American road-lore, supported by studies of the economic and environmental impacts of this industry, told from a female point of view about a stereotypically male world.
I am completely fucking serious.