Not to be confused with a person-who-drives-a-truck…. but an actual trucker. Ok so not big rigs but flatbeds, 1/2 tons, F-350s, etc.
A friend of mine from my days at SWT (Southwest Texas State University, now just Texas State) moved to Colorado and started his own fleet service company. We’d joked about me going to work for him; I’d be The Organized One and he’d be Everything Else.
I didn’t give too much serious thought to the idea until 2005 rolled around and I found myself head-over-heels in love with Maurice, who was in the middle of a deployment to Iraq and was being re-stationed at Fort Carson. Not being one to believe in coincidence I decided to give the idea of working for John’s company some more serious thought. It was in the same city that Maurice would soon be in, in my beloved state of Colorado, working with someone whose business sense I trusted, and the job would be something fresh and new…an adventure. So in October 2005 I packed up and hauled tail to Colorado Springs to start a new chapter.
What I didn’t know was how adventurous that new chapter would turn out to be! I thought I’d be holding down the fort at Liberty Fleet as the office guru, the assistant, the one who keeps John organized. I didn’t see “travel” in the job description, which would typically make me over the moon happy. And for a short time, it totally did! I got to drive all over Colorado – saw the leaves change outside of Aspen and the first puffs of winter on the Rockies; got to live it up in Amarillo one time on a day trip to Louisiana… met all kinds of salt-of-the-earth people that I truly enjoyed being around.
The downside was that these trips usually began at 4am – a time I didn’t even know existed until this job. They usually also entailed dragging my tired ass into the cab of a 3/4 ton flatbed in frigid temperatures and let me tell you, those don’t warm up quickly!
I wasn’t spending much time in the office which was somewhat disappointing. I’m the type of person that gets a huge kick out out of organizing the crap out of e-ver-y-thing. Nevertheless I was on the road meeting nice people and seeing the country. Things started to unravel slowly.
John has a special way of making the most horrible places seem like oases, and a knack for selectively holding back important information. Enter Deming, New Mexico. I started this trip at 4 in the morning so that I could get there, drop off the truck, and get to my hotel room before sundown. Great plan. I was on the road, over Raton Pass safe and sound, and into Santa Fe by lunchtime. I stopped at one of my favorite Santa Fe joints, The Burrito Company, and continued on down the road. New Mexico is actually pretty damn beautiful despite what my husband will tell you.
Around Truth or Consequences John got ahold of me and told me to take the truck to the yard at which point “Jamie” will me and take me to my hotel.
NIKKI: “So John, is Jamie a guy or a girl?”
JOHN: “Well, Jamie could be a guy or girl name.”
NIKKI: “That’s not what I asked – is Jamie a guy or a girl?”
JOHN: “Hmm.. I’m not sure. Don’t worry they’re good people.”
That’s when the panic started settling in. Deming….was….a shithole. It was a one stop sign town in the middle of NOTHING covered in dirt. I swear it was straight out of one of those horror movies. Anyway I took the truck (with my doors now locked) to the work yard and asked for Jamie, still not knowing whether or not I was meeting up with a man or a woman. Of course, it was a man! So now I was in a shitty little dump town in a shitty little work trailer with a man-Jamie, wondering how the hell could I get home and was I going to get chopped into pieces.
Man-Jamie (the boss) was too busy to drive me to my hotel so he had another worker do it. Don’t get me wrong – I am all about blue collar workers and I’m not trying to imply that just because they’re working in this little shit town doing a shit job that it makes them some kind of psycho. But you have to wonder?!?! So this worker guy is driving me down the very unlit road to the nicest hotel in town, the Holiday Inn, and I swear I had 911 ready to dial with the push of a button. I was thinking of ways to throw myself out of his truck and find a cop who could pick me up and safely escort me to my room. A whole list of scenarios went through my head and I tried to talk myself out of the panic. Half-way to the hotel the driver guy asks “..so…the hotel has a bar. Want to get a drink?” What do you say in a moment like that? I was paralyzed with fear. Say yes and he’s going to think other things; say no and he might get mad and chop me to bits. So I said the first thing that came to mind, “no thank you, sorry, my husband is meeting me at the hotel”. Total lie but I didn’t really car at that moment! Thankfully he got me to the hotel. I shoved both chairs under the door that night and hardly slept a wink.
Next morning another creepy picked me up and drove me into El Paso where I was catching a plane back to Colorado Springs. I was never so thankful to get home!!! Note to self: Get ALL the important details from John before hitting the road solo.