Monday, February 08, 2021

How I got Excellent Credit Score

 I live in an apartment. Pay a decent amount of rent; more than $1000 (R15 000) per month, like, MORE! Los Angeles, resident, remember? I think to myself, since I had been working so hard on improving my credit score, why don’t I work on buying myself a home? Maybe then all these thousands of dollars in rent per year can go towards my own home! 

If you’ve been following my story, you know that my credit score building didn’t start until only a few years ago. I started at zero, got a secure credit card and that got me to average score. That’s  around the 500s  that whole story is in this blog entry.  My lovely husband (at the time), Calvin made me an authorized user of one of his credit cards  that immediately  lowered my score, probably from the bank doing a hard pull (checking my score). Weeks later, my credit score went back up and stayed there. But we had a much higher credit limit on Calvin’a card than mine. Like $10 000. Imagine! My secure card was only $200. 

I never used The card Calvin put me on. I had him keep both cards. I am not a credit minded person. I prefer cash and would only use it if it weren’t for how much importance is placed on Credit score in America! I continued to use my credit car for all purchases and paying it back as soon as the charge cleared. A year after I had gotten my secure credit card, I got a check of $50 back. They were refunding me the deposit I’d put down to get the $200 credit score card. All of this is explained in the  blog linked to above. 

When things went south in our relationship, my sweet hubby, went straight for the joint credit card. He cancelled that! That messed up my score by a few points because now, I have a lower number of credit lines. Number of credit cards, loans, etc is important for your score. They pretty much want you to be i  as much debt as possible. That’s the opposite of what I’ve always strived for all my life. At this point, my score was around 650. Decent for a little girl from a farm in Africa! 

After I escaped prison, ahem, I mean my marriage , I applied for a second credit card. I had just moved into the apartment mentioned above, it had been two years since I got my first credit card. I was approved immediately with a limit of a couple of thousand bucks. What? Little ole me? I was floored! At this point, my first card’s limit had gone up by a hundred or so at a time. I had made my way up to $700 at this point on that card and it wouldn’t to any higher. Kinda frustrating because I would check other users online and find that they had much better luck with the same lender. 

When I got my second card, my score was in the early 700s  it  was just going up, naturally, by itself haha. No pun intended. I only waited a few months before I applied for a credit line increases with my new bank and they obliged. I was like, dang, I love these guys. In fact, in the beginning, I set up automatic payment with them. I recommend this, even if you will pay per transaction. This will take care of the odd chance you forget to pay or whatever. Your credit card balance will then be paid in full, or whatever you will have preselected. I have mine for full payment because I don’t buy anything on credit, I don’t already have the cash to pay for in full. PLUS! I am cheap as all get out. Probably why my first credit folk  aren’t trying to up my limit anytime soon. They’re like btch, for what? You don’t even spend this credit. 

With two credit cards, I was getting slight points here and there. 1% if you spend money at Walmart, 1% if you pay for fuel anywhere but at Costco. Here’s the deal! I only fuel at Costco! They have some of the cheapest gas. I’ve got their membership card. Then I went on the road to become a truck driver.  At that point, I wasn’t even going to use my car, so even Costco wasn’t really going to be getting my gas money! I didn’t pay my rent using the credit card because it was much too high for my credit limit. I try to keep my usage under  30%. I hear that’s the sweet spot for Debt to Credit Ratio. What I’ve learned is that, if my usage was 20% when they checked me out this month and 22% next month, they will deduct a point or even 4 from my score. They’ll say because my ratio has gone up! True story!

I had my cellphone account on one card and internet on another. Just in case, I end up not using the cards the whole month.  There will still be usage and auto pay will take care of payment. I always did use them on food though. 

With just these two cards, I’ve managed to get my score to 760. Some companies consider that Very good and some, Excellent! Those are the basics of how I’ve gotten a score that high. Not much usage on my part. Perhaps if you use yours more or get a car note on it, etc, you will get better mileage, so to speak. 

I’m content with things the way they are. I do have one more major update on it, but I like to do things in chronological order, so, that story will come up later in the journey. 

Thanks for riding this journey with me. Ask me anything, I’ll give you the best answer I know how to. 



In the meantime, here are my contacts  

@BabalwaBrook on all social
Write me at 
P. O. Box 4502
Ontario
CA
91761
USA



Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Am I Being Seduced

Day 1 on the road, or over the road, as they say in trucking. This applies to when you’re cross country. That’s what I was about to embark on. I grabbed my sht, got on the 10 freeway and headed east from my place in Los Angeles. I was asked to be at the company terminal around noon, by my new trainer. I did as asked. No traffic around that time, thankfully. During orientation, we were told to bring bedding for training period. There was going to be a period when I would be asleep whole the mentor is driving and vice versa. Imagine that! Sleeping with a brand spanking new driver on the wheel! Sweet dreams, sleeping beauty!

My bedding on the Trainer’s truck bed. 

I took along bedding I used to use when I ran a small Air BnB business. Remember those days? I also brought my sleeping bag as u can see. I would put my bedding over the guy’s bedding when it’s my turn to sleep and take it pff when I’m done.

My luggage behind me in my apartment

How was I feeling on this day? Excited! Not to be stuck in a small space with a stranger for weeks but for what was to follow. I finally did it! I checked something off my list. Driving a truck  is something that used to fascinate me when I was young. I am now about to drive one across The United states, on the right side of the road. It was a nee day in my life! 

I quickly went to the ladies for this selfie

He called and told me to go meet him outside. I got there, he was with his wife, so I got to meet her as well.  Kind of interesting that I was introduced to the wife as I was going to move in with her husband. Sidebar: this guy, we’ll call him, Carlos, looks like nobody I’ve ever met. He just does not have a familiar look at all! At all! His wife looked a little Eastern European. She was giving me Georgian vibes. The country, not the state. You know when you’re meeting someone for the first time? All your senses are alert, you’re sussing them out, wanting to see whether you’re going to get along or not, etc? I got nothing! I was like, dang! Just like during our phone call the previous day, I can’t read this guy! And I’m very good at reading people! No tea, no shade, haha! 
I was to move my car  to long term parking. They told me to go in front of them, so that they can just sneak in after me. I didn’t understand why they had to be sneaky. That made me feel funny. I’m already on high alert, like, come on now, guys! The truck was in the shop, getting something replaced. I quickly loaded my luggage while they were working on truck. Getting into that thing was a challenge! So high! Carlos gave me my set of keys. When the shop was done, he was like, come on, and pointed to the driver’s seat! My eyes almost fell out their sockets! I don’t know what I expected to happen, I knew I was there to drive but...!

Some of my groceries. 

Carlos, my trainer,  quickly changed his mind and told me he would drive to the shipper and I would take us to Atlanta from there. Huh? We’re going to Atlanta? It was going to be my first tome there! I was so excited to hear that. This is about to be fun! Let the adventure begin! Honk! Honk!

The drive was going to be 2300 miles. That’s 3700 km. That’s an entire week! I was told I was to drive us all the way there. That was the training part. From there on, we were going to take turns! Mhh kay! Lezzz go! He drove us 2 hours to pick up our load.  It was around 2pm. Lots of traffic! His driving was not good, haha! Lots of driving between two lanes, like, right along the line! He was also on his phone a lot! He called some of his ex students and told them about me. He asked if he can give me their number, should I blah blah blah. I was thinking, I’d much rather you get us where we’re going safely than all this socializing. Like, I’m not even that social, this will not pay that much dividends for ya! But I had to make a good first impression. I was being nice. You know how when someone is not paying attention to the road, you end up doing so for them? That was me! In this big ole truck!

He had this voice that he used when he talked to his former students, all of whom were females, that was very sex phone line-esque. Then he would follow that by laughing longer than a normal person would, in a very Barry White voice. I was like what is going on? Am I being seduced? I sure hope not! Otherwise, this would be, what they refer to nowadays, a very toxic environment!

I didn’t wanna spend time on my phone as I was there to learn and I was still learning this person. I had sent my boo, Derrick texts when I got there and as we were about to head out. He had spent the previous night at my place. I missed him already. There’s a certain beauty in having someone you care about whom you miss so painfully when you leave. 

We arrived at the Shipper, here in Southern California. They had signs that everyone needs to be in closed toe shoes and a safety vest. I had forgotten to get a vest. I saw it at the 99 cents store but here we are. Carlos offered to get me one. The customer, aka shipper, sells these required vests.  Imagine that. They cell the 99 cents ones for $5. Golly! Carlos also bought us both lunch from a food truck outside the customer’s premises. We were there for a few hours. He spent that whole time on the on the phone. 

P. S. When We arrived st the shipper, I offered to back the truck into the parking spot. That wasn’t that hard. No pun. Very open area. Carlos’ truck is different from the ones we learned on, so, learning something new again. Yay!
 From there, I had to back into the doc, where they were going to load us. Now, that was not easy! Luckily, the lady at the window was nice enough to tell my trainer, Carlos that She only had the hardest door for me. I shouldn’t feel stupid if it’s hard to get into it. That made me feel better. Even though, I knew my track record. Backing and I weren’t friends... yet!

—- 
Tax Deadline was during truck driving school. I got to do my taxes myself for the first time. Here’s how that went. Press play! 



We got done loading, submitted the load info on the system and, Trucker Brook, take us to the East Coast! 
Vroom! Vroon! Bop! Bop! (That’s my truck air horn!)
Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and post comments. I need your communication while on the road more than ever. It’s free! Also, below is my real mailing address. Get at me! I’d love to hear from you 

Contact  me here...

@BabalwaBrook on all social
Write me at 
P. O. Box 4502
Ontario
CA
91761
USA

Friday, January 29, 2021

Trucking Across America with a Stranger

Trucker Brook reporting for duty!

Backing is one of the most important parts of trucking. The load that you’d be delivering is stored in the trailer. The door to the trailer is in the back, just like it is in the trunk of regular car.  In order for receiving customer to unload, you, the truck driver, need to back your truck and trailer into the doc. Docs vary in accessibility. Some, I’m told, were designed back when trailers were 40 ft long. Trailers are now 53ft long and they expect us to be able to squeeze these into 40ft slots. It also matters if you’re driving a day cab; that’s ok the tractor without sleeping compartment, or not. I do, so, that’s more of a challenge, because my tractor is longer and I can’t use rear view mirror, I depend solely on the side mirrors. 

All that said, backing was a mutha for me! I was one of, if not, THE WORST in my class, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. 

Press Play!

I may have mentioned before that you get three chances to pass the test? Same applies to the driving part. I may or may not have needed some of these attempts to make it through. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. The ones in my class who were better than others, made sure they flaunted that in our faces. 

Here’s a video I did on one my worst days in trucking school. 

Cut to: I Got my trucking license! Whew! Talk about blood, sweat and all the rest of it! 

The school sends us to paid orientation before we start backing.  I don’t know whose idea this was because, what if you don’t make it? Anyway? It’s nice break from boot camp style learning. Two full days of more shenanigans. I was just glad they paid us... and fed us. 

Now that I’ve passed, it’s the waiting part. Waiting for the company to find me a trainer who I was to go on the road with for 200 hours of driving experience. That can take up to 5/6 weeks. You will be living, eating, sleeping, farting in the same small truck with this stranger the whole entire time! Good luck! 

The good thing about the waiting period was that, every day I was at home, in limbo, I got paid. I was able to tie some loose ends, go for walks, catch up on more Brooking. 

Loquats. Used to eat them as a child



I had to grab me one loquat, if only for old time’s sakes! 
Long walk to freedom

Speaking of Freedom, while on this long walk, 10km (6miles), I received a call from driver placement department. They had a trainer for me! They asked if I was ready to head out the very next day. I said: sure! Why wait? They gave him my number, few minutes later, ring, ring! It’s the guy who was about to show me the ropes of trucking. Here we go folks! He seemed OK. Sounded like someone who’s done this a couple of times. I was another driver he was assigned to. I asked him what I should bring. He told me he always buys water for drinking in the truck. That’s nice but I drink tap water, so! Hashtag, cheap af. One of the very first things I asked was whether he had a fridge. It’s important to me as someone who is watching her weight. I preplan my meals and eat at home. That would’ve been tricky without a fridge. Well, it WAS GOING to be tricky! Brotha didn’t have a fridge! He told me it was ‘getting fixed’. I knew there and then, he doesn’t have a fridge for the truck. I’m grown! I’ve lived. I know people. I knew what that line meant. I had to figure out what I was going to buy to eat on the road that didn’t require a refrigerator. It’s not enough that I was going to be learning something new. Now, I gotta worry about what on earth to eat! Whew!

On my walk, I also bought chargers for my cellphone and iPad. I wasn’t going to be caught with my pants down! No mam, Pam! I walked back home and did finishing touches. It was an exciting day. The sooner I went over the road with this stranger, the sooner I got my own truck! Knock on wood

The toilet stall behind me was pit of order the whole tome I went to school there! 

My bags have been packed for a while, I had some food I could take along in the cupboard already, off to bed. Wake up, head off to the office, where I was to drop my car and get into the truck. Let the games begin! 

Buckle up, trucker!

 Contact  me here...

@BabalwaBrook on all social
Youtube.com/BabalwaBrook 
Write me at 
P. O. Box 4502
Ontario
CA
91761
USA


Sunday, January 17, 2021

A Trucker’s BirthDay Party.

Hello, my hearts and souls! First blog of 2021! I hope everyone and their loved ones made it! Mine did and I’m ever so grateful. 

My birthday came a few days into truck driving school. My boo thang, Derrick took me to dinner for my birthday. I was excited that he set time aside to treat me on my special day  he’s good with that kind of thing  you get a gift for Christmas, Valentine’s  day gift... if you’re lucky, you get dumped right around Valentine’s, but who’s counting?  We went to one of his favorite spots, a nice steakhouse. He’s a very meat and potatoes guy and does a lot of home bbq-ing. We dressed up, the whole vibe was exciting! Derrick’s not the best compliment giver. At least not when it comes to me! This was his reaction when I came out of his bedroom looking nice: Where are you going? He had a huge smile on his face as he asked. I knew that was meant as a compliment. 

He’s a screenshot of birthday dinner:
Birthday Dinner for Trucker Brook

Everything we ate was delicious as heck! I even got a box of complimentary truffle chocolates from the restaurant cos Derrick had told them ahead of time that it was going to be my birthday. We stuffed our faces silly with that ginormous tomahawk  steak and still had leftovers. We couldn’t even pass out after dinner for how uncomfortable we were from being stuffed. I hadn’t eaten all day because of the fast I was on.  

Birthday outfit

Next day, back to trucking school! It’s exercises after exercises, then homework, then tests, then then then! Before I knew it, it was time for Permit test or Learner’s license test. 
There was so much to grasp as everything we were learning was totally brand new to me, I was about to lose my sht. 
Here’s a youtube of that period in my life. ... 

Press play!

We were going to test first thing in the morning. If you don’t make it the first time, you had a couple more time to retry. If you passed the first time, you had the rest of the weekend off. I was tired as heck and needed the long weekend. I studied like a mofo and was pretty much up all night. 

Spoiler alert! ...

Mama, I made it!

I passed the first time, took my cute behind and went straight to the mall to spend some money! All I came out with, was a skipping rope / hump rope! Oh, to be me! I didn’t find anything exciting that I didn’t already have at Ontario Mall. Actually, I have a new great story to tell you about Ontario Mall. 

I’d the weekend off and got a bunch done around the house. Lots of prepping for life on the road. Gotta think ahead, right? 

Press Play!

Back to school the following week, straight into the truck for the first time! All along, we were confined in a classroom. Now, we get to really truck! A few students per truck. We learned what they call pre-trip. Basically, self explanatory. It’s things you routinely check before going on a trip. There are fcking 90 of them! We were going to get tested on these and could get up to 20 or so incorrect as a pass. 90 names of items you’ve never heard of in your life such as s-drum, this fcking belt,if it’s not broken, loose or missing. How in the hay will I know id something I don’t know is missing? Any who. Lots of memorising. That is not how my brain works. I need to understand what I’m learning, not memorize a bunch of things and then paste! Any who. It had to be done, so, buckle up trucker! They gave us a link online, if you’re in trucking, I mentioned that video in one of mine, you can check it. It’s very helpful. I was memorizing on my commute; to and fro. 
We were going to be tested on this as part of driving test. 

Driving test is in 3 sections- this long ass list of sht, backing and road test. We learned driving trucks on stick shift. Aka manual. 10 gears. There’s down shifting and double clutching. This is not your grandmother’s manual car! Nothing like you’ve done before. Everything was overwhelmingly new and jam packed. 

Only a couple days of pretrip, then, boom, backing! Few students per truck; time for straight back. This is going to be when you just need to back straight into a dock or parking spot. Most truck parking is reverse. It’s crucial you know how to back / reverse. Sidebar: when you turn truck steering wheel to the left, the trailer goes to the right and vice versa. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! 

While you do that, let me go to lala land. Chat soon. 

Contact me here...
@BabalwaBrook on all social
Youtube.com/BabalwaBrook 
Write me at 
P. O. Box 4502
Ontario
CA
91761
USA