Sunday, February 28, 2021

#BeInspired Life on The Road

 

Grocery drawer

Some of my over the road food as mentioned on this blog. Unfortunately, the truck didn’t have a refrigerator. I had to bring things that would survive not in it. I grew up without electricity, so, I know all about that life. Sidebar: I also grew up without indoor plumbing and running water, so I’m well equipped in that life as well! 

Canned chicken breasts + Mayo


I ate so much canned chicken during this month on the road that I was off it for a while.... maybe I still am! Just the canned stuff. Don’t get it twisted! Chicken and I are still tight! Spoiler alert: I had chicken for lunch yesterday! It’s 4:30am right now as I type this. I’ve a little bit of time to kill, so I thought I’d see if I can squeeze in another blog before February ends. I’ll finish this later, God willing. 



One of my goals for becoming a truck driver, was to continue to lose weight. For those of you who may not know, I’ve lost more than 100LBS so far. I hear all the stories about truck drivers and weight gain. I made a resolution to change the narrative. I love challenging myself to that kind of stuff. I lose weight in Winter, simply because, people will say that its harder to do so. So I prove them otherwise. For fun. When I lived in South Africa and would go home more often than I do now, I would make sure not to gain weight when I went to mom’s for holidays. Or during holiday period, period. It’s another way to make push you towards your goals. I’d love to hear what your “things” are that you’ve challenged yourself with. 


When Carlos, my truck driving mentor, found out I’m someone who’s watching my weight, he got excited and told me that he needs to lose a few pounds. Maybe having me in the truck would motivate him to clean up his act, so to speak. Music to my ears. If anything, I like to try and inspire. One of my faves hashtags, that I made up for myself is  #BeInspired. I use it so that, people who come with the negative mindset of, blah blah blah, so you’re posting another before and during weight loss picture! Good for you! No! Not just good for me! Good for you too! Not a lot of people are going to see this post, there’s a reason you came across it. Use that as inspiration in your own life to prove what can be achieved. It’s not just a weight loss thing, weight loss just happens to be something visible that you can show people, therefore I use that, amongst other things. 



Carlos eats a lot of snacks. All kinds of nuts. The good ones! All kinds! I happen to love nuts. They’re one of those things I go out of my way to stay away from. If I have them or even nut butter around; that’ll be my sole focus! I will eat nothing but that until it’s finished. Carlos doesn’t seem to have that problem. Good for him. I envy people who don’t have problems with food. I mean, he must have some kind of an issue, hence being as big as he was before. But it’s probably a different one to the ones I have. Recently, someone told me that they’re inspired by my weight loss but aren’t as disciplined as I am. Uhm! If I were that disciplined, how come I got that big? Or they’ll say, they love food. Uhm, duh! 


There are a few big truck stops our company works with. Those companies give out reward points for fueling. You can use these points to buy anything in the truck stops, including “premium parking”. You also get free showers, terms and conditions apply for showers. Because my trainer owns his truck, I believe they have a different rate for him. He gets more points, possibly even double at some spots. Don’t quote me on this. It was nice of Carlos to make sure when we did fuel, we used his payment card (I had one assigned to me by the company), and my rewards card, so that I can be rewarded in his scale, which was higher. Free money!

Eating Chesters chicken for the first time. Surprising amount of sugar!

I drove an average of 10 hours per day, that’s around 500 miles / 800km per day. Your body feels beat because you’re not used to it but you quickly build up stamina. It also helps to have a decent driver’s seat. Carlos had a few seat cushions to choose from. Honestly, though, I’m not sure if they helped but I definitely had my favorite one. Based on, well, it looked cleaner than others. I knew that he had been training students on his truck for seven years. The truck wasn’t the cleanest, so I didn’t  know the pillows ever saw a washer. At the same time, you’re in someone’s home. You shouldn’t offend. I just white bubbled myself through it all. 
Eating fried Frog Legs for first time. Carlos’ treat. I’d had cooked ones before in Palm Springs


I ate my precooked meats and boiled eggs asap as they were going to go bad if I didn’t. Not being in the fridge and all. The truck was freezing throughout the day. I guess that helped some. I like room temperature but I’m a trooper. I went with his temperature. I knew I was going to get used to it. We would stop at Walmart for groceries. As you may know, you don’t have fridge, you shop often. That helped. Kinda. It’s not really my style of financial management, shopping often. When I go shopping, I at least buy enough stuff to last me a week, as I didn’t know what lay (lied?) ahead. Carlos bought us 24 waters for the truck and kept the empty bottles to recycle. I’m all for going green and the earth and all that but it’s already a small space. There are already left over empty bottles from Lord knows whenever! 

Nice view from Rest area where we stayed the night

I let him buy us the water once. I know he promised but I’m not used to feeling like I owe someone a favor. Next time we went to Walmart, I paid for the water. He didn’t like that, so we had those weird moments of, no I got it! One time, I let him pay for it but bought an extra couple of gallons of water. I don’t think he liked that. I get it: rude! But why is it polite to make someone else comfortable and rude to make myself comfy? Am I the narcissist here with this logic? 

The air in the truck was nice. I think we were both matured enough to be able to co-mingle. At least, I hope he was ok as well. He taught me how to back. One thing I was the least good at. See what I did there? Haha. He would tell me to watch how I set up before I even start to back up. The thing about driving a tractor (truck) that is hauling a 53ft (16metres) trailer, is that, it’s longer than anything I’ve ever driven. And I learned to drive on a box truck (I think that’s what a lorry is called in America). That thing has nothing on an 18 wheeler truck! I would set up, look in the mirror and realize, sht! This thing is long! How in the world am I going to fit this in between those two trucks without causing any damage? It was intimidating for sure. Having Carlos there, with his nice demeanor, helped a lot. Also, we do what they call, in the industry, GOAL. WHich is an acronym for 
Get
Out
And
Look. 
I had asked from the beginning that Carlos let me do all the backing, even if he happens to be driving. As long as I’m awake, let me back that thang up! And he did. Lots of getting out to see what everything looks like from the back. No pun, and then back in the truck. About that though! Yeah, it’s nice to know you’re not about to hit anyone but the perspective is totally different. At least, from how my brain works. I see people measuring from the back, in person and then getting in the truck using that estimation to fit it in. That’s not how my brain works. The perspective is different from mirror, to in person from the left side of truck, to right side, etc. Sometimes, I’d get it the first time. Those days were exciting. We did a lot of counting to 4. Turn the wheel four times this way, back up, counting to four. One one thousand, two one thousand, the whole shebang.  Going downhill? Foot on brake, count to 4 seconds, then release. Good teacher, that Carlos was. I got lucky! Trust me. I’ve heard the stories. 

At least, he was a good teacher, until two weeks in. Everything changed as I knew it! 
More on that next blog. 

Thanks for riding along with me. Pun intended. 

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












Saturday, February 27, 2021

Truck Driving on US Route 66

 My driving coach / mentor and I are headed to our first delivery together. #TruckerBrook is in the driver’s seat. Honk! Honk! Destination: Atlanta, Georgia. I’m excited!

Press play!

It’s late afternoon. Carlos, my driver trainer had already asked what time of day I’d prefer, nights or days. I told him I’m more of a morning person, I can start as early as can be, as long as I get to work days. He told me a lot of his students prefer it that way( so he’s used to driving nights. Perfect!
Now, with our first load, we had started in the middle of the day. I had 11 hours of driving time ahead of me. We get maximum  11 hours of driving time and a total of 70 hours in a row. The moment you go on duty, to type on the computer or do whatever, the 70 hour clock starts. Maximum on duty time per day is 14 hours, that includes the 11 driving and whatever else, checking in with the guard, processing paperwork etc. 
New Mexico... I think

We didn’t go that far, Carlos started vaping right next to me in the truck. There’s one thing I hate next to smoking cigarette in my fact... vaping in my face. I don’t care how amazing it smells to you. This is not about you, Sir! How would you like it if I sprayed my great smelling, expensive Christian Dior Poison perfume in your face? Exactly! When I requested a non smoking trainer to the job, I wasn’t kidding. Now, I’m a guest in your home, It’s our first day together. I wasn’t going to tell this man not to do whatever the fck he wanted in his own home. I was, however going to remember that he is that guy, moving forward! The truck was foggy from this vapor, or whatever its called. 
Desert Life. I grew up around prickly pear. We used to sell it to road users on the road between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth (South Africa)

We drove until around midnight or so, then? We found a random truck stop? With hardly any services to crash for the night. I must tell ya, I went to bed with so much new information in my head. Carlos taught me so much just in that half a day. He was a good teacher, too. 

Following morning, we freshened up, ish, and continued our journey east. I drove, he sat in the passenger seat. We had a lovely talk getting to know each other. Mainly, me getting to know him, cos I can be guarded. I like to ask questions, he was pretty open, so, we talked about his love life. One of my fave subjects. He’d recently been married to a woman he met on a truck driving dating site. Some people on there aren’t truckers but they’re looking to be in relationships with truckers. I guess, she was one of those people. Their ultimate goal as a couple, is to drive together, she will drive day tome, he will do nights. But that’ll be after her youngest goes to college or something to that effect. The whole story didn’t feel right to me, Being a woman, I just didn’t see this lady trying to drive trucks. But what do I know. I’m a lady who drives trucks. Right? I would ask questions, he had answers, he seemed in love. It was sweet. But I wondered about the other half of the couple. It gave me something to focus on other than  driving on Route 66. P. S. Driving on Route 66 was super exciting. I felt like I was really exploring America. Which, I was! 
Gratitude journal next to me. Oh and boobies!

I appreciated Carlos’ openness to a complete stranger. I found myself being protective of him and his finances in some of his story about this relationship with this woman with 4 kids, whom he moved into their own home. She had been living with her ex husband and father of the children.  But after meeting Carlos, they thought it best for him to rent a house for she, her 4 kids and Carlos except, Carlos is never home. But I get it! Also, We won’t go into full details as this is not my story to tell.  I was told thinking to myself, sure if yalls own home. Except, ure never home. Carlos also mentioned that he had a trip planned for a month from my first day of training. Which meant that A month was what I had with him. The guy needed to be in Vegas. Which means we would need to be back before then, so that he can go home, get his family and make it to Vegas in time. Wow! Okay! I better learn fast then; I thought to myself. 

Carlos is making payments towards his truck. Eventually, he’s going to own it, meaning, the truck we were using is his own truck, not company owned. 

He taught me a bunch more things about driving and what to do and when, scheduling, etc. we ended up stopping very late that night. There was a bit of night driving in there but I under. We did start late. Following morning, I wake up and go to the bathroom. I tell ya, I’d no idea where what was. These trucks are so tall and I’m trying to see where the actual building is for restrooms and showers etc. Good Luck with that! I eventually find and and, me, being myself (spoiler alert: I get lost everywhere), I couldn’t find my way back to the truck! All these trucks come in one of 4 or 5 colors. Golly! 
#TruckerLife These are people’s homes!

We had spent the night in Texas, one of the largest states in America. It’s kinda fun going through a bunch of different states in one day. You really feel like you’re doing this sht! Carlos let me play my own music while I was driving, which I thought was nice. He was asleep most of the time. On the passenger’s seat. I’m over here, trying to peek the mirrors. You know how when you fall asleep, your neck becomes loose and your head bobbles al over the place? I wasn’t mad about that. You’re no the one driving, so you passed out! It can happen to anyone. Your job is to watch me but nature is nature. 

It was my first time in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, in no particular order. we passed through a little bit of Arizona as well in this trip. I’d been there before. I remember waking up in Amarillo, TX with the song Amarillo by morning stuck in my head. Guess which song I played first when we headed out? No prizes for guessing. Arkansas, some song by Ray Charles, came to mind here, Tennessee, the home state of Dolly Parton (In my Tennessee mountain home. That song!); and of course, Elvis Presley / Chuck Berry’s song - Memphis Tennessee! , Alabama and finally- Georgia! This trip was over a week, like I mentioned before. I enjoyed every single bit of it. Learned a lot along the way. My trainer was decent. He talked a lot on the phone. When you don’t think he’s on the phone, because he uses Bluetooth headset, he’s still on the phone. If he’s snoring in bed, you will hear him respond to someone on the phone, as if he’s been talking to that person for a while. He was either on the phone or sleeping. Or snacking. He had the best snacks haha. Very hard when you’re trying to be skinny. Turns out, he had lost a lot of weight too a few years ago, and was trying to keep it off. He told me he goes off and on Keto. Mh kay! 

Video taken in trainer’s truck. Day1. 


Me: karaoke-ing Memphis Tennesse in Los Angeles. Press play!


Get at me! 

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








 












 

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!)
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Contact  me here...

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