“Never go to bed angry” is a bit of relationship advice that you’ll get from every relationship guru on the planet. Clearly, these know-it-alls have never driven a team truck with a co-driver. Well, in my infinite knowledge cough, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to go to bed angry. Sometimes it’s even the smartest thing that you can do.

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When The Evil Overlord and I started looking into truck driving, I talked to a lot of truck drivers. As a dock worker, I had access to plenty of them. And as you well know from reading my blog and my twitter stream, it’s not exactly hard to get a truck driver to talk. Anyway, when these truckers discovered that I planned to drive as a team with my wife, nearly every trucker had the same advice: “Don’t do it if you want to stay married.” There’s a lot of truth to this.

Many a story has been passed around about team drivers not getting along, whether it be husband and wife teams, two members of the same-sex, or even two unmarried members of the opposite sex. Nearly everyone has heard stories of two co-drivers duking it out on the shoulder of the highway. Quite frankly, I’m a little peaved that I haven’t witnessed even one knock-down drag-out in all my 13 years. Other tales involve one of the team members being stranded somewhere by a co-driver. I’m sure that The Evil Overlord has contemplated this on numerous occasions. Luckily for me, she hasn’t had the cojones to do it just yet. The point is, that if you want to drive a truck as a team, you had better choose the right co-driver.

So who is the “right” co-driver? Well, it better be someone you get along with… a lot. Not just someone who you think is okay. Not just someone who seems like a nice person. You need to know this person intimately. Husband and wife is a likely pairing, but if you already get annoyed by your spouses habit of picking their toenails and leaving them lying around, getting into a truck cab with them is only going to make things worse. That’s like those demented couples who think that having a baby will help their already-stressed relationship. Yea. A crying infant that craps more than a herd of water buffalo is great for one’s nerves.

Parent and child teams can sometimes work, although I’d imagine that would take a certain kind of relationship that I can’t possibly comprehend. More common would be co-driving brothers or sisters. After all, your sibling already knows all of your annoying habits yet they still answer the doorbell when you ring it instead of diving behind the couch. Best friends can manage it too, but you better make sure you’ve known this person long enough to know most of their faults. Another plus is that you can slug a best friend now and then, and still remain friends. Still, losing a best friend because of trucking would kinda suck and stuff. I also hold little hope for two people who choose to team together just to make more money. Likewise for someone who wants a co-driver so that they won’t be so lonely.

Now every team is going to have spats. There’s no getting around it. Any time you have two people crammed into such tight quarters for weeks at a time, bad stuff is bound to happen. And let me tell you from experience, that certain bodily functions really don’t help matters any. The key is knowing when to drop, or ignore, the subject. In other words; when to go to bed angry.

I’ve found that the longer you remain in the truck together, the quicker the tempers get. The Evil Overlord and I have figured out that it’s dangerous for us to stay out more than three weeks at a time. Any longer and someone is likely to wake up with a bungee cord wrapped around their neck. Your threshold may be different. Sometimes you’ve just got to realize that what you’re fighting about has little to do with the topic at hand, and much to do with the fact that you’re just edgier than a wet golfer in a lightning storm.

When you get to the point that the sound of the other person’s voice makes you want to drive into the nearest telephone pole (after putting your seat belt on, of course), the last thing you need to do is stay awake and try to talk the issue out before you go to bed. The thing is, it takes time and experience to know when there’s a legitimate argument going on and when you’re just pissed off about nothing in particular. Until you’re able to figure that out, you’re treading on thin ice. But if you can go to bed angry, many times you wake up and life goes on as normal. Turns out, it was a stupid argument over stupid stuff.

Again, I stress that this is only if you both realize that you’re fighting over trivial things. If you’ve got big, legitimate issues, you probably need to have some overnight talks. I’m sure that your dispatcher will give you a night or two down if you tell them that someone’s going to be murdered if you don’t get a break soon.

The fact is, team driving is hard. When you’re a solo driver, you get to shut the truck down and sleep in peace. If you’re a team that’s working for a good company, you’re going to be busier than a corn cob pipe vendor at a hootenanny. That means that you’re going to be moving most of the time. Learning how to sleep while you bounce is perhaps the hardest thing that team drivers have to get used to. On I-40 in Tennessee, you’ll sleep like a stoner. On I-95 going through New York City, you’ll think your co-driver has learned some sick black magic skills and is practicing levitating your prone body.

People get crabby when they can’t sleep. Crabby people attack the person within reach. Solo drivers would have to go find somebody to scrap with, but a team driver has someone just sitting there asking for it. I’m convinced that the lack of quality sleep is another factor in the ongoing battle between co-drivers. Unfortunately, the driving route you take isn’t always in your hands. Neither is the choice to shut down to get some real sleep.

So here’s my advice to those of you who may be considering team driving. If you like your potential co-driver, and are willing to accept that you might occasionally, but briefly, hate this person for no reason whatsoever, go for it. If you have a history of working things out and tolerating each other, go ahead. If you have any doubts, either drive as a solo driver, or not at all.

Now, if it’s too late and you’ve already chosen a co-driver that is driving you to the loony bin, here’s my advice. For now; go to bed angy. As soon as possible, find a new co-driver or go solo. And you should probably toss that steel-tipped tire thumper out the window before someone gets hurt.

Photo by hang_in_there via Flickr

About the Author
I'm a 22-year truck driver with an interest in tech stuff. I do the Trucker Dump podcast and blog, which is all about life as a trucker. I have also written two trucking books, "Trucking Life" and "How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job."
17 comments on “TD43: Go To Bed Angry
  1. Lucinda says:

    What are your thoughts on a wife joining a husband on the road when the children are grown, more as a companion not as a co-driver? This is what we have been thinking of doing. We have our own authority so we would be free to schedule loads to places we want to visit and stay as long as we want.

    1. Todd McCann says:

      I liked this question so much, I made an entire blog post out of it. Go check it out at http://abouttruckingjobs.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/riding-along/

  2. Christine says:

    Nice blog. I think trucker hubby and I prefer the way we have it – I work at home, he goes on the road, comes home, instant reunion. 🙂

    1. Todd McCann says:

      Most couples prefer your way. Not only is it a regular reunion, but it’s also a great way to dodge a nasty murder trial. 😉

  3. Pam says:

    Maybe you should consider going into marriage counseling? You and the Evil Overlord could definitely teach some of these starry-eyed youngsters a thing or two about a thing or two!

    1. Todd McCann says:

      I just had a thought. Can you imagine the look on the young couple’s faces the first time I called Lorinda “The Evil Overlord?” LOL!

  4. Heidi says:

    Thanks for the wise counsel… on a side note~ I would like to know where you keep all these cliches you keep pulling out of your pocket each post!?!

    1. Todd McCann says:

      cli·ché [klee-shey, kli-]
      1. a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox.

      Ouch! I’m hoping you chose the wrong word. I’m trying be original here! LOL!

  5. blczz999 says:

    Todd: If you an the The Evil Over Lord went into marriage counseling, an you called her ‘The Evil Over Lord’ in front of another couple for the first time . . . You’d clear a room out R-E-A-L fast!! It would freak the daylights out of them!! Which in itself can be a good thing . . . Thanks for getting/making me laugh with your writing!!

    1. Todd McCann says:

      Well thanks to you for reading and commenting so much. Glad I can give you a chuckle now and then. The Evil Overlord laughs at me a lot, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it has nothing to do with my writing.

  6. Becca says:

    My fiancee and I are seriously looking into team driving. We are looking to start truck school in September and hit the road after that. I really liked your blog. My fiancee and I have been together for about 12 years now. Any more advice for a couple starting out? Can a team make good money trucking? I have a good career that I don’t like but my fiancee has been out of work for awhile. Looking for a change of pace. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Todd McCann says:

      Oh Becca, I’m so sorry that I didn’t respond to your questions. I don’t know how I missed your comment. Only now when I went back to update some stuff did notice it. It’s probably too late now but here goes.

      Twelve years with the same man? Yea, I think you two probably know each other well enough to know what a serious argument is and one that’s trivial.

      As for the money, a couple starting out as a team will probably make $80-$90,000 per year. Don’t know what you’re making now, so not sure if that’s considered good or not. If he’s not working, I’m guessing that sounds great.

      Here’s the deal. Your life will totally change if you two decide to team drive. All those friendships you have now will be hard to maintain when you’re on the road for a few weeks at a time. You can say that it won’t, but you’re wrong. Their day-to-day lives are going to keep going and you’re going to simply “check-in” every few weeks. Now if you’re willing to accept the lifestyle change that trucking will inevitably cause…

      Then the thing I would stress most for a new couple in trucking is to write out a plan and stick to it. I wouldn’t plan on making this a long-term plan when you first start out. Plan for say, two or three years and see how it goes. Quite honestly, I think team trucking is a great way to start out a marriage. At least financially, it is. You could sock away A LOT of money in a few years and buy a house with cash. Think about how much owning a house outright would free up the rest of your life? Think of what you could do without a mortgage? This is my biggest regret in my trucking career. I didn’t do it. You should.

      When it comes to giving advice, it’s much easier to answer questions than it is to guess at what you’re wanting to know. If you’d like to start an email correspondence, I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. Click on the “Contact” link in the sidebar of the home page to send me an email. Although by now, you’ve probably already been trucking for a year or two. Dang. I feel just awful about this.

      Hope this helps.

  7. Hey great conversation you guys have going on! I will for sure be back for more.We love driving on the road!

  8. Rebecca says:

    I absolutely love this post. Made me laugh because it was like read a day in our life. My husband and I drive teams. Were always busy and rarely have downtime. Lately we’ve been at each others throat. I usually go into the back and steam. Better to walk away and calm down before you say something or do something you’ll regret. Divorce has come up lately and things were said. But hopefully we work them out because we do love each other, but being together 24/7 is tough.

    1. Todd McCann says:

      Have you mastered the art of “slamming the curtain” yet? If not, The Evil Overlord can probably give you a few pointers.

      Seriously though, I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know here, but no job is worth a divorce. I’d be willing to bet that most team drivers who got a divorce could have avoided it if one person would have stepped out of the truck for good.

      I wish you the best of luck. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.

      1. Rebecca says:

        That’s what I have been doing for the last few months and he would get made that I “ran away and hid”. But just today another incident occurred and now I have no chance of being married anymore. We are just two different people and he can’t take all my faults anymore. I mean I’ve tried to change my bad habits but it’s not easy. He has them to but I don’t ask him to change. I love him. He doesn’t think his flaws are bad, apparently I am the biggest mistake in his life. Anyways I am still trying to change myself for the better, marriage or not. Your article was very helpful though.

        1. Todd McCann says:

          Wow, Rebecca. That breaks my heart to hear that. I don’t know either of you and I don’t know the whole story, so I’ll stay out of it. It’s just so sad to see any divorce, but especially when it’s really only one party that wants it.

          I don’t know if you’re a Christian or not, but please accept the prayers that I’ll be sending to God for you and your hubby. Sometimes I wish God didn’t allow us to have free will. He could just walk up and smack some sense into your man. LOL

          Best wishes to you.

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