Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trucking in English - Carolyn Steele

Another book that's not a fantasy, sorry -- unless you count those "Someday I'm going to chuck it all and become a..." daydreams we all have.

Steele is British, transplanted to Ontario, Canada.  She has held a number of jobs in her life -- from psychologist to paramedic to B&B operator.  But as she hit middle age, she got the brilliant idea to go back to school and learn how to drive an eighteen-wheeler.  Trucking in English is a memoir of her days in trucking school and her short, but memorable, career as a long-haul trucker.

Much of the book comes from the blog she wrote while embarking on this crazy adventure.  But it doesn't feel like a bunch of blog posts strung together, which is all to the good.  Steele's writing style is engaging, and I learned a lot.  For example, I have a far better appreciation for the difficulties of driving -- and stopping -- one of these rigs, not to mention backing one up to a loading dock whose builders enlisted a madman to design.  I've also got a lot of respect for women who try to break into trucking, particularly if they're not teaming with a husband; let's just say male chauvinism is not yet dead in many parts of North America.  What's really scary, though, are her tales of operators gaming the system to get more hours behind the wheel -- never mind that they may not be alert enough, after the extra hours they gain, to avert a disaster.

Even if you've never dreamed of getting in the cab of a big rig and hitting the road, Trucking in English is an entertaining read.  You don't want to miss it -- no, you don't.