I would have to say that the single biggest drawback to this trucking life is the fact that you don't have a personal bathroom of your own to use whenever you want. You are completely at the mercy of whatever public, truck stop, or shipping and receiving restrooms you can find. And it's not like you can stop an 18 wheeler on a dime, or wherever you want. Trucks this heavy are not permitted on all streets or even highways. So you have to plan and time your bathroom breaks pretty carefully.
It's not so bad if you're a man. Male truckers will pee in pretty much any handy, available bottle (and then pour them out all over the truck stop parking lots--although Mr. Trucker wants me to tell you that he NEVER does this). But for a woman, it's another matter entirely. Mr. Trucker is very good about asking me just before we get to a rest stop if I have to go, so that he can pull off. I have had a few very close calls where I've had to lay on the bunk, kicking my feet in the air and moaning dramatically until he comes to a screeching stop outside some bathroom, but for the most part it has worked out okay.
It isn't even so awful that I have to watch my fluid intake late in the day, because often we spend the night in a customer's lot and I won't have access to a restroom from the time we park until they open up in the morning. Although, I have to say this was one of my greatest fears: waking up in the middle of the night having to pee and not having a bathroom available. To address this issue, we went to a camping store and bought "the red jug" and its accompanying white "female" adaptor. It's there if I need it, but I try to avoid using it like the plague.
The worst thing is the restrooms themselves. I could tell you stories that would curl your hair...Most of the truck stop restrooms are fairly decent, but at the shippers and receivers, whoa, that's a whole 'nother thing. There seems to be a general consensus on the part of the shippers and receivers that truck drivers are subhuman and, therefore, not deserving of facilities that are fit for humans to use. Never mind the fact that you just drove 11 hours to arrive there with whatever product it is that they (supposedly) wish to receive, they apparently don't want you using THEIR restrooms. There are generally separate "trucker" lounges and bathrooms and as I alluded to a moment ago, they are gross! Some of them look like they haven't been cleaned since World War I. The trick is not to let a centimeter more of your skin touch any surfaces than is absolutely necessary. Oh, and SOME of these places only have an outdoor portapotty for truckers. Niiiiiice!
We keep a supply of baby wipes in the truck for quick hand cleaning (and occasionally other areas) and I learned over the extremely hot summer that what works best for me is to keep a drawstring bag chock full of cheap white washcloths. You'd be surprised how clean you can feel after soaking one of those babies with water (from the bottled water we always keep a large supply of) and giving yourself what I always call a "birdbath".
We generally try not to go more than two days between showers, which we get at pretty much any truck stop and some service plazas (see my previous post about Ohio's exemplary Service Plazas), so the washcloths are a necessity, particularly with MY oily skin. I've been experimenting with some aerosol "dry" shampoo I bought at a beauty supply store, but the jury's still out on that. It's dark now and I can't take a photograph, so tomorrow I'll show you my "kit" that I carry with me into any bathroom and keep by my side at all times while we're on the road.
So there you have it, trucking hygiene in a nutshell. We are currently driving north through western Wisconsin to our destination in Fridley, MN, which just happens to be basically a suburb of Minneapolis, so my daughter, Sassy is going to drive over to meet us. I'm excited, I haven't seen her since the first of August. She was hoping Gypsy (who she's now calling Preggo) would have given birth to her kittens today, so that we could see them. Or do you suppose she wanted us to take one with us? Anyway, after dropping our load in Fridley early tomorrow morning, we have to pick up another load and head right back for Syracuse, NY again. Hope we get some new scenery soon!
Mr. Trucker wanted me to show you this picture he took today. Apparently it's a "guy" thing, this truck. I certainly saw nothing exciting about it. But he called his buddy, Steve, who is also a trucker, and they went on and on about it together.