How Trucking Saved My Life: Confessions Of A Female Truck Driver
By Rachel George
For Jasmine Trice, driving her truck for hours while wearing jeans is the most uncomfortable thing about her job so she opts for leggings and a t-shirt. Her shift starts whenever she does, whether at noon or 2 AM. And even though Jasmine hates eating in the morning, she always grabs a small breakfast just before she heads out the door.
Driving at night is more productive for Jasmine, as she finds it much easier to maneuver through big cities like Atlanta and Nashville without traffic. If she gets hungry on the road, you can catch her ordering a Turkey sandwich with spinach, tomatoes, pickles, and Subway vinaigrette, but don’t forget the spicy mustard and Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips. It’s nothing compared to her almost perfected Curry Chicken recipe she makes for brother and her family at home, but it will do.
For the last five years, Jasmine Trice has piloted an 18-wheeler driving anywhere from the small, quiet town of Allentown, Pennsylvania to SoCal. Her 60,600 lb Freightliner Cascadia truck was built tough with a 350-600 horsepower engine and made to endure harsh conditions and avoid collisions. On the road, she battles long hours of traffic, finding the perfect 90s R&B song, and coping with the loss of her best friend.
Following her mother’s blueprint, she joined the trucking industry to escape her thoughts and make money. “I was able to finally grieve my friend and get a peace of mind. Being alone forced me to learn who I truly am and I’m grateful for that. Trucking saved my life,” said Jasmine.
It’s been almost 8 years since Trice lost her best friend Wendell to suicide, a memory that has haunted her for a while. They met when she was a teenager and became two peas in a pod, making each other laugh and being each other’s support system. Knowing her love for food and cooking, Wendell signed Jasmine up to tour a culinary school just before his passing. She called him her ‘living guardian.’
“It was 5 AM and I posted on Facebook that I had a flat tire and would miss work. I was mad,” Trice recalls. “He popped up on me a few hours later and took me to get my tires replaced. He was that type of guy. He loved his people and every day I’m above ground I try to be an example of him.”
Being able to properly grieve and educate herself on the impacts of suicide amongst young children and adults, more specifically black men, helped her realize there was a bigger issue to address.
“It’s hard for people to be open about speaking on their mental health. A lot of people suffer in silence and some are more forthcoming, but it’s definitely still an issue.”
“Especially amongst black men,” she added. “They see it as something negative. That’s why I try my best to uplift our Kings. They need to be nurtured just like us. I love our black men to the core and I don’t care who knows.”
She credits her driving trainers Jyrome Richmond. Marcellus Smith.
Being away from family and friends for long periods of time while working in a male-dominated industry has made Trice take necessary precautions when it comes to her safety and well being. For instance, she’s mindful about not opening her doors after sunset. She’s also had to make adjustments to her personal life and mental state.
“My only complaint is we’re not appreciated enough in general,” she said. “We sacrifice our personal life, social life, and mental health for supply and demand. There are such high expectations in regards to truckers but we don’t really get much respect in return.”
Although trucking saved her life, her heart belongs to music and food. Jasmine hopes to become a private chef, crafting her own version of some of her favorite meals like Jamaican cuisine and spicy dishes. Jasmine says she’s “the happiest in the kitchen with my tunes rocking,” however, no matter what city, state, or continent, truck drivers are needed, and as long as she has her CDL, she’ll have a job for the rest of her life.