When your children grow up and leave the nest, it’s not uncommon to breathe a sigh of relief and relaxation – just you and your spouse, home alone at last. But for Jake and Mary Siemens, their empty nest was taken on the road.
Jake and Mary Siemens are couple of owner/operators from Manitoba who live, work and drive together.
Combined they have a total of 41 years’ experience behind the wheel and both started their driving career with Paul Brandt Trucking based out of Morris, Man.
Jake began driving truck professionally back in May 1989 and said he liked the job instantly. Back then, he started driving part-time hauling grain.
When their son and daughter grew up, he urged his wife, who had been working on a potato farm, to join him on his long-distance hauls across the border to keep him company.
“I said ‘no’ right away,” Mary recalled. “I said if I’m coming out on the road with you, I want to drive too.”
So, she did. In July 1998, just nine years after her husband decided to be a professional truck driver, Mary got her commercial driver’s licence and joined him on the road.
“We really like spending time together,” said Mary. “Just driving together in one truck and seeing the world. We have really enjoyed that.”
Jake and Mary mostly haul freight across the border with no specific, assigned route and have been to almost every major city in the US.
Mary especially likes driving to Florida because of the sunny weather while Jake despises driving to the city that never sleeps; understandably so, New York City isn’t exactly truck-friendly.
“We’ve only been there once but there are too many tight spaces and so much traffic,” said Jake.
The Siemens have recently hit a milestone in their career this past July.
Together they have travelled four million miles with Paul Brandt and are so humbled by all the recognition they have been given by the company, which has been in operation for 43 years.
“It feels really good to have achieved that,” said Mary about the recent mileage. “We always really try to be safe when we’re on the road.”
Jake says that his success behind the wheel can be credited to simply slowing down while driving, advice he claims every trucker could use.
“We always do 65 mph,” he said. “So on top of being safe, it also helps us save fuel and helps us save our tires. We save a lot of money, just by slowing down a little bit.”
Though the couple call Manitoba home, they’ve only been in Canada for 36 years.
After meeting and then getting married in 1978, the Siemens moved from Mexico, where they were raised, to Canada to start their new married lives together.
Now, Jake and Mary, 60 and 57 respectively, are enjoying their lives in the truck and on the road while they approach retirement.
After talking to the couple, Mary seemed to be the one who enjoyed driving the most.
“I love trucking and I want to retire as a driver,” she told me enthusiastically. “I really enjoy seeing the world and seeing the big cities. I really like that part. If I had not been driving truck I would never have gone to Los Angeles, Florida, Miami and even Las Vegas.”
It was refreshing to hear a woman express her love for a job in which less than 5% of the population is female, though many companies are doing different things to attract women into the industry.
Spending all day with her husband, for example, was a major selling point for Mary, who said she and Jake don’t fight as often as one would assume a couple spending every minute together would.
“Sometimes we fight on the road,” she admitted. “But usually being together all the time is very good for us. I have heard of couples who drive truck together who fight a lot, but for us that’s not really a problem.”
Mary said the key to working and living together in such small quarters is that they both make an effort to work through an argument right away and that they never go to bed angry at each other.
Great advice considering how unpleasant it would be driving for weeks in complete silence.
The Siemens both agreed that trucking is the career they both love doing and one that works with their lifestyle, but with four granddaughters at home, they are looking forward to retiring when the time comes, even if that means not doubling their outstanding record.
“The guys at Paul Brandt always ask us if we’ll hit another four million miles, and I don’t think we will,” Jake said with a laugh. “I think we’re going to retire before then.”
Sonia Straface is the associate editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface. All posts by Sonia Straface