What Most Little Girls are Made of … and a Heckuva Lot More
October 1, 2003
LONDON, Ont. - Little girls may be made of sugar and spice and everything nice, but Cali Fever - a truck drivin', country singin' blonde haired clotheshorse is made of much sterner stuff.How else to e...
LDT: Cali Fever doesn’t get pulled off her feet anymore when she lifts the hood.
MODEL DRIVER: Fever is planning on making the long hauls.
LONDON, Ont. – Little girls may be made of sugar and spice and everything nice, but Cali Fever – a truck drivin’, country singin’ blonde haired clotheshorse is made of much sterner stuff.
How else to explain how the petite, 108 lb. 35-year-old mustered the courage and conviction to sleep in her car at truck stops for three months just so she would have enough money to go to truck driving school, while continuing to record a CD of her own songs (they’re already playing on European radio stations) and model in fashion shows on the side?
“I’ve been around trucks my whole life – my family is full of truck drivers, but I’m the first woman,” said Cali, who was weeks away from getting her A/Z licence when she spoke to Truck News in late July.
Cali was apprentice-driving a Freightliner 2000 for Dansway Transport (London, Ont.), hauling frozen chicken in a reefer locally when Truck News caught up with her.
But in five years she’s hoping to be doing long hauls down to Florida.
“I’m really independent,” Cali explained. “And I knew I wouldn’t be able to model and sing my whole life, so I chose a career where I could keep working when I was 50.”
“He said, ‘Why don’t you just stop messing around and get your licence?’ So that’s what I decided to do.”
It took another few years to start school and find a company that would take her on. In the meantime, her sister, who she was living with in London, moved back up to Timmins. Cali was left without a place to live, unemployed and not collecting EI and with trucking bills on her hands.
“I just decided I would live in my car to save what money I had left.”
Living in the car lasted a few months, until Cali managed to find some friends to stay with while she finished her apprenticeship.
The hardship has no doubt fueled her dream of one day buying her own house.
“It would be nice to own my own home and I could do that truck driving.”
In the meantime, Cali keeps a schedule most people couldn’t.
While completing her apprenticeship, she drove four shifts per week, for two to three hours at a time, mostly overnight.
She was recording her CD at the studio two evenings per week. She was taking driving classes in Caledonia twice a week.
And she was rehearsing for a fashion show.
But Cali wasn’t and isn’t likely to ever be fazed by her crazy schedule.
“People are always telling me I should settle down and do one thing, but I say ‘Why shouldn’t I do everything I want?'” she said, adding she keeps a steady exercise routine every day as well.
Physical fitness for Cali means getting up at 5:30 a.m. every day to walk five miles, then walking some more whenever she has a chance during the day and evenings.
There’s no way she’s going to get a trucker’s belly, or the huge rear end some truckers so often develop as a result of hours spent sitting at the wheel, she said.
“I like to keep fit, and I have to model.”
She admitted being a pretty and petite woman truck driver in an occupation dominated by men has its ups and downs.
“Sometimes I get comments, but most of the guys are fine,” she says.
“Besides, women get that in any profession where there are a lot of men.”
But Cali prefers to dwell on the positive and comic experiences she’s had so far.
“One day in school I had to get under the truck to measure the brake rod. But when the creepers started rolling my hair got caught up in them. The guys had to lift up the truck so they could unravel my hair. From then on I wore a bun.”
Her education at the Transport Training Academy in Caledonia has been hugely rewarding for Cali, who, in another life, had a steady job as a secretary.
“Now when a new guy starts he’s the one who gets pulled off his feet when he lifts the hood, and I’m the one who can do it.”
Cali said trucking has brought her closer to the male members of her family, who she can sit down and talk shop with at get-togethers.
“It used to be I didn’t know what they were talking about, but now I do and I can join in,” she said laughing. “I translate for my mom.”
The Timmins native said trucking has also begun to play a role in her music, music she’s been shopping around in Nashville (no takers as yet – but she’s also getting set to audition for a new FOX TV show on impersonators – Cali does a great Reba).
“A lot of my songs are about truck driving and what it’s like – the loneliness.”
The loneliness doesn’t bother Cali though, who said she’s not actively looking for a boyfriend.
“Although I wouldn’t look the other way if a nice one came along.”
With this in mind, it’s not unlikely there will suddenly be a number of well-dressed truck drivers trailing the smell of aftershave down the highway, just in case they run into Cali.
But if you’re not one of the lucky ones, or if you’re just a fan of country music, you can find out more at www.califever.com, up and running since September.