CORONAVIRUS: 2 JACKSONVILLE WOMEN KEEP ON TRUCKIN’Posted on May 14, 2020 • 0 Comments Jennifer Jones and Lauren Oram are keeping busy during the pandemic. One drives a semi and the other a tow truck. Jones, 48, worked in the medical field for nearly 20 years, got burned out and decided to “take the plunge” and become a truck driver. She wanted to work for Crete Carrier. The company told her they hire students from J-Tech Institute. She graduated in December, went to orientation in January, spent two months with a trainer and in the middle of March began driving a Freightliner 18-wheeler on her own.To say she’s busy is an understatement. She’s basically working a double-shift. “We’re hauling paper products, food, beer, cereal — all the essentials that everybody is still buying,” she said. She says that her job — which involves living on the road in “my tiny home on wheels” — has been changed by the coronavirus. “I am very cautious since I came out of the medical field,” Jones said. “I’ve been wearing my mask for two weeks. I have lots of sanitizer. I sanitize everything continuously. When I go to take a shower at a truck stop, I sanitize the buttons before I go into the shower. I sanitize everything. I can’t afford to catch it.” She says that many of the companies where she delivers loads greet her at the gate and, before she can enter, ask a long list of questions. Have you been out of the country? Have you been in high exposure areas? Have you been around anyone who’s sick? “And then they take our temperature,” she said. One plus for truck drivers during the pandemic: The roads are less congested. “This is actually a good time for a beginner,” Jones said, adding that she hopes to see more women behind the wheels of trucks in the future. “I’d really love to encourage women to come out here and go for it.” Oram, 56, also is new to her job — driving a rollback truck for Southern Wrecker. After spending 30 years as a merchant marine, she went back to school at the J-Tech Institute. She wanted to drive a truck but didn’t want to be far away from home. So she ended up doing this. She typically works 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. But sometimes she’s on call in the middle of the night, going out to help someone whose car broke down somewhere. She and other drivers are among the essential workers. They’re helping people and businesses, often when something goes wrong. She says her job hasn’t changed much because of the coronavirus. They just need to be more conscious of social distancing when they’re around others. And even now, she feels like the most dangerous part of her job is the inattentive drivers on the road. “Up in that truck, you can see how many people are on their phones,” she said.