Photos by Lynsey Weatherspoon
The world of truck driving has long been a male-dominated industry, but that didn’t stop Nic and Carla Richelle. They’re a married, queer truck-driving couple who created a popular YouTube channel about their life on the road.
The pair met at a job in a call center where Carla was Nic’s boss. As they describe it, things between them soon “got a little spicy” and they started dating.
After getting married in November 2018, they decided to quit their 9-5 jobs in the call center in order to become professional truckers. Trucking was their way to both work and travel together. After solidifying the idea as a New Year’s resolution on Jan. 1, 2018, they moved out of their home in Courtland, Alabama, got rid of most of their possessions and put a few important items in storage. Now they live their lives permanently on the road, with no home base.
Their truck has a bed and kitchen set up for when they’re running loads. And when they’re not working, the couple checks in to hotels in whatever city they happen to be in.
This nomadic lifestyle is exactly the sort of freedom they sought when they left the call center world.
Nic and Carla stand out in the trucking industry for many reasons ― their race, gender, sexuality and their marriage.
“What’s most common in trucking are solo drivers... That’s why we’re the cream of the crop, because if you find not only a team, but if you find a married couple and they’re driving trucks, you’ve really hit it big because we bring in more revenue for the company, because we’re always running,” Nic said.
They speak to all of these facets of their personalities through their YouTube channel. Nic, a musician, had been vlogging for years before the couple became truck drivers. But it was when they started to use their platform to address concerns they heard from fellow drivers in the trucking community that they gained traction.
Today they have thousands of fans, and they say that gives them a sense of responsibility to listen to their subscribers and have a dialogue with them about their lives. They use their platform to address the racism, sexism and homophobia they’ve seen in the industry, and the dangers that come with a life in trucking.
“I honestly think it can be dangerous for anyone ― anyone that’s out here in trucking, if you don’t have your guard up. Because we’ve had some of our subscribers say that they’ve been robbed,” Carla said.
They credit growing up in rough areas of St. Louis and Birmingham, Alabama, for preparing them to be constantly aware of their surroundings when they’re on the road.
As far as their relationship, they say that trucking has both tested and strengthened their bond.
Nic said, “If you want to know if you have a good relationship, get in the truck, get in the small space when you have to live in that area.”
In that environment, she added, “There was a moment when we had a test in our relationship that we thought that it was going to be the end.”
That moment took place during a stressful drive on Interstate 70 through the Colorado mountains, when the two had a disagreement on whether to stop or press on through the snow-covered windy roads. Ultimately, they decided to continue driving, and did so safely, but this disagreement forced them to re-evaluate their communication style and work on aspects of their relationship they hadn’t considered before.
Despite the hurdles, they have no regrets with their choice to change careers.
In a year-and-a-half, the couple has gone from call center employees to full-time truck drivers to YouTubers with an enthusiastic and supportive fanbase.
“Our niche is so focused on trucking. So a lot of the truck stops we go to and just areas where truckers are at, they know who we are, so we have people come up to us... We get people who run up to us all of the time and take selfies and stuff,” Nic said.
In the future, as their industry continues to diversify, Nic and Carla hope that the public respect for their hard work as truck drivers continues to grow.
Nic sums up the importance of trucking, saying, “If you are sitting in your home right now, just take a minute and look around at everything in your room. We helped get that in your home and your room right now, so that’s how important we are.”