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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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In Marketplace

Another satisfied customer for Sally Jo.

In Marketplace

Heavy load on board. Look out.

In Marketplace

Yep, that's one heavy load.

In Marketplace

Hm, this is more of an awkward load than a heavy load.

Ms. Sally Jo's Oversized Escort Service can handle your load


Recently, a Facebook friend posted a photo of a truck with a window advertisement reading "Ms. Sally Jo's Oversized Escort Service" along with a local phone number. My friend typed "there is truly a market for everything" above the photo, which made me chuckle and reach for my cell phone.

I had to find out if, indeed, there was a local business offering oversized escorts, and if there was, I had to write about it. Immediately.

After a couple of rings, a woman answered. "Is this Sally Jo?" I asked. She said it was and I told her I was a reporter, potentially interested in writing about her business. She immediately started to laugh.

"Do you know what I do?" she asked.

I told her I thought she ran an "oversized escort service," but admitted I had absolutely no idea what that meant exactly, hence the call.

Sally Jo, whose formal name is Sally Jo Nordstrom, went on to explain that she does not run a dating service for larger people, rather she owns a business that trucks oversized loads throughout the United States and Canada.

Oversized loads are, obviously, very large pieces of equipment or materials that require specially trained drivers as well as vehicles that display the proper "oversized load" signage and lights that are required by law.

"We'll haul anything and everything," she says.

And yes, Nordstrom says she picked that sassy name on purpose to get peoples' attention. So far, it has worked, but not always in a good way.

Once, she was in the middle of a haul, and staying overnight at a hotel in Missouri or Arkansas – she can't remember which state – and woke up at 3 a.m. to a large man knocking on her door. "You looking for a date?" he asked when she opened the door a crack.

"I had to tell him, 'Sorry, I'm not that kind of escort service,'" she says.

The business name has raised eyebrows at the bank once, too. Because she is on the road so much, Nordstrom sometimes asks her roommate to deposit her checks, and when she tried to deposit a check at a new bank, the teller looked at the business name on the check and said, "I'll be right back."

She went to inquire with a manager, and then returned and said she wasn't sure if "Sally Jo's Oversized Escort Service" was a legal business in Wisconsin. After a little explanation, the teller deposited the check and to this day, Nordstrom gets a good laugh from the story.

Communication is a key part of transporting oversized loads. Although they do not use handles anymore, truckers – particularly oversize-load truckers – warn each other about low bridges or narrow roads.

"Every state requires us to have radio communication and some require us to have not only radios but also cell phones. When escorting super loads we need to have an extra radio in case one stops working," says Nordstrom.

Nordstrom often takes on jobs that allow her to visit family and friends afterward. Sometimes she'll camp for a few days or more after completing a job if she's in a particularly beautiful part of the country.

"Nobody should have as much fun as I do making a living, but since I work hard, I don't feel guilty," says Nordstrom.

Although she frequents truck stop diners, Nordstrom says she does her best to eat healthy and cheaply while on the road. She brings a lot of food with her that's ready-to-eat or that she can microwave in her room.

"I try to eat nutritious food," she says.

Nordstrom started her trucking business two years ago, and says she loves the lifestyle. She spends only 60 days a year in her Riverwest home.

"It's just me and my music and my dog," says Nordstrom, who always trucks with her pup, Tasha. "My dog has pooped and peed all over the U.S."

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