There is quite a compilation to come out here on the road and drive a “big truck”. Sure you can travel the country and be your own boss out here. Just pick up a load and deliver it safely to a waiting consignee. Pretty simple huh? As free as a bird and nobody on your back.
Also, nobody riding with you. Nobody to bounce ideas off of. Nobody to hold close when you climb into the bunk at night. Nobody to argue with. Nobody to share a meal with. For weeks at a time you are out on the road alone. Sure, you can call and talk your friends or spouses ears off but they are on the other end of that damn telephone. Thousands of miles away is your home, friends and family. When something goes wrong at home what can you do about it but worry? You can call on favors from friends and associates to try to put out a fire at home maybe and maybe not. Maybe you can go broke on a cell phone bill too. Maybe when you first start out you don’t make enough money to pay the bills. You struggle with the long hours behind the wheel and the low pay you are receiving. Before long you pine away for your old life and all the social activities you were used to. Playing cards with some pals, swimming at your favorite watering hole, going to see the high school football game, kissing your kids goodnight, having someone to touch instead of talk to. The list is endless. But hey, who said it would be easy? Now lets add to the mix. You break down on a run that was taking you home and someone else has to take it there for you. You break down in the middle of a long run that was going to finally put you ahead enough to pay your bills. You get a call from someone back home who has seen your girl out with someone else.
More than ever, these are the reasons that people don’t last in trucking. Thousands upon thousands of American citizens undertake the challenge of over the road trucking. So many fail to become successful because of all the pitfalls and challenges of being away from home. I have seen drivers in truck stops with haunted looks on their faces wondering what they have done and curse the day they ever saw a “big rig”. Some of them have the “deer in the headlight” look about them and even shy away from talking to anyone else because they have lost their “social skills” and their ability to interact with other human beings. No, this job is not for everyone and yes it is a tough road to travel to become a “successful” truck driver.
However, lets look on the other side of things. If you are able to put up with the b.s. that comes along with being a “rookie” and stick it out for at least two years, you sort of become accustomed to the lifestyle. That is the time frame when you finally make enough money to start to put some away. This is also the level of experience where some companies look to hire someone local or line haul. These are the jobs where you can be close to home or even at home every weekend or sometimes every day. They are shorter hours sometimes and lower pay but you have the option to be home. It’s really too bad that you have to “pay your dues” to be able to get one of these jobs but that is the way that the industry is set up. Also, if you can keep focused on things that you like to do or have a hobby to occupy your mind with while you are in the starting stage of trucking it helps immensely. A laptop with an internet card is sometimes too costly for a beginner at trucking so he stays out of touch and uninformed of many goings on in the world. You look up one day and you see that 4 months have passed you by and you wonder where in the world did they go to. Days become meaningless and sunday is no different than thursday. Out here days are mostly the same. The only day that really has meaning is the day the direct deposit comes into your bank account. That is if you have a bank account. Most drivers get their money on a Com-data card. This is a fund access account most trucking companies use. They charge a fee however and it’s way more than what a bank would charge. This is another reason the rookie can’t get ahead quickly.
If you plan to start trucking, do these things first. Get a cellular or smart phone with an unlimited data plan that you can afford. Get a laptop to stay in touch with the world. Have a plan that will take you where you want to be in a few years. Don’t look at the mile markers as just another sign post, but a sign that you are planning for the future.
Good luck with your career and the best of luck to you. Just stick it out and the rewards will finally come your way.