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What did you do before becoming a truck driver?

Topic 7924 | Page 20

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G-Town's Comment
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I have thought about posting a reply to this, but just never seemed to have the time. Now that it's bumped I will give it a go.

Ever since I can remember I had a love for trucks and trucking. Most of the books I owned as a kid were truck related and I built numerous 1/25th scale model trucks (my parents should have bought stock in AMT). So at the tender age of 12, I knew a Peterbilt from a Mack and understood the difference (including the exhaust notes) between a 2-cycle Detroit and a 4-cycle Cummins. It was a strange existence, because none of my friends understood me. Once in High School all of my summer jobs included some form of trucking (Wilson Trucking, a local beer distributor, and Louderback North American Van Lines). Once I turned 18 I hired on with a construction company, and over time was introduced to truck driving; small 6-wheelers, eventually graduating to 10-wheelers and tag-along equipment trailers. This was in the late 70's so there was no formal commercial licensing requirements. Fortunately I had a very, very good teacher (who recently passed away at the age of 90). So yes, the bug had bitten me. Little did I know, I was hooked for life. Through college (even after graduation, was part-time), I continued to work my summers and weekends for that same construction company, driving and operating front-end loaders. For a brief time I held a CDL class B permit, learned and drove with my brother-in-law on nights and weekends. He left the business so I never pursued obtaining the actual CDL. But as always, I loved it...drove with him for lunch and dinner money.

I graduated college with a business technology degree (this was before Comp-Sci.degree programs) and began working as a computer programmer-analyst (software developer in today's speak). I gravitated towards consulting and managed to work on various projects that ironically were trucking and transportation related. I built a portfolio of application and systems expertise in trucking, railroading, logistics and distribution. I actually worked on two different occasions for Qualcomm , automated a 24x7 shipping dock (perhaps the best 14 months of my career) and a myriad of other transportation related companies (Conrail, Norfolk Southern, Conrail Mercury, Penske, Interstate Container & Paper, Sunoco Logistics, New Penn, Chemical Lehman, A. Duie Pyle...). Funny how things happen, "Qualcomm", go figure, who knew. Once the DOT Bomb and subsequent market crash occurred, the computer industry changed, remarkably. What used to be a coveted, in-demand consulting profession quickly became a commoditized, international "mercenary" market void of ethics and integrity. Since I became more and more involved with project management (highly paid babysitting), program management, customer management, and account management the job became politically challenging, thankless, incredibly stressful, and downright dull (did I mention political, again?). The upward trajectory has nothing to do with happiness or job satisfaction. I was downsized, right-sized, off-shored and moved-aside more times than I can remember. 30 years of it, I had enough. The straw that broke the camels back was when I diligently and effectively trained a young person (the owners son), only to lose my job to him and then fired after receiving a promotion and positive review. Although I settled out-of-court, it was a paltry amount of money that was neither life changing or worth the trouble.

I decided to change my career and life; drawn once again to trucking. Throwing all caution to the wind, I finally gave in to my true calling, the notion that I always preferred the journey over the destination. After a bit of research and three applications (Swift, CR England, and CRST) I decided on Swift and attended their Richmond Academy for schooling. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Lilysmomma's Comment
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Wow! A Math teacher! Wow, that is awesome! With 25 years of working swing shifts in two Paper mills, I took a buyout and got an early retirement. I went out to become a farrier and Blacksmith, got sick of bad clients and really bad horses, so I then went to driving School bus, no money there and really bratty kids so I decided to become a trucker! I also am an artist who teaches classes on weekends in the winter months.. so now I am truly enjoying what I so love and found my final career!

Cookie Wolf's Comment
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I work for Orkin Pest Control for 9 years. Was a termite technician got tired of crawling houses & killing snakes.

Miss Miyoshi's Comment
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Well, let's see. I've been a litigation paralegal, theatrical lighting technician and stage manager, heavy metal concert venue manager, touring merchandiser, and had various stints in retail, bar tending, and general office work.

Kat's Comment
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I taught middle school math for 11 years. Been there, dive that.

Plan accordingly: if you get paychecks through the summer, you'll have an income while you're in truck school. Good luck!

That's my plan! I get my last school check at the end of August, so hopefully lack of income during school won't be an issue.

Terrance G.'s Comment
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I worked in lower level retail management and hated every second of it.

dirtrocker's Comment
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I did automotive repair for 8 years until the shop owner decided to close up. Then I did framing for just over a year and now I'm here driving truck.

DSTURBD's Comment
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Well, like Errol V., I taught school for the past seven years. Got fed up with the same things he did and decided that since I am alone now, I should go back to trucking. Have hit a bump in the road for now (Med Hold) but everything up to this point had been going very, very well. I just have to wait to get this cleared up and get back into orientation with Stevens Transport. Before teaching, I tended bar and D.J.'d in a topless bar for twenty years which is also where my screen name came from. That and my passion for Corvettes.

DSTURBD

DSTURBD's Comment
member avatar

Sorry, didn't know I was supposed to include my age. Turned sixty on May 28th, a week before reporting to CDL school.

DSTURBD

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
sculpy's Comment
member avatar

Not a trucker yet, but thread is relevant to why i'm heading for that career. Some fascinating stories in here, thank all of you for sharing!

I'm an "over-educated and under-employed" grown-up boomerang kid. I have two degrees (associates in Philosophy and batchelors in English), and literally wasted over a decade of my life trying to finish those degrees while struggling to get by in various retail and warehousing jobs. Lost most of my savings living in the UK when the recession hit and found myself with cut hours, closed upward mobility, and no new jobs in the area I was living. Moved into my parents' over here to try to restart things.

Anyway, I realized this year (finally!) that what I really wanted didn't include the traditional 9-5 with office politics and the same environment/people day after day, or to teach (for the same reasons DISTURBD and Errol talked about). Realized that i've actually loved working in the "blue collar" world, and the feeling of doing real work and labour for a living, and that my degrees were not going to help me chase anything that'd help me live a happy life. I've been working as a package handler for UPS for the last two years and enjoyed it, but I want to get to driving for real rather than waiting my turn at the Brown: could be another five years at least there! With a CDL off my own back, I could already have the experience I need to drive for whomever I want in the same amount of time. So right now i'm just trying to save the money I need to pay for school and get started.

Bit of a loner, eager to get independent again, no relationships at the moment, big desire to see the beautiful natural vistas across the country, love the idea of piloting a 40-ton industrial juggernaut beholden to almost no-one, and camping out on the road in my little cabin night after night. All the challenges i've read people having in this career are things I know I can overcome.

I can't wait to start a new life. And a huge thank you to this site and its contributors for helping me with the knowledge i've acquired so far!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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