Why I'm Finally Becoming A Truck Driver

by TruckerMike

Hi all! Thanks for checking out my blog. This is the first of hopefully many, many more to come. And I hope I can help those of you who are considering getting into the trucking industry. I'm not a truck driver quite yet. In fact, I'm in a white collar, 9 to 5, office job right now (why do I want the career change? More on that later.). I'm in the stage right now that many of you reading are probably in. I still need to attend a truck driving school to obtain my CDL , find a company that will hire me, go through their training, and learn all the tough lessons that lay ahead when I finally get my own truck!

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I am going to be TruckingTruth's guinea pig. I'll be sharing all the hardships, and all the good times, right from the beginning. I have no motivation for this blog other than helping you out, so that you can learn from my experiences and find out what the industry is really like, not what the recruiters tell you. My plan is to bring you from day 1 (researching the industry), through all of the training, and into my first months on the job, and beyond. This blog is going to be like my journal that all of you can read to see exactly what I'm going through, right from day one. I've never had my own blog before, so I encourage you all to post comments, ask questions, and tell me what you would like to hear. This blog isn't for me, it's for you! So let me know what you'd like to hear! This blog is useless unless the content is what you want to read!

Ok, so how about an introduction. When I was young, I knew trucking was something I'd want to do at some point in my life, but then again, I was just a kid. My family never had the money to fly around the country, so when we took vacations, we'd drive in our Ford van. About once a year, we'd drive from Chicago to Florida to see my grandparents (about a 24 hour drive). I remember sitting in the back seat as a kid, watching all the trucks on the expressway. I used to watch them closely. I thought trucks were one of the coolest things (and I still do!). Where are they going? How much power do those huge vehicles have? What are they hauling? What is life like on the road? The only way I could "pretend" as a kid was to tie my Radio Flyer wagon to the back of my bike and hit the road!

I specifically remember when one truck would pass another at nighttime, the truck being passed would flash his headlights when the passing truck could safely move back over. Then, when the passing truck was safely in the right lane, he'd flash his lights back as a "thank you." While this may seem like nothing special to the average person, it was special to me (and still is). I felt as if truckers had a brotherhood. They were looking out for one another. They were part of a fraternity of sorts. I always looked forward to driving at night during road trips just so I could watch the truckers flash their lights at each other. I'd watch them for hours. Oh how easy it is to please a child!

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As I got older, I lived your typical American life in the suburbs of Chicago, and my dreams of becoming a trucker faded. I struggled a bit in school, but got through it. I finally graduated High School, which was one of the best days of my life! Many say High School is the best 4 years of your life, but I didn't enjoy it much. I never wanted to have an office job, but I felt college was just something I was supposed to do, so I went. Now those years have been the best 4 years of my life so far.

College was a fantastic experience. I'd like to be able to say that I studied 8 hours a day in the library, attended every class, and passed with flying colors. The reality is, I used college as an expensive 4 year vacation. I'm not saying it wasn't hard....it was. I'm not saying I didn't put in effort.…I did. And I did my fair share of studying. But on the same token, I really only did what I needed to do to get by. I'm not proud of that, but I'm just being honest, which will be a common theme in my future blogs.

I finally graduated with my Bachelors degree in Communications. So, I thought… "What now?" Since I now had a degree, I felt the right thing to do was to get into the business world. I briefly thought about becoming a truck driver after I graduated, but that idea quickly left the picture. I have a college degree! I can't be a trucker! I didn't go to college for 4 years just so I could be a truck driver! People with Bachelors degrees don't become truckers…..do they? I guess I felt like I was above that lifestyle. I thought I deserved better since I had that almighty piece of paper. That's just the way I was thinking back then.

So I wound up in a sales career, which I'm still in today (and looking to get out of). I remember doing great on the interview and receiving my job offer. You'd think I would have been excited, but I had more of a "meh" attitude about it. The thought of spending the rest of my working life in an office was not so thrilling. But I accepted the offer and began working in the "real world." My career started off ok, but I always knew in the back of my head that I wanted something more. I couldn't stand knowing that I had my whole life in front of me, yet it would be spent in an office 40 to 50 hours a week, 5 days a week….sometimes 6. The money I can make in this career is huge (huge to me at least). I sit right next to somebody making close to 200k a year. And no, I don't make close to that currently. I make what an average truck driver makes in a year. If I stick it out for a few more years, I could probably make that 200k per year. But is the money worth it if I'm not happy in that career? That's a question that can only be answered on an individual bases. But my answer is no, it's not worth it.

Then, the recession hit.....

Sales are down and I'm making very little money now. In fact, I make less now than most truck drivers. I never really enjoyed sales, but just did it for the income, which is no longer there. As the recession began to hit full force (a few months ago), I started looking at other jobs. I was looking into Human Resources, Occupational Safety positions, etc. More "White Collar" type positions that don't pay on a commission scale. I began getting somewhat depressed because I could not find an office job that I could get excited about. I began to think, "what do I want to do with my life? How can I just go to work and just be happy? Why do I have to "settle" on a job? Why can't I get excited about any of these positions I'm looking at?" Maybe that sounds familiar to you?

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I stumbled across a job position as a manager for a major railway company. As I researched this position, I started thinking about non-office jobs within the company (train engineer, conductor, maintenance, etc.). The thought of traveling was exciting, and made me re-think truck driving. The kid in me started to conjure up the possibility of beoming a truck driver. This led me to researching the trucking industry and…low and behold, I found myself becoming excited about the career possibility! Of all the jobs I looked at (I looked at a lot of 'em!), this was the only one I actually felt excited about!

So, after weeks of research and fighting with my own emotions, I finally made the decision.....I wanted to give truck driving a try. Maybe I'll love it, maybe I'll hate it. But you know what? We only live one life, and if I don't do it now, I probably never will. Life is all about experiences. Even if I wind up hating it, I'll be able to experience traveling the country for a while, and I can always quit if it doesn't work out. This isn't a life sentence. And thankfully, I have a degree to fall back on.

Why did I decide to become a truck driver? Well, for one, I've always been a bit of a loner. I had my 3 or 4 close friends in High School, and I was cool with that. I never aspired to be a popular kid. In fact, I never wanted anything to do with the "popular" crowd. Even as a young child, I remember I hated attending birthday parties. I don't do well in large groups….never have. I certainly don't mind being alone. I actually enjoy being alone! Imagine that! Not a trait many people have (humans are social beings by nature), but a necessary trait to be an OTR truck driver. Now don't get me wrong, I have friends and I'm not a hermit. My point is, I can go a long time being alone and I won't feel lonely. As long as I have my close knit group of friends to visit every now and then, I'm happy. I will admit though, that I'm a bit of an introvert. Many see that as a bad thing, but I'm quite content with being introverted. If I'm happy being that way, so be it. Introverts don't care much about what others think. At least that's how it is in my case.

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I'm young, I'm single, I have no kids, and I have nothing tying me down. There is nothing keeping me here at home. Why not get paid to travel the country? I love to drive...I mean, I really love to drive! Especially going on road trips. In the past, I've hopped in my car and just started driving. I didn't have a destination in mind, I just wanted to drive. I usually went west since there was a lot less congestion out that way. I loved driving through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska...the states with small populations and little traffic. You just set the cruise control and go.

I took up storm chasing, and I've driven over 1,000 miles in one day. I love being out on the open road! Chasing storms was just an added bonus, and more of an excuse to go driving. I love to travel this beautiful country. I don't think most people appreciate this country's beauty as much as I do. Most people find driving through farmland to be boring. I find it to be absolutely beautiful. The sunsets and the sunrises in different parts of the country have their own look, and they're all equally as gorgeous in their own way. Most people find driving through the mountains to be a pain. I find it to be breathtaking. Most people hate the boredom of driving for hours on end on dark, desolate roads or empty expressways. I find it to be very relaxing and it often provides for great self reflection. And even though I'm a bit of an introvert, I still enjoy meeting people from all aspects of life and from different parts of the country.

I think it takes a very unique individual to succeed in truck driving. It's no secret that there's a lot of turn-over in the industry. But I think I have the traits necessary to succeed. I guess I'll find out, and you'll find out with me. Not only am I going to be the guinea pig for this website, I'm going to be a guinea pig for you. Follow me, and decide for yourself if this is the career for you.

So here I am, ready to get started. Follow me through my journey....right from day one. There's a long road ahead (pun intended), and I look forward to sharing my experiences with everyone!

Until next time, drive safely.

Mike

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

by Brett Aquila

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TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

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