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A Story About The Highs And Lows Of Life On The Road

by Brett Aquila

Recently a driver in our forum came to us with a story that demonstrates just how quickly you can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in the trucking industry. One day you're living your dream life, the next day it's a nightmare. One day you're considering getting a full body tattoo of a big rig, the next day you're seriously contemplating parking the truck, packing your duffel bag, and taking a bus home never to return.

Here's the story shared by a fella that goes by "The Dude" in our forum....

One thing I've learned in the past few months of being solo is that this job running OTR will give you such a great high one day and completely tear you down the next. This is especially true in the flatbed sector, where the nature of your shippers and receivers can differ so widely.

Living The Dream!

Yesterday, I had the most fun that I've ever had driving. I woke up somewhere in Montana and shut down somewhere just outside of Seattle, which means I got to do Lookout Pass (On the Idaho-Montana Border), Fourth Of July Pass, and Snoqualmie. I did Snoqualmie when the sun was setting and it was amazing. I shut down with 00:02 left on my 11 hour clock. Pumping out almost 670 miles earned me about $300 for the day while having a blast. It was just a day full to the brim of breathtaking scenery, driving fun mountain passes, and making good money.

The Dream Becomes A Nightmare

Unfortunately, I then had to wake up today. The place I had shut down at right outside of Seattle was right on the property of my first of two deliveries that this load had. I woke up three hours after I went to sleep and five hours before my unloading appointment to a guy banging on my door. He wanted my tarps off so he could take his pallets. I guess they like coming in at 3 a.m. PST to unload trucks here. So I abided, like a zombie in the cloak of night, pulling tarps, straps and bungees off.

Then I sat there for a really long time waiting for my 10 hour break to finish so I could drive up into downtown Seattle to get the rest of the load off.

About a mile from my last delivery, my [company's] e-log routing sent me around a downtown turn that I had no business turning on. I took it, the best I could, but I couldn't have ever made it. What ended up happening is I got around the corner but I popped a trailer tire and bent a rim on a fire hydrant or pole or whatever that yellow thing was. I had to have road assist come fix it. It cost my company money and had to have a conversation with safety.

Where Did Things Go Wrong?

Two things I did that you should never do: I trusted my QC navigation wholeheartedly and I didn't GOAL. (GOAL is an acronym for "Get Out and Look", and refers to situations where you may not see everything you need to be able to see from inside the cab of the truck.)

Making my way back out of Seattle I got multiple middle fingers for driving too slow while trying to navigate myself out. I rolled my window down at a red light and allowed myself to get into an "eff you" party with a guy in a van whose day I had apparently ruined. Just a really crappy experience in a metropolis.

The Lowest Of Lows

So I spent most of the day totally bummed out. I almost decided that I was ready to quit and just go back home to take my Fedex box truck route back to make 30k less per yer. I thought about going off the grid and joining a commune. I wondered if I could just abandon my truck and go live off of the land in the mountains of Washington like a sasquatch.

What happens out here is you might have one of the best days of your life directly followed by one of the worst days of your life. This can be a very emotionally driven job.

Prepare Yourself For Tough Times

I think it's important for new drivers to understand that your experience doing this will be extremely volatile. You will have so much fun one day and mess up so bad the next. To survive out here you need to keep your emotions at bay and judge how much you like doing this on a wider body of work than a day by day basis.

This is a lesson I'm trying to learn early on in my solo career.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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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