Low Status Stigma Of Truck Driver?

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T.W.'s Comment
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I have been doing a ton on research on truck driving and weighing a lot of factors. What is the stigma of being a truck driver? Is it, and will it always be a low status occupation? I do respect the men and women who transport are goods across country. But seriously, would a guy be wasting his college degree, his smarts, his talents, his people skills to be a truck driver? My motivation is because I am burned out working with people and politics. I am an intelligent guy but I need a break from it all. Truck driving seems to be the answer.

The researchers held experiments with students who were randomly assigned a high-status "idea producer" role or low-status "worker" role.

Truck driver is ranked down there with janitor. It is a little embarrassing telling my friends and family I want to be a truck driver after all I achieved in life.

I guess image matters at my age. Who am I trying to impress? I knew a guy who quit his cushy 100k John Hopkins Medical Research position to become a limousine driver.

Is status over rated?

Eric C. (Easy E)'s Comment
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I guess that all really depends on who you are as a person. I have been making about 75k/yr in the tech management arena. I am going into Trucking. Why? First, I have always wanted to be a trucker. Second, job stability. Third, I am going to bust my butt to do this industry proud and make some decent money while I work toward building a retirement.

Perfect plan? No... but when I use facts, gain knowledge, and put my experience to use, I can usually make happen what I want. Will I be a millionaire? Nope. But I plan on working with my wife as a team in a few years, and that will allow us to pay our bills, buy a small bit of real estate, and hopefully put enough money into savings so that we can eventually buy our own truck and retire into trucking.

I have a friend of mine who did just that. They bought their truck for cash, and use it to travel the country, visiting their family and friends, while making a couple bucks along the way to pay for gas and incidentals. They don't use hotels, just the sleeper on the truck. It works for them, they like each other. LOL!

Use your smarts. If you think you want a desk job, and aren't willing to bust your butt to make a buck, then maybe this is not for you. But if you are a hard worker, willing to put yourself out there, with a positive can do attitude, and do the job safely and efficiently, you will probably do well... Or so I have been reading. ;-)

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Todd, this is an issue that really bothers me and always has. It's not the occupation that's the problem, it's the drivers themselves. The "trucker stereotype" which unfortunately is alive and well today and an awful lot of drivers fit it perfectly - fat, smelly, foul-mouthed, obnoxious jerks. As far from looking and acting like professionals as you can get. How could the general public respect someone like that?

Certainly you can go into a truck stop and find plenty of friendly drivers to sit down and talk with over lunch at the counter or in front of the television. But those same drivers are the ones that immediately start yelling, threatening, cussing, and stomping around like a little child every time they get news they don't want to hear like their truck repairs are delayed or they'll have to sit and wait a few hours to get loaded somewhere. Those same drivers might shower and change clothes once a week.

That kind of thing has just killed the image of truck drivers and has become a self-perpetuating prophecy. The industry has a bad stigma so most people stay away from it if they can. Trucking is usually an absolute last resort when it comes to choosing a career which is why the average age of drivers is in the mid to upper 40's instead of the mid to upper 20's like it should be. Because most of the drivers out there came into trucking as a second or third career when all other viable options were exhausted. I mean, imagine if someone's kid came home from high school and told his parents the guidance counselor suggested he become a truck driver. The guidance counselor would lose their job that day! Nobody tells someone to become a truck driver. In our society today that would clearly be considered an insult by most.

So that's what we're working with.

Now myself, I started in trucking when I was 21. Seemed like an awesome career to get started with as a young man. The schooling was only seven weeks, cost a few thousand bucks, and suddenly I'm travelling the country making three times the money I had ever made.

And I was right...it is an awesome career! At least to me it was. It fit my personality and life goals perfectly.

Now the thing about me is I'm lucky. I'm one of those people that was born with the brain of a rocket scientist. I was taking college courses in high school, including calculus, at 16 years old. And I don't mean college equivalency. I mean we had an actual college professor - "Doc Gilbert" - who taught mathematics at the University of Buffalo and he taught the exact same classes from the exact same textbooks to us. By the time I was 17 I was at the Univ of Buffalo in the engineering society taking level II calculus and the like. So I had every opportunity imaginable - scholarships to colleges all over the place. I was even accepted at the Coast Guard Academy. But that kind of stuff didn't fit my personality.

I wanted to travel. I wanted to really see and experience everything! I wanted to party and chase girls and play guitar and all that stuff. I loved a challenge. I loved trying new things. I wanted an adventurous lifestyle.

Well it took me a few years but I stumbled into trucking and it was amazing! Of course my mother wanted to dive straight into her grave when I told her, as would any parent when their rocket-scientist kid says he's going to be a truck driver.

But it was the best decision I've ever made.

I never cared what anyone thought about me. I was never much of a people person in the first place. To this day I've never been married, never had kids, and I've lived alone almost my entire life. That's just how I was born. Hard-wired that way.

So for me, I didn't give any thought to the idea that people wouldn't be impressed that I was a truck driver. I wasn't doing it for that reason. I was doing it for me. And I loved it!

I can't tell you how many times over the years strangers would just walk up to me and say, "How can you stand being a truck driver? I would hate it!!!"

I would just smile big and say, "Well I love it! Tons of adventures, every day is unique, travelling the country, driving a cool big rig, partying, making really good money - it's amazing!"

And they would just roll their eyes, shake their head, and walk away. And I would walk away with my big smile because I loved what I was doing.

I think living your life to please or impress others would be pure hell. I mean, if I were married with children my wife and kids would be my entire life. That's not what I'm referring to. I'm referring to the path we choose, the person we decide to be, the things we enjoy doing.

I've always followed my own path and never regretted it for a moment. Truck driving seemed perfect for me, and it was, and I loved it, and that's all that matters to me. I'm proud of the awesome job I did out there. I'm proud of how hard I worked, how safe I was, and the duty I performed to help keep this great nation's economy moving forward.

And most of all I absolutely cherish the memories. The incredible places I got to visit and people I got to meet. The challenges, the scary moments, the peaceful sunrises and sunsets - it's overwhelming the great memories I have. As Bob Seger once said, "Those are the memories that make me a wealthy soul."

So in the end you have to decide what matters most to you. For me, I just wanted to live a life that was challenging, exciting, and adventurous.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

T.W.'s Comment
member avatar

Two brilliant posts.

I know that was a touchy subject, but felt it needed to be addressed because of reality.

Brett you nailed it. We are hardwired a certain way. What subjects or careers we excel at, may not be good fits for our personalities. Just because a person succeeds in a career doesn't mean it will make him/her happy. I had been thinking a lot about the stigma of being a truck driver, having a college degree, having people skills, and realizing keeping up "a fake image" ---- is pure hell. Every word you mentioned in your post rings true. Your post makes me think of every reason why people do not want to be truckers and it kills it for a lot of guys who are not that way. You mentioned sitting down with men for lunch, having a friendly conversation, but suddenly they become unprofessional, start swearing, losing their cool because of delays or don't take care of their hygiene, hence, the stigma kills it for everyone. I keep reminding myself its the adventure, independence, and solitude I am seeking.

I, much like yourself, did well in high-level subjects at school. I have never been married and don't have kids either. Of course, I get the naysayers who say "You want to do what?!" Are you nuts? That is not you!" But, adventure and travel is what appeals to me at this point in my life. If I want to do it, I am going to do it. Again great post!

Eric, those are the same reasons I am choosing trucking... "Second, job stability. Third, I am going to bust my butt to do this industry proud and make some decent money while I work toward building a retirement." Those are two reasons I have considered truck driving along with the adventure. However, I can't say I always wanted to be a truck driver. But, lately, it seems like a nice change of pace.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Howard P.'s Comment
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Truck driver is ranked down there with janitor. It is a little embarrassing telling my friends and family I want to be a truck driver after all I achieved in life.

I guess image matters at my age. Who am I trying to impress? I knew a guy who quit his cushy 100k John Hopkins Medical Research position to become a limousine driver.

Is status over rated?

Todd, I don't know "your age" is and it really doesn't matter.

The only image you need to concern yourself with is the one in the mirror when you're shaving. As long as you're OK with it, why would you care what somebody else sees when they look at you?

And the only "status" that matters is what people will say about you at your funeral. And then it isn't going to matter to you at all!

Is status overrated? When you consider that all worm food is pretty much the same and that's how we all end up, one has to pretty much say yes, doesn't he?

Free Spirit ( AKA #Hashta's Comment
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The only image you need to concern yourself with is the one in the mirror when you're shaving. As long as you're OK with it, why would you care what somebody else sees when they look at you?

And the only "status" that matters is what people will say about you at your funeral. And then it isn't going to matter to you at all!

Is status overrated? When you consider that all worm food is pretty much the same and that's how we all end up, one has to pretty much say yes, doesn't he?

Howard P....you hit the nail on the head!!!

Svetlana K.'s Comment
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Go with your heart, do more research and glad you found this site. I was on other sites and all the bashing of the companies made me second guess my decision. It's a go for me, I will be starting school next month. Remember there are nasty, smelly and "bad" people in every profession.

Old School's Comment
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Todd, I saw this post on my phone when you first posted it and wanted to respond but was just too busy on the road and dealing with winter storms at the time. You've gotten some great responses, but I just wanted to say a few things concerning this topic.

You ask the question "is status over rated?" One can make their life a total miserable mess by trying to keep their status in other's eyes. The measure that people use is always changing and keeping up with it is like the proverbial "dog chasing his own tail", you'll never be satisfied that you've got it because it's a constantly moving target. I spent thirty years in a manufacturing business with seven digit annual sales. I had a restaurant chain for a customer that the owner thought I was the "bees knees". They did a lot of business with us, and were a big part of our success. One day he came to my office and noticed a new honor on my wall that had been bestowed on me. I had won the Texas State Skeet shooting championship that year. Well, when he realized that I had fire arms and knew how to use them, he lost all respect for me. I never got another job from him after that.

I'm probably older than you, and have learned some hard lessons in life, but one thing I know is that you can't live your life based on other people's expectations of you. You've got to forge your own path, follow your own heart, and be true to yourself.

As a truck driver now, I try to do my very best at this job. I'm hard wired at being an over achiever, I'm competitive, and enjoy doing what it takes to succeed. I try my best to do my part to raise the standards that most truck drivers have set for themselves. I dress well, conduct myself professionally with my customers, and provide a reliable consistent service to my dispatcher. Recently I was at a shipper and another driver from my company came over to my truck to ask me some questions about the load he would be getting there. It turned out it was his first time there and he wanted to know what to expect. As he was approaching I swung my door open to greet him and he just stared at me for a minute and then said "Well, you sure don't look like you ever get dirty doing this job!" Well, the truth is that any flat-bedder gets dirty doing his job, but you don't have to make that your lifestyle. If I get dirty (and I do), I get in my truck and change my clothes and freshen up. I feel better about myself and about my job when I look half-way decent. People perform better when they feel better about themselves and it shows in how they get things done.

Long story short is that you don't have to be like every other truck driver out there. The tide rises slowly, but you can do your part to put a positive image back into the industry. You go ahead and pursue your truck driving dream and don't give a care to what others think of it. Let them see your success and satisfaction in the job, but don't let them be the ones that decide if it's for you or not.

It's a great career for the right kind of person, but it can be brutal for the people who aren't cut out for it. That's why there are so many web sites dedicated to bashing the industry. There are so many people who have tried to get in but didn't really understand what they were jumping into. I actually feel pity for many of them, if they had been exposed to some of the truths we talk about here they might have realized before they made the leap that they needed to pursue something else.

I'm getting off track, but when it comes to status you make your own standard of measure - don't worry about what others think of it - if you can wake up and look at yourself each morning and be proud of what you accomplished the day before you are miles ahead of most people in this world.

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.

Dispatcher:

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.
CortaroAz.'s Comment
member avatar
double-quotes-start.png

Truck driver is ranked down there with janitor. It is a little embarrassing telling my friends and family I want to be a truck driver after all I achieved in life.

I guess image matters at my age. Who am I trying to impress? I knew a guy who quit his cushy 100k John Hopkins Medical Research position to become a limousine driver.

Is status over rated?

double-quotes-end.png

Todd, I don't know "your age" is and it really doesn't matter.

The only image you need to concern yourself with is the one in the mirror when you're shaving. As long as you're OK with it, why would you care what somebody else sees when they look at you?

And the only "status" that matters is what people will say about you at your funeral. And then it isn't going to matter to you at all!

Is status overrated? When you consider that all worm food is pretty much the same and that's how we all end up, one has to pretty much say yes, doesn't he?

I quit my career back in 2001. I ran my own construction company. I have been thinking of doing a career with a future. I was a roughneck for 8 years, it was a very demanding job on my old bones. I had a name for myself out in the patch. But after your gone no1 remembers you anyways. You want status in this world you will never get it 100% because some1 is going to hate you or a decision you made in this life. I picked a career driving truck, why you ask cause the only status I need is to know I am happy with this new career.. Knowing there are people better stronger and faster then the postal service makes me greatfu. I hope you do decide to drive truck. Break the Mode and move to you Happy Place.. JC

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
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I had won the Texas State Skeet shooting championship that year

No kidding!!!! That's amazing! Well I guess if I ever find myself staring down the barrel of your gun there's no point in trying to run away in a zig-zag pattern! I'll just play dead and hope I took all the fun out of shooting me. rofl-3.gif

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