Would I Face Hostility If I Went Into Trucking?

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Mark O.'s Comment
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Hi folks. I told a family member that I was considering going into trucking, and she told me that I would face hostility if I did because of who I am. I wonder if that's really true.

Here's some info about me: I am a small guy (5'6"), pushing 60 but in good shape because I go hiking whenever I can. I am kind of a loner. So far, so good, I'm guessing. Now, my family member thought that this is what would be a problem: I have a PhD from UC Berkeley (in California) and a BA from an Ivy League college in New England. I speak several languages besides English, and I've worked for most of my adult life as an editor of books on history. My family member thinks it's obvious from the way I talk that I'm an educated guy. Another detail is that I happen to be gay. I don't think most people guess that. I don't have stereotypical gay mannerisms, and though I am not macho, I think I come across as an ordinary guy, even if it's obvious that I've spent time with books. I don't think there's any reason anyone would have to know I'm gay, unless they ask about my family and I then mention my partner. But she thought that would be a problem. Also, my politics are left. (Not liberal like Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden, but really left, like Bernie Sanders.) I don't feel a need to talk about my politics, and I respect other points of view. I've done some hiking trips in red states and had great conversations with people I'm sure had different politics than mine. I'm willing to listen and learn.

Anyway, I have dreamed of driving a truck for years, I love long days of driving on cross-country road trips, and I have great respect for truckers. I'm tired of the BS at my corporate desk job, and I was looking forward to getting a CDL and changing careers.

Do you think my family member is right that I would run into hostility or trouble from other truckers because of my background?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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.
Bobcat_Bob's Comment
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You'll come across some people who will say some stupid stuff to you I'm sure, however most people won't care. Trucking has people from all walks of life and everyplace in between.

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

I doubt it. No one cares about the person details of your life unless you make it their business. I think the only thing that would cause you to run into problems is if you don’t work hard, complain alot, or have unrealistic expectations going into the industry. I went to orientation at my current company with a dude who had an MBA and in general talked in a way that you knew he was educated. His downfall wasn’t his education or people not liking him. It was more that he had unrealistic expectations coming into trucking and didn’t know how to choose his battles. He was actually a really soft spoken individual but he constantly rubbed the office staff the wrong way because he kept focusing on and arguing about things that didn’t really matter.

If you just work hard and suck it up and understand that the first year is probably going to be really tough you’ll be fine.

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.

Old School's Comment
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Do you think my family member is right that I would run into hostility or trouble from other truckers because of my background?

You will find people in trucking who are very well educated and some who are ordinary, good-hearted working people with little or no education. It makes no difference to the employers. They are looking for responsible adults who can pass a fairly simple physical and get the job done. That is all that matters. Everything else about you is secondary and not considered detrimental to your effectiveness at the job.

If you think you have reasons to fear concerning discrimination in the trucking industry, I urge you to drop them. I have witnessed the open arms of this industry for years now. You have nothing to fear. If you are capable of doing a great job, then you can keep a good job in this business. I have seen folks both old and young. I have met folks in their eighties still going strong as drivers and others in their early twenties who are just getting started. I know skinny ones, overweight ones, dark skinned and fair ones. You can name the gamut of people types and I have encountered them on the road. We have one thing in common—well, maybe two or three. We are humans. We are adventurous and highly motivated to do a great job.

This is a job where people leave you alone and expect you to get things done. They are not overly concerned about your lifestyle or your habits. As long as those things don’t interfere with your ability to be a productive driver and a safe operator of a commercial vehicle, you will be given responsibility and the rewards which come with it. I have met all kinds of people on the road. I have never met anyone who felt they were being discriminated against. Even the fellow I met in Kansas City wearing a mini-skirt and six-inch stiletto heels seemed quite pleased with the way he was welcomed into the truck driving career.

Unfortunately truck drivers are stereotyped as big burly rednecks with loud mouths and brazen personalities. Of course there are a few like that, but by and large this is the most diverse work force you will ever come across in any industry. You have nothing to fear as far as your question goes. Getting started in trucking is not always easy, but it is not for any of the reasons you are currently concerned with.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Chris P.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm not a truck driver, but I've been to truck driving school, and I've talked to a lot of truck drivers. I think you'll be fine as long as you don't need to argue with idiots. I personally feel a need to do so, so I'll face hostility, and I don't really care. I also voted for Bernie Sanders, but I don't really fit into any proper political spectrum. I'm against abortion, I'm against gun control, but I think we should have government provided healthcare, and I think we should help out our weakest in society. I'm also for the COVID-19 vaccine, which gets me into trouble here.

There are some fairly intelligent people on this forum that are also successful truck drivers so it's not like you'll be the only one.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

Respectfully, maybe you should consider the biases your family member is offering.

What makes you think all truck drivers are straight, conservative males who look like Jerry Reid in Smokey and the Bandit?

Most drivers don’t care about your size, sexual orientation or your politics. Thanks to COVID, most driver lounges are closed, not that many of us spent much time socializing there anyway.

You’ll be more challenged by the military (read; hurry-up-and-wait) style of the industry. Trucking, like any business, has its share of frustrations and a person of your education level, may find some this business very frustrating.

You’ve heard the phrase; consider the source? How much truck driving experience does your family member have?

Here’s the truth; most of us are too busy trying to do our jobs, to be bothered with someone else’s size, politics or sexual orientation. If we’re in a truck stop, we’re probably showering, grabbing a bite to eat or getting our scale ticket. We don’t hang out in trucker bars. We’re usually either driving, sleeping or at home. If we give you a hard time, it’s probably because you’re taking your 30 minute break in the fuel lane and we gotta drive.

Good luck and I hope this helps.

Mikey B.'s Comment
member avatar

If your family member thinks you'll have issues...is it because they know your personality quirks or because of what you've stated? If they know "how you act" aka you have a bad attitude and talk poop to everyone and tend to rub people the wrong way on purpose then yeah, you may have issues. If however it is because you are a socialist in Democrats clothing who is also gay then generally, unless you bring it up, who would know? You may catch some crap over the political stance if brought up as your line of thinking is (and should be...lol) in the minority but you will find trucking to be mostly a positive and accepting community. Will you hear gay bashing on the CB? Sure, just don't take it personal. As far as the education, don't patronize the stupid people and you should be fine. Many of us are highly educated, highly intelligent with very high IQs.

You will find this industry to be one of the most diverse, inclusive, accepting, non-biased and equitable industries in the world. Your age, skin color, size, race, sexual preferences, intelligence level (or lack thereof), sex, previous employment experience etc. means nothing as long as you can do the job.

Perhaps you should look at why your family member is trying to discourage you. Seems somewhat defeatist of her.

Andrey's Comment
member avatar

My PhD never created any problems for me, neither did several languages that I speak. Actually, unless you start introducing yourself at every rest area and truck stop, nobody around will know about your degrees.

Mikey B.'s Comment
member avatar

Oh, one more add on, you would be well served if you have a good amount of COMMON SENSE in this industry. All the degrees and intelligence in the world are pretty much worthless without some common sense. Without it you'd probably end up in trouble however you might be able to talk yourself out of said trouble in 3 or 4 languages. Lol.

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

I don’t know why but this thread was stuck in my head last night. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen intelligent and educated people try to get into trucking and fail or really struggle with it because they’re just missing something or have the wrong attitude coming into it. I think the biggest thing to realize about trucking or pretty much any type of blue collar work is that it requires a different type of intelligence than most white collar jobs. I think a lot of people with higher education come into the trades with an arrogant know-it-all attitude because they consider themselves more intelligent and more educated than the people they’re working with that don’t have that higher education. And while that may be true with some of the people they’re working with it really shows their lack of understanding of different types of intelligence and what is needed for that type of work. I think that’s why I emphasize as long as you come into trucking with a humble attitude prepared to soak up whatever knowledge you’ll need you’ll do well and really won’t have much if any friction with others in the profession. If you come into it with an attitude that you’re better than your coworkers or your trainer because of your education, you’ll fall flat on your face.

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