Why Did You Become A Truck Driver?

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Marvroom's Comment
member avatar

Personally, I am not as yet a truck driver, just trying to get in the cab you could say. ;) I just got my CDL A and am starting to fill out apps to get pre-hires. Gotta go get my figerprints taken and then go in to take my hazmat test at the SOS. Thats where I'm at right now.

Why did I choose to go down this new path at 48? Well I used to have a job about 13 years ago doing lawn fertilizing. Did't much care for doing the fertilizing part of the job as I loved being out on my own driving around all day. I was really good at routing myself out to get to the customers I needed to get to everyday and enjoyed being able to help people with any problems they were having with their lawns, when I actually saw people. I saw this job as a way to help people keep their property looking good.

Right now I work in a warehouse as a supervisor for the shipping/receiving dept. for a company that warehouses eyeglass frames. I have been with them for 13 years and have helped make this company grow from renting space in a corner of someone elses warehouse to having their second warehouse that they needed to upgrade to. This second move brought with it the retirement of the original owner and the son took over. The son brought in a third party interest to help us make the second move. Then the business leveled out, stopped growing. Third party people freaked out and decide certain people were making to much cash. Only 2 folks got a pay cut. Guess who was one of them. The son of the original owner came to me to let me know it had nothing to do with my performance, just had to make cuts and that he and several others fought to keep me. Huh? KEEP ME?! This third party wanted to get rid of me.

So my reaction has been that I at least still have a job. It has really been a struggle with my wife going to school to become a nurse and not working. It was already tight before the cut in pay. So I started looking for a new job. But what do I really want to do? I'm feeling really burnt out doing what I am doing, so I started looking back at what I used to do in lawncare. What did I like about it that kept me doing that as long as I did? Driving!!! Being out on my own getting it done. Lawncare doesn't come close to giving me what I am making even now. Truck driving however does and I get do the part of the job I loved as a lawn tech.

When I really stopped to think about it, I have been missing that freedom of being on the road by myself for quite some time now. But the pay I was making just kept me put. Well now that has gone away and the way to get that back is truck driving. So after all, this has been a good thing that has happened as it has made me get out of my comfort zone and do something that I know will truely make me happy. I will be challenged, I will be pushed, I will be helping people get the things they need to accomplish the things they need to get done.

So that's where I'm comming from. What brought you to trucking? :)

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Pre-hires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

OWI:

Operating 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.

Greg's Comment
member avatar

It seemed like a good idea at the time... im nearly 7 months in, and no regrets.

Jason C.'s Comment
member avatar

Well, Ive been a Marine for the past 8 years and Im ready for a change. The military life isnt for me, it has been a nice stepping stone for my future, but there is more to life than being held on a leash. So when I decided that 8 years was it and that I was going to fufill my contract and get out, I started looking at what I wanted to do. Nothing appealed to me and being a radio operator in the military doesn't easily transfer over to the civilian world to well. I noticed a Schneider article in a magazine and a lightbuld went on and thats when I started thinking back to my childhood days, doin to honk motion in the backseat at a truck driver and they smile and wave and make my day. During my travels I see the trucks and love to watch and look at them but never really thought hey dude, why dont you actually go out there and do it. I found this site and started my research and went into it with a open mind and decided that this is what I wanna do. Get my foot in the door, get that first year done and safely driven and try to go local back home. Im married with a 6 year old daughter and we have all discussed it and its a good decision for me and my family, a hell of a job right out of the military. I know that that being away from home a little is tough, but being deployed 4 times for 7-8 months at a time, hell a week or 2 is a cakewalk. Especially with cell phone webcam and chat, your always connected on the road. I know that we will be ok, the money and benefits are in my ballpark and the life and the job fits me perfectly. I cant wait to get out there on the open road. I start school in April, and then its full steam ahead from there.

Justin B.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm currently in school, but I learned I wanted to drive professionally when I started to deliver pizzas (I know, I sounds silly) and I not only love to to drive, I see it as a craft that I can get better at and maybe one day master. The OTR lifestyle also appeals to me in the route planning, Maneuvering in a dock, and the challenge of being a 100% safe driver.

I not only want to be a truck driver, but a professional driver. I think driving is a craft too many people ignore once they have the license (in a four wheeler, I mean) and that's why there are so many selfish and dangerous drivers. They think they're "good drivers" cause they can speed or steer with their knee (I am guilty of this one occasionally in my Camry) but I see a "good driver" as one who can be defensive, maneuver well, and is adaptable. That's my goal.

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.

David's Comment
member avatar

I got in it for the $$$$.. HAHA. I wish that was it...

I got into trucking because I wanted my CDL. And it seamed the best way to do it was to do OTR driving. After 3 months of research and finding TT, I made my way to Phoenix for Swift's training school. Did that, got with my trainer, and became a solo driver for the last 4 months.

I also wanted to see the states. I grew up in Nor Cal most of my life, had one road trip out of state which was a move to GA when I was 7..

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.

Nighttrain03's Comment
member avatar

I have always been fascinated with the truck driving lifestyle since I was a kid. I would have to say the moment that made me want to become a truck driver was back in June of 1986, I was living in SoCal, (Mom & Dad were military) they received orders to Germany and when we left Cali we drove cross country from Lompoc to Sandy Lake, PA & Toms River, NJ to visit with family before we went to Germany. I remember after about the 2nd or 3rd day of travelling, I was sittin in the front seat of the van we had, (an 82 Dodge Ram 250 w/the bubble windows in the back), :) having some me & dad time, as we were travelling down I-80, dad would point out every truck that he saw either passin us or going in the other direction. As he did this, I would think to myself "I wonder where that one is going & what are they carrying". Over the course of the next 5 days of being "on the road" and seeing the trucks all day & throughout the night as well, I realized that this is what I wanted to do.

I myself ended joining the military in 1992 as well, I will be retiring in Nov of this year. I'm not an actual driver yet, but I wil1 be after I retire.

Like Jason C. said about being deployed for 7-8 mths at a time, 1-3 weeks away from home is a "cakewalk", it still sucks, but is better that being away from home, family & friends for up to a year (in some cases) & in a foreign country no less. But a few weeks is definitely alot more manageable.

I'm excited about getting started with the next phase of my life, I can't wait to get out on the road & start seeing this great country of ours, meeting people & enjoying the freedom of the open road. Also, I love to travel, so it's a win - win for me.

See ya out there

Stay Safe

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey, those were some great stories! Nice! I like knowing people's background. You guys need to put some of this stuff in your profiles so we know ya a bit better. And I have to add on to mine also.

I was 21 in 1993 and I had just moved to Atlanta from Buffalo with a couple of friends. We were working for $5.50/hour in a warehouse and living in a pretty scary apartment complex because that was all we could afford. I didn't have a career of any sort at that point and I was trying to figure out what I could do that would be interesting.

Well, my boss needed some pallets hauled about 20 miles to downtown Atlanta and a few more picked up and brought back. It was a rental truck...a box truck from Penske. I volunteered for the job. Well, I begged and lied about my driving experience to get it. That would be more accurate, really. And I got it.

Well, that day was awesome. I drove to Atlanta about mid-morning and delivered the pallets. By that time the dock workers had to go to lunch so I waited for them to load me up after lunch. I hit some traffic on the way out of the city and by the time I got back to the warehouse it was about time to go home.

I walk over to my best friend and tell him, "Hey, I really got away with one today. I didn't have to do any work. All I did was drive!"

Hearing myself say that I was like "Hey, maybe I'm onto something here!"

So I went home and called JB Hunt, the only trucking company I knew of off the top of my head, and asked them what starting pay was. They said about $750/week. I was making about $250/week at the time with overtime and I was like "Wow!!!! $750/week???? I'm in!!!"

So I immediately contacted a truck driving school and within a month I was in class. Best decision ever for me. Not only did I need a career, but I'm adventurous. I love a challenge. I wanted to travel and see this wonderful nation of ours. I wanted to drive one of those big, beautiful rigs! And of course tripling my salary was a thrill.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jason C.'s Comment
member avatar

Cakewalk was probably.not the best word to use lol, deploying is different. I know being on the road mostly alone is probably hard at times, can't compare apples and oranges. I like the idea of being alone on the road but at the same time I know that some days will be lonely. Sounds easy now I suppose but I'm sure that sometimes its no simple task.

Congrats on retirement Nighttrain03, that's a huge success.

Roadkill (aka:Guy DeCou)'s Comment
member avatar

Well, for me it began a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..let's call it Florida..I was just out of high school and bouncing around on kinda a break free road trip and I found myself in Tallahassee and found I rather liked it and wanted to stay a while, so I looked in the back of the newspaper,(does anyone even read those anymore?) and saw an ad for dump truck drivers and thought, Why not? So I went down to the office and the man told me I needed a chauffeurs license to drive a CMV. So I went down the the DMV the next day and applied for my license. The examiner came out and got into my F-150, pointed to two poles about 25 feet apart and said, "Parallel park in there". I did as I was told and got it bang on in the first try. She then said, "Okay Park your truck and come inside". I asked her if I failed the test and she said,"No, you passed. Anybody that can parallel park that good has got to be a good driver." So, the next day, as the holder of a brand new Chauffeurs license, I started work as a dump truck driver. They put an old guy in the cab with me for a day to ensure that I knew how to shift and turn and the next day I was on my own. Talk about a steep learning curve. I got through the next couple of months without hitting anything or anyone, but I learned a valuable lesson. I started hearing the older guys complaining about how many loads I was managing to haul per day. They were grumbling because for every load they were hauling, I was hauling two or three. See, we got paid by the hour, NOT the load, and they had no intention of working any harder or driving any more than they had to. I just loved to drive and couldn't understand why they were hauling 6 or 8 loads a day when I was hauling 10-12 loads. Anyways, I came to work one morning, got my load assignments for the day and took off. I was driving an older model Mack and the fuel gauge didn't work so I would fill up every other day. Even running hard all day, I never got below 1/4 tank of fuel. So on this day, I was at my first drop site after picking up a load and all of a sudden my truck shut down. Couldn't understand it. Started it back up and it shut down again. I got on the radio and called for the service truck to come to my location. When it showed up, the mechanic, who was one of the "Good ol boys" in the company, walked right up to me and without asking what was wrong said, "You're out of fuel." I told him that that was impossible, as I had fueled up two days ago and had only run about 100 miles the day before. He walked right up to the truck and took out a stick, took the fuel cap off and stuck it into the tank and PRESTO..DRY! I was puzzled, I couldn't understand it. I checked my mileage again and sure enough had only driven a little over 100 miles. My usual range was over 200 miles before I got worried about fuel. Well, long story short, I got fired for letting my truck run out of fuel. Boss man came and picked my up and dropped me to the office to collect my check and kicked me out the door. About a week later, a guy that I had made friends with at the company came by where I was staying and told me this. The other drivers were ****ed because I was apparently making them look lazy and drained my fuel tank in the middle of the night. They knew it would get me fired. They were all laughing and joking about it. Lesson learned. So anyhow, fast forward 25 years and I am retiring from my career as a Law Enforcement officer and all that driving I did in a cruiser and thinking back to those days driving a dump truck and remembering the joy I got from driving around in that big machine and so I decided that even though a Semi is a far cry from a dump truck, that that joy must still be there. That freedom to wake up in one part of the nation and go to sleep in a completely different part. I have an uncle that I am very close to that is also a retired truck driver. When I told him I was thinking about going to school and becoming a trucker, he got sort of a twinkle in his eye and said, "Man, if I was 20 years younger, I would still be out there. There are a lot of jobs out there but if I had to choose what to do all over again, I wouldn't think about it for a second. I would step right back into a truck." When I asked him why he loved it so much, he said, "No two days are ever alike. You are going to have good days and bad days. You are going to have days that make you want to throw up you're hands and scream at the sky. And you're going to have days when you almost can't believe how lucky you are to be doing something you love and getting paid for it." So, needless to say, I'm hooked and can't wait to get back out on the open road and hear that engine whine and hear those tires moan and feel like I am the captain of my own destiny and a member of a very unique club. A club others can only dream about joining as they go on with their lives wishing they were anywhere but where they are.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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.

DoubleCutter's Comment
member avatar

Hey Guy, I see you are from NOLA. I live in Metairie. What school are you going to go to?

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