So, I've been thinking a lot about writing why I love being a truck driver so much at this point, but it's proving to be very difficult. First of all, I realize that this is all still very new to me. And as the "new car scent" begins to wear off, my views and opinions will change over time. Second, the reasons I am enjoying this so far, are reasons that others would definitely not enjoy. So I'm going to simply describe my job a little bit to you. Some of it might sound like great things to you, and some of it might sound like it's terrible. It takes a very unique individual to succeed out here and hopefully this will shed a little light on the traits necessary to make it in this business.
First of all, OTR truck driving is not a job. Far from it. This is a lifestyle. Everything I do out here revolves around the truck and the company's customers. I only eat when I have time and not always when I want. I sleep when I'm able to, whether it's noon or midnight. I shower when I can, which isn't always every day (3 days is the longest I've gone so far, and I like to avoid going that long as much as possible). I seldom watch TV, because usually on my downtime I'm either eating, showering, or sleeping. Life goes on at home with or without me. I'm sure there are several "inside jokes" that I'll not be a part of within my circle of friends. They go out on the weekends, while I sit and drive.I just "celebrated" a birthday last week, while driving 8 hours - hundreds of miles away from friends and family in the poring rain trying to get a load delivered. My job is very important to this country, yet there is almost zero respect for truck drivers, from the 4-wheelers and truckers I share the road with, to the very customers I'm serving. My truck may or may not work at any given time. Right now, it's not working.
This is just the way it is out here. Imagine if you will,an office worker got a memo stating the following:
Effective immediately, all workers will be subject to the following rules or face termination:
- All employees must stay at work for a minimum of 3 to6weeks without going home. You will earn one day home for each week worked and can take a maximum of 4 days off at a time. You may only leave your cubicle to use public showers, restrooms,and visit cheap restaurants.
- Employees may work 11 hours within a 14 hour workday, then must move to their sleeping quarters located in the rear of the cubical for a minimum of 10 hours. All on and off duty time must be recorded. If you are in violation of these work hours or lie about the hours worked, you will face disciplinary action and may be fined up to $1,000 for each violation.
- In addition to the required work hour requirements, all employees must complete assignments within specific deadlines, even if that requires overnight work. Sleeping during the day is encouraged during these situations, which will occur frequently. Please adjust sleep patterns as necessary.
- All employees are expected to work weekends and holidays for no extra pay.
- Should an employee request a date to be home, that employee must ask for the date 10 days in advance. We will do our best to get you home within one week (7 days) of that date, but no guarantees can be made.
- Employees can take advantage of vacation time, but we will pay you pennies on the dollar during that time. All sick time must be spent in your cubicle.
In addition to these policies, your pay will now be based upon your productivity and you'll be paid per assignment at fluctuating rates. If we do not have an assignment for you, please wait in your cubicle without pay until an assignment becomes available.Also remember that you will not be paid for the entire assignment. We pay approximately 75% of actual work performed.
We appreciate your willingness to adapt to these new policies. And remember, we are a Family Oriented Company!
If you're currently in an office job, the above is not a far stretch of the truth if you decide on switching to truck driving. So be prepared for it! There is a phrase that I've heard thrown around; "Do you work to live, or live to work?" In truck driving, you must live to work. 24/7, you are a truck driver. You have no "personal life' as everything, and I mean everything, revolves around driving that truck.
You're probably asking yourself right now "But the title said he loves being a truck driver. What's going on??" That's right! I do love being a truck driver. I'll take this "job" over office work any day of the week. Why? Because I get to see this beautiful country. I get to meet all sorts of different people from different backgrounds and cultures. I love to drive. I mean, I really love to drive. I enjoy not knowing what's coming next or where I'll be just hours from now. I enjoy the challenge of navigating large cities and mountains. I enjoy the relaxation of traveling the plain states and deserts. I love to take in the beauty this country has to offer.I love to turn up the tunes and "escape" into my own world of solitude. I love blogging about my experiences and receiving emails from everyone seeking feedback and advice. I really am enjoying just about every aspect of this job. And I have plans in the works to make you, my readers, even more a part of it.
Like I said in the beginning of this post, it is extremely difficult for me to describe why I'm enjoying this so much. I really wish I could spell it out for those of you looking to enter the industry, but I just can't. It's more of a "feeling" being out here than any tangible thing I could describe. I'm beginning to understand what some of these old timers mean when they say "truck driving must be in your blood to succeed." There is a reason truck driving has a 100% + turnover rate. Not too many people have a truckers blood type. If trucking is in your blood, you enjoy it. If it's not in your blood, you'll probably end up like many people who enter this industry - complaining about everything and trying to get out of the industry.
The only thing that's bothered me being out here is missing friends and family. On those lonely nights I'm driving down a dark road, it's easy to start thinking about it. "I wonder what my friends are doing right now without me? I wonder if my nieces will forget about me? I wish I could go to the comfort of my parents house and have some good home cookin'. I wonder what I'd be doing right now if I lived a "normal life"? I wonder when I'll get home?
I'm single and have no kids, which makes things a whole lot easier on me. I can't imagine having a wife and kids back home. Honestly, if you have a family and decide to be a truck driver, please realize from the start that you'll miss so much. Birthdays, holidays, baseball games, your child's first steps....there's an endless amount of things you'll miss out on. Life goes on, whether you are there or not.Please think long and hard before getting into this if you have a family.
I know what you're thinking at this point. "TruckerMike, this post seems so negative! Are you sure you're enjoying it?" My answer is an astounding yes! I'm thrilled that I took the chance and decided to give this a try. It wasn't an easy decision for me. But I wouldn't change this for anything right now. I am having a complete blast.I love my job and I love the lifestyle I'm living. My point in writing all of the above negatives is to show that if you're thinking about getting into this, you'll have to learn to deal with a drastic change in your life. I have never lived like this in my life. This is not a "normal" life by any stretch of the imagination. Yet it just works for me. My hope is to help you see outside the box. This isn't just an "office with a view." It's a tough lifestyle to live for most and it comes with some great sacrifices. I just want you to be prepared so that it doesn't come as a total shock to you. All in all, you'll just have to experience it to truly understand.
I know this post has sort of been all over the board, and I was hoping to have more "positives" mixed into it. This post is honestly the most difficult I've written so far. It's so hard to describe why I am enjoying this so much. The negatives I posted really aren't negatives to me. They are just aspects of the job / lifestyle. I really, truly love what I'm doing right now. I wouldn't change this for the world.I love being a truck driver.
Until next time, drive safely!