This story is dedicated to every long-haul truck driver out there, men & women alike!!!
My name is Karen Smith (yes...Smith...is my last name - I didn't change it to protect the innocent). I am the wife of a long-haul driver, and I'm writing this to give recognition to those where very little is given, which is very much needed.
Attention to ALL people that think truck driving is such a glamorous career...THINK AGAIN!! I believe with everything I am that anyone that is busting their...(well, you know)...every hour on the road to get freight transported from one place to another should be recognized & commended for what they do.
Sleeping in trucks in extreme conditions (from life to weather), living out of public restrooms (some not as well kept as others) for personal hygiene, having to eat from what trucker's call "roach coaches" & fast food places, not getting enough rest & having to BATTLE with idiot a**, disrespectful drivers in their cars that haven't even got a clue - as well don't care that those trucks & trailers are 80,000 lb killing machines. On top of all that, drivers have to deal with their dispatcher & the lies that they tell on a daily basis.
Now, I know that some of you who'll read this will say "What about me, my job is just as important, don't I get to be recognized?" I'm not discounting you in any way, shape or form as well as what you do for a living. The message that I want to send is in accordance with my being one of THOSE PEOPLE that had NO CLUE! I didn't care & while driving my car. I thought that truck driving was a wonderful, easy job due to the fact that the person behind the wheel got to travel & see "the sights" of the world...WRONG!!!
After being with my husband out in the truck, I have to let you know that I have a totally different idea, opinion & attitude regarding the whole trucker lifestyle.
One example of a trip we took (which, by the way, was my very first trip out): Our day started out with us having to pick up our load which was five hours late & with that cutting into drive time, didn't give us much time from point A to point B of our destination (for those of you who don't know, truck drivers can only drive 11 hours in a 14 hour window).
When we finally got to our drop-off destination (after living out of somewhat unsanitary conditions in public restrooms & staying at truck stops or sleeping in rest areas), we had to return to one more truck stop in Northern Fresno, California, just to sit for four days before we got another load to take us back to point A...HOME. With all that being said, I'm here to inform you that getting the flu on top of everything didn't make the trip much fun either... I felt like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz when she clicked her heels together and said "There's no place like home, there's no place like home..." I was never so happy to be home in all my life.
Now, regarding the pay for such a glamorous career, I have only one thing to say about that... It's not what it should be for a *job well done*. It's sad when you work so hard & bust your humps for a corporation (or company) and "THEY" don't even take the time to recognize that it's the drivers who risk their lives bringing in the "BIG BUCKS" for them while they sit in their cushy homes and live their regular 8 to 5 lives.
Regarding the "hubs," or "company yards" as they are called, that the drivers have to call their "home away from home," they aren't adequate. Some of the restroom facilities in them (if they have them, which some don't)... Well, let's just say that I wouldn't even let my pets use them, that's how unsanitary they are. The drivers' lounges in some of these places aren't large enough to accommodate all of the truckers that are laid over waiting on freight.
What made me change my mind & attitude about this lifestyle was what society as a whole doesn't know - that it's the "behind the scenes" of how they get to purchase everything from the toilet paper they use to the big screen TVs they watch...from the food they eat to the food they feed their pets, and everything in between.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself that these men & women chose what they do for a living... I agree... But what they didn't choose & can't change (for the most part) is how they are being treated by the companies that should be giving them ample & adequate facilities to call their "home away from home."
When it comes to the professional side of this business, where the administration and dispatchers are concerned...here goes!!!!!
I feel that EVERY dispatcher (driver manager as some call them) should have been a driver for at least one year, and if not, they should have to go out in the truck with a driver for a least two weeks to a month (one to two trips), live exactly the way the truck driver has to live while on the road, and experience what ALL drivers go through so that they (the dispatchers) will know how to schedule loads.
Concerning the "shirts," "skirts," & "suits" (the administration), I think they should have to do the same as the dispatchers...RIDE ALONG!!! Live out of the truck just as the driver does so that they can gain more respect for those that are bringing in the high dollars for their high priced vehicles, their kids' college educations and those high mortgage payments - because most drivers that I've talked with can't send their kids to college, are having their homes foreclosed, are going into bankruptcy, and drive "beaters" that only get them from point A to point B.
To me, it's heart-hardening to see someone work so hard and receive so little in return. Some drivers don't even get "holiday pay" even though they're gone for them, away from their families. They don't get bonuses or even a pat on the back now. And then just to hear a "thank you" for job well done...
What's disturbing to me in my observations of all this is the difference between the office personnel & truck driver.
The driver will acknowledge everyone that's within earshot, give them a smile & say hello, make idle conversation to pass the time... But the office staff will go out of their way to not have to associate with the truck driver, as if they're better than them and the driver is just a low-life that is nothing in their eyes.
With everything I've written, I want you to know I'm not forgetting that this happens in quite a few professions. I'm not disregarding what others go through because I've experienced that in some of the jobs that I've had throughout my life (so some of this is coming from personal experience as well). I'm just expressing my observations, opinions & experiences.
I would like to inform you that what I've gone through and what I've seen & heard while on the road with my husband will FOREVER be engraved in my heart.
I'm sending each & every one of you long-haulers, day drivers, short timers and seasoned drivers (men & women) a HUGE HUG, a firm hand shake, and a warm smile...as well to let you ALL know...
*** JOB WELL DONE !!! ***
YOU ARE IN MY THOUGHTS & PRAYERS ALWAYS.
THANK YOU and LOVE TO ALL,
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