So… You want to be a long haul truck driver?
Over the Road.
Coast to Coast.
Whatever you care to label it, you want it, and you’re obsessed with it. You’ve been thinking, pining, DREAMING of this, for months or maybe even years. Obsession really falls short as a description, considering the time time you’ve been studying it in your own self-styled way.
You surf the internet endlessly in your spare time, clinging to bits of whatever trucking trivia that catches your fancy. There’s probably a whole folder on your laptop crammed with it all. You have tons of stories, pictures, links and other bits of trucker-dom that you’ve accumulated like some sort of dreamy pack rat.
You’ve researched it all (you think), and now you’re heart-bound for the wondrously stress free life to be lived and loved on the open highways. And why shouldn’t you believe all of that? It all seems so easy.
No office politics. No cut throat co-workers. No incompetent boss breathing down your neck. Incompetent board of directors? Forget about it ! Angry strangers railing at you over nothing? Perish the thought.
Every cell in your body vibrates with the desire to do it. Your reeling brain is hopelessly fogged with the idealistic notions you’ve packed inside it. Your very insides scream, ” “I want to be a truck driver !”
Why? Because it’s rife with adventure, and big money.
So nice. So peaceful.
So … EASY.
Despite perhaps your own better judgement, you’re convinced that you’ll quickly be serving America and swerving through her great cities and endless welcoming thoroughfares. Sure, you’ve thought it all through. No question about it. Everywhere you go, you see the drivers in their glinting machines, wheel in hand, aimed toward the scenic Vacationland for which you ache.
Maybe you’ve even shopped for rigs to buy. Few people know tractors and trailers as well as you do right now, at least on paper. At the very least, you’ve already picked out the ones you like best, right down to the make, style and color. When you’re on the road headed anywhere at all yourself, you crane your neck to watch every gigantic rig as it comes whooshing by; a shiny fire-breathing Colossus, howling and whistling; thrumming, pounding the earth; headed for a mysterious destination with a load of even more mysterious cargo. (See the chapter titled: “OH, the Things You’ll Haul !). A new brand of blissful freedom from insulting morons and their mind numbing 9 to 5 grind is for YOU !
Nobody, but NOBODY can talk you out of it now.
You’re sold that the most wonderful place to find this new Nirvana it is in the driver’s seat of a big rig on The Big Road. Floating the gears. Cruising along at 75. Waving at the pretty people. It’s clear and embedded in your pipe dream of it all; a favorite Sirius offering wafting from a perfect sound system as you blow along between the ditches. In your self induced hypnosis, you can count on numerous scantily clad body models standing on the side of the road with their short-shorts on. Maybe their toddler sons are there, pumping their arms madly for you to blow the air horns – which you do with tremendous child-like satisfaction.
Well the good news is that you’re right about a great deal of the good stuff. It’s all out there. Make no mistake. You’ll have some fun while you’re trucking. Quite a bit actually. It will happen. You’ll also enjoy unbridled, unequaled independence Out There. Veteran truckers call it The Real World. But it’s not to be confused with the MTV series of the same name where a group of moronic, beautiful kids shack up together. Their Real World allows them to fornicate and laze around in a free party pad in the next easy chapter of their entitled lives.
This is THE Real World, and trust me folks, it don’t get no more “real-er” than being a trucker.
Right now, you believe in all the romantic notions of operating the biggest thing on the road. Much of it is true, but most of your perceptions are terribly, tragically wrong. Your forest is invisible behind the trees, but trust me, the rotten snags are there; titanic mountains and sprawling valleys of them.
What IS true and good is what keeps the trucking world – and the world in general – going: MONEY. Because so many of the old guys are disappearing and the young ones aren’t showing up, we are coming into the Golden Age of money for truckers. As a successful driver, it’s true that you’ll have money in every pocket. There will be wads of cash, probably better money than you’ve ever made being a desk drone in Nowhere, America. The money IS good, but you’ll work for it all, and lose a lot on things you’ve never imagined.
You’ll visit multiple states in one week, probably at least a few in even one day. You’ll see LOTS of open stretches of beautiful landscapes. You’ll experience the purple mountains and their majesty and the amber waves of grain. You’ll come to appreciate the remarkable night beauty of big cities from a distance … and learn to dread the realistic in-your-face squalor of those very same places. You will lose count of the number of times you’ve crossed the Mississippi, Ohio, Allegheny and Snake Rivers along with an endless list of others. That’s not to mention all the bays, lakes, puddles and trickles whose un-marked names you will never know.
You will roll past some of the greatest, most historic, most legendary and most desirable tourist destinations in the country, but never get even more than a glimpse of an interstate sign pointing to more than 99.99 percent of them. You’ll never get to see inside of them . Ever. Not once. I’m giving you that hundredth of a percent because, well… S— happens, right? Even if you plan unbelievably well, that number probably optimistic.
You’ll sleep in the back – the sleeper – of a big truck, and in all reality, it’s very comfortable. You’ll be plenty warm in the winter and plenty cool in the summer. There will be many days when you’ll run your heater and a/c during the same 24 hour period. You’ll eat garbage mostly, unless you’re a great planner, which you also will be, but most likely not about your food.
If you smoke a half pack a day, you’ll up that to a whole pack. Smoke one pack, then you’ll do two. If you’re overweight, that will increase with every mile you drive. If you’re skinny and have never had a weight problem, then you’re a lucky bastard and I never want to meet you. Your eyesight will dim. Family situations and relationships will erode beginning immediately. Men: you’ll pee in bottles and consider an emergency poop on the side of the road. Women, it will be worse for you in some ways, especially toiletry speaking. For all, fast food napkins and plastic grocery bags will become treasured save-ables instead of throw-aways.
No one will need to remind you to be grateful for an ON-ramp (NOT an off-ramp) or gracious business with parking for you to sleep. Haircuts will be as rare as the change of seasons. Showers will be a treat, as will clean toilets. The overpowering stank of someone else’s bathroom odors will become as common as the acrid tang of diesel smoke, the fishy air of bug guts on the windshield and your own onion-like b.o.
The glamour… it’s overwhelming.
It’s a different Real World all right. It’s an invisible reality existing in plain sight of everyone, every day. We simply can’t live without trucks and the tough, nasty cusses who run them on every spit of road in every nasty forgotten corner of the world.
And you want to be a trucker.
” Driving a big truck? It’s either the worst job you’ll ever love, or the best job you’ll ever hate. Maybe both at the same time. Nobody bitches about trucking more than an old trucker, even as they love every minute of it.”Miles Moore, Million Mile MENSA Trucker