The Life of A Trucker

A long haul truck driver

The life of a trucker is very different than any other career. It’s a demanding job and takes a very special person. A long-haul driver spends most of their time on the highway alone and away from their home and family. It takes a special kind of person to live and sleep in their office 24/7. There are also stressful things like highway safety and dealing with other drivers (four-wheelers) on the road. When I say four-wheelers, I’m referring to passenger cars who ride along the side of a semi or the crazy people who love cutting truckers off. There’s the inclement weather, days without a shower, and truck-stop food.

The life and typical day of a trucker start with getting a call or message (Qualcomm or Quailcom) from your dispatcher to go pick up a load. Many times that can mean you need to head to the shippers ASAP. If you just got in bed for a few hours of sleep, that’s too bad. The dispatcher requires you to be at the shipper’s on time to receive your load. It doesn’t matter if you break the law getting there by speeding or cheating on your logbook, they just want you there.

You get there to find out that you won’t be loaded until that night or the next day. That’s the life of a trucker. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The worst is trying to find the shipper and it’s like they’re on a remote island. You make a wrong turn and end up on a road where there’s nowhere to turn around or the road takes you to a residential area where trucks are not allowed. This was a big problem when I was an OTR driver, but maybe not so much today with Google maps.

Finding parking at the rest area or a truck stop:

This is a huge problem for truckers. Imagine driving all day and you’re absolutely exhausted and get to the rest area and there’s nowhere to park. This happens all the time and if you’re out of hours and have to keep driving until you find another rest area or truck stop, there’s a chance you could get stopped by the DOT or have to pull into a weight station. If you get flagged for being behind the wheel when you’re out of hours, you’ll be put out of service and fined.

Needless to say, you’ll have a spot to rest. Right there at the weight station with the state police. There really needs to be more truck stops in some areas. You can drive miles without a truck stop or rest area, in some states. Trying to find somewhere to park at a truck stop after midnight is virtually impossible. You might find a spot way in the back, and have to walk a half-mile just to get to the truck stop store or restaurant.

Getting home time and time away from the wife and kids:

The life of a trucker is very lonely when you have a family at home. For me, it was really tough leaving my wife and three daughters after spending a day or two with them. It was never easy saying goodbye to my wife and heading out over the road for another 2-3 weeks. I’d normally leave early in the mornings around 3:00 AM or so, to beat the early morning traffic. My wife would sit in the truck while I was doing my pre-inspection or load my up laundry and food to put in my mini-fridge.

When I was ready to go, we’d cry and hug it out. She would follow me out of the Walmart parking lot, and I’d flash my lights for her before getting on the highway. Long haul truckers with family sacrifice a lot for their families and their country. We all know that if it weren’t for truckers we’d all be standing on a pile of dirt with no clothes or anything else. Truckers keep this country moving and without us, there would be no country.

Holidays and other special times:

It’s really tough being a long-haul trucker when the holidays roll around and you’re stuck in the shipper’s yard until they return. I’ve had that happen to me more than once. Every trucker is trying to get unloaded so they can get through the house to spend the holidays with their family. If you can’t get unloaded, and there are no truck stops near, you can be stuck in the shipper’s yard for a couple of days.

That’s no fun when you’re a truck driver and married with kids. It takes a special person to spend their Thanksgiving or Christmas in the cab of a big truck eating Ramen noodles or a bologna sandwich and chips. It’s also not fun missing out on your kids growing up. Not being there when they take their first steps or learn how to ride a bike. I’ve done it and I’ll never be able to get that time back that I missed.

The life of a trucker – Good Times

Being on the road isn’t totally doom and gloom. But I wanted to paint a picture for those who believe it’s all gravy and that truckers don’t do anything but sit behind the wheel and travel. There are also many perks to being a long-haul trucker. I made many friends and met some very interesting people while driving over the road. I’ll tell you one thing, there is never a dull moment on the radio.

If you’re bored or need some entertainment, just turn on your CB radio. The things you hear and experience is beyond crazy sometimes. Yeah, there are lots of grimy conversations and unsavory behavior, but there are also lots of camaraderies. We might not always see eye to eye, but there is a special brotherhood and kinship amongst truckers. It’s sort of like family members. You can fight each other, but no one else better try it. Truckers look out for each other different or indifferent.

When I got off the road for good, the one thing I missed was the brotherhood that’s shared between long-haul truckers. It’s nothing better than finding a driver going to the same state as you and you guys convoy together and conversate and look out for each other all the way there. You started as strangers on the highway and end up being friends for years. The life of a trucker isn’t all bad all the time.

The best part of long haul trucking:

For me, the best part is the freedom of being your own boss. There are some really good trucking companies out there, but there is nothing like having your own authority and truck. When you have your authority and truck, you can pretty much write your own meal ticket.

No late night or early morning dispatches or hot loads. No more loads to the Northeast if you don’t want to go. No more forced dispatch. That big truck moves when you want it to move. The pay is also pretty good. A long-haul trucker who’s an owner-operator can easily make a good living without running their self ragged.

I was determined to buy a truck and become a lease operator or owner operator so I could spend time with my family whenever I wanted to. Then I could request dispatch to route me through the home. It was easy because I live in the heart of the Midwest. If you’re a driver with a family, getting your own truck and authority will make things a lot easier on you and the wife.

Like I said, the life of a trucker is a unique one and requires a unique person. There are good days and there are bad days, but even on the bad days you suck it up and move on down the highway. You take the good with the bad and keep on trucking… Come on

Written by longhauler

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