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  • Allen Czermak

So You Want To Be A Truck Driver

Boys will be boys and even men love trucks. When my own boys were kids there was nothing more inviting to buy them in the store than a truck large or small, of course the larger the better. But even the match box trucks are a treat, and they last forever, finding new players as the old ones grow up. I have a basket of those classic matchbox cars and trucks that go from one generation to the next with each boy’s imagination doing wild things and having creative ideas in which to place those timeless vehicles.

Indoors in the winter and outdoors in the spring and summer, there is no limit to the great times and lessons that haulers large and small give to growing boys. I recall a large Tonka dump truck that stayed in our backyard for years while surviving the cold winters to appear again when the snow disappeared. I can’t say I was too thrilled when the newly mowed grass was turned over by the strong dump truck but at least the kids were doing something safe and creative.

Fire trucks and police cars with flashing lights are always winners to give as gifts for the grandkids even in this day and age of electronic and computer toys. Have you ever encountered a toy car carrier? It really gives you an idea of what a real car carrier driver has to go through to keep his cars balanced and level. Whether it's bulldozers, semi-trailers, tractors, backhoes, or flatbeds, these toy vehicles are built so realistically that who can blame a child who dreams of becoming a truck driver when they grow up?

While driving on a lone highway at night have you ever wondered how that truck driver next to you is doing? Does he like his job? Does he miss his family? Can he like his job and miss his family at the same time? It definitely takes a lot of stamina to be a successful truck driver, especially long haulers who can be on the road and not see their families for weeks at a time. Did you know that even a man who is home for the weekends is under a lot of pressure to get deliveries to their destinations on time, sometimes driving all night and day? Many truckers are sons and grandsons of truckers keeping the occupation in the family. These people have a better understanding of exactly what it entails to be a successful truck driver keeping focused and responsible all week long.

There are different varieties in the trucking industry such as cabins or cabs that change their containers each day. That means that their boss does not own the containers, only the front cabin. So, he is not responsible for cleaning out a dirty container after a load of chickens. On the other hand, if you oversee an entire truck that means you are responsible for keeping the back of the truck clean. Using our chicken example, when the load of chickens is delivered to their destination no doubt there will be fat and blood inside the container part of the truck no matter how well those chickens are packed. In such a scenario, the driver must take the truck to a special truck washing center where they hose out the inside and sanitize it for the next load.

These trucks are special refrigerator haulers with a thermostat that is variable according to what it is bringing. The chicken seller will specify what temperature the interior should be, and the trucker will set the refrigerator to that specific temperature since chickens do not need as cold an interior as ice cream would need. This assignment is just one of the many responsibilities that a truck driver has before he can even begin his trip to the destination at hand. By the time he gets into his cabin, a lot of hard work has already been done. For example, he must check the tires each day, make sure all the hookups are secure, check the front and back of the trailer to make sure there is no leaked oil underneath and of course fill up with special diesel fuel at the gas pump. (By the way a fill up for a 42,000-pound trailer truck can be anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000 each time.)

The Advantages of Being a Truck Driver

Are you a nine to five person? Do you feel secure at a desk that is yours every day? You know that come what may you will be at the desk five days a week unless the boss calls you into his office for a chat. Oh, of course you will have your daily lunch hour when you clock in and out. For a person such as you we can all attest that being a truck driver is not your cup of tea. However, for someone who wants more flexibility at his job and enjoys traveling, being a truck driver certainly has advantages. To some people driving is actually a hobby. Trying to break speed records (only according to law), seeing new surroundings, and admiring the scenery are just a few bonuses for a trucker. One of the truckers claims that he loves driving at night. The road is quieter, and he can think or listen to a nice radio show or music, or he might be having his nightly conversation with his daughter.

There are certain legal standards about how many miles a truck driver must travel off the road to sleep but that is not always the case when the load has to get to a certain place by a certain time. This means no normative bedtime. Sometimes our truckers must stop to get a caffeine boost and if you want to know the best on the market just ask a trucker. We have seen videos of trucker’s cabins and some of them are downright nice and cozy. A couch and table can greet our truckers after hundreds of miles of road.

If the trucker is lucky enough to have a loving wife who cares, you would be amazed at how creative she can be when it comes to packing breakfast, lunches, and dinners. One trucker I watched has a warmer called HOTLOGIC. It comes in a few different sizes and ranges upwards from about forty dollars. There are also other similar brands that make the food taste a whole lot better than a microwave. For a woman who wants her man to eat healthy the best idea is for her to pack the meals in special rectangular plastic containers with lids which are economical enough to throw away after each use and strong enough to keep the meals fresh in the fridge.

Some Disadvantages of Being a Truck Driver

If you are a family man, you will miss out on both the exciting times with your family and the challenging times. If you live in New York and you are stuck in California, there is no way you will make your son’s final little league game or your daughter’s kindergarten graduation. It’s not like you can ask the boss for a few hours off, no way that will happen. When you are away from home you are out of commission. Your wife has to be somewhat of an independent take charge individual because there are bound to be circumstances and emergencies that come up and you are not there. No, it’s not the same as being an EMT or a fireman. Yes, these two professions have emergencies, however, they are usually relatively close to home so there is a fair chance you will make the family event. But, as a trucker, you can be at the other end of America, and you know you will be missed with the best you can do is FaceTime and that will be without a hug and a kiss.

Are you the type of person that enjoys talking face to face or is a phone or FaceTime call satisfying enough? The younger set might claim that who talks on the phone anyway when there’s texting or WhatsApp? Thank goodness we have learned from the COVID-19 crisis that we do need human contact after all. You might think that hugging and kissing would be considered a risk today and maybe for some people it still is but for most of us human contact is so important.

A truck driver must be able to have delayed gratification down pat. When your little girl crying for you on FaceTime are you able to reassure her without breaking down? If you can’t stay neutral, then this job is not for you. When there is a problem at home, and you are not there can you advise from afar? How are your driving skills? A trucker I watched on video purports that he would choose night driving over sunrise driving. When he is doing an all-nighter, nothing is as taxing as driving as the sun is rising. Yes, it is beautiful to watch a sunrise but that is if you are standing on the road and not in your cabin driving. You just cannot see what’s going on in front of you and to top it off you are so tired from driving all night.

Where does a truck driver sleep? Most of the time it’s in his cab. He has many expenses driving and does not want to waste his money on a truck stop or motel. Where will he park? Have you ever seen a truck cab in a parking lot in your area? Well, that poor guy is sleeping while you have a bed to go home to. These are just a few of the disadvantages of being a truck driver. However, many of these drivers will highlight the freedom on the road that they have and being in control of such a powerful vehicle.

Final Words

The challenges of being a truck driver are more than just being forbidden to ride on a parkway. Being away from family with only a picture and phone as a connection is so emotionally draining. If your wife is busy when you call you feel so sad that your connection is not meaningful and when the kids are crying, and the house is in turmoil you feel worse when you check out the scene on FaceTime.

Yet, thousands of men and women chose truck driving as their careers and they love it. What could they possibly see in truck driving? Well, you can see the beautiful country we call America from the road. Most of us do not get a chance to drive through our beautiful nation and even if we do take a car trip there are places that truckers experience that we do not. Every day is different and new, unlike a typical office job where you are in the same place five days a week not counting overtime. If you would like to work independently and be your own boss, look into this profession.

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