2022 June 9th
I have been a long haul truck driver for almost 19 years. I’ve had better jobs, but none that has taken care of my family better than driving a truck. My current company is one that I hope to stay with and retire from. I can not tell you much I appreciate being a part of such a great company and team!
Now, to be blunt… I do not like being a truck driver. I don’t mind the work. It is a good job! The hard part… the part I have a problem with is that it is a job that requires you to live a different lifestyle than everyone else. To be away from home and your family for long periods of time. You can not have a “normal” life. You don’t get to be home every night to have dinner with your family. You don’t get to be home to enjoy the spoils of your labor. You can’t have a normal hobby. You won’t have a regular social life with friends or colleagues or peers. The list goes on and on.
In most cases, it is not a hard job to do, but it’s not easy either. It takes some stamina to get the job done every day (like most jobs). It takes some time management skills, self-motivation, self-control, independence and, I think mostly, self-discipline to get the job done.
1. Time Management Skills
The Federal Government allows you to work a 14 hour shift. That includes 11 hours of driving and 3 hours of on-duty time not driving. You don’t have to do all of those hours, but you manage your time to be able to get the assigned job of moving freight from the shipper to the receiver in the allotted timeframe.
We are giving a run that goes from point A to point B and sometimes there are multiple stops before the final destination. Sometimes those stops are from one coast to the other. I have had a run that had over 12 stops from Connecticut to California and up to Oregon and back to Connecticut. You can not get that job done without a plan. You have to know how to manage your time, create a plan, stick to that plan and be able to make adjustments when things change (which is almost every day).
As a truck driver, I have to constantly remind myself why I’m doing this! One can be motivated by the trip itself and that is a good thing, but when you’ve made this same trip multiple times, some times this is not enough motivation.
My personal motivation is the fact that 45 years ago this June, I made a promise to take care of my wife. That is a commitment I have never taken lightly and I am still working at it. She is now retired and enjoying her life, even though I am rarely home. I’ve told her that she has to enjoy life because that is why I work.
The second motivation I have was taught to me by my Dad. He had a strong work ethic. If you have been given a position in a company, you owe it to them to get the job done. It’s not what the company owe’s you. You agreed to work for them for a wage paid to you for the job done. If I can work hard (as hard as I can at my age), then my company will be thankful for having me as an employee and I can be an asset to them. That makes me valuable to them.
If I am not motivated, I can not be of any value to my company.
As a truck driver, we are driving many, many miles every single day. People don’t understand the driving characteristics of the 18 wheeler and expect us to be able to drive like a car. HA HA HA!!! That’s not going to happen. We have to be prepared for any and all circumstances while driving and we have to keep our “cool” when others get frustrated with us. WE HAVE TO HAVE SELF-CONTROL! Period.
As a solo driver, you have to be comfortable with being independent AND alone. It is tough to do this every day. Missing your spouse and/or family. Going into the truck stop diner (if you can find one) and sitting at a table, by yourself to have your meal is hard handle without having some independence.
The other side of the “Independence” coin is this…. you have to be able to handle the idea that you are responsible for getting your job done and doing it right. You have to be able to take some constructive-criticism and instruction, no matter your experience or age. That is sometimes very hard to do as a self-reliant man or woman, but you have to be smart enough to understand and accept that. This helps you stay smart and independent.
I believe that everyone, not just solo truck drivers need to be self-disciplined to be able to keep up with all the little details of the job, to be able to get the job done successfully. Without self-discipline, you won’t go far.
Don’t ask God for patience, because you WILL learn patience with this job.
Not the Complete List
There are other characteristics that make a good truck driver. Communication skills, mathematic skills, the ability to read maps, etc. are skills needed to be not only successful, but happy as a truck driver.
Being a truck driver is a tough job, but it is also very rewarding. Personally, the one thing I really like is that when I am given a trip, it has a definite start and end and that allows me to know when I have successfully completed a task and I love being able to check off a task from my list of things to do!