AuthorTopic: My Truckin' Truck Life  (Read 317 times)

Offline luciddreams

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My Truckin' Truck Life
« on: December 07, 2017, 05:23:39 AM »


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Published on The Doomstead Diner December 7, 2017






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 I have a very distinct memory of being 8 years old and going with my father in his truck for the first time.  It had probably been somewhere between 6 months and a year since I had last seen him.  I saw him once or twice a year when I was a little child, and that was for many reasons, but the divorce of my mother and father at 4 years of age had a lot to do with it.  Like most of our stories it's complicated and nuanced. 

   

        In my memory I'm 8 years old, and I've got on a matching green sweatpants and sweatshirt ensamble, and my father is calling me “grasshopper” as I'm climbing up into his Semi truck, and he's laughing and smiling.  The feeling associated with this is one of fulfillment, contentment, and complete joy.  I've got a lot of memories from these visits.  I would go with him for a week or so at a time, and I would ride all over the country as he delivered loads.  Another vivid memory is going to sleep in the sleeper while he drove.  I opened the sleeper window and listened to the sounds of the road, and was rocked to sleep in a young boys bliss, in the company of his mostly absent father, to the smell of diesel. 

   

        Now I have two young boys.  My oldest is the same age I was at the beginning of these trucking memories of mine.  He knows that I love him, and that I'm proud of him, as does my youngest son.  I talk to them often from the road, as times have changed for truckers.  I have a headset and an iphone, and everything is hands free.  We do facetime.  The other day I sat at the table and watched my boys drink hot chocholate and eat Oreo cookies.  They were in South Carolina at home,  and I was in my sleeper in Kentucky.  My wife propped the iphone up on the table and pointed it at my children as I watched via facetime.  When I was a boy I was only able to speak to my father if he stopped at a pay phone or drove through my town and was able to stop. 

   

        I talk to my wife at least once a day, as I drive freight down the road.  Mostly I transport metal coils, lumber, ceiling panels and the like as I pull a flatbed trailer.  I'm loaded and unloaded via crane and forklift.  My responsibilities are to secure the loads with straps and chains and to transport them safely to the consignee.  I make .39 cents per mile as well as $22 dollars for lumber tarps and $11 for steel tarps.  I've been averaging about $170 a day, and I'll be able to increase that average to around $220 a day as I get better and more efficient at performing my job duties.

   

        After completing phase one of my training, that is passing the exam and acquiring a CDL, I went home for about 10 days before starting phase 2.  That phase involved going over the road with a trainer for three weeks.  I was flown to Phoenix Arizona to start phase two.  The company I work for has been actively increasing their flatbed fleet, and as a result they have more trainees then trainers, and the only available trainer was in Phoenix, so off I flew.  I was able to visit my pregnant cousin and her mother, my aunt, on the day that I flew into Phoenix since they both live there. 

   

        The first active load that I ever drove had me driving within a quarter of a mile of my fathers current house.  I could have driven that load to anywhere in the united states, and I drove right past my fathers house.  We currently are not talking to one another, and it has been that way since 2014 when he and my wife got into an argument while we were visiting for Christmas.  It's tragic and stupid, but there it is.  At any rate, I drove right past his house.  That night, I got off on Cherry road in Fontana California to spend the first night in a Semi truck.  That exit was the exit off of I-10 that my father used to live off of.  The drop yard we stayed in that night was on the same street as my father's old terminal.  It seemed I could not escape this fate, and this was the message I received.  This is fate. 

   

        The second load brought me further into southern California.  I delivered the second load to an alluminum facility that was five blocks away from my mother's current address.  Unfortunately I was not able to visit with my mother.  Even though I could have walked to her house in about 15 minutes, she was busy with work, and I was exhausted with learning a new career.  She's having a house built 10 miles from my current address, in what's been a cow pasture for a century or more, and so neither of us were willing to sacrifice much by way of sleep that day seeing as how she'll soon be living near me. 

   

        I still don't understand this seeming parental coincidence.  Was God trying to tell me something (I currently do not believe in God)?  Is driving a semi truck part of some larger plan for me?  Was driving past my father and mothers house on my first two loads just coincidence?  The first time I ever drove a semi truck, in phase one, U2 came on the radio just as I took the wheel.  Pride was the song.  Another memory I have as a child with my father in his semi truck is listening to U2 blaring from the radio as we drove down the road.  My father loved U2, and it's no coincidence that I have a U2 tatoo on my chest.  It's also no coincidence that I'm writing this from the sleeper of my semi truck.  How strange this life is.  I could have been anything, and yet here I am, finally (and that's exactly how it feels) a truck driver. 

   

         The influence fathers have on their children is immense, and even more so when they are mostly gone.  My childhood was spent mostly longing for the validation of my father, and in confusion as to why he was not there, and as to why he would make plans to see me only to not show up.  Why was he a truck driver?  Inherent proclivities?  Whatever the reason, now I am a truck driver, and I'm just fine with that…on one level at least.  On another level I'm not okay with it.  It's a surrender.  As I slit the carotid supplying idealism with realism, and as I grow up into mediocre and jaded, and as I give up hope…

   

        On a good day I'm getting about 7.4 mpg driving this semi around.  The two fuel tanks hold 100 gallons of diesel each, and I drive about 400 miles a day.  There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million other trucks doing the same.  We are the literal heart of the economy, and all of that diesel makes it possible.  Whether you agree with it or not, I'm sure you buy stuff, and if you buy stuff then you are voting with your dollars to continue perpetuating this trucking paradigm.  Even locally grown and produced food is transported on semi truck trailers.  Do you live in a house and drive a car, or ride a bike?  Do you wear clothing and go to the doctor?  Everything that collectively makes up our way of life is possible because of those 4 million truckers.  I remember having the epiphany, before I decided to be a trucker, that I relied on groceries from the grocery store and therefore I relied on truckers.  It was a mental and moral defeat for me.  I was agreeing with the way things are because I was eating food.  That is how all pervasive trucks are to our way of life.  You can't even be alive without trucks in this country.  How depressing is that? 

   

        It's bitter sweet for me.  I love most everything about being a trucker.  I love that I'm left alone.  I'm left completely alone.  Everyday I'm by myself, and the only interaction I have with people is at the shipper, consignee, and truck stops as I'm checking in, being loaded and unloaded, paying for my scales, buying morning coffee, and acquiring a shower amongst the other things I need that I can't get from my truck.  For the most part it's just me, satellite radio, and the road.  I have to deal with people by way of their car extensions, and people are their most retarded when behind the wheel of a car.  They are also the most narcissistic and intolerant while driving.  However, I don't see their faces because I'm so much higher up.  I'm the biggest thing on the road, and so I'm not able to be pushed around.  I like that about it as well. 

   

         I don't like most other truckers I run into, and I think the feeling is mutual, but then I don't like most other people regardless of their profession.  It's the same with all people.  Most people in Merika are angry, disgruntled, jaded, financially strapped, and intolerant of others, and all of that regardless of what they do to make money.  I've been struck by just how poorly the people in the trucking world treat me.  The people at the shippers, consignees, and other truckers that I meet mostly treat me as though my presence is a minor hindrance at best, and at worst they talk to me as though I'm an inmate of a personal prison in which they are the warden. 

   

         I've noticed that people think they can talk to truck drivers as though we are the lowest rung of society, and I find that interesting since the job we perform actually allows this dysfunctional society to exist in the first place.  Yet, even truckers can't help but to treat their fellow truckers like shit.  It's peculiar to me, and I think it's indicative of something deep within our collective psyche.  It's like we all know that this arrangement is bullshit, and yet we all can't help but to participate in it.  It's not unlike the self loathing heroine junkie.  That's what our country has become.  We are a collective mass of self loathing, homeless, derelict, and virtuless heroine junkies.  We're all fighting for the biggest dose of the purist heroine so that we can overdose and put an end to it just before we liter the world with plastic piss bottles. 



Offline Eddie

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2017, 05:33:57 AM »
Some karma going on here. Not sure exactly what the lesson is, but it's good that you're observant enough to recognize the messages the universe is sending you. It'll no doubt be clear in due time.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline K-Dog

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2017, 08:20:51 AM »
"lowest rung of society"

You never drove a cab.

Offline RE

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2017, 08:35:51 AM »
"lowest rung of society"

You never drove a cab.

You guys are splitting hairs.  Drivers of all types are pretty far up the chain here.  Try working as a Lumper on the Docks.  That's really getting down to the bottom rung.

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Offline Golden Oxen

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2017, 08:47:06 AM »
"lowest rung of society"

You never drove a cab.

Working the pizza ovens in a busy joint was no picnic either. Rough on the feet and sure was hot.

Thank goodness it was only three six hour shifts Friday, Sat, Sunday nights. Would give my left nut to be back in those school days however, being a geezer a much lousier gig in comparison.

Offline Eddie

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2017, 08:48:56 AM »
I picked vegetables. Stoop labor, minimum wage. The ONLY white guy on the crew.

I also mucked stables for the privilege of parking my trailer on a horse farm when I was a sophomore in college. No actual pay. (That was when I first got married. That would have been the first of my four sophomore years in college.)

Trust me, driving anything is a step up from those jobs.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline RE

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2017, 08:57:44 AM »
My first job was putting the holes in the top of shower curtains in a garment district factory in NY Shity.  That was definitely low on the totem pole.  I moved up when I handed that job off to one of my HS friends and moved into the Shipping dept, boxing the curtains, filling out the address information on the boxes and doing the paperwork.  Fascinating work.  ::)

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Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2017, 02:41:13 PM »
I've noticed that people think they can talk to truck drivers as though we are the lowest rung of society, and I find that interesting since the job we perform actually allows this dysfunctional society to exist in the first place.  Yet, even truckers can't help but to treat their fellow truckers like shit.  It's peculiar to me, and I think it's indicative of something deep within our collective psyche.  It's like we all know that this arrangement is bullshit, and yet we all can't help but to participate in it.  It's not unlike the self loathing heroine junkie.  That's what our country has become.  We are a collective mass of self loathing, homeless, derelict, and virtuless heroine junkies.  We're all fighting for the biggest dose of the purist heroine so that we can overdose and put an end to it just before we liter the world with plastic piss bottles.
You want genuine hope? THAT is where you will find it... past rock bottom....
Making pigs fly is easy... that is, of course, after you have built the catapult....

Offline luciddreams

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2017, 04:06:36 PM »
Some karma going on here. Not sure exactly what the lesson is, but it's good that you're observant enough to recognize the messages the universe is sending you. It'll no doubt be clear in due time.

Yeah, I wonder about the message.  Even not believing in "God" (which is a complicated subtopic we've been round and round with here at the Diner...which I never get tired of discussing), I still believe in fate and destiny and synchronicity.  I still believe in meaning and life beyond our corporeal bodies.  I just don't believe in an anthropomorphic creator god.  I sort of feel like if there is a God then there are many gods and goddesses. 

There is most certainly meaning beyond me.  Hubris is real.  I'm humble and believe humility is a very powerful virtue. 

I have no idea about the message though.  I've just taken the signs I've received as confirmation that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  That may be as simple as providing for my family.  I'm making twice as much money as I have ever made in my entire life doing this.  1k a week and sometimes better then that...which is pretty much double the best income I've ever had.  It's a good living.  It's 14 hour days though.  It's getting up at 3 am on a regular...today I got up at 0200.  That's because driving from about 0100 to 0600 are the easiest hours to drive.  You can fly through most big cities.  Our trucks are governed at 63 mph as well, and that presents some unique challenges for me.  In the early morning hours 200 miles go by real quick.  You get in the zone, so it makes the day go by faster. 

But on the meaning, beyond the feeling that the signs are confirming that i'm doing the right thing, I have no idea what it means.  I'm inclined to believe that it's really as simple as that I'm providing, and that's my purpose now. 

I also feel that it may just be that doing this is going to put me in the right place at the right time for whatever comes next. 

As far as y'all talking about the jobs...this is not a "shitty" job.  I didn't mean to come off that way.  I was just saying that a lot of society has no respect for truck drivers.  My first job was at McD's when I was 14 working the drive through.  The shittiest job I ever had was hands down working as a nuclear engineer at sea in the Navy during 9/11.  I hated my life more then than I ever have since.  Talk about rock bottom!  That was my rock bottom.  Getting kicked out of the navy and sent to solitary confinement in a federal penitentiary for being out of my rack past 2200 was my rock bottom.  Driving a truck is gravy, and the best money I've ever made. 

Also, I worked as a lumper just before I joined the Navy, at my father's truckin' company in So Cal...that job is pretty much the reason why I joined the navy.  I remember deciding to join the navy, I was pulling a pallet out of the back of a van with a pallet jack and I thought "the navy has got to be better then this, and it will get me the fuck out of So Cal." 

« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 04:11:38 PM by luciddreams »

Offline RE

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2017, 05:30:54 PM »
As far as y'all talking about the jobs...this is not a "shitty" job.  I didn't mean to come off that way.

Trucking is a great job for the Loner...about 50% of the time.  When the weather is good, the equipment is all working and you have a load coast-to-coast with 2000 miles of open road ahead of you it's very relaxing and gives you plenty of time to contemplate the meaning of life and the existence of the universe.  I generally didn't even listen to the radio or CDs, just drove with the hum of my big ass Caterpillar engine pulling 40 Tons of [insert something] down the Eisenhower Interstate.  I coveted those coast-to-coast runs, and once I became an O-O, I would often sit and give up 2 days of driving just to wait for one.

It's the other 50% of the time where it is god damn awful that ends up eventually wearing you down.  Short loads in bad traffic in foul weather.  Dimwitted Dispatchers and total assholes populating the Shipping & Receiving ends of your load.  Equipment breakdowns 40 miles west of Nowhere.  Being left to rot in midwinter in Alberta in a convenience store parking lot with 20 Below temps.

The money appears good, but after a while you realize you actually are making less than Min Wage.  You work 14-16 hour days, and you are always "on call" 24 hours a day while out on the road, so if you have hours to run and the Qualcomm goes off at 3AM, you gotta get out of the bunk and run for it, at least as a Company Driver you do.  As an O-O, you can just ignore it or tell the dispatcher to go fuck himself.  You only make your $1000/week when you actually are out on the road, so if you take a week off for every 4 out on the road, you can knock down your annual income by 20% right there from $50K to $40K.  Then there are the days on the road you run out of hours and have to sit for a day to reset, and the days there just aren't any loads available.  Knock it down another 5% for that.

Beyond all that, for me it was the monotony that eventually got to me.  7 years is a long time to be pulling freight, doing the same thing over and over again.  You are pretty much trapped with your truck, relegated to truck stops, rest areas and drop lots to park it for the night.  You can't go out to a nice restaurant or take in a movie, you can't fit the rig into the parking lots.

It is however, far better than being unemployed.

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Offline Randy C

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2017, 05:22:39 PM »
A friend who is a CDL Class A driver posted this video on facebook.

Reminded me of you RE and your discussion of problems of backing combination vehicles...

https://cdllife.com/2017/video-worst-backing-job-time/

Enjoy.
RC

Offline RE

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2017, 05:43:12 PM »
A friend who is a CDL Class A driver posted this video on facebook.

Reminded me of you RE and your discussion of problems of backing combination vehicles...

https://cdllife.com/2017/video-worst-backing-job-time/

Enjoy.
RC

Backing was my nemesis for my first 6 months OTR.  Then I met the Rastaman.  How I got through that first 6 months without a backing accident I will never know.  It was the Finger of God.

LD is a bit more fortunate.  He has good experience with backing the trailers he used for his landscaping bizness.  Smaller, but the principles are basically the same.

Those videos are common shit though in dropyards and truckstops everywhere.  Always a lot of newbies out there who don't have their backing skills down yet.  Perhaps a bit better nowadays with backing cameras and other techno-gimmicks to help.

RE
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Offline luciddreams

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2017, 07:18:09 PM »
Yeah, if you figure all the time I work I probably make less then 5 dollars per hour.  However, driving a truck down the road is not exactly hard labor.  It can be very stressful though.  I drove through it today, sideways snow in Indiana, visibility dropped to about 10 feet in front of the truck, several semi's in the ditch, a few jack knifed together, 5th gear for 20 miles (which for non-truck drivers means about 9 mph)...

I do hard labor when I'm securing and tarping loads, and I'm pretty much not getting paid for that labor either.  I get $22 dollars for lumber tarps which weight 150 lbs each, and when I need them I have to use two of them, and that's getting those up on top of the load, rolling them out, bungeeing them down with an average of about 60 bungees...it's a lot of work and it always ends in me being a sweaty mess.  The steel tarps weight about 50 pounds, and I need one or up to three of them depending on the load, and I get 11 dollars when I mess with them.  Basically I don't get paid to secure loads, just for tarping, and we don't tarp every load. 

I realized early on that you can't look at trucking by the hour.  Bottom line, I can bring home 1k a week, sometimes more, sometimes less.  I work a month and get a week off.  By the hour it's slave wages, but we live on the road, and so you can make good money.  I can provide my family with what they need. 

Hell, before I took this job I was getting almost 20k for free, without working, if you figure medicaid, food stamps, and earned income credits.  The first 20k I make I was getting for free, without lifting a finger.  How fucked up is that?  Yet I couldn't better our situation.  Somehow, in this fucked up paradigm, it makes sense for me to leave my family to make 20k so that we can afford to have our own place...cause if you figure I take off 12 weeks a year, you can figure 40k is what I make.  Take taxes out, and copay/deductibles/income taxes and I was making more money not working.

However, not working I would never be able to provide my family with a home, clothing, food, extra curricular like Aikido, and the like.  I have to rely on other people for that, and on the government.  Now I'm a wage slave slaving away on the road, but at least I'm providing...keeping the economy going.  Like that's a good thing.  Now I have good credit and can buy a house, which is how they control us. 

Before health care was free and now I pay $500 a month for it, with a 2k deductible and copays. 

Our way of life is fucking schizo nuts.  It's retarded crazy.  We should be shepherding our only home planet, but instead we're filling it with plastic piss bottles and plastic piss plastic, and other non- biodegradable trash.  Piss jugs litter Eisenhower's bitumen. 

My conclusion...don't procreate in Merika, because if you do, then you are signing up to contribute to the "economy."  They've got you by the balls because they can threaten you with custody of your children if you don't have the money to be the change and live your counter culture life.  Which...if you are paying for it...it's not really counter culture.  If you are paying your way it's not culture, it's the Merikan way. 

As shitty as things are...I enjoy this profession.  But I enjoy being alone, and I enjoy making the money to pay for my children.  I was also programmed as a young child to love the life of a truck driver...which I covered in this last piece. 




Offline RE

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2017, 08:57:55 PM »
My conclusion...don't procreate in Merika, because if you do, then you are signing up to contribute to the "economy."  They've got you by the balls because they can threaten you with custody of your children if you don't have the money to be the change and live your counter culture life.  Which...if you are paying for it...it's not really counter culture.  If you are paying your way it's not culture, it's the Merikan way. 

Sadly, you came to this conclusion a little too late, after the horses had left the barn.  Having kids is for rich people.  I got this principle before making this mistake.  I have CFS and do not have my brains dangling between my legs.

Two of my prize gymmies from my last job's father was just your age.  He was an executive for a Civil Engineering firm that serviced the Oil companies, building roads and such.  When we had an away meet, they flew to it on the company jet.  At the Summer Solstice, they held a big party & BBQ on their property, complete with a barn housing 4 horses and a field about 2 football fields in size next to the house, all surrounded by mountains.  His kids were very happy.

Far as being chained in by buying a single wide manufactured home on credit, nobody is sticking a gun to your head forcing you to sign a mortgage for that.  The Child Welfare folks are not threatening to take your kids, they have a roof over their heads and hot water running out of the sinks, shower and tub.  Save your money and pay CASH for what you can afford.  See how much money you have actually saved after a full year OTR.  If you want to pay off a $100K house in 10 years, you're going to need at least $12K/year to do that, including the interest.  That's not including maintenance costs which need to be budgeted in.

You also have to count on never being unemployed for the whole 10 years.  No recessions, no layoffs, no accidents, no major medical bills.  The odds here are not very good on this gamble of future earnings.

Live within your means, eschew credit of all forms.  It's how I broke free of the chains.  You have it harder because you made the mistake of having children as a poor person, but it is not an irreperable mistake.  You don't HAVE to buy a single wide on credit.
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Offline Eddie

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Re: My Truckin' Truck Life
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2017, 09:37:17 PM »
LD

Are you eating healthy? Are you smoking a lot? Don't fall down that rabbit hole.

I'm glad you don't mind the job. Sounds like it has a good side, after all.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

 

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