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Trucker's Journal

I've been a trucker since November, 2004. Before that I was an accountant for many years. I'm having fun and actually making more than I did before. Go figure....

Location: Midwest, United States

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Are truck drivers "professionals"?

According to one dictionary, a profession is "An occupation that requires considerable training and specialized study, and often, a license issued by a governmental body after extensive testing procedures." Many people think that to become a truck driver, you just need to have a job offer, then you jump in and start driving. BZZZT! Wrong! We are professionals in every sense of the definition above. My training (and this may vary somewhat for others) consisted of 4 weeks of schooling, divided about equally between classroom study and driving practice, which was in turn divided between range (a large parking lot devoid of other vehicles) and road practice, always with a seasoned driver in the passenger seat. After that, I signed with a national company which required 270 hours of driving time behind the wheel, in the presence of another driver with considerably more experience. That in itself took over 6 weeks to complete, so before I was out on my own, I had over 10 weeks of supervised training. The last part of the definition, a license, was issued by my state after passing both a written test on rules and regulations and a driving test covering all aspects of the job. If you think it's not a hard test, next time you're renewing your license at the local bureau, pick up a copy of the CDL (Commercial Driver's License) manual and study it. You'll have to realize quite quickly that it takes a lot more knowledge than your normal Operator's license.

There are bad big-riggers out there who give the entire profession a bad name, but I can daily point out many drivers of lesser vehicles who do the same thing for that portion of the population. If you pay close attention to us, you'll find that the vast majority are legal drivers and are polite.

Another aspect of what many 4-wheelers think about truck drivers as a class is disdain. They believe that all are dirty, rude, drug-users, impolite, etc., etc., etc. That is true for a small portion of us, but as above, it also true for other drivers also. Keep in mind that trucks do indeed carry the goods for America. When I think about what I've hauled in the past year, the list might surprise you:

Oil (motor oil for your vehicle, and olive oil for your cooking)
Paper (both raw paper and printed material, as well as several loads of toilet paper!)
Aluminum (the water pump in your next vehicle might have come from one of my loads)
Software (last year's TurboTax didn't just appear on the shelf at your favorite store)
Food (canned beans, biscuit mix, cherry pie filling, etc.)
Bricks (your wall or sidewalk might have been mine at one time)
Scrap (can you spell "recycle"?)
Beer and soda (picture a truck driver when you pop that top next time)
Paint (is your auto bare metal?)
Medical supplies (an entire load of surgical dressings--thank me when your appendix is removed)

That's just a very partial listing--there are many others, but I don't want to bore you with the entire thing. Among the things I don't haul because I've never driven a tanker, include the gasoline or diesel fuel you use every day, the milk you drink, even the bottled water you drink. There is very little in your daily life that hasn't been hauled by a truck at some point. Even if you live in a log home that you built yourself of trees you chopped, I would bet that the axe came in on a truck. Even if you eat only organic food grown by the farmer down the street, the bag or box you carried it home in came in on a truck. The computer on which you read this was delivered at one point by a truck. Even if you...well, you get the picture, I think. Even if nothing else, remember that your garbage is hauled away by a truck :)

The next time you are inclined to think about truckers in a negative light, stop and reflect on how much they do for you. I'm hoping that one or two people will read this and change their minds about trucking being a degrading position, and the people who do it being less than human.

Have I touched a nerve with you? GOOD!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Man,

I was looking through your blog and it's very interesting. I am actually writing a featured length film which has a trucker as a main character. I was wondering if you have some time to answer a few questions for me via email.


my email is frank@unc.edu

let me know.

1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think those truck drivers that are working on some strict heavy hauling company are professional because that was a requirements for them. But some company who are urgently needs a driver they can hired a driver that didn't pass on some trucking school.

Heavy Hauling Freight

3:50 AM  

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