I know you have seen those big rigs and some are driving them as I write this post. Truck drivers deserve all the respect in the world.
I drove some of these big rigs before I worked in the mines (and sometimes when I was on layoffs from the mine). Now let me say this first, I was in the military where I was a firefighter. I also have worked in plumbing and welding along with my time in the mining industry. Now I’m not saying those are easy jobs, but in my experience, over the road (O.T.R) drivers have the hardest job with the least amount of pay for the work they do.
Not only are the hours ridiculously long, but some of the people you have to deal with on a daily basis are, well…. not the most understanding, saying it nicely. People look at these big rigs and think, how hard can it be to sit on your butt all day and hold a steering wheel? Let me say that is the break you get when doing this job unless you are driving in a blizzard, on black ice or even during hurricane force winds!
If you want to be a truck driver, there are plenty of schools to get your CDL license and give it a try. During one of the layoffs from the mine, I worked as an instructor to teach this valuable job. I knew It was a difficult job, but I never knew how few make it a career. On average, about 15% of people make it the first year, and it drops to about 2% that make a career of it. What’s the reason for this? It’s simple, it’s a very hard job! Don’t believe me? Let me give you a small example that happened to me.
I showed up at a grocery warehouse with a 42,000 pound load of canned green beans, canned corn, canned mixed vegetables and canned carrots all mixed up together on slip sheets (these are flat cardboard sheets they sometimes use to avoid using pallets). When I showed up at this warehouse in California, I was informed that lumpers (guys you can hire for unloading your truck for you) were not allowed on the property! Oh, it gets worse. Not only was I not allowed to hire somebody to unload this massive load, but they wanted all these mixed up cans separated and put on pallets. Wait, that’s not all, after they were put on pallets, they had to be staged at dock number one where they will be checked by the fork truck driver that worked in the warehouse. Now they had me docked at number twenty-two. I had to use a manual hand pallet truck to haul them to dock number one because the guy “resting” on the fork truck wasn’t allowed to touch anything until all the product was checked at dock number one!
Needless to say, this task took all day to accomplish. After all was said and done, I thought well at least my company is going to pay me for it. This company MNX out of Joplin, MO. (which is no longer a company that I know of) would pay a lumper $100-$150 depending on what they had to do. I was thinking this had to fall into the $150 range. Imagine my surprise when I got paid for this massive undertaking, it was $35! This has to be a mistake! Of course, it wasn’t, this was the highest amount they would pay their truck drivers for unloading.
Anyways, if you are planning to be a truck driver, toughen up, because it’s nothing like the movie Smokey and the Bandit. Show some respect to these hardworking men and women. Remember, the truck drivers keep this country going!