The Decline of the Professional Trucker
ONCE AMERICA’S HIGHWAY HEROES. As I sit pondering my present location, a dark gloomy warehouse-plant in Port Gibson, Ms. I am receiving thoughts of a life that once was glamorous and lots of adventure with excellent pay.
Of seeing new towns and cities, a softly rolling countryside, a stranger’s happy wave here and there. Days when a trucker was made to feel like he/she had never left home. Like the waiter or waitress was just waiting for this special person to come-a-calling, to say “HELLO” and really meant it. A smile was always wall-to-wall and tree-top-tall. Sincere.
All of your coworkers were more like comrades on the battle field. Always there to lift your spirits, when your world was sad and lonely. Dispatchers would talk to you like you were a person, and say “HELLO” from the heart, when you called in. Not just a hello, like when you push a button on a recorder.
Arriving to your home-20 the wife and kids were happy to see you, cheering and grinning their little hearts out >>>>> Daddy’s Home. But over the years all of the above has changed forever never to be the same again. Only the older drivers, 40+ years old can really appreciate what I am talking about here, this was real magic ladies and gentlemen. The Pro-driver was really Kings and Queens of the road. You were really looked up to, somewhat of a role model, if you will. America had a love affair with the finest drivers in the world. Respect was given and received freely, like the air we breathe that God gives to us.
Then along came the new generation of drivers under the Government rules and Regulations and Law Enforcement procedures backing the new license called a CDL “Commercial Driving License.” By 1990 we had new drivers entering the trucking industry who yearned to be looked up to, without giving empathic respect, first. A learned response from many years of sharing the road with others vehicles and looking after each other like the old drivers knew about so well, with a simple license and a great big heart. At this time the CDL is heating up and boiling over to a hard boiling rumble, the pot is about to boil over and blow it’s top.
This new enforcement was supposed to rid the USA of bad drivers which we did not have, and replace them with the new generation, that was void of the good leadership that they needed, that was lost by somewhat less literate and older drivers, who had built up the country, on bad roads, hard trucks, few good places to stop and rest and eat and sleep. From my heart I miss those most wonderful days of yesteryear. Today’s newer generation is looking forward to bigger trucks, bigger egos, lot lizards, good buddies, echo boxes, Smart phones, weaving in and out of their lanes, and an overall bad case of “screw you” attitudes of others on the roads.
No one likes 4-wheelers (cars, pick ups), and they in turn don’t like us. Drivers constantly whine and complain about the traveling motorist who will always be there, bar none, as they are us. Try to resist complaining about that which you have no power over, and try to do what you are supposed to do as a highly trained Pro with Defensive Driving Skills and Pro Ethics. After 40 1/2 years, I am on my way out, another career awaits for this tired and jaded trucker. I’ll be driving a computer keyboard, and pen and paper will be my highway of tomorrow. My heart no longer hears the call of that Big ole’ Truck. No more noisy engines, keeping me stressed out and waking up with body aches and tension. I am hanging up my spurs and going hoe to stay. I survived and covered 4,000,000 miles across 45 states and Canada. But I was not alone, I had a friend in Jesus riding along with me, helping me thru my own trials and sicknesses, and sleepless days and nights, and thru many a storm of all sorts and caliber. I survived. I am blessed.
It’s a rough and tough job being a trucker, but it takes men and women with extraordinary character, and adventurous heart, a perseverance bar none, courage unyielding. From all levels of education, you are out there moving the goods, when every other sane person is at home in bed. Truly we are set apart as a different breed of humankind, looking for that small bit of respect and dignity we all search for, that we also have to earn. In America, you are second place, in the middle of a fantastic wheel moving the goods. A Bravo-Zulu to you–above and beyond—to all drivers, I Salute You.