I had a trainee who was so enthusiastic about getting into trucking. When he did, he realized the lifestyle was not like people painted it. You had to experience it to understand it. One day he was sick on the job and could barely drive. I explained to him that he needed to master driving when sick. His response “Yeah, I’m in the learning process . I left a ten years job for this. I’m beginning to think it was a mistake” I was heartbroken.
I have many benefits from this career, so I was hurt to see my trainee have doubts and difficulties adjusting to the changes that come with being a trucker.
It had been a couple of days since we began training, so I wasn’t sure what was bothering him. Was he ill, homesick, or just the initial shock of the trucking lifestyle? I tried to make things easier. I later asked him what the problem was. He said he had a stomach upset, and he didn’t want to leave the warmth of the truck and walk through the cold to get to the restroom. Oh, he’s from the south. If he said so earlier, we could have parked closer to buildings with restrooms. Everyone has needs, but we already parked in the last row and closed for the day.
A new female driver told me her trainer gave her an alternative of using his bucket or a trash bag behind the curtains or under the truck rather than walk through a parking lot 300 spots wide at midnight in the snow. Imagine being in my trainee’s shoes, which would you choose? My advice is; get a holder or retainer lined with black Hefty “Force Flex” 13 gallon Febreeze scented trash bags and keep some Feline Fresh pine kitty litter on the truck 24/7. Getting some wipes will also be great but make sure to get stronger wipes like Assurance wipes. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Difficult Sleep Patterns
Truckers face difficulties in balancing their sleeping schedule and driving time. The division or the company you work for will determine your sleep patterns, and schedules. Although truckers’ sleep pattern is a general concern in the industry, pulling a dry van allows a natural sleep pattern than a reefer. Many truckers do not have a work schedule. Sometimes they drive at nights, during the weekends, and on holidays. You can always inform dispatch when you need to sleep before your next assignment because dispatch won’t know if you don’t always tell them your problems.
Showering as a Trucker
One of the benefits of burning and buying fuel is the shower bonuses you get. Every station has their rules for gaining showers credits. At Sapps bro, you need to buy 25 gallons of fuel but at TA/Petro, you need to buy 60 gallons. Some chains do promotions and in other chains, it is entirely free! Just go with your towel.
Some companies don’t allow their truckers to buy fuel from some chains so you may not be able to earn these shower credits and you’ll have to use your money.
Showering is an area that needs to be adjusted in trucking. People with normal jobs have more showers daily than we do in a week. Yes you have a bed but do you have a shower? Sometimes we really don’t care where we sleep as long as we start a new day with a nice hot shower.
For new drivers, if you’re not burning fuel you may have to put in your money to get a bath, it’s easier for top tier drivers because they can schedule a bath.
Dealing with Personal Time & Delays
As a new driver, you must grab every time you have, because it’s limited. You have to squeeze in showering, laundry, sleeping, and eating into one slot. New truckers are awful at managing their time. Sleeping takes up their time, and they don’t do other things. On some nights, I debate between sleep, showers, or food, and honestly, food wins. Planning is essential for a trucker, especially when you are not familiar with the roads. You could drive for hours through some states and cities of the country due to the hills, curves, or weather. In some places, it’s more expensive to care for your needs, like food and laundry. McDonald’s meals of $6 in MO could be $12 in NY. TA/Petro charges $3 per laundry load. In AMBEST, the charge is half the price, and it’s free in some places.
It Gets Easier
After two weeks, things have gotten better for my trainee. He had an offer on his previous job, and he rejected it. I asked what made his old job hard. He said, “dealing with customers and their mistakes.” His advice to new truckers; “You do not know what it’s like until you do it.”
The High Point of Trucking
My best part is not having to work with people I don’t want to. If there are mistakes, then I’m also to blame. Plus, I have my freedom. In trucking, your perspective determines how well you will thrive. Stay safe! Keep trucking. It gets easier.