When I missed it the second time around, I started to worry. It was my third week at the job; my second career – truck driving.
I tried to remember the instructions from the truck driving school.
Don’t let your ego come in the way. When in doubt, GOAL – Get Out And Look. Acting normal, I stepped out of my truck to figure out how I could squeeze my 53’ trailer into the tighter than normal parking spot. As luck would have it, a fellow truck driver offered to act as a “spotter” while I painstakingly backed up the truck into the space between two parked trailers.
For a moment my mind wandered to my previous job as a Credit Manager.
My office had overlooked a truck yard. Every morning I would watch the shiny rigs pull out of the yard and take off. I had always liked driving, and often wished that I could just hit the road like the truckers.
Careful what you wish for!
When I graduated from University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a career in truck driving was not even remotely on my radar. Business was my thing.
In a career that spanned nearly forty years, I worked my way up through the Commercial Credit/Accounts Receivable ranks of various businesses. The last few years were rocky as manufacturing companies were merging or being bought by foreign owners. Service jobs were being moved offshore to low-wage markets. The writing was on the wall when a number of my peers started losing their jobs. Then one fine morning I got the news. My services were no longer needed.
At first I looked at it as a temporary set back. I updated my profile on LinkedIn and reached out all my business contacts. Finally, reality set in. There weren’t that many Credit Management jobs around.
It was time to look at a second career.
Coincidentally, around this time I noticed an ad in a local paper for a job-fair for truck drivers. On a whim, I attended it.
I found out that most companies would not hire drivers unless they had a minimum of three years of driving experience. However, certain companies were open to hiring drivers who had completed training with a recognized truck driving school.
So, I decided to take the plunge.
With financial assistance from “Second Career”, a governmental agency, I enrolled in a twelve-week course with “Ontario Truck Training Academy.” Before I knew it, I had my AZ driver’s license and was qualified to drive tractor trailers.
Several trucking companies came to the school to make their pitch. Suddenly, I felt wanted; I was in demand again! The first company I applied to, hired me.
The company put me through an additional six-week course with on-the-road training with a “Trainer.” The training was great. But, I can tell you that living in a two-berth cab with another guy for six weeks is not the most enjoyable experience.
Finally, the training was over and I was on my own.
The work day was not all driving. There was a lot of waiting – loading/unloading at customers’ sites, border crossings, traffic jams. My first two winters were cold, with lots of snow. When the weather got bad, I didn’t hesitate to find a place to park for the night. Safety first.
Days were long, sometimes up to fourteen hours. By law we had to shut down for ten hours which included an hour for dinner, about seven to eight hours sleep, and an hour for breakfast. Then I was off again.
I quickly figured out that hitting the road for days on end required planning. I tried to eat healthy while on the road. I had a microwave oven and fridge in the truck. My wife would make extra whenever she was making a big meal and freeze dinner size portions in small plastic containers. Every week before I hit the road, I made a habit of picking up a couple of bags of chopped vegetables, fruit, canned salmon, bread, milk, cereal and snacking bars
I was self-sufficient.
Even though I kept to myself, I was never lonely on the road. When you drive, you come across all kinds of people, most were courteous; a few were jerks.
My biggest worry was making a wrong turn, or the GPS leading me to a road that was not truck friendly. If you are new to truck driving, it is bound to happen to you. Trying to work your way out of a narrow street with parked cars can be stressful.
I found out the hard way that the later I drove into the night, the harder it was to find a place to park. Truck stops normally fill up by 10:00 PM. You can’t park a 53-foot trailer just anywhere. I got wise. Many Walmart parking lots were known to be truck friendly. It was always better to start early and finish early.
The truck was my own little castle. I enjoyed the evenings once the truck was parked. Good food and a good book was all I needed. I rarely had any trouble sleeping.
Unexpectedly, my ex-employer called. There was an opening in the Credit Department – a contract position. After some soul-searching, I decided to accept it. I could be home every evening with the family.
My new office does not overlook the truck yard. But I am good.
Been there done that!
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Author: Bob Jackson
Bob Jackson is a Certified Credit Professional who has worked as a Credit Manager in the Commercial Credit and Collections departments of various organizations. When faced with job loss around four years ago, Bob made a dramatic career switch to become a Professional Truck Driver. Bob is a family man who lives in Mississauga, Canada.