“If your wheels aren’t turnin’, you’re not earnin’.”
I was a surveyor for the better part of 18 years. After the economy took a header I found myself unemployed. I set about submitting my resume to every firm in a 100 mile radius. They all basically had the same response, “Your resume looks great! Unfortunately, we barely have enough work to keep the people we have here busy.” It was time for me to find something new. The problem was finding any form of employment at all. Our area was hit pretty hard by the housing collapse, so many of our friends and neighbors were in the same boat. En masse we rushed to every available job opportunity. I was just a number like everyone else. I remember getting phone calls from companies I applied with. They said they had as many as 500 applications sent in for one position, and had to make preliminary phone calls to screen out the less experienced applicants. Crazy times.
The one industry that seemed to fair better than most during this time was the trucking industry. Freight was still moving at a decent clip. Sure, it had slowed down, but they were still hiring. My wife and I sat and talked about the decision to find a career as an over-the-road (OTR) trucker. We went over the sacrifices that would have to be made for us and our children. The 3-4 weeks away from home at a time, and the minimal time home (3-4 days) when I did get home. There were other unique obstacles to overcome as well, but the absent husband and father were by far the toughest.
OTR Trucking School Adventure
After some careful research I picked out a trucking school. The training consisted of 3 weeks computer work and testing, and 3 weeks hands-on instruction at their facility. Most of the students lived a shot drive away, but some of us didn’t, so we stayed at an Inn owned by the trucking school. The room was small and run down, nothing fancy. If I remember correctly, I think if you had to take a crap you couldn’t shut the bathroom door. That being said, I shared the room with a perfect stranger. Needless to say, after 3 weeks of open door crapping we were no longer strangers. I would learn later that this lesson in close quarter coexistence was vital.
“Who wants to hop on up here and take her for a spin?” I raised my hand. For some reason when I’m in a group and someone asks for a volunteer I instinctively raise my hand. I’m not sure why. Usually, right after my hand reaches its zenith, I panic. Maybe it’s to get it over with, kind of a crash n’ burn mindset. I don’t know, I’ve stopped trying to figure “me” out a long time ago. I climbed into this massive rig and cranked it up. The first thing I noticed was the endless landscape of gauges and buttons, lights and switches. To my right, a stick shift on steroids and behind me a 53′ trailer. Thankfully I volunteered for the “crank it up and let it sit” demonstration. There would be plenty of opportunities to volunteer later in class it turns out… To be continued..