HOME: Portland, Conn.
FAMILY: Wife, Renee, and sons, Kevin, Steven and Jason
RIG: 2000 Peterbilt 379
FREIGHT: Specialized military
ACCIDENT-FREE: 27 years
Richard Paley doesn’t usually listen to the radio in his truck. Most of the time, he won’t even turn on the CB. He would rather pop in an audiobook from his hometown library in Portland, Conn.
“If I can get to the library while I’m home, that’s the greatest thing in the world. Time just flies,” Paley says. “I’ve got to have fun on the road. If I can’t have fun doing what I’m doing, I shouldn’t be on the road punishing my family.”
Paley’s wife and three sons are a strong motivator to get his job done and get back home. But Paley says he needs the time on the road.
“It’s really tough to be away from family, but if I don’t have the chance to step away from home, I don’t appreciate it as much,” Paley says. “It’s good to get away because you get a chance to say, ‘I wasn’t a good father this week; I can do better when I get back at the end of the week.'”
Paley refuses to let the time away from home hurt his marriage, saying that loyalty is essential. He says he’s been married so long he “can’t even cheat in my dreams.”
Honesty and loyalty also show through in Paley’s work, making him a trusted driver.
“He’s always up front with you. Owner-operators like him are few and far between. His word is gold,” says Tom Spector of Bestway Transportation, for whom Paley hauls occasionally. “Whenever he drives for us, we know it’s going to be taken care of.”
Paley has been driving a truck since he was a teenager. He worked for his father’s company, fixing trucks before he could legally drive them and occasionally helping haul a load of hay. He finished high school early, at age 16, and decided to take a year off before college.
“I started driving and just never went back,” he says.
Now, operating under his own authority as R&R Farm Transport, he hauls mostly specialized military equipment, although he wholesales pumpkins in the fall. Paley puts only about 85,000 miles on his truck each year.
“I’m very selective. You lose mileage here, you lose some there. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere,” he says. “If you’re hauling a load that doesn’t pay, it does not make you a happy guy behind the wheel.”
Paley’s biggest peeve is drivers who aren’t courteous, mostly teenage drivers.
“Driver’s ed teachers teach you the rules; they don’t teach you courtesy,” he says. For example, “My father always told me to get over in the left lane to let cars merge. If I didn’t do it, he’d tell me to pull over and just let him drive. People don’t do that anymore.”
Apart from having to put up with bad drivers, Paley loves his job. The independence keeps him happy, as does his family – and a big stash of audiobooks.
UNUSUAL PLACES I HAVE HAULED: White Sands, N.M., because it reminds me of X-Files.
HARDEST THING TO LEARN WHEN I BEGAN DRIVING: Not to let your emotions get the best of you, like road rage.
BEST MEMORY: Probably the first time I drove a truck. I was 14, riding with one of my father’s drivers. He asked me if I wanted to drive. It was about midnight, an old Mack, and I drove all night.
MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT: One time I backed my truck into a car in a hotel parking lot. It was a new Kenworth, and I was in a room, watching cars park closer and closer to it. I got nervous someone would hit it, so I backed my truck up further. I was so busy trying to move it, I didn’t see the car parked behind me. I left a note on the car with my room number. About 2 a.m. the cops were pounding on the door. They wanted to arrest me for a hit and run.
WORST THING ABOUT TRUCKING: No respect, no gratitude.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: My kids. I have three boys. The oldest is 14, the youngest is 9, the other is 10.
HOBBIES: Motorcycles. I have a 1959 Panhead and a 1978 FLH.
MOTTO: Do unto others as you expect them to do unto you.
ADVICE: I keep my mouth shut and my ears open. I can’t possibly learn enough from other people with experience.