Rockin’ and rollin’

| December 12, 2008

FAMILY: Fiancee, Sandie Abernathy; children, Dereck, 23, Deeann, 26; two grandchildren
RIG: 1997 Freightliner FLD
DRIVING CAREER: 20 years as a trucker, 10 years owner-operator
FREIGHT: General, but lots of cars for GM and Ford
ACCIDENT-FREE: 20 years
INCOME: $35,000
LEASED TO: Triple Crown Services

A young Elvis Presley was once advised, “Stick to driving a truck, because you’ll never make it as a singer.”

Maybe James Buckner was told the same thing. Thing is, Buckner one-upped the King. He made it as both.

Buckner, 45, of Douglasville, Ga., got into the music business well before he jumped into trucking in 1985.

“I played drums in a band from 1973 until the late ’80s,” Buckner says. “We were called Atlanta’s Choice. We played a variety of music.”

Buckner’s been hitting the skins since he was 13. He had just bought a new drum set to learn on, and after lending a cymbal one night to a friend’s father’s band mate, he began hanging around the band more and more.

“I started messing around playing, and next thing I knew I was in the band,” Buckner says. “I wasn’t old enough to be in the bar, so my mom had to come with me to the shows.”

That band frequented an Atlanta bar called Southern Comfort. It’s still there, and Buckner often visits.

But he didn’t learn just his musical chops at that bar. The Southern Comfort clientele usually included a fair share of truckers, thanks to the ample big-rig parking in the back.

“That was before I knew what a truck was, but I’m still hanging around the trucks,” Buckner says.

Leased to Triple Crown Services, he makes day trips around the Southeast from the Atlanta terminal and is home every night. “I don’t go any further out than I can come back from,” Buckner says.

“He’s a good guy,” says one of Buckner’s former bosses, Chris Gribble of Gribble Contracting. “He takes care of business, takes care of equipment.”

Taking care of business includes driving slowly and choosing a truck suited to his application. “I don’t have a big-motor truck,” Buckner says. “I get 7.13 miles per gallon.”

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