Speakout – April 2009
The road not taken
As a 46-year-old owner-operator, my life would have been drastically different if, in 1986, on only my second load, I hadn’t turned south toward Illinois hauling a tanker of milk.
What I really wanted to do was turn north and back to my home only 15 miles away. At the house earlier that morning, tears welled up in my young wife’s and son’s eyes when they found out that after only two hours home from the first load of my career, I had to go deliver another one and pick up a newly plated 1984 Pete cabover. I was too inexperienced to refuse my company’s request and the load.
I was tired and heartsick when I made the turn to Illinois. It was the hardest thing I ever did in trucking.
Over the years, I’ve missed birthdays and family events, including the day my father died. I’ve seen dads in their yards playing catch with their kids as I drove by, and I wished I could be home with my family.
My career has had rewards, also. My early job as a sawmill laborer making $200 a week never could have matched my weekly gross of up to $3,200 as an owner-operator. My on-road experience landed me jobs later as a driving instructor and as a used truck manager at a Peterbilt dealership.
I returned to trucking as an owner-operator after our children were grown, and now I’m home most evenings. If I’d hung it up that day 23 years ago, I would have missed out on a comfortable salary and a view of the nation’s countryside from the seat of my truck.
RANDY MUNSON La Crescent, Minn.