Speakout – June 2009
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The choices between job and family are tough
When I read Randy Munson’s letter, “The Road Not Taken” (SpeakOut, April), I recalled all drivers I know who had the same conflicts between career and family choices. I was that way to a degree, but when I became an independent owner-operator after eight years of demanding work for a feedyard, I decided that work would not take the place of any aspect of my first responsibility, my family.
Being independent allowed me to adjust my work load for my family events. I coached my kids in Little League and managed to see all of their school events. I make time for church and my sixth grade Sunday school class. My wife and I have been married for 32 years and have a nice home.
The many guys I know who let trucking ruin their lives have told me that they don’t know what happened to their lives and their families. Some of their kids have gotten into trouble. Others lost their spouses. One of the worst consequences of the trucking lifestyle is poor health: Some of the guys who were about my age died because of infirmities developed while trucking. Others still living have lost most of their teeth.
It seems that Randy’s varying levels of job and family commitment throughout his career have worked out for him. I know that this is not the outcome for many who have let trucking destroy their lives.
Z.B. & Sons Transportation Devine, Texas
“I understand they wanna clear the air, but they’re a little too strict. They’ve almost overburdened us with all the rules.”
– Trucking company
manager Dino Guadagni speaking to the Contra Costa Times on California’s emissions laws
Plan well to survive
For an independent trucker such as myself, only one economic law applies: supply and demand.
Right now there’s plenty of trucks in supply and not much demand for them. The result is many trucking companies will be forced out of business. No shipper cares how much fuel costs a trucker or what his other costs are. The shipper cares only about how much he can get a truck for. And you can be sure the federal government or the states won’t do anything to help. As Linda Longton correctly points out in her column “Be a survivor” [Viewpoint, June], owner-operators better figure out a way to survive.
TOM KOLLER | Denver
Do you use a headset or hand-held device with your cell phone?
“I have both. I use the hand-held more often because some people say they can’t hear me on the Bluetooth.”
San Antonio, Texas
Tennessee Steel Haulers
“I still use hand-held. I’m going to be getting some sort of headset the next time I get a good paycheck. Freight’s been slow.”
Monett, Mo. | Crete Carrier
“I’m already using a hands-free set because it’s safer and you hear better with a headset than a hand-held.”
Pensacola, Fla. | Coastal Bedding
“I don’t talk on the phone at all. I see other drivers doing it and it looks dangerous. I use it when I stop at the end of the day.”
Orlando, Fla. | Swift
“I use both an earpiece and an overhead visor. I see enough weaving on the road with guys in cars using hand-held phones.”
Paragould, Ark. | King Service
“A headset. I can keep more attention on the road.”
Selma, Ala. | Covenant Transport
What is your idea of the perfect truck?
“Something like a Peterbilt, with 10-gear transmission. Something that doesn’t smoke too much. . . . A white truck.”
Hopewell, Va. | Swift
“One with a bathroom. Nothing fancy. Just nice on the inside. Comfortable seats, comfortable bed. You can’t drive well without a good night’s sleep.”
“I’d like to have a decked-out Peterbilt 369. There’s nothing prettier than a black truck when it’s clean with lots of chrome.”
Jacksonville, Ala. | Sunbelt Transport
“A mattress, a good, working sleeper, a comfortable seat. I’d be partial to white myself.”
Atlantic Industrial Services
“I’m not too big on the fancy things. . . . So my idea of a perfect truck is no chrome, no payments, plenty of room inside.”
Noble, Okla. | J.B. Hunt