Trucker: William Hatcher, 51, of Sparta, Tenn.
Family: Wife, Kim, children Billy and Ashley
Rig: 2002 Peterbilt 379
Accident-free: 32 years
Miles a year: 135,000
Motto: Stay true to your wife and family
Among all the people in Las Vegas with dreams of instant money, William Hatcher, an independent out of Sparta, Tenn., has a different outlook. He drops off his load, picks up another load and heads back home to his family. He’s been driving for 32 years, and he doesn’t see the point in putting his hard-earned money down on the casino tables. “I might drop a quarter in the slots every once in a while,” Hatcher says. “But letting people win doesn’t pay those casino light bills.”
He’s already driving the jackpot he dreamed of for 32 years: a brand new truck. He picked up his Raspberry Pearl 2002 Peterbilt 379 from Nashville Peterbilt on March 1. “I go out in the parking lot and walk up to it just to admire it,” he says. “I still can’t believe it’s mine.” But his name’s on the door in pearly white lettering. “I drove a brand new truck when I was a company driver, but this one is the first one with my name on the title,” Hatcher says. “But I sure hated to see my old one go.”
Even before getting his new truck, he was living his childhood dream. “I always wanted to be a truck driver,” Hatcher says. “It always amazed me.”
Hatcher didn’t grow up in a trucking family, and neither did his wife, Kim, who handles all the paperwork, finds loads on the Internet and takes care of the kids at home on their 35-acre farm, where they raise registered black Angus cows, chickens, a pot-bellied pig named Taz, two ducks and a cat.
“When we got married, she didn’t know anything about trucking, but now she has her license, and she’s not a bit scared to jump up in that seat and drive,” he says. “I couldn’t do it without her. It takes the two of us working together.”
Although they can’t go with Hatcher on many trips, he never forgets about his family at home, with “Missing my Kimmie” emblazoned on the nose of his truck and “Owned and operated by William, Kim, Billy and Ashley” painted on the sleeper. The reminders of home were also on his old truck, a 1993 Peterbilt 379, but he made sure it was on the new one before he set out on his first trip to Las Vegas. Hatcher makes it out to Las Vegas about three times a month with a load of screws from Quik Drive U.S.A. in Gallatin, Tenn., and brings a load of malfunctional televisions back to the manufacturer in Forest City, Ark. He gets home about once a week. “Home’s too important to stay away too long,” he says. “They live good, and I try to give them what they need. I love driving, but if I had to stay out for five or six weeks, I would just have to quit.”
Hatcher plans on driving as long as he can, and looks forward to the day when trucking will pose less interference with his personal life. “The kids will be grown,” he says, “and Kim will be with me.”
FIRST TRUCK: 1973 Kenworth, three-axle. I knew every bolt and part on it.
FAVORITE LOAD: I hauled fresh-cut flowers for a few years. It smelled so good when you opened the trailer.
MOST UNUSUAL PLACE TO HAUL: I had to haul some Vegas show props to downtown Atlanta. When I got there, it was a tiny cobblestone street with trees on both sides of the road. A guy came out to help me direct my truck through the center of the street. They had to stop traffic .
HARDEST THING TO LEARN WHEN I BEGAN DRIVING: Patience. Being in traffic and constantly around traffic can try your patience.
WORST THING ABOUT BEING A TRUCKER: The accommodations. Everybody wants their freight, and they want it there fast, but there aren’t enough parking spaces or places to eat.
BEST THING ABOUT BEING A TRUCKER: Freedom. I like being my own boss and setting my own schedule. I don’t think I could punch a time clock.
DREAM VACATION: I would like to just get in the car and get off the interstate and go to all the stuff you bypass, such as the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore. I’ve been within a few miles of them, but I couldn’t stop.
FAVORITE MOVIE: Happy, Texas.
FAVORITE TELEVISION SHOW: “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
FAVORITE FOOD: Steak, medium rare. We raise our own registered black Angus cows at the house. There’s nothing like home-grown beef. You can’t get anything like it at the store.
LEAST FAVORITE FOOD: Lamb chops. That’s the one thing I’ve tried that I didn’t like.
PET PEEVE: When I’m in the passing lane, and whoever I’m passing waits until I get right next to him to blink his blinker one time, and he comes on over.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Taking care of my family .