I met the picture-perfect truck driver. His clean and pressed uniform fit well on his 6-foot-2 inch frame. His shoes were shined and he wore a gleaming silver eagle belt buckle. Clean-shaven, he smelled of Old Spice and his neatly combed, jet-black hair was freshly barbered. His company logo – U.S. Truck – was tattooed on his right forearm. A big, shiny, black Diamond Reo was his rig of choice – the load behind it tarped and chained to perfection. The man had an air of confidence about him and smiled easily. He had a gold tooth.
Being a rookie team driver for Sam Tanksley, I was eager to learn anything I could from old pros. We struck up a conversation, waiting for our loads to clear customs on the California-Mexico border.
He told me about various trucking jobs, pulling vans, flats, reefers and tankers. He talked about hauling cars out of Detroit and steel out of Chicago. What I wanted to know the most was: what was the best job, the easiest. The part of the conversation I remember the best was his answer: “Son, there ain’t no such thing as an easy run.” Twenty years later, I know he was right.
After trying every conceivable trucking job, I had yet to find that “easy run.” I liked driving, it was the rest that drove me crazy: lying dispatchers, long loading and unloading delays, dealing with rude shippers and receivers and unsavory lumpers. I was tired of driving a thousand miles with a “hot load” and making it look legal on the logs. I needed a change – but what? There had to be something