This is my last column for Truckers News. A few e-mails from readers lead me to hope that my columns have provided relief from the monotony of windshield-watching for a few of you. In providing this forum, Truckers News has been gracious to a journalistic fault with me. For that opportunity I am thankful.
I must admit to pushing the journalistic envelope. My purpose in doing so has been twofold. One, I wanted to experiment with a kind of personal journalism that has its roots in the experience I share with this readership. And I wanted to do it in a way that stretched the mind and was inclusive of a bigger world than the world of asphalt and pit stops. It is easy to live a life on the road and wind up far down that road wondering if there might have been more one might have expected, and gotten, if only things had been a little different.
Then again, it is a good life. The lucky among us are those who want no more than they have. I have many friends who want nothing more than their work and their life on the road. I envy them. No matter how much I loved the road – and I did – I wanted something else. By serendipitous means it came my way in the form of writing for Truckers News and Overdrive.
My time at Randall Publishing has been extremely rewarding. Editors have challenged me to reshape some stubbornly-held beliefs about what is right for readers and what is right for the magazines. They have challenged me to become a journalist when all I really wanted to be was a writer. I have learned a great deal about writing and about trucking. Everything I thought I knew looking at the industry from the driver’s point of view has been expanded and changed forever. There is a side of the industry the driver never sees. By the same token, the industry’s decision-makers are sometimes uninformed about the realities the driver faces every day.
Some have noticed that the name of this column, “First Person,” has been abused. More often than not it has been written in the second person, “you,” or the third, “he,” in an effort to grab the right tone and say the right words from the perspective of a character that is only partially the writer’s. I lament that I will no longer be able to speak to you as a former driver who continues to see the worth of the lives we have chosen.
I am moving on from the magazines to drive a series of Volvo trucks around the world. This project has necessitated that I resign my position and become a freelance writer. I’ll start my new life in St. Petersburg, Russia, and travel through Moscow into Europe before crossing over to Africa and on to every continent except Antarctica. It should take me about six months.
I will be sponsored by a number of entities, large and small, which are contributing support and good wishes. Volvo, Michelin Tire and Shell Oil are foremost among them. I will be speaking to school kids as an ambassador for Trucker Buddy and trying out a fatigue management device, the Perclos camera from Attention Technologies, on drivers who have perhaps never heard that fatigue is a problem. I also hope to document levels of particulates along the world highway environment with a simple handheld meter and check out added safety in the form of a right side and backing camera system from Power Linx. All this will give me plenty to write about.
You may see my byline from time to time in Truckers News, but most of my writing will be seen overseas in trade magazines or on my website, NomadWorldTruckTour.com, where you can ride along with me. So that’s it. Maybe I’ll see you on the flip-flop.