What happened to this industry?
I drove my first truck, a Freightliner, in 1962, and I was immediately hooked on this business
– hook, line, sinker and fishing pole. At the age of 18, I got my chauffeur’s license. I never heard of anything called a “CDL.” Being 18, I was only supposed to drive in the fine state of Florida.
The first truck and trailer I drove out of Florida was a ’66 GMC Crackerbox with a 238 Detroit engine. To this day, I still believe that truck could smell a molehill at two miles. And Lord, let’s not forget that 38-foot reefer I was dragging.
My boss was a firm believer that the space inside the trailer was put there for one purpose – to load it from bottom to top. As for logbooks, he told me not to worry about that because we didn’t haul logs!
In 1989, I got hit head-on by a big rig, and that was the end of my trucking career. A few weeks ago, though, I hopped back on the saddle and drove a friend’s truck from northern Florida to the bottom and back. I couldn’t believe what I heard and saw on the road! These wheel-holders who call themselves truck drivers today wouldn’t rate a pimple on a real driver’s rear end.
What happened to the industry I so loved?
Little Fat Boy in Florida
Dear Fat Boy,
Thanks for your letter. I’m a firm believer that today’s drivers, especially the younger ones with little experience, could learn so much from veteran truckers – if only the youngsters would listen!
Back before power steering, air conditioning, cell phones and well-equipped, ergonomic cabs, driving a truck was more physically demanding than it is today, yet almost to a person, every long-time driver we talk to longs for those “good old days.” Clearly, there was an esprit de corps – a camaraderie among true professionals doing a tough job while sharing the road – that is missing today.
But let’s not be too hard on the modern truck driver. The world has changed; there’s more pressure to get from Point A to Point B “just in time.” Money and miles are on everyone’s mind. That’s no excuse to use foul language on the CB or run up the backside of another vehicle, but it might explain some of the behavior you observed on your final run.
The fact is, there are just as many true professionals out there today as there were 45 years ago. The problem is, these days they tend to get lost amid the increased traffic and noise.
Murphy and Lucky Dog