This week, I had to re-sit my dangerous goods course, which means I have been at my carrier for three years. That’s about the time I start getting restless and looking for the next adventure.
I’ve been this way my entire career. I started out on local deliveries in a little puddle jumper, then started long distance, then moved on to continental runs around Europe. I then went on to big trucks and the whole process started again, local to long distance to continental.
At first, I started running between England and Germany and I would sit on the ferry listening to other drivers talking about their trips to other countries, which would then be added to my bucket list. Often, going to a different country involved changing jobs as companies tend to focus on a particular destination, so a company running to Germany wouldn’t have a run to Italy, for example.
Once I had ticked all the country boxes off my list, I then switched companies to do different types of work. I moved from general freight to reefers, from produce to hanging meat then to frozen. And I managed all of that before I embarked on the owner-operator path.
I started working for one company providing their transport, then started adding to my customer base, first by subcontracting and later by gaining direct work from customers. Then I started to grow my fleet and the whole cycle began again.
And then I got bored, sold everything and moved to Canada to start all over again. My bucket list at that time was simple; I wanted a long-nose truck dripping in lights and chrome and I wanted to cover all the provinces and 48 states. I got the truck and worked for a fantastic company, but didn’t quite manage all the provinces and states. I’ve yet to tick the boxes for Newfoundland, P.E.I., the Northwest Territories, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Oregon – and I would still like to get to them at some point. However, I’ve got a problem. I only run west of Winnipeg now and don’t cross the border and for the first time since I started out in 1986, I’m not bothered.
I have no real desire to change anything about what I do. I’m not looking for a new truck, a new destination, or a different type of freight. I’m quite content plodding along the same roads I’ve been running week in and week out for the past three years, even when I’m talking to a friend who is complaining about it being too hot to sleep comfortably in California or Texas and there I am running my truck to avoid freezing to death. Or when they’re posting photos of their trip through some spectacular scenery or resetting in New York City or Vegas and I’m getting my fillings shaken out as I navigate around the potholes of the Trans-Canada Highway in the featureless landscape of Manitoba or Saskatchewan.
I did wonder if I had lost my sense of adventure, but I don’t think so. I think that I’m just very comfortable where I am. Moving on may satisfy my wanderlust, but it would also bring about a loss of the nice balance I have between home time and work.
Compensation doesn’t come into it and it never has. I’ve always bettered myself in that respect, even if I moved for other reasons, so that would not be a factor as I wouldn’t consider going elsewhere unless I could at least equal my current package. But I just don’t feel the need to change anything. I’m hoping that the next chapter in my career is a re-run of the past three years, with the appropriate rate increases to account for inflation, of course.
A fourth generation trucker and trucking journalist, Mark Lee uses his 25 years of transcontinental trucking in Europe, Asia, North Africa and now North America to provide an alternative view of life on the road.