Dear Editor,I vowed several months ago that I wouldn't write any more trucking letters because I am an inveterate writer. I have composed, literally, hundreds of very serious letters over the past 12 ...
I vowed several months ago that I wouldn’t write any more trucking letters because I am an inveterate writer. I have composed, literally, hundreds of very serious letters over the past 12 years to trucking publications, associations and companies.
A man told me long ago that trucking companies don’t respond to letters. I guess he was right because I’ve had very few replies. Disappointing.
When I first read your Publisher’s Comment two weeks ago (Driver shortage is an issue that isn’t going to go away), I felt inspired to write one more letter.
Day after day, the urge to communicate with you has not weakened, perhaps you will be interested in my story. Then again, maybe not.
I obtained my class A licence in December, 1990, following a long career as a high school teacher – which may explain my inclination to write. I had always dreamed of being a truck driver. Although I drove irregularly during the intervening years, I have trucked in 21 states and eight provinces. I reckon I’ve just about seen it all. Most of those hauls were as a team driver with two friends of mine who were employed by major trucking companies. Both men trusted me and expressed confidence in my ability. For several months I also hauled containers around the GTA, and I can certainly relate to the CN Brampton terminal woes in your lead story. (Five hours was my max, but it’s no way to spend a life!)
I find it hard to take seriously the various items I see about driver shortages. Having been ignored or rebuffed repeatedly by trucking companies and driver agencies. I don’t believe there is really a serious shortage. I can’t believe that I would not have been a valued driver for any company if they had only given me a chance. My late father used to say, “self praise is no recommendation,” but if I don’t praise myself, who else will?
I am an honest man. I am conscientious. I am an intelligent university graduate. I am healthy and strong and I consider myself a very professional driver. I observe the rules of the road meticulously and every day I see other drivers, sometimes even truckers, making illegal or incorrect maneuvers of which I would not be guilty. I know how to handle a truck, I have been tested and re-tested, so I know I’m a good driver. But still no company seemed sufficiently short of drivers to give me a chance. Did they reject me because I’m young? One interviewer asked how old I was before I had sat down – game over. (Isn’t that against the law?) I think the tragedy here is not for me (I have other sources of income) but rather for the trucking industry that lost out on a man whose heard is truly in trucking. I would have been loyal, diligent and conscientious, but they missed their opportunity.
I no longer have any personal cause to promote, having decided not to renew my class A license this year. Doing so year after year has cost me literally thousands of dollars. Since I didn’t have a truck of my own and borrowing one for a road test was impossible, I had no option but to take the costly route of working through a driving school with all the rentals and fees that entailed. That was on top of other thousands I spent on initial training in the early ’90s. In an effort to make up for the three years experience that all employers required when I was starting. I took four complete driving courses, even though I was already fully licensed. One of those courses was at the famous Eaton Roadranger Training Institute in Kalamazoo, Mich. (Boy do I know the roads of Western Michigan! I passed all the courses with high marks.)
My total cash earnings from truck driving amounted to $1,063.63 plus a $1.00 cheque that hangs framed on my living room wall, hardly a reasonable payback for all the money I invested. All the long-haul driving I did with friends Rick and Norm was “for experience.” Sure, they used me, but I was so eager to drive that I didn’t care. I decided several months ago that if I am meant to drive truck again, God will arrange for me to win the lottery and I’ll buy my own damn truck.
My heart is still in it. I feel like a guy who has just got married and has to force himself not to look at other women. I have to force myself not to look enviously at every truck I see. Just the same I watch truckers every day and say to myself, “yeah, I could do that.”
Every word is true, but I still don’t think there is really a driver shortage.
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