I’m going into the trucking business as an Over The Road driver. I start driver school on Monday. This is something I’ve considered a few times over the years – usually after an especially disappointing stretch in my generally disappointing work life. Truck driving was my version of joining the French Foreign Legion.
I guess I wanted to get out of the rat race and go to a simpler life. (Stop laughing.)
I’ve only been in a big truck once. That was four days ago, and I only stuck my head in. I went to a busy truck stop to finalize my research. Walking around the lot where all the big rigs were sleeping, I snagged a middle-aged guy toting a big drink who seemed relatively normal and asked him if he could answer a few questions. He turned out to be a font of knowledge and, as luck would have it, a trainer for the company I’m going with. He didn’t sugarcoat the life but, as a relative newcomer to the trucking business himself, having only started driving a couple of years ago, he had gone through the same thought processes I was going through. The picture he painted seemed pretty authentic.
I also spoke to a friend I met last year who had been an OTR driver for a couple of years after 20-plus years as a cop in Arlington, Texas. He liked it. He saw the country and looked back on it as a very enjoyable experience. If he hadn’t just got married again, he said he’d consider going back into the business.
Me? I’ve been married my whole life and my kids are on their own. I started in Minnesota, moved to Green Bay, Houston (the first time), Little Rock, and Atlanta before moving back to Houston in 2005. I spent most of my career in the corporate world – energy marketing, management, training and development, new media and e-business. After the dot-com bubble burst and took the economy down the drain in 2001, I (along with 89,999 of my closest friends) was laid off by IBM and hustled to find a new career. I figured sales offered the best opportunity to make good money.
Since then, I have spent most of my time in direct sales and sales management with a 15 month stint doing catastrophe insurance adjusting. I sold cars, merchant services (credit card processing), new homes, and, most recently, home improvements. May I be totally honest about something? I don’t like sales or selling. In fact I borderline hate it. I’m great and meeting people and making friends. I could always tell the company story in an entertaining way, but I wasn’t so good at overcoming objections and closing the sale. That’s a pretty nasty weakness if you want to make money. I found that I just didn’t care if people wanted my product or not. Other than the money part of it, who the hell was I to tell them what to buy and when to buy it? The catastrophe adjusting business was my most lucrative endeavor of the last decade, but it’s feast or famine. In the end, the money that I thought I would make in sales just wasn’t there, at least for me. And there isn’t enough adjusting work, at least for me, to keep me on the bench waiting for a deployment.
So here I am, ready and willing to drive. The next few weeks will tell if I am actually able. I’ll keep you posted.