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When I first considered getting into driving nearly 16 years ago, I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a little part of me being fueled by the stereotypical “Smokey and the Bandit” or “Convoy” illusion of the outlaw open road that has wrongfully plagued our industry for so long. As fun as it may sound, running an illegal beer load from Texarkana across state lines with an irrational and truly unsafe deadline, is just not what this industry is about! It is probably better for me that I have always been more business-minded in my career goals since I was young, which helped me approach the business of trucking as a career from the moment I got into it. My approach was to get into it as a youngster and try to learn as much as I could about all aspects, both financial and operational, as I possibly could from both trial & error and learning from those that had “been there, done that” as well.
Everyone’s approach to this industry is different, which is why I suppose there are those that see being a driver as a lifestyle rather than a business. Take a very common case of the empty nester that comes into being a driver with the plan to possibly be a ‘paid tourist’ of sorts. With the kids all grown and off to college and possibly a small retirement income from another industry coming in, it might make plenty of sense for a married couple to downsize or sell their homestead and take out to see the country in a nice ARI or Bolt sleeper equipped setup together. This would be a great testament to those that trucking can be a great type of lifestyle! I have also ran into a few younger drivers that have made a good run at staying out for long periods of time, essentially mastering an effective and healthy manner in which to live out on the road, to save money over a period of time. Although a little different from a ‘paid tourist’ scenario, this method could arguably be considered a trucking lifestyle as well, essentially living in the truck.
On the other hand, you have the argument that trucking is a career. This makes sense, considering that most of us didn’t get into driving to work for free and sought out to make a decent wage in our decision to take to the open road. Whether someone starts out in this industry because they essentially have nothing else to fall back on, or whether someone just loves to drive and seeks to make some money doing just that, everyone wants to make money as a driver if they jump behind that wheel! Even if the goal of someone starting out as a driver is not to be the next mega-fleet, the decision to start driving as a way of making a living is a career decision and that lends itself as an arguable fact to those wishing to say driving is a career.
I would argue neither side of this coin, as my opinion as to what driving really is lies somewhere between ‘heads and tails’. Not just because I wanted to be the next “Snowman” if they ever remade that classic trucking movie I grew up watching to further my irrational trucking lifestyle dreams, but more because I have a great “lifestyle” afforded to me by my choice to pursue a “career” in trucking. Starting at the bottom, deciding to put myself through college while on the road, learning all I could from the “old-timers” I encountered, then eventually going out and taking the risk of building my own small fleet, has given me the lifestyle I always wanted. As with any career, I continue to further my education and understanding of what it takes to be successful and enrich my career as a small fleet owner, with hopes to grow even more in the coming years to enable a level of independence I would not have been able to dream of had I not ever gone down the avenue of becoming a driver. Trucking is in me and in a lot of what I do, both on and off the road. So my opinion is that truck driving can be both a lifestyle and career, riding side-by-side down the road, in anyone’s decision to take on driving for a living.