One late afternoon in the early spring of 2019, after unloading hay in Chilliwack, I was deadheading up to Prince George to pick up a load of lumber. While entering the city from the south, on the old Caribou Highway, I passed by a livestock feed and supplement dealer that was advertising feed supplement brands that I have hauled in the past, out of Whitewood, South Dakota.
I didn’t know this dealer existed, and when I saw it, I immediately thought how cool it would be to haul a load all the way from Whitewood to Prince George. The simple thought of those 2200 kilometres laying out ahead of my rig gave me a warm, peacefully-lonesome feeling.
This is a big part of what trucking has always been to me – long distances to cover and no one to depend on but myself. Although trucking has treated me well with respect to pay and career opportunities, these benefits have always felt like much-appreciated bonuses because when I first started driving, I would have damn near done it for nothing. I was first attracted to tractor-trailer driving for the excitement of the job, and it has not let me down.
It’s true that I would much rather spend time with my family than be out on the road, but I have yet to experience a work environment as pleasant and relaxing as rolling a big truck down the highway.
I like being in control of the rig, knowing that I have everything in working order, the load is on and properly secured. I like distance ahead of me, knowing that even a familiar stretch of road will be unique to my senses and something I will never be able to duplicate exactly in the future. I like to go, and the further I have to go, the happier I am.
I’m not trying to gloss over the many frustrating aspects of truck driving or get lost in trucking romance. Trucking can be dangerous. For the driver who doesn’t know what they are doing, the many regulations and uncertainties can easily lead to anxiety, burnout and a sooner-than-anticipated change of jobs. But I have felt wonderful feelings on the road that I know are only possible to feel while trucking, and I have many cherished memories and exciting stories that are my rewards for choosing this career.
I currently have an interesting job as a trucking safety officer and get to spend a lot of my working time out of an office managing a trucking company’s health and safety aspects. My office job has its own pleasures, and I find the world of trucking safety to be both interesting and challenging. The best part of my job, though, is that I still regularly, and figuratively, get to change gears. I withdraw into my own headspace in that seat after making sure that everything is good to go, and I think about all the distance ahead of me and wonder what the road will be like this time.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”