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There are over 3.5 million truckers in America, and 3.5 million great trucking stories. This one is about Alexis, check it out!
“The Rocky Mountains in winter look like giant ocean waves frozen in time.”
“The Appalachian Mountains are lush, green, misty – like something out of South America.”
“The Montana sky has more colors in the sky than you can imagine.”
Are these the words of a poet? A travel writer? A landscape artist?
Nope. They are the observations of a truck driver. Her name is Alexis, and, as these observations reveal, her professional truck driving career changed her life.
There’s no sugarcoating it: Truck driving has its moments. Long hours on the road can get lonely and stressful, and trying situations may occur regularly. However, don’t let that deter you from pursuing a rewarding career filled with flexibility, freedom, and fascinating people.
“I learned a lot about myself in the three years I’ve been in the industry. Best situation of my life.” Alexis, whose handle became Ax, grew up bouncing between Michigan and California. Ax drove a truck for three years, two of which was spend OTR. What beckoned her was the nomadic-type lifestyle mixed with the excitement of travel, and the seemingly easy way to make money. She doesn’t drive anymore but she cherishes her memories made during those years.Starting a New Career in Trucking
Alexis came from a military family; both her dad and grandpa were in the Marines. Alexis’ father, a programmer, lived on the El Toro Marine base in California, and her grandparents lived in Detroit, where she spent her teenage and early adult years. Having family on nearly opposite sides of the U.S. made her no stranger to travel, and when an opportunity to do so for a living came up, she took it.
“I chose to go to California after a long-distance relationship,” Alexis confides. “I wanted to meet people. I didn’t have a lot of money, and I didn't have a place to go because when I moved, the rest of my family was out of the area. I heard from a friend how easy and quick it was to become a trucker. It really intrigued me. I thought it was the perfect way to make money and get experience.”Getting a CDL
Alexis and her friend were right. Becoming a truck driver and getting your CDL doesn’t take long, and for many people, costs nothing out of pocket. The trucking industry desperately needs drivers and is paying tuition costs to help fill the market with qualified men and women. Alexis encourages prospective drivers to do their research and find the school with the best truck driving training program for them.
“I signed up for Roadmaster, which is out of Fontana, California,” says Alexis. “I didn’t have to pay a cent of the schooling. A lot of the companies will pay your tuition and encourage you to stay. Between the financing and everything, they were providing everything that I needed to get started. Within a couple of weeks, they had me tested out with a license and certified with a trainer. After about a month or two, I was out on my own driving solo. I was one of the only female truckers.”Earning a Fair Salary
Women are outnumbered by men in the industry, but it’s only because many women haven’t seriously considered truck driving as a path for them. “They don’t see the representation.” mentions Alexis.
But there is no reason this can’t change, and Alexis encourages females who are interested in trucking and looking to be financially secure not to miss out on a great career. “For women, it is a dangerous job, but I haven’t had any big problems on the road,” she warns, “If something doesn’t seem safe, just don’t do it. I’ve never had a hard time being intimidated by men. I think that’s why I did so well. The older guys had nothing but respect as long as you did your job. They are all there for the same reason. It was also wonderfully equalized. I didn’t see a gender gap from pay; we were all paid the same from what I could tell.”
Alexis drove for Werner Enterprises and was able to save money in the two years she was an over-the-road driver. “I sold my car, didn’t have an apartment, didn’t have a family that I was dependent on. I was able to save a couple thousand dollars and travel the country while doing it.”Enjoy the Benefits
Traveling and taking in new scenery are fringe benefits of truck driving. While Alexis had already been to 38 states before getting her CDL, trucking took her even further across North America and through Canada. “I got to see the country. I remember stopping at the ‘Welcome to Montana’ sign in the middle of the winter. I looked up and could see more colors in the sky than I can even remember. It’s beautiful out there; it’s a beautiful country. I was able to travel through the majority of Canada. Canada was an amazing experience! I didn’t get to go through Alaska, because they have a separate territory up there.”
Canadian mountains or American, she’s not mountain-loyal, they all took her breath away, “My favorite parts were the different mountain ranges,” she says. “The Appalachian mountains are almost something out of South America. They are so lush and green, and there was a mist over them.”
The dark trees that gave North Carolina’s Black Mountains range its name captivated her, and the Rocky Mountains left her mesmerized. “The Rocky Mountains are my favorite out of the mountain ranges,” She reminisces about driving through the dangerous northern Rocky Mountains, “Past the northern Rocky Mountains, there was snow on these blue mountains. They looked like giant ocean waves that were frozen in time. It was one of the most breathtaking experiences.”Know the Risks
Like any career, trucking does have its drawbacks, even beyond tough terrains. Drivers using common sense and making smart choices can help counteract some of the troubles they face.
Alexis mentions how vulnerable drivers are while on the road. “One time I had someone try to break into my truck, and I was also caught near a tornado. Truck driving had a bad effect on my health, which, luckily, training and working out got back. There is a downside to it. They should have more health regulations on drivers. Falling asleep, heart attack, and sleep apnea are problems. Keep up a regimen, and keep up with your health.”Learning Life Lessons
Alexis has since moved on from truck driving and is now a programmer for General Electric. She’s grateful for the abilities trucking gave her and encourages others to become a driver now, even if they think they might want to do something else in the future. It can be great way to expand your network, learn responsibility and become independent. An added benefit is you can make money for whatever comes next. “You get used to talking with strangers, especially the long haulers. You have real conversations with people. It doesn't have to be about the meaning of life, but it isn’t about ‘how’s the weather?” It’s refreshing; you gain confidence and courage. You hear a lot of great stories.”
“Trucking for young people is a wonderful learning opportunity,” Alexis wouldn’t change her experience for the world, “It helps you rely on yourself. I learned a lot about myself in the three years I’ve been in the industry. Best situation of my life.”Be a Voice to the Industry
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