Faces of Trucking: Joseph - Trucking Is Not Flying, Close Enough?

There are over 3.5 million truckers in America, and 3.5 million great trucking stories. This one is about Joseph, check it out!

For as long as he could remember, Joseph wanted to fly. After spending his twenties in and out of college, where he was having a hard time finding himself, he decided to chase an old dream and become a pilot.

To his profound disappointment, despite a degree from a reputable flight school, Joseph found he was chasing his tail instead of that dream. Pilot jobs just weren’t as plentiful as he had hoped.

Feeling defeated, Joseph tucked his tail and landed a job at his dad’s mortgage company in California.

Running Down a Dream

Mortgages weren’t for him. He realized it was, once again, time to reimagine his life.

“I started thinking, what is the closest thing to flying? Well, trucking is kinda similar!”

Shortly after his epiphany, Joseph applied to trucking school, where he got his CDL Class A license. He looked forward to seeing the country. It wasn’t going to be from a bird’s-eye view, but instead from behind the massive windshield of an 18-wheeler.

“I like being out in the world, not cooped up in an office with a boss breathing down my neck!”

Always a bit of a loner, Joseph was ready to embrace the trucking lifestyle.

“I always gravitated towards those kinds of jobs.“ He enjoys being by himself, alone with his thoughts.

In fact, he idolizes astronaut Mike Collins, “... the guy who stayed on the ship when Neil and Buzz went down to the Moon in '69. Flying around the Moon over and over, all alone, sounds pretty cool if you ask me. Just sitting there in the dark listening to Black Sabbath on my 8-track enjoying the awesome view.”

Despite his initial enthusiasm, Joseph ended up sitting on his CDL license for two years. He didn’t believe the pay matched the effort the job takes.

Instead, he took his chances and worked some part-time gigs “... for $100 a day, but had to quit after a month because there was too much heavy lifting, and I injured myself. Eventually I found another local job, again for $100 a day, this time no heavy lifting. But, after two months, the job turned out to be just holiday help, and I was let go.”

Words Of Wisdom

Joseph believes it’s important that people know the harsh reality of the trucking world before spending their money to go to CDL school. Otherwise, they may find themselves out in the industry questioning everything they ever learned.

“It’s mainly just the hours,” he cautions. “Full time can be brutal. Twelve to fifteen hours per day for days on end. It’s no life, just working and sleeping.”

This is a major issue when it comes to driver fatigue. “I’ve literally watched a guy fall asleep at the wheel. I mean, if they started at 4 a.m. and are going for 15 hours straight, they’re going to get tired. Who can blame them?”

Joseph has come to realize that there is no happy medium when it comes to full- and part-time trucking jobs. He says it’s almost as if the “trucking industry has completely skipped over the eight hour-a-day job idea.”

”Part time doesn’t transfer into a liveable income,” he says. At some companies, part time is considered to be that standard eight-hour shift.

“It’s really not so easy to get one of those full-time jobs,” he explains.

To get a full-time OTR job these days, you need to have a couple of years’ experience. He doesn’t understand why, because right after he got his CDL license, he was ‘thrown to the wolves,” driving on his own way too quickly.

Now, it seems decent paying jobs come with significant competition. “Good jobs go to guys with the hours and experience, not someone who was doing it part time and wanting to go full time.”

Because the competition for those decent OTR jobs is so fierce, he says he doubts the legitimacy of the trucker shortage.

“It’s kind of a hook to get people in the door.”

He advises people going into the trucking industry to do so with their eyes wide open. “If you know what to expect, you won’t be disappointed. “

The Real Deal

Although Joseph feels like he still “can’t transfer this job into a full time, pay-my-bills kind of job,” he does find enjoyment in his part-time route, where he gets to drive down the winding roads of beautiful California neighborhoods. He loves the silence of his truck, and the sights “only California can offer.” He’s not 100-percent certain that he wants to remain in the trucking industry. But, for now, it will do.

Even though he could make more being an owner/operator, owning his own truck holds no appeal. He appreciates working for someone and receiving a consistent paycheck. All in all, and despite his uncertainties, he says it isn't that bad of a gig.

Now he just needs to find that happy medium where full-time driving is eight hours per day, not fifteen. It may not come with big metal wings as Joseph once imagined, but he figures he’ll be flying quietly through life as a trucker.

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