Faces of Trucking: Rebecca - A Fantastic Trucker Life

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

“I’ve been fortunate enough to meet all types of people, and learn all types of things. I love learning!”

“We live in such a beautiful country, are you kidding me? The U.S is gorgeous. That’s one thing I can say about truck driving is that I’ve gotten to enjoy views I would have never seen if I’d have been, say, a factory worker!”

“Trucking isn’t for everybody. With the right attitude, skills, and willingness to experience new things, it can be a great career.”

Observations and wisdom from Rebecca, a trucker by career; an exuberant lover of life by nature. There is so much more to being a truck driver than jumping behind the wheel and delivering goods. With a trucking career comes experiences beyond expectation, between traveling the country, meeting interesting people, and learning new things, Rebecca proves trucking is much more of a lifestyle than a job.

Rebecca started her trucking career because of a dare. “My ex told me I couldn’t do it. He was a driver; I was really young. It was something he told me often, that I could never be a truck driver. I turned 21, got my Class A, and have been doing it since.” 30 years later, Rebecca still loves driving. Over-the-road in an 18-wheeler, driving locally, or on road trip vacations with her wife, being behind the wheel is where she feels she belongs. Rebecca doesn’t make those long-haul trips anymore, she’s settled down a bit and is now driving medical supplies for Kaiser-Permanente as a Penske Logistics employee. She’s more of a per-hour type of woman now, as opposed to that per-mile she got paid when she was OTR driving.

Life and Trucking

As the mom of three daughters, it was a rough road, “Every once in awhile, I look back and say ‘damn, how did I do that?’, but I just always pushed forward to get ahead. And, I had to stay positive.” She speaks a bit of regret, though, “I missed out on a lot of important things in my girls’ lives. You just can’t rewind time and have that back, ever.” Which is why she thinks it’s imperative that potential young drivers really evaluate why they are considering trucking. Those weeks on the road need to be considered, especially for a parent, because life doesn’t come with a rewind button. If there isn’t a good support system in place, being a trucker can be devastating.

Regardless of what she missed in the past, Rebecca still struggles with a growing longing to go back to over the road (OTR). Stopping her is her brood of 14 grandkids, with a 15th making an appearance any day now. But, she’s just as much a truck driver at heart as she is a mom and grandmother. She just has to wait for her kids to stop surprising her with grandchildren and then she may consider hitting the road again.

Advice on Trucking

Rebecca is a self-proclaimed “little woman” with a huge personality and a strong, positive spirit. She’s experienced almost every aspect of the trucking industry from student, to driver, to trainer, to boss. Based on her findings, she thinks more companies need to have their fingers on the industry’s pulse. There’s a vast disconnect, “The industry on a whole needs to stop and ask their truckers if they are happy. Because, if they are truly happy, then they’ll be more productive.” She doesn’t believe that boss/owners are sincerely listening to their employees anymore; she has a feeling they’re too concerned with their bank accounts. The bottom line needs to focus on people because once they are productive, the boss’s bank accounts will grow naturally.

In Rebecca’s opinion, and she’s entitled to one after spending 30 years in the industry; not everyone was cut out for trucking. “It depends on who they are and what’s up in their life. It’s a great short-term solution while maybe trying to get your real life sorted out. Maybe work like four days, and go to school, too.” She will tell you that you need the right attitude combined with the proper skills to make a go of it in the trucking industry. “You really need to understand everything about it, and then it can be a great career. I mean, it’s been wonderful to me. I made good money, and my girls never went without. For a fairly uneducated woman, I’ve been paid well.”

One thing she’s not without is advice for newer drivers, and even some old timers who may have forgotten some of the nuances of driving a truck, “Don’t ever drive in bad weather at night because all you’re asking for is a jack-knife.” And another piece of sound advice, “If the weather had been bad all night, don’t do early morning driving. Wait until around 7 am when all that crap has had time to melt or do whatever it needs to do.” When it comes to the health problems driver’s face, “Work schedules are filled with redundancies. We are sitting in our cabins for hours at a time, eating junk food. That’s where the health problems come in.” However, she’s noted that some truck stops are addressing the obesity issue by installing gyms in their facilities, “Like the Flying J, in Tennessee, I think”.

Homelessness and Trucking

Our nation faces a trucking shortage, as well as a significant homelessness problem. Rebecca is adamant that there’s a relatively simple solution, “We have this shortage in our industry. Why aren’t we heavily tapping our resources--the homeless, and the vets, in every possible way we can? If we invest in people, they’ll invest in themselves and others. It can only benefit our economy.” Rebecca mentions that if truckers united together and went on strike, it would bring America to its knees. And, it’s true. Truckers are the heart and soul of our country, the backbone. Without them, everything from the roof over our heads, to the foods that sustain us, to the very bed we lay down in at night, would be affected if truckers ceased to show up to work. So, we need to make sure we have a surplus of truckers by giving qualified people trucking education.

Final Thoughts on Trucking

Strangely and despite the fact that there is a driver shortage, the trucking job market is a competitive one. However, the money isn’t the same as it used to be. Rebecca claims she made great money back when she started. “Nowadays, it’s hard for people to make money out there.” But, she feels she’s got a bit of both worlds. She still gets to drive daily, and she’s making a great hourly rate. Plus, she’s home and can spend time with her ever-expanding family. She missed out on raising her daughters, so she’s exceptionally active in her grandchildren’s lives. The one thing she wants her children, grandchildren, and anyone who knows her to say when she dies is, “That old woman. She really knew how to live it up.”

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