I'm a truck driver at the moment. In the past, I've been a journalist, an editor, a part-time photographer, and a slew of other quasi-creative office-oriented things.
I say 'at the moment,' but it has been six years since I became a trucker. I would've gotten out of the industry long ago, but I got a union gig that paid obscene amounts of money. No, I'm not going to go into specifics; however, just for perspective, the top earner at our company made the combined income of 8 people I know. Really good money.
Well, this April I was laid off. That's why I was on here making inane posts over the summer; it was something to do while I sat around on my ass collecting unemployment and waiting to go back to work.
Well, my somewhat considerable savings dwindled over the course of six months (following a great summer), and so in November I went back to work for the company I started with 6 years ago. If you were wondering, they have obnoxious orange trucks, and the company's name rhymes with 'Shmiter.'
Even in the three years since I was employed here, this company has drastically changed. You never got paid to do anything but drive, and I knew that going in. The difference was, before you would get 500- to 600-mile loads. That meant quite a bit of driving before you had to do the stuff you don't get paid for.
The average load length has now plummeted to about 350 miles, now. All the longer runs go to Shmiter's teams, leaving solo drivers fighting over their scraps. It's just abysmal.
You don't have to be a mathematician to see that Shmiter has roughly doubled the incidence of "stuff you do not get paid for," which makes the job absolutely insufferable.
When I first became a trucker, I struggled with it. I mean...what would the folks at my local MENSA chapter think? lol While that wasn't quite on my mind (they understood anyway), I've long worried about being seen as a "dumb truck driver" who was trading away his life for a middling amount of money. Being at my union company, I stopped worrying. I made a great living.
Being back at Shmiter now, I don't worry about it...but for a different reason. You would literally have to be an idiot to want to do this job for the money they pay. Extra chromosones would have to be involved.
Shmiter envisions a day when the truck driver is truly just a steering wheel holder. They're implementing electronic log books so the "stupid trucker" margin of error is reduced. They're putting in GPS so stupid truckers won't need to read maps anymore. Just keep that truck movin', boy. Do it until you can't see straight anymore. When you keel over, we'll just hire someone else to hold the steering wheel.
I'm not one of these cowboy truckers. I'm from Chicago, I loathe every truck driver I've ever met, and I have no interest in bragging about the size of my engine.
All I want to do is warn you: if you think trucking is a good industry to make a quick buck in, that ship has sailed. There's a very real chance the union carrier I was working for will go under sometime next year. They were one of the last great trucking carriers. When they go under, the bottom feeders like Shmiter will rush in and try to under-bid their competitors for that new freight...and when you under-bid, you have to under-pay to compensate.
As far as I can tell, unless something changes, this is essentially the death knell of the trucking industry. Don't even bother with that CDL, young'ns. There's no future in it.