My life as an Interstate Transit Specialist
Truck drivers in America have been called "Knights of the Highway" and "Kings of the road". They have also been maligned, criticized, and cussed at from automobiles across the country.
As a whole, the hundreds of thousands of men and women who traverse this countryside day and night in the cab of a big rig are fine people. They are excellent drivers able to maneuver a 70 foot, 80,000 pound vehicle through the narrow streets of a metropolitan city. They are then required to back this vehicle up to a dock with literally inches to spare on either side of the truck.
I am a truck driver. I choose to be referred to as an "Interstate Transit Specialist." This has a nice ring to it and does not bring with it all of the stereotypes associated with "trucker." I sometimes shorten it to I.T. specialist which denotes a whole other profession in some minds. This is not to say I am ashamed of being a truck driver. I'm not. The pay is good and it requires a skill and expertise that I have built on over 20 years.
Truckers have stories. I have a nice assortment of tales myself. One involves a highway patrolman and a farm animal.
We have all been stuck, broken down or had a flat tire at some point in our career. Many have hit deer, raccoons, and even a black bear in one instance. The scenery is always changing and the miles just keep on rolling.
Truckers themselves are a unique bunch. I have ridden with several over the past two years and have heard tales of love, loss, redemption and heartache. There are ex-computer programmers, ex-teachers, and ex-cons. There are racists, sexists, homo-phobics, Christian fundamentalists, atheists, agnostics, Muslims and not a few unused college degrees.
We are a cross-section of society. A true microcosm of the people of the United States.
Truckers , like used car salesmen, seem to be stationed in the lower echelon of American society. Everyone has a story about a truck. It usually involves a highway situation and a rebel truck trying to push them off the road. I will admit, there is nothing quite so unnerving as checking your rear-view mirror and seeing the bulldog hood ornament on the Mack truck behind you. Right behind you. So close you can smell the cigarette the driver is smoking. This is the way that some truck drivers let you know that you are traveling too slow in the passing lane. It is the wrong way and most truckers do not drive like this. As with all occupations, it just takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.
Some people harbor long term resentment against truckers in general. My partner and I encountered just such a man last summer while delivering to one of our accounts. This store had an extremely small parking lot and we had only one spot that we could park and only one route to this parking spot. We had to drive directly in front of the store to the far fuel islands and park on the out side. Directly in our path was a small red pickup. We waited. The store personnel asked the owner of the truck to move. He refused. They asked again and again he refused, saying he had some things he wanted to buy. All they wanted him to do was move his truck to a designated parking spot, which he was not in at the moment. They asked again and he made some derogatory statements regarding truck drivers and finally came out to move his truck. As he was leaving he yelled out his window,
" You #%$@ truck drivers think you can do whatever you want, *&%$ you!"
What surprised me was that this whole incident was entirely unprovoked. Neither I nor my partner had said a word to him. We were just waiting. No hand gestures were exchanged. No shouted epithets.
Truckers are a strong, resilient and resourceful group. We deal with the public everyday and do our best to come out smiling. Most people don't realize that 99% of what they purchase in this country is delivered by a truck of some kind. I don't know if that would change their attitude toward truckers, but it might.