Q: How did you become a truck driver?
A: I went to school to drive a truck. That was about eleven years ago.
My grandfather used to drive a truck. He used to haul cars in New Jersey.
Q: How long is the school?
A: Eleven weeks. You drive every day, learn about questions they’ll have on the test.
Q: What was your first job driving trucks?
A: My first job was hauling freight. My first run ever was to New York City. It was scary; I got lost. I had to get to Hunts Point Market in the Bronx.
Q: What was in the shipment?
A: Kids’ handbags, backpacks, that kind of thing. I did that for seven months. Nights, I would go to New York and then bring back the loaded trailer.
Q: Did you always haul handbags?
A: No, I hauled flour, Ragu spaghetti sauce, paper towels, napkins, laundry detergent, Gatorade. We’d take it to food warehouses.
In the first three years I was driving, I went to New York two or three times a week. One time, I pulled in to Hunts Point Market and another driver was there and he was shaking. He’d stopped at a red light on his way there. You never stop at a red light. There was some guy on the roof of a building pointing a rifle at him. The guy got on the CB with the driver and said, “If you move, we’ll shoot you.” Then some guys pulled up with a pickup truck, took all the stuff from the trailer, and drove away. That’s the last time that guy drove in New York City.
Q: Did things like that ever happen to you?
A: I’d have people hang on the side of my truck for two to three blocks.
Q: What do you do when that happens?
A: Keep driving. Eventually they’ll get off.
Q: Do you honk at kids when they make that honk sign at you?
A: Yeah, I always honk; it’s mostly kids.
Q: Do adults ever do it?
A: No, but I’ve had guys doing things to themselves and chasing me. I’ll run ’em off the road.
Q: Do truckers have a better vantage point to check out girls?
A: No. It’s not true. You don’t want to see what people are doing.
Q: Do you still haul grocery-type stuff?
A: Now I haul liquor. Years ago, when stuff got damaged, we’d get cases and cases of stuff. The company didn’t want to pay the freight to ship it back where it came from. But liquor is different. It’s all inventoried with bar codes. Every time you go to a liquor store—in Pennsylvania—you keep me employed.
Q: How many trucks have you owned?
A: This is the fourth one. I own the truck, and I lease it to the company—I haul strictly their freight with their trailers. I pay for tires and maintenance.
Q: Do you have a TV in your truck?
A: I have room for one but I don’t have one. I only run short haul. Some have TVs, couches that fold into beds, cabinets, drawers. Some have two beds.
Q: Do you talk to the other truckers on the CB?
A: Of course.
Q: Do you ever say “Breaker 1-9”?
Q: Really? What does “Breaker 1-9” mean?
A: It just means “Is the channel clear?”
Q: Do you use foul language on the CB?
Q: Do you chat it up with the other truckers all the time?
A: No. If there’s three of us running together, we’ll talk.
Q: What do truckers talk about on the radio? Sex?
A: Nah. They tell each other where the cops are. They talk about anything.
Q: Do you drive like an idiot?
A: Pretty much. My truck will do 85 mph. People think it’s the truck’s fault, but if you’re halfway up the side of a truck, you can’t be seen.
Q: Have you ever had any accidents?
A: I ran over the hood of a Lexus once. I was making a left-hand turn and she was talking on her cell phone. I ran right over the hood of her Lexus. She was not happy.
Once my truck got run over by another truck. We were both going the same way and he tried to turn. It was like $6,700 in damage.
Q: What are the pros to driving a truck?
A: You make good money.
Q: And what are the cons?
A: The hours. You leave at 7:30 p.m. and don’t get back till 1:45 the next afternoon. And nobody pays more taxes than truck drivers. It cost $1,500 just for my plates. And another $550 in highway-use tax …
Q: Do you get used to the screwy hours?
A: It takes a while … Sometimes my body still isn’t used to it.
Q: Does your butt ever get sore from all that sitting?
A: It’s an air-ride seat, so the seat will bounce. The seat rides on air and the truck rides on air.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say about driving a truck?
A: Yeah. Ask yourself, “What doesn’t move by truck?” Everything you got on, everything you write with, everything you eat, things they use to build your house … Maybe you’re thinking that trains deliver stuff, but how do you get it from the train to the store? Everything moves by truck.