The public perception of professional drivers has often been based on misunderstanding due to the media and movie industry’s portrayal of these hard working men and women. Although there are numerous image campaigns in the trucking industry, most of them focus on the importance of the industry itself instead of trying to change the image of the person behind the wheel.
Your neighbour might not understand what your life is like as a professional driver and more importantly, how your job affects their lifestyle. Here are eight things your neighbour probably doesn’t know about you, but should. This list isn’t comprehensive and I’m sure you can think of many more things you’d like your friends to know about your career, but this is a start.
#1. Driving a truck for a living is not an easy job. You can’t just hop into a tractor-trailer and take it out on the highway without extensive training. It’s not an unskilled job that just anyone can do. It takes time and effort to learn how to shift and how to turn corners and how to back into a dock. It’s not easy!
#2. Being a professional driver isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. When your neighbour goes to work each morning and returns home at night, his or her kids might not even know if their mom or dad changes jobs or careers because it doesn’t affect them in the same way it will affect the child of a professional driver. It was years before my daughter learned that some daddies were home every Wednesday!
#3. Just because you are away from home a lot doesn’t mean you are unfaithful or that your marriage is in trouble. Your neighbour will judge your family situation based on their own. So, if they think you stay away because you’re unhappy, it’s their perception. Many folks still assume that you’re unfaithful because you travel often and have the opportunity to cheat on your spouse. Remind them that cheating relates to values, not time apart.
#4. You can’t just make plans for a week from Thursday because you don’t know if you’ll be home or not. This one was always one of the most difficult aspects of the trucking lifestyle to explain. No, I cannot RSVP to your daughter’s wedding next June, so it’s easier to decline the invitation. People just don’t understand how unpredictable your job can be when you’re delivering loads around the country.
#5. Remember who is the professional! If I had the choice of driving alongside a family in an SUV in a snowstorm, or running alongside an eighteen-wheeler, I would chose the big rig. I just don’t trust non-commercial drivers as much as I do those professionals who are well trained and more observant. When people complain about big trucks sharing the highway, I remind them that the professional is the one who is more capable and trustworthy on the road than those drivers with less training.
#6. Yes, trucks do own the road! Without trucks paying for the taxes that fund road projects, the highways wouldn’t be the same. From fuel taxes to IRS taxes, to tolls to mileage taxes, the trucking industry pays for the roads and their upkeep. Those four wheelers just don’t realize how little they pay, and don’t even think about how little those electric vehicles are paying for our roads.
#7. If your neighbour only understood that your job keeps his kitchen stocked, his car’s tank filled, and his children clothed. He doesn’t always understand the supply chain and how you and your truck allow him to enjoy the products he uses every day. Maybe he needs a lesson in the importance of the trucking industry and its effect on the economy.
#8. You’re not driving a truck until you find something better. For some, being a professional driver is the job of last resort, but for most of you, it’s your career. Sure, there are people who are always looking for something that pays better and allows you to have a different lifestyle, but not all drivers are seeking a way out.
Feel free to show this article to your neighbour the next time you feel misunderstood. You just might change his or her opinion of you, one neighbour at a time.
About the Author
Ellen Voie CAE, President/CEO
P O Box 400 Plover, WI 54467-0400
888-464-9482 920-312-1350 Direct