Friday, April 21, 2006

Read the Fine Print

Truck driving. It’s not a job – it’s an adventure. More than that, it’s a way of

I realized, before I started driving a big truck, that I would be away from home for periods of time. What I didn’t know was that most big trucking companies base your home time on how many consecutive days you spend on the road. It boils down to one day at home for every six you spend out.

That’s the formula that was used by my first employer. I normally spent four weeks on the road then got four days at home. That was longer than I wanted to stay out, but I needed four days to regroup, get laundry done, balance the checkbook, shop for road food and all the other bullshit that needed to be done around the house.

I thought my home time would improve when I changed companies. Wrong again.

My second employer based home time on hours, not days. If I spent four weeks on the road, I got 144 hours at home. I realize that doesn’t sound any different, but in practice it’s an enormous change.

As an example: if I got home at 2 p.m. on Thursday, half that day was already shot. I would have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, then need to be back on the road at 2 p.m. on Monday. So I would get three full days and two half days at home.

The half days were useless. I was so tired on that first day, that I’d hit the sack at about 8 p.m. since I had driven 10 to 12 hours to get home. The day I left again would be another 10 to 12 hour day picking up a load and starting on my trip.

And there’s not a whole lot of time to rest while you’re on the road. Most loads are timed very tightly so that both you and the company make as much money as possible. So it’s drive 10 hours, sleep 8 hours and drive 10 more.

Most aspects of truck driving look good on paper. It’s the fine print that fucks you every time.



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