Many years ago when I was in my 20’s going from job to job without any direction or plans- I was offered a job for a steel company in Massachusetts with the contingency that I agree to get my commercial license in order to be able to deliver their products all over the New England area. The company paid well, and had great benefits, so I agreed to study the manual and go through the necessary steps to get my commercial license.
As I started my travels delivering specialty steel materials to our customers, I began to realize how fortunate I was to be able to see the end use of our many products. I saw injection molding of silverware, precision made ball bearings that were used on the Space Shuttle, huge steel ingots heated up and forged into engine parts for the military, all types of screws and fasteners, computer shielding, large engine parts for electric turbines, tool and die fabrication…the variety seemed endless. I understood that my “truck driving” position was more than just a job. It was an opportunity to see and experience things that I never would have working on the sidelines. I was not only traveling and seeing some incredibly beautiful scenery; I was out there meeting people and learning how things were manufactured. It brought a new sense of meaning to my work and a feeling of fulfillment and knowledge.
Over the years of having a CDL, I was able to use it to earn a good living anywhere I lived. From Massachusetts to North Carolina, to Colorado- my CDL driving skills and experience has always been able to provide me with both monetary and rewarding personal experiences.
Being a truck driver, I had expected that my jobs would primarily be freight related. But there are so many other services that require a CDL that never had occurred to me. Among my personal experiences, I spent 12 years working for medical companies. One company is a large medical supply provider for hospitals and home patients. I delivered life sustaining products to patient’s homes all over in multiple states on the east coast and out in the west. I got to see some of the most incredible scenery and met some of the nicest people who were dependent on me to bring them supplies that kept them alive and in good health.
Another medical related job was delivering, setting up, and maintaining a 53 foot mobile medical lab trailer to small rural communities. It was a very rewarding experience to be a part of the healthcare of many small and remote communities throughout the eastern plains of Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska.
My own transportation career journey though sometimes unconventional, did have periods of time delivering freight: a chicken plucking machine in North Carolina, a two liter soda bottle labeling machine to northern Michigan, the US mail to Texas. The types of freight were so diverse, and the importance of getting the deliveries to their destinations on time and in good condition was extremely important to me for personal pride- and to the consignees for their production and services.
In time, all things change. In the early 2000’s, my professional driving career took another turn as I was offered an opportunity to be a CDL Instructor and tester. Now, after years of learning about the many aspects of driving and all of the experiences I had lived through, I was being given a chance to share my experience and knowledge with others. This brought a whole new level of challenges and rewards to me, and the fulfillment of helping another person learn how to drive a big rig as they started their transportation career was extremely profound. There were also many more places where I traveled to provide driver safety training that I never would have seen including Alaska.
Today, after 32 years since I first took that job at the steel company which started my truck driving career, I look back reflectively on all the places I saw and the faces of the many people I met along the way. I never would have imagined that my journey would be so interesting, challenging, and fun.
A career in transportation has given me so much more than money. It has at times offered me an insight into personal experiences that I never would have realized if I had stayed sitting on the sidelines and never took the steps to being a professional driver.