There are things I love about this job and things I hate about it.
Some days I’m reminded most of the things I like best, other days I’m forced to deal with the parts I’d rather not see. And then there are the days where I get to see a little bit of both.
These are my favorite kind of days. They remind me how challenging trucking can be, but also how many awesome things I get to see because of it.
Take this last route I drove from San Diego heading up into southern Oregon, for example.
My day started out like any other. I had spent the night in my truck, but luckily hadn’t parked too far from where the shower facilities were located, so I washed up and got a bite to eat before heading back.
I hopped into my truck and motored around to where I’d take on my load. I helped haul crates of beer on board until I’d fit in everything I needed, then carefully wormed my truck through the others crowded into the lot.
It took some maneuvering, but I was able to get weighed not too much later.
When my weight was cleared, I headed out the gate and onto the streets of sunny San Diego. And boy, was it sunny. I felt like I needed some kind of extra strength sunglasses to keep from squinting at the road.
I’ve done a bit of driving in the San Diego area before, so I knew generally where I was going until it came time for me to head out of the city.
That’s when I powered up the GPS and tapped in my destination. I was headed up the coast to Portland with my haul and I wanted to be sure I took the quickest route available.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be a long drive; California’s an awfully big state and I was starting out pretty much at the bottom. I was aiming for somewhere past the northern border. But when the GPS read out the approximate travel time, my jaw just about landed in my lap.
Seventeen and a half hours, it read.
That’s where I had to confront one of my least favorite parts of the job.
I was going to have to spend that perfectly gorgeous day cooped up in the little cab of my giant, noisy truck. Great!
Trucking’s a blast, really it is, but it doesn’t usually involve too many quick trips from here to there. Not for me, anyway.
I thanked my lucky stars I’d stocked up on water before leaving my loading dock and proceeded to the route that the GPS had found for me. I merged into the traffic of I-5 north, where I just sat. And sat. And sat.
That’s where I came face to face with my other least favorite part of the job: the traffic. Especially in some of California’s big cities, the traffic is enough to make me want to pull my hair out.
San Diego proved to be no different. At the best of times, traffic was stop and go, but some of those stops lasted for nearly twenty minutes. What started out as a good day was quickly extending to a longer than expected day.
The flow of traffic didn’t get any better for several miles. But when things finally did improve, boy, was it something to see.
At that point, I was rewarded with one of my favorite parts of the job: sightseeing.
In my days as a trucker, I’ve had to deal with all sorts of bad weather and irritating traffic or equipment that isn’t working right, but it’s all worth it when I think about how many fantastic places I’ve gotten to see on the job.
I’ve crossed rivers and driven through mountain ranges, even parts of the desert.
As the traffic thinned out the further I got from San Diego, I was able to look around a bit and pay more attention to what was waiting for me out the windows.
As long as the drive was, it was just beautiful. I drove along waterways and through national forests, and towards the end, there was so much open country I thought I might get lost in it all.
It was for that reason that what ended up being a twenty-six hour trip to my destination was tolerable, even enjoyable at some times.
There are gorgeous stretches of this country I live in, and if I wasn’t a trucker who dealt with the few downsides of the job I sometimes have to face, I would never have gotten to see half the wonderful sights I’ve seen.
That’s the thought that’s going to keep me going the next time I’m sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, anyway.