Does it really take a special breed to be a truck driving man?
Article credit to Russ Ufberg
There’s a line in a Merle Haggard song that goes, “It takes a special breed to be a truck drivin’ man.” I wanted to know what exactly that meant, so I ended up driving 2,668 miles with one to find out.
There is a shortage of truck drivers in this country: according to the American Trucking Association, the US is in need of more than 35,000 drivers. There are many foreign workers coming over to fill those slots; some 16% of those behind the wheel are foreign-born. But the industry is having trouble attracting young workers, especially women: only 6% of truckers are female. It’s difficult to lead an active and healthy lifestyle when you live your life on the road.
But what about the romance? The Grateful Dead, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Red Sovine: they’ve all sung about the life of truckers and the lure of the open road. In song, truckers are, in many ways, modern-day cowboys, their families left behind, facing difficult, dangerous roads. Leather saddles have just been traded in for leather seats.
Just like a roaming cowboy, Ron Bartoli is almost never home. He sleeps in the back of his truck. In the dead of winter, he’ll leave the engine running overnight so he doesn’t freeze to death. If it’s a cool summer night, he’ll crack his windows and kill the engine. Ron doesn’t like to let his truck idle. It wastes fuel, about a gallon an hour. He prefers to sleep at truck stops that are busy, big, and well lit. Better for safety reasons. Prostitution is rampant in some of the smaller operations. There are times he’ll get a knock on his door every half hour, each time from a different lot lizard.
To read the rest of Russ’s article click here.