I get asked all the time how I got started in Trucking. Well, it is not a dramatic story or anything like that but here goes.
In the spring of 1988 I was just a kid, 20 years old, and the night manager of an Arby's. The Arby's at Torrence and I-94 in Lansing, IL if anyone is in the area. I was making $4.35/hr which was a dollar over minimum for being the manager. So, that is not great money even then and I was always broke. I had a second part time job at Sears in River Oaks Mall to help with the cash flow but it seemed I was always working. I would come home and see these commercials on TV advertising truck school. How much money you could make and see the country. I like to drive and this seemed like it would be a good fit. I went over to Professional Truck Driver Training School to see what it was all about. It turns out you could get your license in just 3 weeks! I borrowed $500 from my Grandfather as the down payment and they financed the other $1095. This was the middle of June 1988. I had not even turned 21 yet but would before the school ended. In three weeks I had my Illinois Class D license (no CDL yet) and off I went. We tested on Thursday of week three so if you failed you could retest on Friday. I passed as most did. On Monday I started my new job in Chicago as a local driver at a small place called Economy Transport. 2 semis and 2 straight trucks. The semi I usually drove was a GMC Brigadier single axle with a 5+2 transmission. It had an electronically controlled 2 speed rear end. If the loads got too heavy there was also a Ford 9000 daycab tandem axle. It had a front brake limiting valve which I will get into in another blog. No training, right to work first day making stops in Chicago. That job paid $250/wk salary and I worked about 40-45 hours a week. I eventually moved to Chicago where I rented a room for $45/wk from a nice old lady who told me not to look at anyone sitting on their porches because there were gangs and they might kill me. Nice. I did this for some months until the urge to hit the road got the better of me. This is why I am not sure about all the training people are pushing. I had no training at all as many "older" drivers and although it was scary, I had no accidents. Coming soon I will go into my time on the road.
See you on the road!
Hi! Welcome. I'm Mark and I've been a professional truck driver for over 33 years, the last 19 years at the same company. It is time that drivers got paid for every minute that we work and we are treated like the licensed professionals we are.