After driving locally in Chicago for a few months I had gotten a raise to $275/wk salary but I just wanted more. I wanted to see the country and be on the road. You know, like that guy with the monkey. I started getting the Sunday Hammond Times and the Chicago Tribune. I found this place called Regal Transportation in the want ads and they were located in far north Hammond, Indiana near the skyway. The was a flatbed OTR company that mainly concentrated on loads east of the Mississippi river. I did get a longer load from them but I will get to that later. I applied and was accepted. I sadly departed my local job at Economy Transport and moved out of my room at the rooming house. I was now going to be a "real" trucker!
Starting at Regal if you had no flatbed experience like me you had to do a week of local work with an experienced driver. This consisted of taking loads to the steel mills in Chicago, getting unloaded and then reloading loads that were heading out and dropping them in the yard in Hammond for OTR drivers. The local trucks were GMC Astros. Like driving a fishbowl around. Still, it was trucking with a sleeper. A couple of days we stayed in Chicago loading and strapping and chaining and tarping. It was actually good experience for what was to come. That Friday I got assigned a KW T600 with a 36 inch sit-in sleeper and a load to Chattanooga for Monday. It was in the yard and it was a load that I had brought down. The local week was unlogged. That would not happen today. I think I made $400 that week locally. I could not believe how much money I was making! The road paid 23% if I remember back that far. Empty miles paid 23% of 0. I left Sunday to Tennessee with a Radio Shack 23 channel CB, a paper motor carriers road atlas and a desire to see the country.
Delivery went smooth, no problems. Steel plates went down there and you almost always got a load at US Pipe coming back to Chicago. Pipes were not tarped so that was also nice. Regal had the chains welded to the rub rails so no one could steal them. This also was annoying as you could not use them in the places you might need and could not use the amount of them you might want to use.
The KW T600 had recently come out and was very futuristic looking at the time. They had max speed set at 61 which was very annoying and would be annoying today also. No APU yet, it was 1988. The truck would idle all night no problem. These were 9-speed trucks with maybe 350hp. NO jakes! Monteagle was very fun my first few times as I had no experience and no training on hills at all.
During my time at Regal I got to travel through most of the eastern states, unfortunately. One day I called in and they had a special load for me, if I wanted it. It would take me to the edge of the world and I will have more on that in another installment.
See you on the road!
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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.