Non-truckers don’t know much about truckers’ relationships with the trucks. They may be a means to an end (income, benefits) or something more personal (family tradition, freedom of the road) or even something else (a safe/familiar place, a companion, an obligation).
What does the truck, whether it’s yours or not, mean to you?
There’s a common joke that goes around amongst those of us that own trucks about being “married to the damn thing” but its more true than people realize. I grew up in a trucking family, 4th generation, and swore I’d never get onto it. That was until I met my uncle’s 1979 Kenworth. The first time I sat in that truck and heard it run was almost as exhilarating as the night I met my wife. Almost.
3 years later I had paid cash for my own truck, a 1978 Peterbilt Cabover. I spent 2 years getting it road ready, every spare minute it seemed. My wife didn’t understand it but she supported it 100%. 6 years ago when I hit the road for the first time in my own truck I was pretty proud. Mission accomplished. Then I lost the transmission halfway to Minnesota first trip. Felt like the first big fight after a honeymoon. My dad brought me a spare transmission and helped me swap it out and ran with me to Minneapolis in case we had more trouble.
And so it began. Seemed like every time I had somewhere to be or a tight deadline that old truck would show me something new, another quirk. It had a personality all its own. It eventually got named “Bad Attitude” because of the constant shenanigans it seemed to pull. I’d learn. Fix the problem. Or correct my own habits and away we would go, delivering every load on time, no matter the conditions or circumstance.
When you put that much time and effort into a dream and a truck you really do end up giving more of yourself to the truck than you do to your spouse it seems. Eventually you get so used to the truck, how it runs, its quirks etc that its more comfortable than home. The steady hum is a comfort. Its stress and worry when its not running right. The satisfaction of making another run or topping a hill when all the newer stuff is parked. You worry when its not with you. You protect it because not only does it provide everything for your family but it is home and a major part of who you are. Its a source of pride pulling into a truck stop or a customer yard knowing you have something few others have or will ever experience.
We only ever missed one load. A Friday in July 2014 when that truck was ripped from our lives because a man couldn’t bare the pain of life and drove his pickup into us at 80 mph. It felt like losing a close friend. All the sacrifices made reduced to a pile of scrap. The time put into it by family and friends wasted.
I kept a few pieces of the truck and saved all my pictures of it. A couple months after the wreck my dad met the original owner who gave me several pictures from when he owned it.
My brother knew how much that old truck meant to me and my family. For Christmas that year he made this wooden plaque for me. Seeing it reduced me to a blubbering mess. To some its just a truck but I loved that old heap regardless of how many times it pitched a fit or drove me up the wall with all its quirks. It was my favorite, my first truck and it can never be replaced.