I always get a kick out of listening and learning of the history of trucking from the drivers, owners, managers, dispatchers, and mechanics that were operating before my time. Yes, there are a few around.
I am always listening to the clues, and how the mentality of the industry was prior to the current status.
I remember watching a gallon of diesel being sold for .76 cents per gallon, that was the cheapest I have seen–definitively before my driving career started.
However, the strangest thing of realization, was the fact that the rates have stayed almost identical to what the carriers of the past, were making…….I know, I can account for my father writing several checks to his drivers week over week, for $2500 worth of income that the driver earned…..yeah, there may have been some log book fudging, and pushing of the limits………however, consistently, without accidents, tickets, or damages, pulling containers out of the Georgia Port Authority……….The cheapest freight to pull……for the bulk averages of any freight……..
This was back during the 10/8 Rules prior to the recent changes.
Neither here, nor there.
So I had a few great uncles, that owned a few carriers, and still operated the Old Paper and Pen method, with a simple telephone. Yep, up through the early 2000’s….I know weird…….but they made money! In business over 20 yrs. They had one, maybe 2 dispatchers, for I believe 35+ trucks. Pen and paper.
When I was still wet behind my ears, at 17-18 yrs old, I got an opportunity to talk business with them, and I remember their stories.
“Well, ……, today is a bit tougher, more regulation to follow each year. However, One thing stays the same, all you need is a pen, paper, a telephone, some way to fax paperwork, and a directory of either Brokers, Shippers, or Combo…….Can you make money? Yes; Yes you can! You can provide a good life, stable,and because the trucking business ain’t going away anytime soon–opportunity is still available
…..bout the only industry that won’t or will ever stop.
Get one customer outbound, that will reload every truck you get to him, and then just find something coming back……is it that easy!
Like your momma and daddy will tell you; and knowing your Grandparents on both sides of the family would say, “Ain’t nothing in life easy, simple, or any less complex, if it was; I would have been gone out of this business a long time ago cause everyone would do it.”
You got a lot to learn, but the trucking industry is good to you if you are good to it……………” stated in his country accent, with passion of past driving, almost watching the trucks pass each other down the highway as he is callin’ the other driver on the CB…….”Come on over Dry Van, you’re clear of me, and ya’ got a Hot-wheel on your backdoor very close.”
My Great Aunt brokered freight for years after my great uncle retired, and closed their trucking company. I remember seeing her, dialing numbers on the touch phone, that she used in the office, that looked like a rotary phone, but with buttons………She would have drivers, and other business owners, call her to get them loads for their trucks, because she got paid more than they did at the same company; but you know that is what happens when you had 25-30 years in the business. Even after paying her, they still cleared more net…………from her freight, with their customers, that they both pulled for…….Stacks and stacks of bills, with weight tickets, and invoicing sheets, ensuring all loads and paperwork were there for the week so everyone can get paid. Everyone got great service, because not one of the driver’s would have let the owner’s down, because most had been with them a long time.
I remember asking her one time when they sold the trucks, and they had this Green Day Cab, that I loved. I always remember that one truck, I don’t know what it was….It upset me when I heard that it was sold…..first time, I seen her without any trucks, and she was steady going on the phone, doing paperwork, agreeing to take a load with no trucks…….”How are you doing loads with no trucks? I am brokering the freight, from my customers, and letting other trucks move them.” It was pretty close to the time they sold that green day cab.– For Some reason I think it was a daycab Pete.
The industry was less regulated, sure. Yes, my dad has told me some driver stories, of how he was so tired on a load, he pulled into the truck-stop, parked, and woke up, 6 hours later, in the driver’s seat. Waking up, thinking he fell asleep, Looking at the back of the trailer in front of the truck. Grabbing hold of the steering wheel with both hands, slamming his feet on the brakes! Reaching and trying to pull the Dash Release to engage the parking brake on both with one hand, while slamming his foot on the pedal. That one touch probably kept him from having a heart attack right there..
3 Stick Mack’s; can’t drive those…..Nope, not me……..Don’t want nothing to do with holding the steering wheel with your arm and changing gears with both hands. Not gonna happen. I would tell you to kiss my ass! I would drive anything, it does not matter I am an equal opportunity operator……but that three stick Mack, nope, not for me…..Only seen a few, and tried to drive one then realized they just asked me to hold a steering wheel that if it blows, without power steering, that my arm would be at the wheels mercy, —No, no, Not for me. Ever seen what metal steering wheel will do to your arm, if that ever happened? I have blown some tires, without power steering on a truck. Just say, that that metal could do some damage. It would not be fun.
I can remember being in the truck repair shop, since I was a baby. Big trucks always had big shops. My uncle was the first one to let me do a big truck tire, take off. My uncle is 6’3, I believe….I think, I may have been 5 years old. He brought me the 1″ Impact made me push against the tires with my shoulders, when I pull the trigger, cause that tire can pop free, and knock me with this 1″ impact gun, and two tires that were needing removed; into the wall behind me…..
What do I do? I grab the handle and take the tires off….picking up and down and putting the impact and sockets on the tires…My Uncle stating, “now don’t tear up my impact gun.” Like I was going to damage his airgun that is larger that I was………He would hand me a wire stripper, and send me to go see about trailer and truck lights drivers said would not work, cause I would go out and fix the wires. Make the light work. Knowing the driver never pulled the damn light out to even check. Regrooving tires, with the hand iron.
During the 80’s International had a cabover that made them a fortune. These cabovers, were very popular. They sold them every damn where. Walmart had a fleet, I want to say the post office ran them, They were hot, Cabovers. I can remember riding in the mountains with my dad watching sparks come off the steel wheels with the steel wheel locks. Watching as the sparks would light up the guardrail from the mountain roads at night.
Dad would drive and watch me stare out the passenger window all night watching the mirror and trying to look out the window toward the trailer axles cause he was turning toward my side on those dark, two lane, up and down mountain roads out of Tennessee, us heading south back to our little backwoods town where we lived. I can still see his face gleaming over out of joy, as he watch us (my lil’ brother and I) be amazed and enjoying our time with Dad.
Back when I was 12, a gentleman by the name of Earl was the first one to let me drive around the shop, without any assistance. He thought it would be funny to watch Dad and Uncle Kim’s face as I drive his bright and shiny Black Pete that he drove. Even the nostalgia of that brand new –I thought–Pete was beautiful…Shiny with chrome, glistening—Never dirty cause I would always be willing to wash that one when he got there for the weekend. I think at that point he was hauling some kind of medical outfit around the country, minimum mileage and maximum pay….Earl was always that quick on his feet type.
So, he said to me he was gonna drive around and let me wash his truck over on the side of the building. I asked– like normal– to ride with him, since I was gonna be washing that beauty…..Dad and my uncle were the Value buyers, not the nostalgia buyers, or as they said–that name don’t make me anymore money- but costs 1/2 the price more. Yeah they look nice, but looking nice don’t pay these bills…..I think they had 17 trucks then. If not, they were pretty damn close.
Anyway– Walking out the bay doors out from of the shop with Earl, he looked at me and said, “you wanna drive?” Dumbfounded—I had to question. I said, “daddy won’t even let me drive these–anything else yeah–but these—-pausing—— he won’t let me even around the shop…..
Earl was like, “I know, that is why I am gonna get a kick out of watching his face as you drive by….” He was obviously more confident in my potential abilities than I.
However, I was gonna take that one–first time without anyone–Earl said, “You been around them long enough, and I know you know what to do- don’t worry I’ll walk you through it. “but, when we go by that shop, and they see you-act like no one is with you….”
Alright!! I believe–I popped the clutch- and fouled the first one.
Re-cranking- 2nd gear now- She was moving—around that bay door, my dad pops out and see’s me and can’t see Earl!
Giving me a second or two as I had my eyes on him…..He hollared,” Anyone in there with you!!” As Earl requested, “Nope!” Trying to go about my business at hand, diligently, concentrate–He was about to start running and get on the side step—to guide me–I caught it, before he was gonna try and stop me—
NOT ONE Chance—I hollared, to save my chance, “Joking, just joking, DAD—Earl is over here in passenger seat- I’m taking it to wash her on the side for him!”
He stopped as soon as he started, and let us go without any pause.
Knowing I would be grinning for the rest of the week…..Earl, the whole time still not peeping up–finally knew Dad wouldn’t just take my word, he started waving–laughing and grinning the whole time…….
I think he wore that damn grin and gave Dad shit for weeks—-That’s Earl though…….by