Steve Duffer III died on I-79 in West Virginia, just north of Meadowdale. A homemade memorial dedicated to his memory is perched on the hill beside the highway. It’s legible even from a passing trucker’s vantage point.
Each time I drive by the memorial, I quickly read the name and return my eyes to the road. For some reason I can’t recall much else about the memorial besides the dedication. I think it’s a white wooden cross that’s been hammered into the ground.
Research on Mr. Duffer’s death reveals a tragedy. He died in February 2007 when his southbound red Nissan Frontier pickup crossed the meridian on Jennings Randolph Expressway (what I-79 is named in West Virginia) and hit a tractor trailer.
The 2001 Mack tractor trailer in the northbound lanes was running out of Hickory, North Carolina – where I have picked up and delivered numerous times in my nine months as a truck driver. Continue reading →
Somewhere on a mountain highway in Virginia or West Virginia
Driving along I-77 in West Virginia and Virginia can be riveting. The green mountain scenery is astonishing, the air is fresh and cool, the highway curves are long and well-marked and there are several well-maintained roadside rest areas. As a rookie truck driver, I can see that stretches like this are what driving a tractor-trailer is all about.
While many friends and former coworkers are nestled in restrictive office cubicles, I’m out on the open road, enjoying the vistas while maintaining good speed and keeping a cautious watch for bad or distracted drivers … in cars, small trucks, motorcycles and even other tractor-trailers.
Eager for Enjoyment
I’ve been driving on my own for over six months now. Each week I head to North and South Carolina to drop off and pick up an interesting array of goods, including machinery, auto parts, clothes and toys. In this time, I’ve found there’s one thing that sticks with me and comes second only to safety: the desire to enjoy this career and all its trappings. Continue reading →
This is a reminder to me, to make everyone feel safe when I’m driving.
A Test of Patience
Damn all of the tests and exams I did in high school, university and college. Yes, I graduated from all three institutions. In doing so, I succumbed to the opinions and whims of many teachers, professors and instructors.
You want to know what’s the most damning? Look where all that learning and eternal quizzing got me: a career path that’s disheveled and endlessly discouraging. Sometimes I long to live out the rest of my years on an Nepalese mountainside, actively practicing Buddhism. This past summer, I decided on a career path that’s designed to rescue me from visions of eternal career failure. Guess what I unwittingly pitted myself against? That’s right: more tests and exams.
In the truck driving business, you get trained to get tested. Yeah, I realize life in general is like that. But for the longest time I was evaluated on the type of work I was very good at: writing and relating. Continue reading →
How do you go from digital journalism to long distance truck driving? This isn’t a riddle; for me it’s my disjointed career path in progress.
In 2011 I was content in my work at CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I was part of a great team producing a fantastic project, the CBC Digital Archives website. The site is a treasure trove of Canadian historical content through the eyes of the national broadcaster. I’ve never had a better job or worked with better people. Then cuts to the team hit me and I got moved to the post production department. I did well but was never a good fit. Then in late 2012 the entire department was eliminated. That was that for my CBC years.
What came next started with hope and optimism. I applied crazily for jobs and started to build an online presence with a simple LinkedIn profile. Then slowly, throughout long weeks and months, I was hit with brutal reality. The world of journalism – and digital communications – was in a perpetual state of chaos. There was little room for an experienced and skilled worker who demanded reasonable pay and benefits.
The four years that followed would lead us to about now. I can’t easily condense the heartache and disappointment that I’ve endured into one short blog article, so I’ll try to summarize. You might be amazed if I told you the combined number of jobs I applied for, interviews I had for jobs that didn’t fit my skills and experience, networking meetings I attended, emails and letters I sent and responded to, resume and LinkedIn profile revisions I did, former colleagues I spoke with about my plight, politicians I contacted about said plight, job search programs I completed, counselors and therapists and doctors I consulted about losing hope in my life, freelance projects that I did and hated, freelance projects that I tried in vain to get and wasted a lot of time trying, one four-month contract that proved slightly fruitful and not too painful, and (whew!) number of hours I spent running and working out just trying to keep my sanity intact. Continue reading →