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I am proud to be a professional lorry driver. It is much more than a mere career or profession but a way of life, I consider myself a Highway Knight, and that is not something to take lightly as a man cannot merely punch out with a time clock and go home, but it is the way one lives and carries himself 24-7-365. I haul over the road freight. I have hauled steel, I have hauled Autos, and I have hauled jars of pickles. A real trucker has seen it all and hauled it all. I am proud to be a trucker and I am damn proud to belong to the Teamsters Trade Union, a proud member of the AFL-CIO, and America's largest union. I have worked for brokers, I have driven for companies and I have been an owner operator. I have spent 31 years behind the wheel of that big 18 wheeler. Right now I haul Autos for Honda out of Marysville Ohio to Buffalo New York. It is the best job in the industry and it pays $1.10 per mile. Although working for this firm I can not forge my log books and drive 36 hours straight as I prefer and I am subject to numerous intrusive drug screenings that greatly interfere with my personal life and recreation, I still love it. So what do I do? What are my qualifications? See driving that great big 18 wheeler, it ain't like driving no car. You think that handling 110,000 pounds is like, oops you limeys are into that Metric micrometers and stuff, you think handling 50,000 Kg is like putting around town in your Vauxhall, its not. You gotta be alert and aware the whole time, you have to watch for pigs and for other drivers who don't know the rules of the road. I have to be able to look at a car and tell right away if it is an old person who may be blind and apt to go slow, or if it is some young kid who may be reckless, or some aggressive yuppie trying to talk on two cell phones and shave at the same time. All these people working for the automobile companies doing demographic research ought to just ask me who drives what kin d of car because I can tell who is any car from 500 metres away. I perservere through heat waves and sleet and snow, I don't break stride for rain or thunderstorms or even tornados. The freight gets there on time. Don't get me wrong, I am old school, I am a Knight of the road, if I see a stranded motorist I at the least call the pigs on my cell phone, but usually I am in contact on my Citizens band Radio with like minded KotR and let the guy behind me know what is coming and he can pull over. I change ten tyres a week for people, and not just the hot men and women that I would like to accept a gratuity from in the sleeper portion of my cab, I help everyone. Truckers get a bad rap and I do my best to dispell the notions and misconceptions about us. When I am working as an owner operator I pick up hitch hikers and I don't always tell them "Gas, grass or ass, nobody rides for free" I help people with directions as I can get you anywheres in America without looking at an atlas. I have my cell phone number airbrushed on my cab and it says, "Need help call me". The public misunderstands truckers. We get blamed for a lot of accidents and stuff and it isn't right. The police single us out and try to trap us. Now we have onboard computers that keep track of our speed, time and even RPMs and they have a hard time giving us tickets but they try. One time for instance I was making a delivery and asked on the CB if anybody knew how to get to the plant I was headed to and a guy came on a gave me instructions and when I followed them I ended up on a small road and a cruiser was waiting for me, with a $14,000 ticket for being over weight for that road. That is a lot of money. It is hard to say what a typical trucker makes. A lot of guys start out with a company making anywheres from 21 cents to 20 cents per mile and can go up to 42 cents per mile, you don't get rich driving for someone else. To make money y ou need to own your own rig which will set you back at least $70,000 upwards to $150,000 but you'll get two million miles out of it if you keep paying $370 for oil cahnges and $400 tyres. So a busy driver makes around $40,000 to $140,000 per year. I did better than that one year but I was hauling marijuana wine from Arkansas to New Jersey so that doesn't count. I tell you what, the industry is going to hell. It used to be that a man would not turn a wheel for less than $1.50 per mile gross, now you go into the truck stop and watch the broker board (it is like the screens at the airport but it shows consignments nationwide and where the load originates, goes and what it pays) and you see people offering 75 cents a mile. It is terrible. What has happened is a bunch of illiterate immigrants have got into the industry. It is common to get out at a truck stop and see a paki family living in a rig, seriously, a guy with a wife and three kids living in a truck travelling the country. They come over here and work as indentured help for a truck owner getting 25% of the gross and they will undercut all of us. I ask you this, who do you want driving a huge truck in the mountains while you are out there a good family man like myself who has two years of high school and went to one of the best truck driving academies in america or some guy who can't read and write and has to contend with a wife and eight kids yelling at him in his rig? I don't just do this job because I like riding my truck across this great country. I do it because the trucker lifestyle always appealed to me. I am able to play family man but I am always on the road and can live as I please. For instance, on the road, like 80% of the other truckers I am openly gay. It is lik eour own world that belongs to us. It is so nice that in our lifestyle that I can openly assume that my colleagues are openly gay. Anywhere else I worked it took a long time to figure out who else was in the family, but on the road you just know that everybody is in the scene. It saves a lot of money too. For instance some lines will mostly make you sleep in your cab but like every 3rd night they pay for a hotel. Now say I am driving 600 miles a day do you think it is hard to find a guy that gets a room that night to bunk with? I also like the showers at the truck stops. It used to be that most truck stops had private stalls. Now there are just wide open shower galleries and if they do have private stalls the proprietors usually have cut holes in the walls although to brag a bit I'll tell you they don't know me when they use that small drill bit they all use. I eat like a king every day too. If you want to find good eatins in America go to a place where you see abunch of trucks parked. Unlike most you pukes a trucker doesn't need to get on dooyoo to get an opinion from a peer, if some place gives me a stale bun with my triple decker bacon burger I tell everyone about it, I mean what else do you have to do but play on the radio. And if I need to eat I get on teh CB and ask, "Any body know a good place to eat near Abilene" and then I follow the concensus. Another aspect of the road life is lot lizards. Lots of troubled women mistakenly believe us truckers will want to pay them money for sex and hang out at truck stops offering their bodies for rides and money. They don't catch on to what us boys really like but if a guy had the congenital tragedy of being born straight he can buy a cheap broad. The cops seem to harass them too much, y'know the drill shaking them down to get a freebie.