Today, we're continuing our interview with USA Truck driver Darnell Rhodes. Darnell is heading into his 6th month with USA Truck and is off to a great start so far. In this part of our interview, Darnell is going to share his favorite states to drive through, give us some tips on making his truck a home away from home and tell us what the future holds for him with USA Truck.
Q: What are some of your favorite states to travel through? Any cool things you’ve seen out on the road?
A: I’ve seen a lot of the Northeast. Mountains, New York City, Washington D.C… I get to see all those up front. I’ve seen some real nice scenery and crystal clear lakes that you could drink out of without worrying about getting sick. I've seen a whole bunch of stuff you only see on TV. You sit home on the couch and wish you could see it. On the road you get to actually go there. You meet different people and see different lifestyles. New York City was a challenge in itself to drive through though, I’m not going to lie. I enjoyed the sights of New York City...but I did not care for the traffic.
Q: What do you do to make your truck a home away from home?
A: I don’t have any pictures in my truck or anything, but I do have Facebook on my cell phone and that’s how I keep in touch with my family. I have about, 130 to 140 pictures on my Facebook page so whenever I feel homesick, I just go on there and look at pictures. I talk to my family on Facebook or call and talk to them on the phone. You’re going to get homesick out here, especially your first year.
I have a TV that I can kick back and watch in my downtime.
If you don’t want to decorate your truck, at least have a phone with pictures in it that you can look through. It’s a whole lot more organized on a phone.
I base my calls home off my wife’s schedule. She works during the day and can’t have her cell phone with her on the job, so I kind of have a schedule. She’ll call on her lunch break and then when she gets off work I’ll talk to her and my little baby. I guess I have a call schedule, kind of.
I suggest every new driver get a phone plan with unlimited minutes, because you’ll be making a whole lot of phone calls. Calls to customers, dispatchers, staying on the phone with your family, etc. Your phone bill will get very high if you don’t have unlimited minutes. My wife and I will stay on the phone for 3-4 hours every night until she or I go to bed. It feels similar to me being home that way.
Q: What are your truck driving goals for the future?
A: My wife and I talked about it a little. I’m planning on going through a sort of step down program. I’ll spend my first year OTR, then once I get my first year out of the way, I'll try to find a company where I can be home on weekends. Maybe train with this company, but have an agreement that I’d get weekends off. I want to work my way back down so in about 5 years I could be a local driver.
Once you get your experience, you can get a job hauling things people don’t really want to haul like gasoline. You can make like $30 or $40 an hour. You can make more money driving local than being OTR while still getting home every night. Get your experience in, hang in there, then in 2-3 years you can pretty much get whatever job you want.
Be sure to check back for more from Darnell Rhodes on life as a driver with USA Truck!
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