Lee Washington is a USA Truck driver coming up on his 9 month mark with the company. Recently, we had the chance to talk with him about his his experience with Driver Solutions and USA Truck. Over the next week. we're going to share our interview with Lee as he discusses all things trucking. To get started, let's find out why he decided to pursue a truck driving job in the first place.
Q: How has everything been going over the last 9 months?
A: Not too bad. I’m old school – I’m 57 years old and I don’t change jobs just because one little thing isn’t right, know what I mean?
Overall it's been really good, but there's always going to be some things that aren't perfect no matter the company. I’m working to get that year of experience under my belt – that’s the most important part. Once you do that, then you can decide whether to go somewhere else.
It’s been pretty good though overall. I won’t talk bad about the company. Lately I’ve been getting good miles – I just came back from California. The last two weeks I’ve done 3,200 miles so I can’t really complain. I’m of the philosophy that it’s no good to complain anyway, so I don’t do it a whole lot. I love driving and I love traveling. I’ve been traveling since I was a little kid and I’m a military brat, so I’ve been doing it all my life. I tell my dispatcher that I’m a tourist with a fuel card. I just keep going and going and going. My wife was on the truck with me for 6-7 months and it was fabulous. We’ve been going from California to Florida to New Hampshire to Wyoming and Utah... we’ve done some rolling. It’s pretty good, can’t complain.
Q: What made you say, “Ok, time to get into truck driving?”
A: I was at OSU working at a catering company. I’d been in cooking for 25 years. At 50 years old, it started to get difficult loading, unloading, cleaning, etc. Twenty hour days start to wear on an old man! I went to California last summer for a family reunion. I took my granny, my wife and my aunt and I saw that USA Truck symbol. I thought about it a couple years before that but decided against it. Then I saw that truck again and decided I was going to apply because I wanted to get out of the business of food. So I applied, scheduled a time to talk with my recruiter at Driver Solutions, and the rest is history.
Q: Would you say that after 3 or 6 months things start getting easier and you get better routes and miles?
A: Oh yeah, it gets better. I’d say at the 6 month point. In the beginning you’re still trying to take the vehicle in places you can barely get to. Companies expect you to put it in there with no problem, but it gets better as you practice more and more. At around the 6 month range you should have enough confidence to put that truck almost anywhere. Six months is about where everything starts to relax.
Q: What has surprised you the most in this career, good or bad?
A: I am so surprised at how many people will jump in front of you and come to a dead stop at 30-50 miles thinking that I can stop behind them with 80,000 pounds. I am shocked at how stupid people can be in cars. They expect you to wait on them to get past. They shocked the crap out of me on how inconsiderate they can be! That’s definitely the biggest shock of the whole thing so far. That, and how you’ve gotta keep your eye on them. Truckers are quick to get blamed if something goes wrong. If your log book is one iota wrong, you’re outta luck.
The coolest part is that I’m a tourist with a fuel card! I’ve been to more places, seen the Great Lakes… when my wife was with me, we dipped our feet in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and went down to the Gulf. We really had a good time traveling this beautiful country together.
In part 2, Lee tell us all about living life as a married couple on the road. See what he had to say here!
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