A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

So what’s your story, Driver?  Why did you choose trucking(or did trucking choose you)?  How did you get started?  Was it truck driving school or did Dad or Uncle Joe teach you(against your mom’s wishes)?  Maybe you grew up playing in the shop of your grandpa’s trucking company and becoming a driver was just expected of you.  Or maybe you were like me.  I worked at a farm supply company just outside of town after graduating from high school and one day they needed me to drive the truck because the old man who usually drove it was getting to where he wouldn’t drive at night anymore and my boss really needed that load of liquid fertilizer first thing in the morning.  I never kept it a secret that I wanted to drive someday but never expected to be given the chance so soon.  Yeah, my first trip in a truck was not only solo, but pulling a tanker!  Now, I had been driving the dry fertilizer spreader truck for a couple of months and I was mildly competent at shifting a 10 speed transmission,  but I had never driven something that big down the highway before and I had certainly never driven a liquid tanker before.  Thankfully I didn’t have to go through any major cities to get there.  I DIDN’T EVEN POSSESS A CDL!!!  It was definitely one of the scariest, yet most awesome days of my 19 year-old life.  I had wanted to be a truck driver ever since I could say the word truck.  My dad drove trucks when I was very young and I had visions of being a trucker.  The fertilizer terminal that I was loading at was about 75 miles away so the whole round trip only lasted about 3 hours but it seemed like it lasted all day and that’s all it took to hook me.  So my first driving gig was in a 1977 International 4070B cabover with a worn out 350 Cummins, 9 speed, no A/C, no power steering, and no radio. first truck I got my intrastate CDL shortly after that “bootleg” trip and became the regular driver from then on for the next year until I got a “real trucking job” driving for an actual trucking company.

So go back in your mind to that time when trucking became a reality for you and give us all the details.  You know we all love to hear a good story so let us reminisce with you.

Safe travels,

Todd

P.S.  I’m trying to get more constistent with regular postings so just continue to be patient with me.  Talk to you soon.

Brrrrrr!

I don’t know about you driver, but I’m cold!  Just makes me want to tie Al Gore to an elm tree using 100% hemp rope in his GMO-free cotton underwear and ask him, “How’s that global warming workin’ out for you now?”  As I’m typing this, it’s 26°F in my tiny town of Shiner, TX.  The hood of my Pete is covered in ice, the steps to my porch are covered in ice and every bare patch in the yard is, you guessed it, covered in ice!!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m sure all of you that live north of the Red River are laughing and saying things like, “Aw, you don’t know what cold is!”(of course, you probably wouldn’t be saying “Aw” because that’s a southern thing).  And you would be right!  I don’t know what cold is, and I don’t WANT to know what cold is.  It’s one of the very reasons that I’ve never moved away from here.  Of course, my struggle is inversely related to a phenomenon that generally occurs in July and August when we have to listen to you Yankees complaining that it got up to 91° in Logansport, IN.  As southerners, we are required by unwritten law to declare with boldness and a smile, “Heck, you boys don’t know what hot is!”  I mean, we put sand on the roads down here too, but that’s to keep the tar from coming up through the asphault during the summer.  The fact is, we are all ill-prepared to operate in temperatures outside what we consider to be the norm for our area.  In the south, we don’t have snow plows and de-icing equipment in quantities large enough to be effective during weather events like what we’re experiencing today.  Consequently, during the summertime we often hear reports on the news of how many people have died in Chicago during the recent heat wave because many homes and apartments up north don’t have air conditioning and although it’s known as the “Windy City”, we all know that a breeze during the dead of summer in the heart of the inner city is hard to come by.

So, how are you spending this “snow day” as a driver?  Did you make it home before the weather hit? Are you stuck at a truckstop or rest area, waiting for the interstate to thaw out?  Hopefully, you’re not that young driving school graduate who’s lived in Minneapolis all of his or her life driving in blizzards on snow-packed roads every winter and you just don’t see why everyone is shut down.  Heck, you’re gonna make your dispatcher proud and get that load to that warehouse on time even if it kills you.  Driver, you are in the south today, and that’s not snow you’re driving on, that’s ice and IT WILL KILL YOU!!!!!  Besides, there’s no one at the warehouse.  They sent everyone home yesterday and they won’t open back up until noon tomorrow.

Thankfully, the company I’m leased to left it up to us to decide whether we wanted to try and keep working and we all(all 4 of us) made a bee-line for the house. So stay warm, stay dry and above all else, stay safe.  God speed, driver.

Todd

Happy Veteran’s Day!

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, trucker or not, that have served in any capacity in our nation’s armed forces.  On this day, I especially want to thank those veterans who served during a time of conflict or war to ensure the safety of American citizens and to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

 I don’t care what branch you served in, whether you were drafted or joined voluntarily, or even if you never saw the battle field, the fact that you sacrificed your free will to protect mine and that of my family makes you a hero in my book.  It does not matter to me in what capacity you served either.  Maybe you were a desk clerk, maybe you were infantry, maybe you were a cook, maybe you were special forces.  You went through basic, graduated and the armed services trained you and gave you responsibilities that helped to ensure the continued success and functionality of the military as a whole.

I never served in the military but I have many family members who have.  My grandfather served in WWII, I have uncles that served in Korea and Vietnam, and I have a cousin that served two tours in Iraq.  Since this is a trucking blog, I would like to honor my truck driving, veteran family members today.

  First, my uncle Bobby Brown, who served in the US Army in Vietnam.  I don’t know much about his service because I’ve rarely heard him speak about it.  He became an owner operator after leaving the service and as far as I know, the 1968 White Western Star that you see pictured with him is the only truck he’s ever owned.  He bought the truck from a junk yard, rebuilt the whole truck and slowly over the years made it into what you see now.  It has the original 290 Cummins engine and although I think it has a 13 speed tranny now, when I was younger, it had a 5×4.  For those that don’t know what that is, basically, it had two shifters coming out of the floor board, one 5 speed and one 4 speed.  To watch someone shift one of those is like watching a choreographed dance.  In other words, he got skills.  Uncle Bobby also built his own sleeper and has done all the fiberglass, paint and body work on this truck since day one.  He has been retired from trucking for many years now, but still owns the truck and frequently shows up with it at antique truck shows.  Thank you Uncle Bobby for your service.

My wife’s cousin Michael Maeker joined the army after high school and served 2 tours in Iraq and received a Purple Heart before starting his trucking career.  He started driving for USA Truck and liked his trainer so much, he wound up marrying the guy’s daughter (Hi Erin!).  He’s since driven for Arnold Transportation, Marten Transport, and most recently landed a job driving for Wal-Mart out of their Bentonville, AR terminal.  Here’s Michael pictured between my wife and I, on one of his visits while passing through.  I’d like to think that I had a little bit of influence on his career choice after the military.  When Mike was just 8 or 9 years old, I would take him with me for weeks at a time during the summer.  That boy ate a many of happy meals sitting on the doghouse of that old ’84 International 9370.  I love that young man like my own son.  Thank you Michael for your service to our country.

And to all service men and women who have served and continue to serve today, Thank you and God bless.

 

What are the CDL Chronicles?

Hey there!

Welcome to “The CDL Chronicles.”  I am here to share my thoughts and experiences as a second generation truck driver with 25+ years of good and bad trips, victories and failures, and joys and sorrows.  As this blog grows, develops and evolves, we will talk about life experiences, tall-tales, close calls and just about anything else that I feel might interest you or me, as it relates to trucking because that’s what I know.  From the time I was just a boy, all I ever wanted to be was a truck driver.  That’s what my dad did for a living and he was my hero.

I remember going with my Mom to pick Dad up at his terminal in Houston and just being fascinated by the Peterbilt cabovers that lined the parking area.  He drove for Coca Cola foods division in the mid and late 70’s and hauled Maryland Club Coffee across the nation.  Every now and then, he would get a run up to Ft. Worth and since my grandparents lived there, the whole family would make a long weekend of it.  I would ride with dad in the truck (it was against company policy, so don’t tell anyone!) and mom and my younger brothers would follow in the station wagon.  I was instantly addicted to the sweet smell of high-sulfur diesel exhaust and the low rumble of that 350 Cummins Big Cam engine.

I’ve been on this planet for over 45 years now, with a good portion of that time spent behind the wheel of a truck and hopefully, by sharing my knowledge and experience(good and bad), you will be encouraged, entertained and better prepared for your own journey in the trucking industry.  From CB’s to cell phones, Cats to Cummins, log books to long hoods we will cover it all at some point.  So thanks for stopping in and I look forward to hearing from you.  Until then…

Safe travels driver,

Todd