FreightCenter provides truckload shipping services for a variety of customers ranging from small business to enterprise level and even government entities all throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It’s thanks to the men and women truckers that make truckload shipping not only possible, but also efficient and economical.
We sat down to talk with Reese Pichette, an owner-operator truck driver at Hornaday Trucking and one of the 3.5 million truckers that keeps the shelves stocked, to find out what life is REALLY like as a trucker.
What kind of freight do you pick up and what kind of truck do you drive?
Right now, I drive a flatbed that I bought myself. So that means I pick up over-sized type of shipments like heavy machinery, construction materials, and so on—things that would exceed the dimensions of a typical freight truck. When I conduct a pick up I’m getting these huge items onto the flatbed and then making sure they’re secured onto the freight truck properly. Once that’s done, I get to work on covering the item with a tarp to protect it from any sort of external factor like rain, snow, extreme heat, and so on.
Do you drive all over the United States or do you drive a specific lane?
I don’t drive all over the United States typically. I try to pick shipments that are only up and down the east coast so I don’t stray too far from home. The downside to going all the way to the west coast is potentially not having a shipment to take with you on the way back, to make it a profitable drive. So, sticking to the east coast is a safer, more reliable bet for me.
What’s life like on the road?
It’s really not bad. The company I’m with right now is good to me and they even provided me with satellite TV and HBO in the cab so it helps to pass the down time, when I’m not driving. I really try to keep things clean because when you eat, sleep, and live all in this little space, it can get smelly quickly. I stay away from foods with strong smells because I don’t want to stink up the whole cabin so I typically stick to sandwiches with lunch meat when I’m on the road. I also try to get a work out in when I can, but the nature of what I do keeps me fit too. Based on the stereotypes, you wouldn’t think it, but driving a flatbed can keep you in decent shape. When you’re running around trying to secure the freight and then get the tarp over this huge thing to protect it, that’s a work out in itself!
What’s the hardest part of being a trucker?
Surprisingly, the hardest part is not the driving or anything like that, but securing the freight. If it’s not secured properly, it could fall off and that would be on me. If the freight is large enough, it could easily demo the next 15 cars behind me depending on the speed of the trailer at the time. So, it really comes down to making sure I’m taking my time to secure it properly while also still being efficient with my pickups.
What’s one piece of advice you wish other people on the road knew?
I would just ask them for a little more patience and to not get so frustrated with drivers on the road. Trust me, I know it’s frustrating driving behind a trailer that’s going slower than the speed you’re wanting to go. But, it’s for our safety and your safety that we’re not cruising down the highway with this 20-ton piece of equipment on our trailer. There’s a reason for everything we do and it usually comes down to safety. Often drivers will cut me off out of frustration, not realizing how dangerous it is and how hard it would be for my trailer to break fast enough should the driver in front of me slam on their brakes. It really is this huge machine I’m driving and I try to keep that in mind. Without us, you wouldn’t be able to access goods at the store so a little more patience from other drivers could really go a long way.
With all the talk about poor trucker conditions, what’s the one thing you would say could improve these poor conditions?
There are definitely poor conditions out there where truckers are under paid and over worked. I’m really fortunate to work for a company that values and takes care of its truckers. By showing that sort of gratitude for your employees, it’s almost effortless for retaining truckers and bringing in reoccurring business which is always ultimately the end goal. Customers want to work with a happy trucker and it’s up the trucking companies to make sure their employees are happy and well taken care of.