Life as a truckers wife SUCKS! 23 years now. And the pay is even WORSE!
by Just call me D
(On the road, as usual)
I think that a lot of emphasis needs to be made on the "LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE compared to hours actually worked" I've read in numerous places that the "average" over the road (otr) salary is roughly $30,000 per year.
Sounds decent? Well, after one calculates ALL the hours worked, it breaks down to about SIX DOLLARS per hour. An otr driver basically has to GIVE UP their relationship, family, basically their LIFE for 2-4 weeks at a time (or more) and go from being a part of their family's lives to JUST A VISITOR.
It's not hard to understand why the turnover rate is 128% and the divorce rate amongst otr truckers is in the high 90's. It's not just a job, it's a LIFESTYLE and a tough one at that. It's NOT for everyone and has certainly NEVER been for ME.
The ONLY time my husband EVER made decent money was in local driving, either getting paid by the trip, or by the hour for all hours worked. But unfortunately he's has too many years worth of otr stints too, and my income only provided what he lacked, not extra income (which we needed.)
After many years of him going back and forth between local and otr and my losing my decent job due to the company going out of business and after the local company he worked at for several years went out of business he found the 1st job he could find, which was over the road, of course. And which he (we) are currently having to do right now.
It didn't take long to be FORCED into LIVING in the truck for the past 3 years. His average pay for actual hours worked last year was about $7.00 an hour and $6.00 an hour the year before.
Although we may still be "together", 34 years now, we have NO relationship. It has basically ruined my marriage, caused him to miss most of our children's childhood, caused me depression and chronic headaches due to continually clenching my teeth because of constant stress, I felt like a single parent (which I pretty much WAS when he was gone), caused lots of evictions, vehicle repossessions, loss of personal items to pawn shops, and totally destroyed both of our credit.
Did I mention destroying our relationship too? When two people continually grow APART they GROW APART. His "visits" while doing his otr thing were pretty much a day and a half to two days to catch up on paperwork, rest, play on the computer, etc.
No quality time, no quantity time, he was too tired to do anything.
He was focused and driven to be a good provider. But being a “provider” isn’t all about money, it’s also about “providing” love, attention, support, inspiration, compassion and guidance.
It's about PRESENCE, not presents.
Unfortunately his over the road driving career (16 of the 23 years) provided neither. He was gone for a week or more for 2/3 of his driving career and half of our "marriage".
I have a lot of bitterness, anger, and resentment. I regret him ever getting into this occupation and LEAVING his life and family for the trucking lifestyle.
Over the years I've tried to get him to DO THE MATH (as I did very, very early on) but in the beginning it was all new and exciting and fun for him.
He never even looked at his paycheck. I was the one to go pick it up each week and kept trying to tell him "IT'S NOT WORTH IT! I think diesel fluid runs through his veins and he didn't/doesn't seem to want to open his eyes to how things REALLY are. He busts his ass. He SHOULD be making a good living, right?
He is a very experienced driver (23 years) with an excellent driving history. He works very hard, I know that. Most definitely too hard for the little pay he receives in return.
I just wish those who train people to get their cdl's would inform them (and the people who are left behind rooting for the new driver) how things REALLY are, but then again those schools, companies, etc. are raking in the dough and probably laughing all the way to the bank.
128% turnover rate, High 90's % divorce rate, less than minimum wage pay, but listen to or read any advertisement for trucking and they seem to romanticize the lifestyle.
I personally see nothing romantic about sitting behind the wheel (or in the passenger seat in my case), driving all hours of the day or night, the stress of deadlines, traffic, etc. having zero schedule, sitting in loading docks for hours on end, and everything else that goes along with trucking for about 98 hours a week, having constant back pain, leg pain, hip pain (and also swollen feet and ankles in my case,) getting zero exercise, having to pee in a jug (or bucket) while rolling because you can't afford to take the time to stop, (especially after having to sit for 3 - 5 or more hours getting loaded.
There's a deadline ((and you just lost those hours sitting at the customer)) you CANNOT STOP), having to park in truck stops that could very well be called ski slopes. (No, there are no levelers on the bunks. Whatever angle you have to park at is the angle you have to TRY to sleep at, the cab facing downward and sideways so that you literally almost roll out of it is the most fun - great on the back and hips too).
Eating mostly fast food or junk food because you don't have time to stop and get healthy food or simply cannot afford healthy food. (Although every few days you may be able to find time to stop at an expensive all you can eat truck stop buffet and overeat because by then you haven't had anything but snacks for several days and are dizzy from hunger for something that resembles real food, which some places DO HAVE).
After about 2 weeks all the highways, trees, and loading docks pretty much look the same. There are a LOT of trucks on the road and I'm sure to many the lifestyle may be worth it. But in the 3 years I've now spent in a truck I've never seen anything romantic (or enjoyable) or worth it, about it.
In my case there is no QUALITY of life - It's barely an existence. And the drivers I've run into all seem to have the same complaints. No money and can't get home are the top 2.
I haven't seen any load or any job yet that I'd give up my marriage, my family, my health, and my life for, especially at a lousy $6, $7, $9 an hour, etc.
McDonald's workers are wanting a pay increase to $15 hr because workers cannot afford to support a family on minimum wage.
Maybe if enough hard working, low paid drivers all get together and raise enough hell things may change for them in the near future.
They (and their families) have to GIVE UP and LOSE A LOT, to get VERY LITTLE in return.
Nothing CHANGES if NOTHING changes!