Story by Terrah T.
When my first delivery assignment came across the communication device, I was overcome with excitement that I would really have my first OTR driver job, but I was anxious as I geared up and mentally prepared myself for the road ahead. So anxious… that I went the wrong direction.
I was dispatched to Tyler, Texas, to deliver a refrigerated load of empty gelatin capsules. The trip ahead was by myself, with no trainer this time. I left the yard in Lancaster, Texas, and headed towards Tyler… at least I thought so…
Nothing compares to sitting up high, driving on that big open road, and seeing both the countryside and the city. That’s why I wanted to become a truck driver. I enjoyed it so much that I drove for 200 miles before I realized that I had driven in the wrong direction! I was actually in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Tyler Texas was 200 miles in the opposite direction!
Nervous, I found the nearest exit, turned the truck around, and headed for Tyler. Hours later, I finally made it into Tyler, Texas, to my location. A great success for a new truck driver!
Unloading the Truck
I got out of the truck and went in to give the paperwork to receiving. They then gave me a door to back up into. It took me about ten minutes to back into the door as straight as I could.
Before getting unloaded I had to pay the lumper fee, so I sent in a request from my communication device for payment. Dispatch then sent back my confirmation number so that I could pay the lumpers. With the confirmation number in hand, I went to the window in the receiving area and gave it to the receiver clerk who then called in the number to retrieve payment.
Afterwards she relayed to me that it was not the right confirmation number – apparently I had written it down incorrectly. So I head back to the truck to check the number again and write it down. But still, the number was incorrect. So I return to the truck to write it down yet again. I did this quite a few times, going in circles until I decided to slow down and sit still. I took a deep breath and relaxed for a few minutes. Finally the fourth time, I got it right.
The receiving clerk gave me a buzzer to alert me as to when my trailer was unloaded. I went back to the truck and took a nap for about an hour until the buzzer went off and I got the green light to go. After my trailer was unloaded, I pulled out and proceeded to find the nearest truck stop to take a break and put in my availability for dispatch status to receive my next load. My first load was done, and afterwards I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
Overcome the Fear of the Unknown
I realized that much of the anxiety I had was basically just because of the unknown of what it was like to become a truck driver and what was yet to come.
However, after I got out there on my own, I saw that it was nowhere near my preconceived notions of how it would be.
It’s important not to rush things, practice patience, and pace yourself. In implementing this each day, I overcame a lot.
How I perceived and responded to situations made all the difference.
Each thing that seemed as if it was a setback was actually a challenge that I tackled and ended up learning from, which in turn made me stronger and built my confidence in handling the duties of a professional truck driver.
It feels great not sitting in an office or warehouse all day with the same scenery, but being able to work independently and travel at the same time. It didn’t take me long to get used to it, and I actually ended up loving my job as commercial truck driver.
I have learned a lot since my first load over 5 years ago and still have a career as a driver in the trucking industry. I drove OTR for three years and gained plenty of experience in order to eventually get a good-paying local driving position. And through it all, I must say that it is one of the best decisions that I have ever made.