When it comes to scheduling and time management, there’s one sure thing about trucking. If you want to be a successful trucker, you must have the flexibility of a gymnast without a spine. I can’t think of many jobs that are as demanding. Maybe a tow truck driver or a bail bondsman. Possibly a doctor on call. But people on call aren’t usually required to be available 24/7 forever and ever.

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein [/box]

Take today as an example. We pulled into our company yard yesterday afternoon to put our truck in the shop this morning. The problem comes from the fact that we must vacate the truck while it is being worked on.

As team drivers, The Evil Overlord and I try to stay on a schedule as much as possible. If one of us is sleeping, the other is awake. If you’re the one who’s awake, you’re either driving or keeping busy until you receive your next load. That way someone is always ready to keep the truck moving and the money rolling in. Or in this economy, maybe I should say keep the money “crawling” in. But because of this schedule, The Evil Overlord doesn’t usually go to bed until 5-7 a.m. And that presents a problem when the shop wants your truck at 8 a.m.

She knew this would happen and tried to go to bed earlier, but when you’ve slept all day, you can’t just go back to bed and fall asleep again. So she’s had approximately 2 hours of sleep today and she’s as grumpy as a tiger with a toothache. Furthermore, by the time the truck gets out of the shop it will officially be her turn to drive again. But she’s only had two hours of sleep. So now what?

I’ll tell you what; I’ll be driving. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying that I’m the type of person who is extremely flexible when it comes to when I sleep and how long I can stay awake. The Evil Overlord is. . . well. . . not. I went to bed at midnight last night so when the truck gets out of the shop, I should be crawling into bed. Instead, I’ll be driving for a while.

Whether it’s for a few hours so The Evil Overlord can get a nap, or all night is entirely up to how long she can safely drive. If she decides to sleep her full 10 hour break, then our schedule will be completely out of whack, meaning she will be driving during the daylight. And she hates that as much as she hates sitting on a wet toilet seat (it wasn’t me. . . I swear!). Now legally, I haven’t driven since noon yesterday, so my log book says I can drive my full 11 hours before I need a 10 hour break, but I will have been awake all day too. What to do?

As for solo drivers, it’s even worse. When you drive by yourself, you never know when you’re next load will be coming. That is one of the things that I didn’t really care for when I drove solo. I could drive all day to my delivery, get my 10 hour break in and be rested and ready to roll.  Then they tell me that my next load picks up 12 hours later. Now what? There’s a better chance of my cat learning algebra than there is of me falling asleep anytime soon. But after 12 hours, my body is telling itself to get ready for bed. So you can see why it takes some flexibility to drive a truck. Some people have it, some don’t. If you don’t, you better find a co-driver that does.

People in the media love to complain about tired truckers. And I love to complain about them. How about we tell them that they have to work another full shift just five or six hours after their regular shift is over? How happy would they be? Probably as happy as they are when their producers assign them a trucker-friendly story. Freakin’ vultures. So instead of doggin’ us all the time, let’s hear it for the multitude of truck drivers out here who have to be flexible just to earn their living. Hip-Hip-Hammer down!!

So, is your flexibility more like a bungee cord or a crowbar? Let’s hear all about it. Leave a comment in the section so appropriately named. Thanks a bungee. Oh boy. That was a baaaaad joke.

Photo by Kind of Bruin via Flickr

Photo by Kind of Bruin via Flickr

About the Author
I'm a 22-year truck driver with an interest in tech stuff. I do the Trucker Dump podcast and blog, which is all about life as a trucker. I have also written two trucking books, "Trucking Life" and "How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job."
3 comments on “TD9: A Trucker’s Gotta Be Flexible
  1. vernon george says:

    hammy has already advanced to trig.

    1. Todd McCann says:

      For those of you out of the loop; Hammy is our cat. He’s named after the hyperactive squirrel in “Over the Hedge.”

  2. jennifer says:

    hammy has ADD. i think that’s why joel and him like each other so much.

Holding in your comments can cause constipation. Save yourself the pain and leave a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.