Here’s a heads-up to any prospective drivers out there. If you think Over-The-Road (OTR) trucking is a 9-to-5 job, you’re gonna be more disappointed than a stoner with a bag of oregano. We have a name for you folks: Solar drivers.[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
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Solar drivers are guys or gals who only like to run during the daylight. While our circadian rhythms are ideally designed for solar driving, the chances of you getting to do it every day are about as good as you finding a Christian Atheist that’s interested in converting to Islam.
Remember that I’m speaking of OTR driving. Sure, you may be able to find a local driving job that will let you do the solar thing, but if you’re a long-hauler, well, good luck with that. And don’t get your hopes up for a local driving job with big bucks and no whammies.
The fact is that freight can pick up or deliver at any time, and 9 times out of 10, you’ve got no choice as to whether you’re going to be a Solar driver or a Lunar driver. Most loads simply don’t have enough extra transit time for you to be picky.
Common sense would tell you that most businesses are open during the day, so that’s when you’ll be awake and driving. That’s all fine and dandy, but what if you pick up a 500-mile load at night and it delivers at 7:00 AM the following morning? This happens quite frequently, so you should expect it.
I’d love to tell you that you won’t have to drive at night very often, but if I did I’d be a bigger liar than if Pamela Anderson came out and said that she was born with those entities (no pun intended).
There is an exception to this rule. If you’re a team driver, you may get to choose Solar or Lunar driving. Since a team truck pretty much runs around the clock, you can usually get on a schedule. For instance, The Evil Overlord is a Lunar driver. Each afternoon I’d wake her up, and after wrestling the grenade launcher from her, we’d eat and shower. Just before dark she’d start her driving shift and finish sometime before sunrise. You can do this too if you’ve got a flexible co-driver who’s willing to drive the opposite shift.
I’m a lucky guy. Not only am I blessed with devastating good-looks, but I’m also capable of switching from a Solar driver to a Lunar driver in less time than it takes you to roll your eyes at that “devastating good-looks” statement.
So tell me. Why is it that you want to be a Solar driver? Are you sure that it’s all it’s cracked up to be? Here’s my argument for embracing your inner Lunar driver:
- There’s no rush hour at night. That should be enough in itself.
- There is no such thing as a good time to cross over the George Washington Bridge into New York City, but if you must, 3:00 AM is the time to do it.
- There’s less construction at night. Even when the crews are working the graveyard shift, there’s fewer 4-wheelers around that haven’t figured out how to merge BEFORE you get to the giant flashing arrow!
- When it’s time to go to sleep, the truck stop parking lots are less crowded in the morning.
- There’s less traffic at night.
- The darkness is sooooo peaceful.
- The chicken coops (DOT weigh stations) are less likely to be open at night.
- Fewer drivers are cursing at each other on the CB radio.
- It’s fun to flash your bright lights at people. Kidding. Okay, maybe sometimes. Ohhhhh. So THAT’S why he was cussing at me on the CB.
- If you’re a woman trucker, it’s harder for people to notice you. Therefore, they don’t slow down, act stupid, try to get your attention, and unwittingly block you behind other traffic. The Evil Overlord drove at night for this very reason.
- Did I mention that there’s less traffic?
- Heavy winds usually get calmer at night.
- The fuel bays are typically less crowded at night.
- So are shippers and receivers.
- There’s no waiting for a shower at 2:00 AM.
- If you pull out of a parking spot after dark, you just made another driver happy enough to pee his pants, which could actually be the very reason why they’re looking for a parking space in the first place.
- And I should also mention that there’s less traffic.
Then again, as I’m making this list, some negative aspects of Lunar driving come to mind. For instance:
- Potty breaks become an ordeal because all the rest areas are packed tighter than a Mexican illegal immigrant’s apartment. On the plus side, the exit ramps are usually quite dark. So do what you gotta do.
- OH CRAP! DEER!
- More drunks on the road… or the sidewalk… or the shoulder of the road… or the ditch… or on the wrong side of the highway… or all of the above.
- You can’t see the ladder laying in the middle of the road until it’s too late. That would be the ladder that fell off the roof of the aforementioned drunk’s VW Beetle.
- You can’t see the Smokey Bears (police) at night. Not that it matters when your speed-limited truck gets outrun by an armadillo with a limp.
- Snow-packed and/or icy roads at night are much more dangerous, which is why you should pull over and tell your dispatcher to stuff it.
- Your choice of fast food is Subway, Subway, or Subway. If you’re lucky, you can wait a few more miles and find a Subway.
- It’s harder to read street signs in the dark.
- Fewer of your Twitter friends will be online. Now put down that phone and drive.
- Finding a parking spot in the middle of the night just plain sucks.
- Getting brighted by some jerk who’s just doing it for fun. *snicker*
- I did mention that there’s less traffic at night, right? Oh shoot. That went in the other section.
- Sometimes that pesky circadian rhythm jumps up and yanks your eyelids shut for no apparent reason. Even if you’ve had plenty of sleep.
- The Fuzz can easily see if you’ve got even one teeny-tiny-little-light that has burned out. They’ll pull you over as the VW drunk guy does a U-turn in the ditch to retrieve his ladder.
So maybe there are some advantages to being a Solar driver. I can do either, and quite frankly it’s nice to have to mix it up a bit. I wouldn’t want to have to choose between the two, but if I were forced, I’d go with being a Lunar driver. Why? Did I mention there’s less traffic on the Lunar shift?
Got pros and cons that I’ve forgotten? Leave a comment so that everyone can read them! And please pass this on to anyone who you think might enjoy it. Thanks
Photo by Jason Bache via Flickr