And so it goes…..

As I was trying to figure out what, exactly, I would enjoy doing as a job, I asked myself, what is it, that I haven’t done already, that I would like to do.  Not necessarily thinking ‘job’, but in general.  Well, I would like to travel around a bit, and see some places that I’ve never seen before.  Not world travel, or anything like that, just North America.  I have done quite a bit of travelling in North America, but it’s a big place, and there are still areas I would like to experience.

With that in mind, I started to consider a truck driving job, you know, long distance tractor trailers.  I would certainly get to see a lot of places, and the bonus was, I wouldn’t have to pay for any of the gas to get there.  So, I signed up for a course to teach me all the in’s and out’s of driving a tractor-trailer.  The course was about a month-long, and it was very in-depth, and also very hands on.  The first day was just spent in a couple of simulators that they had, something like flight simulators, but the truck driving version.  It was interesting, and it seemed like a very good way to start off.  However, the next day I came in, I had done so well on the simulator, that they threw me straight into a huge tractor-trailer with a 53 foot trailer on it.  I have to admit, I was in shock mode.  And, no, I wasn’t driving around in the yard, or some abandoned parking lot, I was on the road, in real city traffic.

These folks obviously had more faith in me than I had in myself, and I had to give my instructor full credit.  Anyone who’s willing to get into a tractor-trailer with a complete newbie, who’s never even sat in a truck bigger than a regular passenger truck,  should get some kind of medal for bravery.

With a little bit of luck, and a lot of pretty shaky shifts, I made it though that first tractor-trailer driving experience, and even I was surprised, when I came back for more the next day.  Each day I would go out in a different truck, with different gear shifting patterns, so it’s not like I could just get used to one setup.  All the trucks seemed to have their own personalities, and their was certainly no time for enjoying the scenery as I attempted to negotiate a truck that was probably somewhere around 75 feet long through very narrow city streets, with other cars and people everywhere.

As the course progressed, so did I.  My instructor informed me that I was probably ahead of most of the current class in my abilities, so I felt somewhat reassured.  Still, driving a tractor-trailer is not something you get used to overnight, or even over a few weeks.  I did all kinds of driving, out on the highways, and downtown in the busiest parts of the city.  I started feeling more and more confident as I came closer to the end of the course.  There was also a huge amount of knowledge and training involved, besides the actual truck driving, and I now have a greater respect for those who drive tractor trailers for a living.

Anyway, I did great on all the tests they gave me throughout the course, and it was two days before I was supposed to go for my driving test at the Ministry of Transportation when the testers there went on strike.  Maybe this was some kind of sign, I don’t know, but those folks were on strike for 3 months, and when they returned to work, there was a back up of over 300,000 people waiting for drive tests.

I never did go back for my drive test, but it wasn’t only the strike that turned me off wanting to be a commercial truck driver.  There were so many regulations and responsibilities involved, and it’s not like you could just take a load, and enjoy a leisurely trip to the destination.  There were timetables to keep, and not only did you have to keep a very precise record of your progress, but most of the trucking companies these days have satellite tracking so, if you happen to stop somewhere, they know it.  Along with that, there were obviously going to be border crossings, and in order to cross the border in a timely manner, truck drivers need to apply for what is known as a FAST card.  The process for applying for a FAST card, is something akin to what you would go through if you were being booked for a crime.    You would need your mug shot taken,you would need a criminal background check, you would need to be fingerprinted, and you would also need to pass an interrogation by the border patrol officers.  This was the minimum that was required.  Trucking companies themselves could also require further assurances, such as drug testing.

Well, that just didn’t sit right with me.  I’ve always been about being as free as possible, and somehow, going through this whole process, and then having to drive like a madman to keep a schedule, while being monitored every second of the way by robots in space, heck, if I wanted something like that I would have gotten married.

And so ends the idea of being a commercial truck driver.  I did, however, really enjoy the experience of driving those big rigs.  At least now I know what it’s like, and I can add that to all the enjoyable experiences I’ve had in this life.


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