By ABC NEWS | November 19, 2013
Loren West, a former long-haul trucker from Wisconsin, gave ABC News “20/20? a glimpse of what life is like behind the wheel of a big rig. After spending 15 months on the road, West has decided to take a break from trucking. He is substitute teaching high school English and spending nights at home with his family, but he isn’t ruling out another stint behind the wheel.
Below, West reflected on becoming one of America’s roughly 1.6 million truck drivers, and what it means to crisscross the country to make a living.
Challenges have always motivated me. I’ve run a marathon, gone skydiving, boxed in a sanctioned boxing match, raced a stock car and played on stage in a rock band. So when I felt the urge to make a career change, my wife suggested the challenge of getting my commercial driver’s license and becoming an over-the-road trucker. I love to drive and I’ve always been a gearhead, so I went for it.
Graduating CDL (commercial drivers license) school and hiring on with a reputable company went well. It wasn’t until I began my first run with a company trainer that the enormity of the challenge ahead set in. Traffic jams, blinding sun, freezing rain and road construction are conditions most commuters deal with on their way to work, but truckers deal with these obstacles (and many more) all day and every day as part of daily life. Multiply that times 18 wheels, 80,000 pounds, and a 70-foot rig, and it equates to a grueling way to earn a living. I worked in an office for 13 years and I used to gripe about my job being impossible to bear when the copy machine ran out of paper or someone stole my yogurt from the break-room refrigerator.
As I became comfortable behind the wheel, and confident in my ability to get from point A to point B without wrecking anything, I began to contemplate the bigger picture of being a trucker. Aside from being a professional athlete, how many other jobs do you get to wake up in Boston and go to sleep in Philadelphia? Or, see the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the bayous of Baton Rouge in the same day – and get paid for it?
I enjoy posting pictures and video of the views from my “office window” on my Facebook page. Many of my followers marvel at the places I’ve been and tell me how fortunate I am to live this kind of life. With only 15 months of lugging loads from coast to coast, there’s still so much of this country I haven’t seen – and probably never will. In my short time on the road I’ve logged over 150,000 miles and crossed the borders of 44 states and four Canadian provinces.Continue Reading…