There are so many accomplishments in a professional truck driver’s career it’s hard to nail down just one. Safe driving is at the top of the list for the millions of miles drivers’ cover without an incident or accident, as well as staying away from citations and tickets.Many will move from how many miles driven to how many years they have been in the industry. Others will mention accomplishments that have been earned within their company or associations and organizations – some are highly decorated. Of course, all of these aren’t just a “given” because of the title of ”professional truck driver.” The reasons are cited because they are well-earned and because drivers pass on the knowledge to the next generations. It all starts from day one when they make the decision to step up into a truck.
The GREATEST accomplishment I see is one that some may never realize they have accomplished. It’s passing along how they have succeeded to a new driver that has just followed in their footsteps – from years ago.
A veteran driver is the biggest influence there is for a new driver coming into the industry. An “old-timer” can provide not just trucking knowledge, but living and lifestyle knowledge that sometimes helps get new drivers through their day.
An experienced driver may teach a new driver how to operate different equipment or how to manage different loads. An experienced driver may provide friendship and mentoring to new drivers learning to deal with living on the road. Veteran drivers carry tricks of the trade everywhere they go.
Being a professional truck driver sometimes isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I would bet you that every veteran driver would tell you it’s not perfect – but it’s been perfect enough – particularly after a veteran driver lent a hand or a few words of encouragement or advice.
Many veteran drivers have chosen to become mentors and reach out to “greenhorns” – walking them through their early journey. Often that mentorship becomes a long-lasting friendship that lasts for years – and sometimes for decades. Other times, veterans who chose to do their own thing may not realize just how many new drivers simply watch them and learn from their actions and their words.
Everyone in our life impacts us – no matter if we have a relationship of some kind or even if we don’t even speak. Truck drivers watch one another. We learn to fine-tune our driving skills by watching others. We learn “do’s and don’ts” by listening – whether at shippers and receivers or at the dinner table at the truck stop. And don’t think us “old-timers” don’t watch and listen and learn from the “greenhorns,” because we all can learn something new or different every day from one another.
Awards, miles and acknowledgements are wonderful things. But there’s nothing better than knowing that just doing your job is your biggest accomplishment when it helps and teaches new drivers how to succeed. And the feeling inside when someone asks for help or accepts an offer is one that makes your heart smile. So whether you choose to reach out and lend a hand or whether you lead by example, as a veteran you are someone’s future.
Many thanks to all professional truck driving veterans who are making way for new drivers. To the old-timers that were greenhorns in their day, I’m sure the new drivers appreciate you more than you are ever told. Don’t think you go unappreciated. Just remember we were all in a new driver’s shoes – no matter how we got to the bottom of that first step. Keep up the good work and remember – by sharing your knowledge of the road and our industry, your greatest accomplishment is Paying It Forward.
Until next time, from me to you … drive safely, be somebody’s smile and don’t forget your prayers!