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Last slaves on the American frontier

As a youth, everybody had a CB radio, everybody knew the 10 codes, the 20 codes and all the lingo. Truckers called themselves the last American frontiersmen and they prided themselves on their freewheeling rebel lifestyle. Movies like Convoy and musicians like C. W. McCall documented the popular culture aspects of this freedom loving and the defiance of law.

Today we find Swift Trucking, one of the largest long-haul carriers having to retool their business model to somehow attract more truckers. Their investors are watching--and liquidating. Their stock price is taking a hit.

Because the life of the professional driver these days, how to say this succinctly...ok IT SUCKS. That was the word I was looking for. Sucks. Like a Hoover.

See, freight hauling is a tough job under any circumstances. It takes a while to learn and get your CDL, it requires ABSOULTE 100% CONCENTRATION FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME, it's dangerous. Big rigs are very dangerous things when they get out of control. It's very uncomfortable getting bounced and jarred around in the cab all day and you often sleep in the rig. You are away from home most of the time and breakdowns on lonely roads are a fact of life.

Well now it's REGULATED TO THE POINT OF STRANGULATION. You get drug tested randomly and frequently, you get pulled over and "inspected" which means they rip your home-your cab apart whenever they want, there's inspectors at every weigh station, they levy fines on you which you pay to maintain your license, any kind of fun that was left in it has been wrung out at the feet of the nanny state. The newly uparmed nanny state. Nanny used to carry a rolling pin and now she's got attack dogs and an AR15. And it's hard to find an independent trucker these days. It's hard for anything but a corporation to manage with all the regulation and requirements.

A trucker used to be his own businessman with a massive investment in the rig and the equipment required to maintain her. You probably learned from other truckers and people that work on trucks. That was a WHOLE LIFESTYLE. FOR LIFE. Now you are probably just another corporate tool getting a printed out paycheck each week. So now they are gonna have to pay more for drivers. Cause now it's just a job.

It used to be something people wanted to be and now it's something they have a hard time finding people to do.

It's one of those industries that by definition can't be sent overseas so they just made it suck right here at home. The American Trucking Association says the country is short 30,000 drivers. That's 30,000 ways we can suck more right now.

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My brother drives around 200,000 miles a year

Brings home around 6 figures, not bad for a high school drop-out.

His new rig is a 12 speed automatic, 550 horses under the hood. His new reefer just set him back $75,000.

Gotta keep on truckin...

You're right about how it's changed. I used to help my oldest brother haul meat from the midwest to NYC (Hunts Point) once a week, whenever I could. I'd skip school or spend the vacation times with him. We used to do lots of deals over that CB, wouldn't even dare think of doing those kinds of things now.

One time we got to talking on the radio with a guy from Ohio on our way back to South Dakota (Brookings), and we stopped off at his house and he showed us this huge grow op he had in this dungeon of a basement.

Those were the good old days of trucking, you felt like you were a cowboy out on the range. Nowadays you're tracked and controlled into pure paycheck hell.

You don't change your own tires anymore, that's one good thing. And trucks today are Cadillac's compared to what was around just 20 to 30 years ago

You can still see the country and get paid for doing it, it's why my younger brother still does it, he loves it. Older brother quit long time ago...

My father is pushing 80 and he still trucks, over 2 million safe miles with one company alone. Still passes his exams, doesn't take a single pill, never had a surgery in his life. Says he wants to be the oldest trucker ever for his company. (One guy is 85 and still going strong)

Trucking is in my blood, it's why I keep a couple around and I haul all my own equipment whenever possible. But even for a little guy like me it's getting impossible. Can't easily find insurance for oldie but goodie trucks, and even harder to find something that is NON CDL.

One little trick is I paint on the doors "NOT FOR HIRE" and I drive right past all the scales!

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere".

It's hard not to be a menace to society when half the population is happy on their knees. - unknown