Sweat trickles down their spine as this climb up and into the driver’s seat for the first time. They wonder why suddenly they can’t remember the gears. After all, it’s a simple count from one to ten. White knuckles grab the steering wheel with a death grip as the truck begins to roll.
Their instructor tells them to keep going straight to make a turn and they silently question their teacher’s ability. Everyone knows that in order to make a turn in a vehicle, one has to “turn” the vehicle. Eternities later, they follow the command to turn and hand over shaking hand on the wheel moves the truck in a new direction.
Cars whiz by. Traffic lights change. Streets get narrow. And then, as it begins to rain, the student realizes they have surely made a terrible mistake to think they could ever become a truck driver. They want to quit. Immediately. There’s just one problem. They’re driving and there is no safe place to pull that big rig over to abandon the driver’s seat. So they drive. And grind gears. And shake. But they drive.
As the sun finally begins to set in the western sky, the student lets out the breath they only just realized they’d been holding all day. They gaze glassy eyed in the direction of their instructor who pats them on the back and congratulates them on a job well done. The weary and confused student can’t believe it was a good day. They feel they didn’t do anything right. They’d had so much trouble finding the gears, they’d considered calling a search and rescue team. And they feel like they’ll never get it right.
The instructor smiles and points out to them they successfully navigated from where they were to the place they needed to be. They not only were not late, they were on time. They didn’t hit anyone. They solved every problem that arose and corrected every mistake they made. At the end of the day, that’s what successful trucking is all about.
The student drinks in that truth, climbs up into the top bunk and as they pull covers over their head, they finally allow their muscles to relax. And as the hum of the reefer motor lulls them into sleep, they realize that they are meant to be a trucker. Tomorrow, they will get up and do it again. They will endure the rigors of the road again. They will solve every problem they face. They’ll correct the mistakes they make, because now they have crossed over into the world of trucking. They ARE a trucker and no matter what tomorrow brings, today they have completed the student’s first ride.
Written by Reba Hoffman
Reba J. Hoffman joined Prime in 2014 after spending a year riding her bicycle alone around the country helping women victims of violent assault. A therapist by trade, Reba uses her understanding of people and how they tick to help them live their dream of being a trucker by serving as a PSD instructor. When out of her truck, you’ll find her somewhere in the wilds of nature.