The Window of Opportunity

A seasoned vet looks back on one career decision with no regrets

By Dana Smith

Back in the day, I remember when I first started to like big trucks. I was around eight years old. Every time my family would go on a road trip, I would stare out the car window looking at all the big trucks passing by. Of course in school I used to stare out the window a lot as well, not really interested in whatever was going on in class. My teacher would say, 

“You will never make a living staring out the window, so pay attention”. Made me laugh!

Some of those trucks were really nice. Of course back then, I wasn’t sure what kind they were. I always wondered where they were going, and who was driving them. What was in the trailer? They were larger than life to me, and I had so many questions. As a kid, I didn’t know where to go to find those answers. 

Every time they would pass by, I would give them the fist pump, hoping for a second they would blow the air horn. They usually did, if they saw us. Not sure how I figured out how to do that. I may have seen another kid do it, and thought, that was how you got their attention.

I came from a family who were not involved in trucking at all. As I grew up, I became more and more fascinated with those big rigs, and wondered how I would ever come to drive them. 

By the time I was in my late teens, I knew that when I became legal age I was going to drive a big rig. It’s one of those things you can feel inside yourself. That drive, and passion that consumes you for whatever it is that you love doing.

At the age of 20 I made the decision, with the help of my parents to attend a truck training school, and pursue my dream. Although back then I was told (not by my parents), that if I didn’t go to university, I wouldn’t be successful in life. What a thing to say to a young person, especially when that is the furthest thing from the truth.

I learned very quickly that trucking was the way to go for me. Trades were highly underrated back then (and still are) and were basically frowned upon. It was all about the university education. The world we live in now requires many tradespeople, as there is now a shortage of them, or the ones that are working are so busy, they can’t keep up with demand. Trucking is no different. 

Why is it that we know what the issue is, but we wait until we are knee deep in it before we react? Wouldn’t it be more productive to be proactive, and collaborate instead, from the beginning? It takes a lot less energy to be proactive than to be reactive. It just creates more time and space for everyone.

After training, I jumped into trucking with both feet, and away I went. Doing local work at first, then team driving all over North America. Hauling everything that would fit in, or on a truck. I loved it, and the lifestyle. Would I say it was easy? Never! There were lots of struggles throughout those years. Being away from home for extended periods, living out of the truck, not getting much exercise, and the feeling of loneliness and isolation at times. But at the end of the day, it was all a learning experience that brought me to where I am now.

Fast forward 35 years later, after driving for years, owning my own trucks, and currently training people to drive, I still have that passion for the industry. The trucking industry has given me a purpose, value, a good living, and a lot of teachable moments along the way. A mentor once told me, and I quote, “If you’re not earning, you’re learning”. 

I often wonder what I would have done differently, if I had the chance to live my life over again, as I’m sure a lot of you do. To be honest, I would not change a thing. The trucking industry is a world of its own, and there are thousands of opportunities within it. The places you go, the things you see, and the people you meet, are all part of that journey.

We all have that in us somewhere. It may not be in the trucking industry, but the passion is there for something. Whatever industry or career you choose, follow your passions. Don’t make money the primary reason for doing it, or do it because someone expects you too. Do it for the right reasons.

Following your passions and using your gifts and strengths will lead you to a far better and bigger outcome, one of fulfillment and happiness, one of excitement and desire, to go out there and achieve whatever you choose. The money will follow: it always does.

So when I refer back to my teacher years ago, I guess she was wrong, because you really can make a living staring out the window. 

It’s called Trucking!

To read more of Dana’s articles, please visit: themindfultrucker.com

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