In a nutshell, yes, truck driving can be boring.
The longer answer takes a deeper look at a trucker’s lifestyle and the demands of his job. “Bored” is often the last thing that a trucker wants to be, and yet he doesn’t want to swing too far away from it either!
To the outsider, boredom is one of the many things surely taken for granted in a truck driver’s life. Sitting behind the wheel, lugging an oversized load, and sticking to the same routes all the time while trying to stick to a schedule can only mean mind-numbing monotony.
But in reality, truck driving is a pretty demanding job, and is far from being boring in the traditional sense.
Truck driving can be a fairly physical endeavor. Despite the relative comfort of a truck (especially compared to the average vehicle), a truck driver has to rely heavily on his coordination in order to avoid accidents. He also needs to plan every turn in advance, trying his best to avoid obstacles along the way.
But there are times when a driver knows his route and its nuances a little too well, and the scenery no longer gives him the same enjoyment as it used to in the past. This is when complacency, the precursor to boredom, sets in.
Complacency can be dangerous because it dulls the senses. It lulls the driver into a false sense of security, which could lead him to react to potential problems a little too late. An imbalance in the wheel could be taken for granted, leading to a blown tire. An odd flow in traffic may be disregarded, leading the truck straight into a gridlock.
And if complacency can lead to these, outright boredom would be even worse. A bored driver is a negligent and dangerous driver, unmindful of his surroundings and prone to accidents. Many a driver who has been distracted, sleepy, or plain inattentive on the road woke up to seeing their load swinging wildly behind them, or seeing their truck make a beeline for a ditch. Because of the inherent danger of boredom, truck drivers have their own techniques to deal with the monotony that is a part of their jobs.
Unlike the average driver, the trucker has a lot of options available to him to stay on the alert. While car drivers on long trips have only radio, pit stops, and chit chats to keep him awake, the truck driver has the following on his side:
The CB radio. Images of truckers exchanging banter over CB radio are fairly accurate. Once you settle into the lingo, jokes, stories, and even status updates are great for sapping away the boredom and keeping your mind on the road.
Of course, the radio can also be tuned to one’s individual preference. NPR stations are a great favorite, too.
Truck stops. Not your average pit stop, stories picked up from the truck stop can go a long way. This is where truckers meet to exchange everything from anecdotes to tips and tricks. This is also the best way to meet both the locals of your current city, and other trucking characters. This is also where one gets to indulge in the trucking community, which is a great support system when on the road.
The route. Truckers, especially those who have gained a mastery over their routes, would generally allot some time to cover a few more miles or explore a new turn. This can be done to experiment with new routes with certain advantages, but of course it can also carry the risk of new troubles. This can keep the excitement up, though as we shall see in a bit, it needs to be tempered.
The cabin space. Despite its constant motion, being a truck driver can also mean a lot of downtime — especially when you’re at that unpaid stretch at shippers and receivers. You’ll find several truckers power through this stage with various gimmicks, from bringing along musical instruments to tapping (or watching) away on a laptop with a carrier-based Internet connection. Such distractions are never good on the road, but they’re great for keeping one in driving shape while at a stand-still.
Indeed, many truck drivers would say that they are never bored behind the wheel. These are the same drivers who would say they would rather enjoy the monotony, than swing towards the other end of the emotional spectrum.
A truck driver earns his living by efficiency. Between the long hours spent sitting while waiting to be loaded or unloaded (which is, any driver would say, boredom really sets in), a driver has to manage his time perfectly and meet his carrier’s timetables.
Thus, a healthy dose of expectability is in order. For a truck driver, an uneventful ride is a good ride. It’s much better than having to deal with the “exciting” factors which can be anywhere from a surprise roadblock, to a breakdown, to inclement weather. Here, excitement is often unwelcome, and can lead to high amounts of work-related stress. Most truck drivers would even say that their job offers more opportunities for stress than boredom, thanks to the inherent unpredictability of their routes. A missed schedule is often a missed paycheck, so a fine balance needs to be maintained.
Indeed, to a trucker, routine and mundane are not the same things as boring. Neither is eventfulness and excitement always welcome. As a trucker settles on his route and the rigors of his job, he also starts settling into that midline pattern that benefits him most.
Yes, it can be boring to be a truck driver, but only if you are not careful, or if you don’t prepare properly. With the right tools and mindset — both of which come with the job — being a truck driver allows for great stability. At its worst, you’ll have a lot of quiet time on the road to think, reflect, and plan.
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