Q: How old are you?
Q: Where did you grow up, and how long have you been in the trucking industry?
A: I grew up on a farm in Clay Center, Neb. I moved to Hastings, Neb. And drove a concrete truck — that was my first job off the farm. I’ve been driving a total of 18 years.
Q: How did you get started in the trucking industry?
A: I was 53 when I started. I had tried other things out there, but I was getting older all the time, and I got to thinking, ‘I’d like to drive a truck. I think I would be good at it.’ I was tired of being broke. I didn’t have medical insurance. I was tired of going nowhere. I wanted to have a skill. Farming, what skill is that? You drive a tractor, dig ditches, mend fences. You learn a lot on a farm. My dad kind of wanted me to come back to Nebraska and farm, and I felt guilty that I didn’t do that, but I had to be different. I was kind of the black sheep.
Q: What was it like to transition into truck driving?
A: The farm background and trucking are almost the same. You’re your own boss. I’ve always been kind of a loner, and it helps to have that attitude in trucking. But two weeks out is enough. Then I’m ready to come home. I remember the first load — I could barely make 100 miles. I thought, ‘Holy cow, a hundred miles is like 5,000.’ It took me a while to get over that.
Q: What do you drive?
A: A 2015 Freightliner Cascadia. I’ve driven other brands, but I like the Freightliners. I’ve got lots of room in there. It’s just a workhorse of the industry.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a truck driver?
A: I still enjoy going out on the road. I still enjoy driving the truck — even the longer runs from the Midwest to California. I love to go out to Los Angeles and Seattle.
Q: What do you enjoy listening to while driving?
A: Fox, Fox and Fox. I’m into politics; I like news. When I get tired of that, I listen to ’50s music, country and western, a little gospel. If you listen to Fox or talk shows, you can get a little upset. If I get into places where I need to pay attention, I just shut it off or leave it on ‘50s music or some soft jazz, because listening to that other stuff (like Fox) is not good for your attitude.
Q: What do you like about driving for GTI?
A: Gordon is real good. I started out of school at 23 cents a mile, but another company was paying a little more, so I left. But I kept seeing Gordon and how they had expanded. I said, ‘Hey, can I come back?’ They looked me up and said, ‘Yeah, and we’ll give you a raise.’ That was 10 years ago.
Q: Do you have any advice for new drivers?
A: I don’t care if you’re digging a ditch, pulling fish out of the ocean or driving a truck — attitude is everything. I laugh a lot, but I take my job seriously. Common sense and (a good) attitude has gotten me out of more difficulties. You would be surprised how many truckers don’t know how to spell common sense, let alone have it. Just do your job. You can’t be mad when you’re driving the truck.
Q: After your years of being on the road, is there still something you find challenging?
A: I can get in some tight blind spots when backing up. Every year I get a little more experience. You have to really pay attention to what you’re doing. Get out and look if you can’t see.
Q: How do you stay healthy on the road?
A: I’m 5’11” and 178 pounds. When you get to be my age, the worst thing for your lower back is (driving all day). I know it’s not good and it’s not healthy, so I try to eat right. For the past five or six years, I’ve been eating oatmeal. Sometimes I’ll have eggs, but I don’t eat bacon or fried, greasy foods. I eat bananas, apples, carrots, celery, wheat thins or oranges. I have sandwiches. I eat 90 percent of my meals from my refrigerator. Tonight I’ll have a bowl of cereal. I do leg exercises every morning, and when I pull into a truck stop, I immediately head to the south 40. I don’t park by the restaurant. I’ll walk three or four times around the truck stop before I go in the restaurant, and when I go out, I do the same thing. When I get home, I’ve got Nordic Track. A lot of times I just walk a few blocks around the house when I feel like it.
Q: What’s one thing you do that makes you a successful driver?
A: I take pride in my job, no matter what I’m doing. Even though this truck is not mine, I treat it like mine. I wash it all the time. I spend money twice a year to get all the aluminum polished. I’m a salesman for Gordon. When I go to the shipper, I try to keep myself shaved. I change clothes, shower and keep myself presentable. I don’t back talk or go in looking like a slob. Even though I’m a company boy, I still want to present myself well. I’m just that way. This all reflects on Gordon. Do I have good, bad or ugly days? Sure I do, but the next day is a new day and you start over.
Q: How did you react when you learned you were Gordon’s Driver of the Month?
A: I was real honored to get this. It’s a nice thing I can put on top of my fireplace mantel. I wasn’t striving to get this, I was just doing my daily job. These (awards) are few and far between, and I’m honored.
Q: What hobbies do you enjoy?
A: Someday when I retire, I would like to go fly fishing, but that’s down the road. I’m just working and working, and when I go home, I’m still working. As soon as my feet land at home, I’m busy, busy until I get back in the truck. Sometimes my wife, Dinah, and I will go out for dinner or go to Kansas City for a play. We enjoy time together alone, and we make that happen when we’re home. It doesn’t take much for us. We enjoy our company together and our quiet time.
Q: How did you meet your wife?
A. We met 50 years ago in Hastings, Neb. We were real hot and heavy when we met but then I went out west, and she moved to Kansas and got married. I married and divorced twice. I kept thinking about her. Then she lost her husband and got to thinking about old friends. She got on the computer and typed my name in and (my name) lit up like a Christmas tree. She called me and she told me when I answered that if a woman had answered, she was going to hang up and forget it. But I had been single for 20 years. We talked all night and into the morning, and the rest is history. We got married April 10, 2004.
Q: How many children and grandchildren do you have?
A: We have her five children and my one, then 13 grandchildren and five grandchildren! They just keep popping out.
Q: Are you planning to retire soon?
A: I enjoy working. As long as I’ve got my health, I don’t want to go home and quit working or sit in my recliner and die. I like working, I like playing and I like doing things. My wife would just as soon have me get off the road right now, but we’re planning to get our house paid down, and our hair salon will take over once I get off the truck. We’re trying to set ourselves up really well, because I don’t know how we would make it on Social Security.