101 feature Phillips
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — After 15 years as a stay-at-home mom, Tina Phillips, 44, heard that trucking only demanded three weeks of schooling and could pay her up to $3,000 a week.
“I learned fast there’s a whole lot more to it,” said Phillips, who is now nearing her second year of over-the-road driving. “That was a dirty trick” to lead someone to think it was an easy job, she added.
After driving with a major carrier for a year, she switched and currently has been with Navajo, out of Denver, for almost a year.
From Mountain Home, Ark., Phillips is no stranger to hard work. She’s been a seamstress in a factory and a vet’s assistant.
But she said trucking is clearly a big challenge, especially “fitting everything together” to make sure her logs are up-to-date, that she’s running legal and safe and that she’s on time with her loads.
It’s quite a balancing act. However, she wasn’t totally unprepared for a career in trucking, having driven a dump truck for a couple of years.
Not only was Phillips unprepared for the challenges in trucking, she was unprepared, she said, for the cutthroat work-a-day world after being out of the workplace for 15 years.
“The [workplace] game has really changed,” she said. “It’s more dog-eat-dog … people are vindictive. I wasn’t raised like that.”
Three of her four boys (ages 13, 11 and 8), are with their dad who is presently out of work. The oldest son, 24, is out on his own, and Phillips said it’s up to her to provide for the three youngest, despite the fact that they’re living with their father.
So, she has to keep rolling.
What would she tell women who are considering trucking as a career?
A serious look crosses Phillips’ face.
“I’d try to talk them out of it,” she said. “It’s a lot rougher than I thought it would be.”
One of her pet peeves is that directions for pick-up or drop-off are not always reliable. She doesn’t have GPS.
Another other pet peeve is the way some truckers aggressively tailgate four-wheelers. “I’m very protective of four-wheelers,” she said. “I have kids, too, and I see them in these cars. I’ve seen the way some truck drivers run up on cars; they come right up their rear end.”
On the positive side of trucking “there’s some money in it,” she said. And she loves seeing the countryside. Her favorite state is Oregon.
The hardships of trucking may outweigh the pay, however, said Phillips. But she’s going to stick with it. “The driving’s fine; I like to drive,” she said.
It’s all the other things that go with it that she doesn’t like, things like congestion, wrecks, the constant pressure of being on time, all the things that can make for a nerve-wracking ride.
No one said it would be easy. Well, maybe they did. But Phillips found out that’s not the case: trucking is no cinch and there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at firstname.lastname@example.org.