NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Hazard, Ky., native Joe Cushman didn’t put a lot of thought into what he was going to do for the rest of his life.
“I always wanted to be a truck driver I guess,” Cushman said. “I had three uncles [in trucking] and I just kind of fell into it. Slowly, but surely, everybody else in my family started. Dad started driving and my two brothers started driving.”
Cushman pulls a flatbed for a small company in Hazard and said he hauls anything and everything that needs to be strapped down. Raised on a farm in the most northeastern city in the U.S., Caribou, Maine, Cushman said he likes his route to stay primarily in the Northeast. He does go to the West Coast — but no more than he has to.
He is married and has two children of his own and two step-children, ranging from the ages of 7 to 25, but has only one child who is determined to follow in dad’s footsteps: his 12-year-old daughter.
“My little girl, she’s my little tomboy,” Cushman said. “If she has her way about it” she will get into trucking. “She’s too smart for it, though. I shouldn’t say that because it’s a kind of negative stereotype, but she’s very intelligent.”
“I’d be glad for her to do it, but I just don’t know where we’re headed as far an industry,” he said. “Until safety becomes as important as the money, I don’t think we’re ever going to have a happy medium.”
Cushman said that the worst thins about trucking are the sacrifices he has to make and not a lot of time for hobbies.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked about his hobbies. “Just always trucking I guess. I have lots of intentions, but I guess I would have to say fishing would have to be my hobby when I get a chance to. It seems like I’m always on the road.”
Cushman also talked a little on politics and how he would like things run in the business.
“As far as the industry goes, I think it’s like everything else,” he said. “People look to the government to solve all the problems. I guess I’m a kind of libertarian in that aspect of it. I think it should be a little better self-policed.
“I guess I get as frustrated as anybody [with] the knee-jerk reaction, sometimes, that the government likes to offer their advice on,” Cushman continued. “We’re safer now than we’ve ever been. I think, though, if we can’t do any better taking care of ourselves, we can’t really complain for somebody else to do it.”
Cushman said the independence of the road is his favorite thing about trucking and gave his view of why he stays in the industry, despite some of the problems.
“I couldn’t think to do anything else,” he said nonchalantly. “Good or bad, it’s what I always wanted to do and I’m happy with that. I think if you’re passionate about driving a truck, it doesn’t matter what the regulations are. You’re going to try to do it. I know to a lot of people, truck driving is just a job. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what [regulators] do.”
Tony Lehanan of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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