A Washington Post article on trucking listed weight gain, lack of showers, and divorce as problems; here are the thoughts of our well-qualified panel.
Richard: You can gain a lot of weight. One driver they interviewed gained 60 pounds; I’ve been there, only I gained 100, but I also lost most of it by changing my diet and exercise habits. A lot of that is on the person and the choices they make. The truck has to stop for ten hours, and most people can’t spend that much time sleeping. Getting out and exercising is decision you have to make, same as for anyone else with a sedentary job.
One guy claimed he was divorced twice because of trucking, but the common denominator is himself as much as trucking. Being a trucker’s wife isn’t easy, so maybe trucking caused the first divorce, but by the second time, they should have known better. (Incidentally, some research I read some time back showed that 90% of trucker’s divorces happened within the first year after the trucker retired from the road.)
My favorite complaint from the article was “can’t shower for two weeks at a time.” Every time you fuel at most truck stops, you get a free shower credit. If it’s at a major chain, they load it on your rewards card and that credit is good for seven days at any truck stop in the chain. There are also groups like Roady’s and Ambest, independents or small chains that got together for a rewards program, so fueling at one gets a free shower at any sharing that program. Missing a shower for two or three days happens sometimes, I’ll admit, and I’ve taken a sponge bath in a rest area restroom more than once, but two weeks? That’s more on that particular driver than it is the job. (Most drivers I’ve seen complain about that can sure find an hour to spend at the truck stop buffet table twice a day.)
Clint: We have to stop for ten hours, so not getting good food because of being rushed isn’t a good excuse in my books. When I started, I weighed 165 pounds; I currently tip the scale around 210. I’m not scared to admit that I eat a lot of Honey Buns and other snack foods. Still, I make it a point to park close to a place to sit and eat a dinner. Sometimes I may have to walk a little, but how can you complain about no exercise and junk food if you choose to be lazy?
Kari: The driver is eating 2/$3 hot dogs and wondering why he’s tired and getting fat. Yes, most truck stops are doing better with healthy options. But, are you going to spend $3 on two hot dogs or spend $5 on two fruit cups? The mega fleets don’t allow inverters and don’t put small fridges in; by the time you eat, shower, and sleep, who wants to walk 30 minutes? So here we are with a health crisis in this industry.