A Day in the Life of a Hill & Markes Driver
Posted on Monday Nov 27, 2017 at 10:10AM in General
As I sit in the back seat of my friend's truck on a thousand mile journey, I find myself comically critiquing his driving. We are approaching heavy Chicago traffic on a recent road trip and his nervousness is fiercely showing through. Little things, like looking over your shoulder to make lane changes (instead of just glancing quickly in your mirrors), and not knowing your surroundings at any given time. He’s asking repeatedly how far until the exit, even though he knows its still miles away.
Myself? I already know where the exit is, what lane I will need to be in to take it and how much time I have remaining to get in said lane. I’m not free of ridicule myself. It’s normal for backseat drivers to say, “Come on man!! Go! You could have pulled out and made it 10 times over already!" Driving a tractor trailer daily ingrains safe habits into your soul and they most definitely carry over to your everyday personal vehicle. Just an everyday occurrence in the life of a driver.
Speaking of… a driver's life starts off early, very early. The typical daily alarm is set for 4 or 4:30am. Up and out of bed, teeth brushed, time to hit the shower. The Hill and Markes uniform laid out nicely on top of the dresser from the night prior finds its way on. I have to let the dog out. Now it's time for the first coffee of the day. Oh, it's wonderful. Let the truck warm up a bit, let the dog back in, and give her a cookie. Hat and jacket on and out the door you go. Roll in to the shop and organize your paperwork. Of course, you shoot the breeze for a minute or two with the other drivers. Now, onto the dock. Grab your hand truck and you’re off to open that trailer door for the first time to see what the day has in store. Make sure the hand truck and jack in and secure, door down, lift gate up. Walking across the yard, the LED lights casting an eerily familiar shine on that new Freightliner tractor in the predawn darkness. Hop up into your rolling office and turn her over. Back across the yard, back under. Boom! Fifth wheel latches onto the kingpin of your trailer. Lift gate cord, secondary air, 7 pin, primary air... all hooked up and good to go. Crank up your landing gear, pre-trip your truck and trailer and you're on the road.
Your day has officially begun. Stewart's…oh Stewart's. This job would not be possible without you. Coffee number 2, extra-large, with a healthy dose of French vanilla creamer (no sugar). Now, I am ready for the day ahead.
As time passes every customer becomes almost like family, a familiar face you know and see week in and week out. You know something personal about all of them and they know you. Some have their finicky little quirks which can vary, others are rock steady. No matter the case you appreciate and take care of them all the same. They trust you to bring them what they ordered. Never break this trust. If there is an error you go out of your way to fix it at all costs- no questions asked. It's far from just delivering product, it's sustaining an everlasting relationship between yourself and your customers.
Last stop… it could be noon, it could be 2, heck, it could be 6 or 7. There’s no set time. You are done when the trailer is empty. Secure your empty pallets and jack, and close it up. On the road home. Almost an exact opposite series of events will take place. Hit the dock, drop your trailer, park tractor across the yard, and unload skids and any returns or pickups. Some more paperwork. Out the door you go to start the process all over again 4:30 tomorrow morning.
About the Author
Jerrod Vila has been a lifelong resident of the local area. Going on 15 years and well over a million miles behind the wheel of tractor trailers, it's safe to say he knows a thing or two about heavy transportation. Although his real passion lies somewhere between the kitchen and a trout stream. Developing a love for cooking instilled by his mother at a very young age he continues to test culinary boundaries within the home kitchen nightly. He is also a NY state licensed guide and an active member of NYSOWA (New York State Outdoor Writer's Association) in addition to being the Outdoor Columnist for the Amsterdam Recorder and fly fishing editor of The Angler Magazine of Upstate New York.