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Truck Driving Lifestyle Featured This Week on ABC "20/20"

by Jana Ritter - Published: 11/20/2013

Not a week after a film about trucking took first place on the world’s stage, truck driving is going to be the topic of this week’s “20/20” The episode, titled ‘Trucking Isn’t a Job or a Career, It’s a Lifestyle: A Trucker’s Story’, features Loren West, a former long-haul trucker from Wisconsin, who gave ABC News “20/20″ a glimpse of what life is like behind the wheel of a big rig. 

Male trucker

West reflected on becoming one of America’s roughly 1.6 million truck drivers, and what it means to crisscross the country to make a living:

Challenges have always motivated me. I’ve run a marathon, gone skydiving, boxed in a sanctioned boxing match, raced a stock car and played on stage in a rock band. So when I felt the urge to make a career change, my wife suggested the challenge of getting my commercial driver’s license and becoming an over-the-road trucker.  I love to drive and I’ve always been a gearhead, so I went for it.

Graduating CDL (commercial drivers license) school and hiring on with a reputable company went well. It wasn’t until I began my first run with a company trainer that the enormity of the challenge ahead set in. Traffic jams, blinding sun, freezing rain and road construction are conditions most commuters deal with on their way to work, but truckers  deal with these obstacles (and many more) all day and every day as part of daily life. Multiply that times 18 wheels, 80,000 pounds, and a 70-foot rig, and it equates to a grueling way to earn a living. I worked in an office for 13 years and I used to gripe about my job being impossible to bear when the copy machine ran out of paper or someone stole my yogurt from the break-room refrigerator.

As I became comfortable behind the wheel, and confident in my ability to get from point A to point B without wrecking anything, I began to contemplate the bigger picture of being a trucker. Aside from being a professional athlete, how many other jobs do you get to wake up in Boston and go to sleep in Philadelphia? Or, see the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the bayous of Baton Rouge in the same day — and get paid for it?

I enjoy posting pictures and video of the views from my “office window” on my Facebook page. 

When non-trucking people find out I’m a trucker, I’m often faced with a barrage of questions about the nomadic lifestyle, like “What’s your favorite…?” or “Have you ever been to…?” My answers usually change as I see more places and gain new experiences.

When asked to choose the most memorable city I’ve driven through, my answer varies based on scenery or ease of driving.

Hear the rest of West’s story on ABC’s 20/20 this Friday Nov. 22 at 10 p.m. ET or 7p.m. PT.