David Mills says he pretty much grew up in trucks.
His dad was a driver and taught him how to drive when he was 16 years old and that’s what he’s done ever since.
Mills is an owner-operator signed on to Daily Express and he lives in Washington, D.C. He’s been a trucker for 24 years and currently drives a 1999 W900 Kenworth.
Mills said his father owned his own truck which he used to haul household moving loads. He retired at age 56 and died three years later.
“I went to work for him moving furniture,” Mills said, “for $3.50 and hour and did that for a year or two. I went to school, to college for about a year. I wanted to be a pathologist. I never realized I liked trucks. I decided I wanted to drive trucks so that’s what I did.
“I then had to go take the written test which had only 66 questions and then take the road test. I started out hauling freight locally around the Washington, D.C., area. I went to work hauling mattresses to Pennsylvania and did that for two years.”
Next, Mills said, he went to work hauling flatbed — bricks and roofing shingles — for a couple of years.
“I bought my own truck in 1994,” Mills said, and he hauled household from 1994 until 2007 when he started hauling oversized loads, which is what he does today.
“I made more money doing household but got burned out and wanted a change of pace,” Mills added. “It was something I wanted to do — I researched it and that’s what I ended up doing.”
Mills explained that it is his desire to make some career changes soon because he wants to be home more to help his mother who is 78-years-old and his brother, who has multiple sclerosis (MS).
“My plans are to come off the road next year and haul gasoline locally so I can be home more,” Mills said. “I want to take care of them. Being on the road I can’t do the things I’d like to for them. My brother is married and doesn’t need me to take care of him. I go and take him out, hang out with him. We like to watch football together. I don’t really have a team, but I will pull for Washington [Redskins] when they play Dallas [Cowboys]. He is a Washington fan.”
Mills is a single guy with no children but he has things that keep him busy when he gets to go home.
“I hang out with my best friend, Pam,” he said. “I race motocross, build model cars, trucks, and trains. I try to get home as much as I can, about every two to three weeks. I usually stay home a week or a week and a half.”
Also when he’s home, Mills helps his mom with her bank account and with paying bills. He also takes her places and helps with chores around the house.
Mills is happy to be a truck driver even though he has reasons to try to get a local job.
“I love driving trucks,” he said. “I love traveling. I’ve always been an outdoor person so I love being outside. The fact that I don’t have to sit behind a desk I can pretty much do as I please, do what I want. I have so much time on my hands. It’s laid back. I think trucking can be stressful if you let it. Sometimes dispatchers ask you to do something that might be impossible. Sometimes it’s the only load a driver can get even though it’s not possible to run legally.”
Which brings up the question The Trucker often asks drivers: “Do you run legally?”
“I keep accurate to the best of my ability,” was the answer Mills gave. “We have an ample amount of time to be where we need to be [speaking of Daily Express drivers].
“Most of my peace comes from God. I don’t find too many things stressful. For instance, [around] auto drivers, you just have to drive more safely because they don’t know how to drive around big trucks.”
Mills attends The Potters House, a large church that he said is not affiliated with a church by the same name in Texas.
“When I’m home I go to church; we have churches throughout the country and I go to those when I am in a town that has one,” he added.
Mills explained that since he drives over-dimensional loads (oversized loads) there are curfews that differ by state. For instance, we talked to him in North Little Rock, Ark., and he said that in that area he can’t drive the oversized loads from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mostly the curfew is during rush hour, and some states don’t allow these types of loads to run at night.
Mills said he very rarely drives 11 hours in a day and that usually he drives about eight hours in a day and he’s done.
Since an owner-operator is running a small business, it brings with it even more work including paperwork. But despite that, Mills is happy with his decision to own a truck.
“I like it,” he said, “it’s alright. It’s all in your preference if you want to be an owner-operator and want to take off when you want, haul what you want — it’s probably good for you.
“When I come off the road I’ll be a company driver to get benefits. I think as an owner-operator you make more but you have more expenses. I have an accountant that does all my paperwork. Trucking has been good to me. It’s what you make out of trucking. If you know what you’re getting into — I know guys who go from company to company to company.
“A good thing to do is [to] sit down and write what you want from a company and then evaluate yourself. For instance, how hard you want to run; how much money you want to make. I researched about six months before I started hauling oversized. I know myself so I didn’t have to write it out. I knew I didn’t want to work where I didn’t have any time to myself. Household [loads] allowed me a lot of time to do what I wanted.”
Mills said he used to take his dirt bike with him on runs, but doesn’t do that much anymore.
“I used to motocross around the country,” he said. “I broke both wrists at Page, Texas, doing a jump. I got a concussion at that same track. I raced last at Budds Creek Motocross [Maryland]. That’s the only race I did this year. [Injuries are] all part of racing dirt bikes. It’s guaranteed down the line you’ll break something.”
Mills keeps a good attitude about his job even when it may be difficult at times.
“As far as the trucking industry, it is what you make it,” he said. “It can be good for you or it can be bad. I take this industry with a grain of salt. I don’t take it too seriously. You won’t get rich doing it.
“Don’t treat it like a job — treat it like an adventure. Enjoy it. Take time out to smell the roses. Trust in God for everything.” &nbs