We talk a lot here about the dangers of being out on the road for the bulk of your work day. And sure, it’s imperative that you stay alert and safe while you’re behind the wheel in a variety of weather conditions, lighting, and traffic. What we don’t talk about much is the part of the job where you have to stay occupied between loads, and we hear that can be a real killer.
Now, there are a couple of ways to look at your downtime, depending on the type of person you are.
It might be that this is a primo relaxation goldmine – time to bust out the playstation, the book you’re only a quarter of the way through, or settle in for a nice, luxurious nap and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But you might be a more antsy sort, and this empty time could be the perfect opportunity to pick up a new hobby or skill, maybe one you’ve been eyeing for years.
The headline photo for this story is from a Wall Street Journal feature on sewing truckers, a story that made the industry buzz with disbelief.
These guys have flouted the macho image of a long-haul trucker and taken up keeping balls of yarn and fabric in their cabs to create everything from slippers to quilts. And they’re good at it too! That’s not even the surprising part. What really caught readers off-guard is just how widespread the skill is becoming in the trucker world.
“Oh, there’s many a time you’re just going down the road at O-dark-thirty in the morning and you just start thinking about a particular pattern,” says the ex-Air Force mechanic on the Iowa 80 at the head of the story. And that got us thinking. Projects are a great way to keep your mind sharp.
Obviously, we can’t list every possibility out there, but ideally, anticipating the fun you’ll have with your pet hobby between stints on the road is a great way to keep you awake, happy, and an all-around interesting person. After talking to a few of our guys and researching the subject, here are a few suggestions that might just tickle your fancy.
This game is in a league of its own, and now that internet access is accessible in pretty much every corner of the world, easy enough to learn and practice. The real allure of chess is how you can play your whole life and still learn new strategies.
Chess simulates war. It’s all about thinking three steps ahead of your opponent and there are stacks of books, articles, tapes, etc. out there to help you hone your game. If you enjoy competition and are the type of person who loves planning your next move, this is the game for you. You’ll be amazed at how much you think about your ongoing games between plays.
Want to try it out? Here’s a guide to the very basic rules of the game and, just for fun, here’s a beginner’s strategy you can use to start knocking your opponents to the curb, right out of the gate, including a very useful video on common first moves and how to thwart them.
The Great American Novel
We all have that idea that’s been knocking around in our heads for longer than we can really say. Procrastination is a hell of a thing. While it might be tempting to spend your downtime flinging Angry Birds at a wall, we guarantee you’ll start looking forward to those hours of freedom between truck duty if you’re working on the story you’ve been putting off.
Just try it out. Create a little outline or write the first few lines. You might just find yourself hooked.
A camera might be an investment, but logging your experiences, showing the world what you see … not only is that an incredibly rewarding hobby that will give you mementos for the rest of your life, it’s also the type of skill that can grow forever.
Don’t rush right out and buy an expensive camera. Take a look at some basic tips first. Try to imagine the photographs you’d take. If you find it’s something you can’t quite stop thinking about, then it might just be the perfect hobby for you.
Blogging (Hey, it’s fun. We’d know!)
Are you aware of all the popular trucker blogs out there on the internet right now? It might shock you to know just how interested random internet strangers are in your lifestyle.
Hook yourself up with a free account on a blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger and just post what’s on your mind. Share photos, funny stories, or whatever thoughts are knocking around in your head. The best thing about a blog is how casual it is. The Healthy Trucker and Life on the Road are some of the more popular blogs. Truckers Blog lets you write a blog and post it right there on their website.
Did we forget a good one? You’ll have to let us know how you pass time in those long stretches of free time. Be sure to comment and fill us in.