After hand-manufacturing woodwind instruments for thirteen years, Gary Mottram was laid off. So naturally, he took up driving. Working through a temp agency, he delivered all manner of loads via vans and small trucks before trying for Class 2 and Class 1 licenses. Truck This for a Living collects stories from his workdays as he took on ever-more ambitious jobs. Beginning as a lowly delivery man who has to schlep around boxes and do his own unloading, Mottram eventually hits the big-time: hauling containers and then cozying up with a DVD while other guys take over.
While this is a self-published memoir, the writing is very serviceable and even includes little illustrations to convey the difficulties inherent in squeezing a trailer with a mind of its own into a tight spot. Having grown up among drivers -- my father and uncle -- I'm fairly familiar with American trucking and was most curious about driving in the United Kingdom and Europe. As it happens, Mottram never quite makes it to Europe -- a buddy of his gets that gig -- but I still picked up a wealth of British trucking lingo. At first I thought an "artic" might be a refrigerated trailer, but it proved to be short for 'articulated', or a tractor-trailer. All of the vehicles Mottram mentions were cabovers, like that on the cover. That was a change, as the only time I ever see those on American roads are buses or Isuzu daycabs. Mottram is definitely unlike any truck driver I've met, constantly fretting about the environment and holding fast to a vegetarian diet. He carries a little pot with him and cooks on the road! From the faint horror he had for most of his fellow drivers, I'm going to guess Mottram is atypical in the UK as well. I'm waiting for a similar book in the post, memoirs from a driver who has worked in both Britain and across Europe.