Adjusting to Life Off the Road

Preparing For Retirement

As many of you know, my dad has been a driver my whole life.  I’ve never known my dad as anything other than a truck driver–he’s never worked a 9 to 5.  He often told us stories of the amazing thing he’s seen while over the road: double rainbows, the same space shuttle taking off in Florida and landing California and so much more– the things you won’t see or experience if you’ve spent your life in an office cubicle.

His office view included rolling hills, majestic mountains and miles of highway.

Many times over the years he talked about coming off the road, but the road was all he knew, and if he was home for too many weeks in a row, I think he felt like the walls were closing in on him.

Those of you who have been in trucking for a number of years probably understand that trucking is not a just a job, it’s not a just a lifestyle, it becomes part of you…it engrains itself into your DNA.

After nearly 4 decades on the road, the time has come; my dad has decided it’s time to hang up the keys.  He’s ready to enjoy the grandkids, he’s ready to fish off his dock and he’s ready to wake up each morning in his bed next to my mom.

It’s not always easy to walk away from something you love (even if you also hate it).

According to a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs, retirement increases one’s risk of depression by 40%. Experts agree that having a plan and keeping busy can help you adjust to you new life.

1. Try out a new hobby– Trying something new is always an adventure.  A new hobby gives you something to learn and keeps you busy.

2. Reconnect with old friends- Often times we get so busy with work, that our relationships with others fade away.  Now that you have more free time, plan lunches, fishing trips or just chat sessions with old friends.

3. Try out a new job or volunteer- if you don’t want to commit to working, volunteering is a great way to feel useful. It’s always a great way to make new friends.

4. Exercise.  Exercise increases serotonin– your body’s “feel good” hormone. “Exercise can do a lot to improve your mood — and across the board, studies have shown that regular exercise can be as effective a treatment for depression as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. In the past, it was believed that several weeks of working out was necessary to see the effects on depression, but new research conducted at the University of Texas at Austin found that just a single 40-minute period of exercise can have an immediate effect on mood,” WebMD.

5. Plan ahead for retirement, write a list of goals and work to systematically cross them off your list.

6. Travel. Even if it’s close to home, play tourist and get to know your town or surrounding towns.

7. Connect with other retirees.

8. Consider adopting a pet. Studies show that those who have pets live longer, happier lives.

9. In the beginning, have a goal or plan for each day but also take time to rest if you need it.

10. Go back to school or learn a new trade. You’re never too old to learn something new.

This week, we asked the CDLLife readers what advice they’d offer to someone coming off the road and here’s what they said:

Robert F. – The family might not be used to you being around, so respect their routine till you can find your place in it.

Allen A.– Keep yourself occupied. Randomly call different trucking companies, don’t tell them your name, and yell, “I’M NOT TAKING THAT LOAD”!!!! Then hang up the phone! =-D

Larry B.- I will tell you this, since April 30th 2000, there is not a day goes by that I don’t think about the road. There is not a day goes by that I could not pack my bag and get ready to “go out” as it”usetabe”, If you are a true die hard, seasoned , “usetabe” it is going to be a tough change. Drivers who were gone from home a lot, leaving your spouse behind, it can be a very tough change as rather you like it or not, you are changing their world as well as yours is going to change. I told my use to be that I loved her but I didn’t know if I could live with her. I am not being negative because our relationship went bad either. This can happen and that is why one needs to think this all through. If you are ready to come off the road, try to focus on a hobby, craft, part-time job to keep you busy and to still give your spouse the needed space. While on the road, a seasoned driver for some reason always had the habit of taking a look quick at a big truck going the other way, why #1, you may see something on that truck or the load and you can tell the driver going the other way on the CB radio before it became a “Rambo tool”, #2, you may know that guy and wanna give him a wave ( or the finger, lol) and finally for me, it’s the love of a big truck that makes you look that way. The road, if I may, is something that is in your blood, it comes from the “gut.” While it seems I may be bashing this life, on the contrary, I cannot advocate enough for this career. This career can be a very lucrative career, however it is a definite lifestyle. Now, if you wonder why earlier on it seems “usetabe” is spelled wrong, well, it’s part of my e-mail, “[email protected]”.If you are still out there, please be safe!!! Larry Bennion

Richard R.- It does change things for anyone close to you as well as yourself. I think it depends on the individual really, but most driver will miss the road especially if they have been out there for a lot of years. I still look at all the trucks when I’m on the highway and sometimes wish I was doing it. I had to retire for health reasons myself. It was really hard on me the last few years I drove. I had no plans of retiring but you never know what’s going to happen in your life. I still have to get out and about every day and do a little socializing because I can’t stand to be in the house all day. I wish all drivers the best in their future whether actively driving or retired. It is a life of its own.

Lesley L.-Keep your license and credentials-you just never know. I love being home but occasionally have to go uptown and wait for a big truck to go by to get my diesel exhaust fix! LOL!

Kevin F. – She’s run things the whole time you were gone, don’t try to take over. It takes time for both of you to get used to being together all the time!

Steven W.-It’s a challenge after my career ended. Kept my truck for a year just in case I wanted to go back. Got a local job driving a garbage truck up and down the interstate and working 8 hours a day is all I needed to ween my self off the big rigs. Sold my truck to the pleasure of my wife and its just nice to be home and sleep in your own bed. But like I said its a challenge in missing the road.

Charlene R.-Get a camper or RV with fishing gear to get out there to see the things you missed out on in your travels.

Lee M. -Simple fact is, you NEVER get used to it. I gave up the full time road life in ’04, and I STILL miss it. After my wreck, I became a trailer mechanic, and love the job. There are still days that I look at trucks in the lineup, and wish that I could just jump into one, put the nose into the wind, and go like hell. You can take the driver out of the truck, but you’ll never take the truck out of the driver. The best advice I could give, is to find something that occupies your time comparatively, and find something that will utilize the skills that you have gained over the years. It doesn’t matter if its becoming a trailer mechanic, diesel mechanic, driver trainer, or even dispatcher. Companies will be glad to have those skills and abilities at their disposal. If you don’t like the way you are being treated in one place……keep looking. Don’t let those years of experience go to waste. Look at the industry now, and I dare you to disagree……….Just my opinion.
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