“I don’t know where I am, or what I’m doing, but I’ll find myself somewhere.”
These are the words that adorn Bryon Maslow’s voicemail. Maslow is a 25-year-old truck driver from Isanti, Minn. There was a time when Bryon was often stuck away from home one summer. He and a buddy came up with this quote. He has been a truck driver for seven years.
Maslow graduated from Cambridge high school in 2004 and immediately started working, first as a concrete worker, then a landscaper. Now, he’s a truck driver for Central Wood Products. He received his commercial “A” driver's license, which according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, "are vehicles with a GVWR [Gross Vehicle Weight Rating] of more than 10,000 pounds, or more than 26,000 pounds combining trailer and truck/cab."
“It wasn’t scary at all the first few times I drove,” Maslow said. “It’s just the same as getting your regular license. You get a book, study it. Take a written test and get a permit for six months. Then go in for the behind the wheel and pass that.”
I don’t know where I am
Maslow used to do a lot of partying right after high school, including some trips to Duluth. After that, all his partying friends kind of went their own way.
“I did an awful lot of drinking before I was 21,” Maslow said. “We’d go out and party at a buddy’s house, play with a mud trucks, drink and wreck stuff; but it just gets old. Just like anything else you do too much of, there’s no thrill anymore.”
Now, when he isn’t working, Maslow has his own place and focuses on outdoor activities, like mud trucking and hunting. Mud trucking is basically what it sounds like. You ride around in circles, in a pit of mud, trying to get your truck as dirty as possible! “If I’m not outdoors I ain’t happy,” Maslow said.
Though Maslow’s parents got divorced when he was young, he stays in contact with both of them. He also has one younger sister who is 22, and two half sisters, aged 8 and 4.
“We are all pretty close, probably not as close as we could be,” Maslow said.
Or what I’m doing
According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, truck drivers held about 3.2 million jobs in 2008. Legally, a truck driver can only drive for 11 hours straight and be clocked in for 14, and then they are forced to take a ten-hour break. This is kept track through a daily set of logs.
“I usually punch in around 4:15 a.m.,” Maslow said, “and then I’m in the truck rolling around 5:00 a.m.”
Before Maslow takes off in his truck for the day he is required to do a pre-trip, which includes checking the trucks oil, coolant, belts, and brakes to ensure it is safe to drive down the road.
Maslow hauls himself into the cab of the truck by crawling up a makeshift ladder made of steps on the fuel tank; the cab is 6 and a half feet off of the ground.
“I’ve seen the craziest things being that high and able to see into other people’s cars,” Maslow said. “I saw a couple having sex right outside of Chicago and a naked girl driving, with the top down, in her convertible around Florida. All you can do is laugh and honk your horn.”
On a long drive, Maslow prefers to eat at truck stops.
“You haven’t had restaurant food until you’ve eaten at a truck stop. It’s just like grandma’s home cooking,” Maslow said.
McDonalds and local gas stations are staples when Maslow is driving locally.
When on the road, Maslow sleeps in a bed installed in the truck.
“It works better than sleeping in my own bed. You can leave the truck running as it idles and shakes,” Maslow said.
But I’ll find myself somewhere
Maslow’s company used to own a mulch provider in Florida. Before they sold it he had made the long drive from Minnesota to Florida, more than seventeen times.
“I like doing the oversized and overweight trucks,” Maslow said. “You have to be a lot more alert and on your toes because you’re taking up so much more of the road.”
Getting cut off could be seen as one of Maslow’s biggest pet peeves.
“A lot of people don’t realize it takes me more than four times the amount of time and space to stop than a car does,” Maslow said. “I have people cut me off left and right. I’m going 70 with and 80,000 pound truck, I don’t stop.”
Maslow remembers a particularly nasty drive through the southern end of Illinois.
“It was in February or January of 2008. We ran into some nasty ice storms, like a blizzard here, but worse. We had to drive through and that is not something you want to do on a regular basis. The wind was blowing so hard, if you were in the right lane your trailer would be pushed to the left lane. You can’t slow down, you can’t speed up, there’s nothing you can do but stay steady.”
Maslow’s mom, Kimberly Blanche, is always concerned about him, on and off the road.
“I don’t worry so much about him, but about the other drivers,” Blanche said. “Inexperienced drivers do not know how semis can react. Some people just don’t understand- especially if the weather is bad.”
“Anything can happen on the road,” he said. “Flat tires, blow outs, you name it. You can take a corner too fast and your load will shift, which can possibly cause a rollover.”
Maybe Bryon doesn’t know where he is or where he’s going, but find himself he will; safely hopefully, out there in the middle of all that asphalt.
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