By Phil Madsen
OOIDA Life Member
Once upon a time, my wife and I owned a house and had good jobs. Now we live and work in a truck.
Another sad recession story? Two people to pity? A married couple forced by circumstances into a lesser life? Not at all.
We are successful owner-operators who love life on the road. We would not take our old life back for twice the income we then made. Property-free is the way to be. It means money and fun for Diane and me.
We began hauling expedited freight in 2003. A year later we sold our house, cars and nearly all household goods, and changed our legal residence to rented space in a relative’s house. This freed us from homeowner debt, maintenance and expense. It freed us to work hard and smart, and quickly pay off a custom-built, big-sleeper straight truck. The recession slowed things down, but we remain profitable and able to put money away.
The truck is designed for fun on the road. It’s easier than a big rig to park at the beach. The front is for us; the back is for freight. We generally haul just a few thousand pounds and don’t need to haul more. Expedited freight is not about weight; it’s about speed and special care.
When people ask about our truck and life, they ask about what matters to them. Homebodies ask about showers and living space. Money-conscious people (rich and poor) ask about income. Travelers ask about the tourist fun. People who feel trapped ask about time off. Family-centered folks ask about getting home. Environmentalists like to discuss our green ways. Religious people wonder if we have a ministry. Some people think we’re antisocial nutcases.
Well, we didn’t do this for other people’s reasons; we did it for our own. We did it to increase our income, spend more time together, simplify our lives, share a business project, and see the country. We did not sacrifice our house to live on the road. We got free from our house to live as we wish.
While we consider ourselves spiritual and socially conscious, our trucking purpose is not as high-minded as people sometimes suggest. We are green more by accident than on purpose. Our wardrobes fit in one cupboard each and a tiny closet not because we’re trying to save the rain forest, but because it’s foolish to carry more than we need. While our trucking business is not a ministry, we can answer God’s calls as well on the road as we could if we lived in a house.
Some truckers mock our full-featured truck. They rightly say low-end trucks can haul the same freight. Living in a truck does not mean doing without. When you own almost nothing, you can afford the best. Our truck lets us be more comfortable than the freight.
There are those who keep score by the possessions they own. We don’t. We are not better than company drivers because we own a high-end rig, or inferior to homeowners because we sleep in a truck. There will always be people who have more than you. If you spend money believing you are what you own, you’ll always be less than those who have more.
As for us being antisocial nut cases, antisocial we’re not. We see family more than when we lived in a house and have made many new friends on the road. Nutcases we may be, but it would make us nuttier still to cling to possessions we do not need to forgo the life we enjoy today. LL