My First Ever

Roger Clark
December 2022

I’ve had a lot of ‘firsts’ in my trucking career. It was my first time in Canada, first load to Mexico, and first delivery to Trump Tower on 5th Avenue. It was my first ever drug screen, first serious injury, first time in business, and first divorce. This career has been highlighted by my first time in jail, and a first for the bail bondsman, who had never had a truck driver bailed out by their employer. 

It was on this job that I first fell in love, ignited a feud, lost my way, and found a religion. And that was just this week. Well, okay, maybe it was a few decades ago. But it was also my first introduction to country music, variable speed limits, clunky little cellphones, and home-rolled marijuana joints. 

 I remember like yesterday my first private shower, near Crown Point, Indiana, and first Jake Brake, which allowed me to cross over Grapevine Pass with a lot less smoke than usual. Like so many other things, back in the day, it was a self-taught technology that could have resulted in self-destruction. But as I’ve often observed, God looks out for fools and children, and I weren’t no kid. 

Some of those ‘firsts’ were more life changing than others. Take basted eggs at breakfast, for instance, or switching to healthier filtered cigarettes. Hey, nobody ever accused me of being smart, but by 1993 the smokes were gone, wheat toast was in, and some cooks still haven’t figured out the basted egg thing. That may be the meaning of life, I don’t know.

 Trucking was not my first brush with comedy, but it’s been a fertile crop of humor that’s never out of season. That’s how we ended up with a summertime snowball fight inside my reefer, and where I convinced an Iowa DOT officer to skip a winter inspection. It’s the porkchop bone seen on the floor of a Cairo, Illinois truckstop café. The truckstop has been gone for years. The porkchop bone is still there. I know, go figure!

This career was the get-on ramp to event marketing, Lime Rock Raceway, Cowboy Church, and Keepsake Ornaments. It’s how I met Steelers coach Bill Cowher, NASCAR broadcaster Mike Joy, and John Madden’s bus driver, Willie Yarbrough. Well, okay, I did meet Madden too, that day at Qualcomm Stadium in 2007, but Willie was cooking a turkey right next to the Madden Cruiser. You know where my focus was!

 This job was my first trip to downtown Disney, Little Italy, Niagara Falls, and Three Mile Island, before it almost glowed in the dark. Driving a battered old cabover K100, it was my first time in Vegas, first time over Vail Pass, and first time busted for Disorderly Conduct. The fine was a hundred bucks, but my punishment was getting back in that old Kenworth.

It’s been an interesting ride, across the fruited plains, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Well, maybe a six-pack of cold Bud this weekend, but that would be my limit. Anymore, and I’d probably break out in handcuffs! The years I’ve devoted to this industry, and the number of marriages shot down in flames because of it are classified Top Secret, but I can tell you this much. I have no regrets, no truck payments, no alimony, and no child support, and this may be the most important ‘first’ of all. We can now spend our money on the things that really matter, like chicken lights, bumper chrome, and season 5 of Yellowstone!