Most people don’t know the process that takes place behind the scenes to get their food and many other products to the shelves in their local grocery stores. Truck drivers are the real backbones that keep America on their feet. The professional driver I had the pleasure of riding along with was Armando Martinez. Now in his mid-30s, Armando informed me he has been in the trucking business since he was 18 years old, so he’s been involved in trucking for a while now and built up a lot of experience.
Armando told me he had an appointment at 6 a.m. and instructed me to be at the yard an hour before. We met early morning Thursday at 5 a.m., where he picked me up by the fuel station. He takes care of his pre-trip checks before I get in and we head out to his first drop of the day. The first question I ask him is, “How do you like driving for Jetco?” He replies, “Well, I get to go home every day to see my family, the pay is good, and for the most part I am able to make my own hours.”
This seems to be a common theme amongst our drivers. The way everyone at Jetco embraces the safety culture allows this safety umbrella to cover all areas of the company and even extend to the public. To see the culture transfer from the office onto the roads makes me feel like Jetco is actively out making a difference. While on our way to our first appointment, I could tell Armando is very attentive. At 6 a.m., he is already on it, constantly analyzing his situation and taking safety precautions to any hazards that may arise.
We arrive at the warehouse before they open the gates for the trucks to drop off their loads. There was a line down the street with drivers trying to unload or load their containers. Luckily, we didn’t wait there too long as a lot of the drivers had fallen asleep while waiting in line. We were able to safely drive past them and dock the container to the docking bay to unload. From witnessing Armando as well as the other professional drivers there, I can tell they make parking these big vehicles look a lot easier than it truly is. As he reverses into the dock, there are other trucks that he needs to avoid. Unlike a regular parking situation, he must line up his trailer with the docking station, so that he is able to lock it in and prevent any accidents from taking place.
Armando obviously knows his profession and was very informative. From there we leave and head to Bayport where we’ll pick up another load and drop off our empty container. He begins to tell me how the line at the port can either be long or we’ll roll right through it. Of course, I’ve heard the stories of drivers being stuck at the port for hours and I definitely wasn’t prepared for that. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to be that crowded once we got there. It was honestly a beautiful sight to see one of the processes of importing and exporting goods in the country that we have. Containers were stacked high enough to be compared to skyscrapers.
They have a small crane-like device for unloading the empty containers off the chassis and a bigger one for loading them on. Armando does local loads usually for Jetco, which means for the most part he will stay in Texas. His schedule is catered to him being able to go home to see his family every day and make his son’s practices and tournaments on the weekends. It is heart-warming to be able to see a dad work hard and have the time for family. Armando works 14-hour days mostly, working from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. most days. Under DOT regulations, you’re able to drive for a total of 11 hours with 3 hours of sit time allowed between trips. Armando doesn’t leave any food on the plate.
Armando is one of many professional drivers at Jetco who embraces the idea of going the extra mile to drive to perfection. He’s a loving father, a hard worker and an even better man. Not only am I glad I was able to go on this experience, but I’m also glad I went on it with Armando. How informative he was helped me learn a lot about him and the situations they go through daily. The ability to make your passenger feel safe in a vehicle moving 40,000 pounds is a skill. Jetco is grateful to have such dedicated drivers who embrace our number one, non-negotiable core value, safety.