WRITER. Trucker. Nomad.

My Biggest Gripe With Flatbed Trucking

I'm currently a flatbed trucker with Prime Inc.. Overall, I'm happy—at least for someone who's been in trucking for a little over a year.

Prime is a good company.

For beginners with no experience.

If you have 2+ years of experience, you can make more money elsewhere, and probably get home more frequently, too. But hey, everyone's got to pay their dues, and Prime's a nice place to get started.

Still, it's not all sparkly vampires and leprechauns in the skateboard gang. There's one thing about flatbed trucking that, well, sucks:

Unpaid work. Lots of it. Great big steaming dung piles of heavy wet tarps worth of unpaid work.

 

In the beginning of my flatbed career, way back in the hoary days of 2016, I told myself I enjoyed the hard work of tarping, strapping, and equipment wrangling. Because it keeps me beautiful. Because it's good "exercise."

But after a bulging disk, wrecked shoulders, and banged up shins that never fully heal, I'm starting to question the logic of all that unpaid work.

Now, if rates for flatbed trucking were significantly higher than rates for reefer or dry van, then all the extra work we do securing loads and off-roading in construction sites would be worth it.

But rates are not higher for flatbed. At least at Prime. In fact, they seem to be a little lower on average.

"But don't you get paid to tarp?" asks the Devil's advocate.

Yes. $50 dollars. But when it's 110-degrees outside (or 10-below and windy), and it takes 3.5 hours to tarp, strap, and bungee a load—and then your clock runs out and you don't have time to get to a truck stop so you can take a shower—fifty bucks doesn't feel so good. It feels like getting kneed in the nuts by a jacked-up gorilla.

Not when you can make more money bumping a dock, staying clean, and taking naps at shippers as a reefer driver.

And it's not like I'm afraid of hard work. I spent a lot of time on a farm as a kid. I hauled hay in the summers. I cut brush and dug gardens and moved rocks. I played football in college.

I just like getting paid for the work I do.

Not to mention, flatbed trucking is leaving me too exhausted to write most days.

For no extra pay.

Time for a change? Stay tuned.