The role Instagram plays in the life of 1 millennial truck driver

June 28 / US
The role Instagram plays in the life of 1 millennial truck driver

Eric Tedder is an out gay man and a local Houston truck driver who documents his daily experiences on his Instagram account—and they don’t always involve trucking. Eric posts about everyday life to show that even as a gay man and a truck driver, he’s just like everyone else. “Any of us can do anything. I don’t know why people think trucking has anything to do with sexual orientation,” he said.

As someone younger and newer to the field, Eric observes that trucking seems to be one of “a few industries left that still hold on to the ‘good ole boy’ and macho aura,” even though he believes that times are changing.

Tell us about yourself. How did you get into trucking?

I waited tables for a decade and wanted something long-term with benefits and more money. I saw an ad for a local school district hiring bus drivers. About a year and a half later, I decided it would be exciting to see the country and have an adventure.

I started driving trucks in 2017 as a company driver doing OTR (over-the-road) and team. Now I drive locally in Houston. There’s stuff about the road I miss, but it’s also really great to be in my own bed every night. I also go to school right now. I’m trying to get a degree in political science.

What was surprising to you about trucking?

I had no idea about team driving—that just blew my mind. I had never even considered that there would be one person sleeping in the truck while the other was driving. I don’t even think I fully understood that during my CDL course.

The hours of service took some getting used to as well. Making hours of service work with load times and expectations was definitely a learning curve. When I was team driving and I was new, I actually found the restrictions to be a blessing. I wasn’t sure what I was capable of, so I kind of liked having the structure.

What challenges have you faced as an LGBTQIA+ truck driver?

When I was comparing companies and CDL schools, I assumed they’d be generic and non-discriminatory. But then I contacted some other people who were OTR using the #gaytrucker hashtag on Facebook and Instagram, and I talked to one guy who really scared me. He’d had a really negative experience at my company, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into—especially going into the Bible Belt. I was afraid I’d have to go back in the closet, that my trainer wouldn’t be open, or that I’d never find a co-driver.

However, my experience was not what I feared. You have such little face time with your company—you’re rarely in the same time zone. My trainer and co-driver were great guys, and we didn’t have any problems. My experiences were fortunate ones. I don’t think my fears were totally unfounded though because I’ve heard horror stories.

What opportunities does trucking provide LGBTQIA+ individuals?

Being a truck driver is almost like being a ghost. More people are truck drivers than many other jobs, but most people don’t know any truck drivers. Because it’s such a transient lifestyle, it kind of removes you from regular society. If you’re tired of your small town or your community that doesn’t accept you, it’s a good way to get out and better yourself with stable income. I guess you can bring yourself 100% to your truck because it’s your space, but in other industries, you might have to hide bits and pieces.

What do you do to stay safe on the road?

I’ve been fortunate that ever since I came out, I’ve been emboldened to walk proudly in my spaces. Part of that is being male and cisgender. From a distance, I’m just a generic white dude. We do live in an era where people are just more afraid, so I think we need to trust people a little more and not be so afraid of homophobia and transphobia.

What resources do you turn for community or help as a truck driver?

I’m a millennial, so my phone has saved my life many times. When you’re out there in the middle of nowhere and you haven’t seen a human being in 20 hours, all sorts of old friends and family get calls from you. I like keeping in contact with my friends and hearing their day-to-day. There are new apps out too, like Marco Polo. It’s a video text messaging app, kind of like Snapchat. It makes it possible to do video calls without being tied to your phone. You can leave a message and they can hit you back whenever.

What’s your hope for the future of the trucking industry?

The obvious future of the trucking industry is automation. I’m interested to see what route that takes. It would also be nice for truck drivers to be integrated more into actual society. There are a few places, like Nashville, that have truck stops in downtown. It’s nice because you get to be a part of the city. Houston too has a truck stop with the metro rail behind that, so you can hop on and go anywhere. We need ways for truckers to be less confined to giant, open lots in the middle of nowhere.

The views expressed in this post are solely those of the individual being featured. Experiences may vary.


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