Melody Clark got her start in trucking 16 years ago driving a dump truck. She then hauled a tractor trailer dump and spent some time flatbedding before she started driving dry van.
Now, thanks to her experience, she was able to land her current job as a city driver in and around the Cleveland, Ohio area.
She works as a company driver for Holland and lives near Cleveland. She’s enjoyed being stayed a company driver because it means not having to do all of the maintenance work on the truck.
“My weekends are precious and owner/operators have to worry about tires, oil changes, permits, stickers. I don’t have to worry about any of that. When I come home I leave that truck at work and I don’t have to think about that truck because it’s not mine,” Clark said.
Working as a city driver means Clark is able to make it home to her husband and her dog every night. She’s done her time as a long haul driver, and now she just wants to be able to spend as much time as she can with her family.
“It’s more hands on. There’s more interaction with customers, there’s more interaction with family,” Clark said. “Being out in a truck, I did it for 9 years. I had the sleeper. I’ve been gone and if I can make the same amount of money every day and be home then why wouldn’t I?”
Clark doesn’t have to haul into downtown Cleveland. Her routes usually have her on the far west side of Cleveland, but it’s still a city environment even if it’s not downtown, and she says that has its benefits.
“The line haul drivers aren’t spending a whole lot of time at a four-way stop. They’re out on the highway. You get cut off by other cars, you get cut off by other truckers, but in the city I’m actually on the streets and spending much less time on the highways. Once you get off the highways that’s when things become a different challenge,” Clark said.
She says her experience as a woman in the industry has largely been positive. While she cautions that trucking isn’t for everyone, she says she’d recommend it to women who are willing to take the commitment seriously.
“Earn your respect. You can’t just come in and demand respect. You have to earn it. You’re coming into a predominantly male world. Some of the guys believe you’ve taken a man’s job. You have to earn their respect,” Clark said.
Clark has been driving for Holland for 11 years and says she’s earned the respect of her trucking peers.
“It was a struggle at times but now these guys are like big brothers,” Clark says of her fellow truckers.
Clark feels trucking is a great job and she plans to continue driving until she wins the lottery, she jokes. Being a city driver, she says, means she’s in a great position.
“I’m at the top of the food chain. I’m a driver, this is as good as it gets,” Clark said.