Karen Gray has had a love for traveling her entire life so when she saw an ad in the newspaper for a trucking school, it made sense for her to enroll. She had just quit her job in the dietary department at a hospital and was looking for an adventurous fresh start.
“I’ve always wanted to travel. I’ve always traveled my entire life. Not just as a job, but any chance I had to go somewhere, I’d go somewhere,” said Gray, 59, from Jackson, Michigan.
Trucking seemed like the perfect way for her to explore the country. Gray has had her CDL for 10 years now and hauls a dry van for USA Truck. She enjoys staying out over the road for weeks at a time.
“I’ve told my boss that when this job becomes a job I will be resigning. I love traveling,” Gray said.
Even her home time is spent traveling with family. While she’s been able to explore the country as a truck driver, Gray can’t pin down a favorite place she’s visited. Each destination is its own experience for her.
“I find something unique about almost every place I go through,” she said.
Gray was named USA Truck’s Driver of the Month in September. She says she was shocked by the recognition because she was also Driver of the Month in a previous year, and she didn’t think she’d be recognized again so soon.
“I was very proud to have them recognize me,” Gray said.
Based on her own successful career, she offers some advice to upcoming drivers: Refrain from judging trucking companies in your first year. Growing pains are to be expected, she says, as new drivers adjust to the industry.
“The first year everybody is learning each other. You’re learning your boss and he or she is learning you and what you’re capable of doing, and if you’re a hard driver or somebody that likes to sleep in. It’s all a learning curve,” Gray said.
Gray enjoys the relationships she’s built at USA Truck, particularly with her driver manager.
“My boss makes my job. He really does, and the company helps because of how they treat their drivers,” Gray said.
Her only regret about her trucking career is not starting it earlier.
“Just the adventure is what got me in the job. I wish I’d done this 20-something years earlier because it would have been even more fun,” Gray said.