By Ryan Lengerich
Doug Chambers has driven 5 1/2 million miles. Million.
That would be Tucumcari to Albuquerque — 31,073 times. He’s never had a wreck and hasn’t had speeding ticket in 14 years.
Chambers, a 49-year-old road warrior from St. George, Utah, has been a truck driver for 34 years. As he has done many times before, he sat alone Thursday evening at the Pow Wow lounge joking with the bartender. It’s all part of life on the road.
“Everybody is a stranger,” Chambers said. “It really takes a toll. It’s not a family man’s life by any means.”
He would know.
Chambers has three children, Greg, 28, Colby, 26 and Karle, 22. He has five grandkids.
“I think about them a lot and I would like to be around them more, but right now I have to be where I am, and that is okay,” he said. “I missed my kids growing up.”
Driving for Racks Express, a company he started about four years ago, he was on his return route from Jacksonville, Fla. when he stopped in Tucumcari. Despite the job’s drawbacks, Chambers said he has met many different people and most enjoys listening to folks older than himself talk about the past. And, of course, 5 million miles means he has been everywhere.
“You get to see the country. I have seen all of it,” he said. “I don’t want to see any more of it.”
Chambers considers himself lucky never to have been involved in any crashes. He hauled gasoline for 10 years, which he said made every car around him, literally, a bomb. He knew many truck drivers that have been killed. He often can’t believe the stunts drivers attempt.
“It blows my mind, they are not thinking anything — that is what they’re thinking,” he said. “I have seen so many wrecks and people do a lot of stupid things.”
Chambers said he will probably never retire. If he stopped, he wouldn’t know what to do. He has no hobbies and he has no free time.
“I have been at this so long, the only way I would feel useful is to keep doing what I am doing,” he said.
With the sacrifice and lifestyle, Chambers said truck driving is the nation’s most under-acknowledged profession. It’s a thankless and a unforgivable job, he said.
“I don’t know any trucker to want any more than just to be noticed for what they do,” he said. “We’re just trying to make a living and do our job and have pride in our job. You just wish other people would know that, instead of cussing at you every time they drive by because you have something big and heavy.”