An interview with big rig driver Dominic Tramonte

Interview by Noah Graff

Today’s Machining World Archives March 2007 Volume 3 Issue 03

Dominic Tramonte

Dominic Tramonte has been an over-the-road truck driver for the last seven years, and an owner/operator of a Kenworth semi truck for the last two.

NG: What was your occupation prior to being a truck driver?
DT
: I have double master’s degree in engineering from the University of Texas. I was a fled engineer. I built a lot of chemical plants, office towers and prisons mostly. But I’m just too old to work 100 hour weeks anymore. I drive because don’t like to sit in an office and draw blueprints that other people get to go into the fled and build.

NG: Do you prefer sitting in a cab all day?
DT
: Yeah, that doesn’t bother me. I don’t work that hard. Every now and again I’ll put in a 12 or 14 hour day, but usually I only work five or six hours a day. The rest of the time, I put my feet up, read and play computer games.

NG: Which jobs make you the most money?
DT
: Oversized freight and freight that you’ve got a lot of time pressure on. I personally won’t load anything for less than about $1.50 a mile. The best job I got was for $6.00 a mile.

NG: How do you acquire freight jobs?
DT
: I have an agent who does the work for me, and I pay him 8 percent off the top. I’m leased to Dallas & Mavis, and use their authority to haul freight. They also get a percentage.

NG: If you could ask James Hoffa, head of the Teamsters one question, what would it be?
DT:
I know nothing about the Teamster Union life. I’m curious about what they’re buying with the money from the members. I’d like to know what the members have that I don’t. Don’t see that they have any greater job security. I don’t see them taking home better money. Maybe it’s the organization or political purposes. For me personally, I’m an owner/operator making my own decisions. When I screw up, don’t have anybody to point the figure at, and when I do well, I don’t have to pat anybody else on the back.

NG: What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve carried?
DT
: I once hauled a load from Boston to Huntsville, Alabama in a box trailer. It was one 8 by 11 manila envelope. I guess it was blueprints or something, and for some reason they didn’t send it UPS or FedEx. They closed the door, and they put four padlocks on the handles. Then they FedExed the keys to the guys who were on the receiving end of the envelope.

NG: Has anything frightened you about driving?
DT
: I drove an empty high-band trailer across the I-5 Bridge from Portland, Oregon, into Washington State across the Columbia River, and the wind was howling in off of the Pacific at about 100 miles an hour. I was half-way across that bridge, and a gust would come in and snatch my truck from the left-hand lane and rub it up against the guardrail. That was the longest three minutes I have ever spent in my entire life. When they police came they said, “That bridge has been closed to high profile traffic for 11 hours. Wasn’t there a cop on the other side that told you not to go?” I said, “No, you mean I risked my life like that for nothing?” He didn’t say a word. He just started laughing and walked back to his car and drove off. That’s the most frightened I’ve ever been driving a truck.

NG: What do you do to pass the time when you’re driving?
DT:
I think. It’s one of the reasons I love the job. I’m a private person, and I’m a thinker. It gives me hours and hours every day. And I just listen to the sound of the engine. That way I can hear the sirens and hear what the truck is doing.

NG: If you could be any machine, what would you be?
DT
: A CNC milling machine. You can do beautiful work with those.

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