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A career trucker brings his tales of the road to people in hospice
David Jutte • Fort Recovery, Ohio • Driving for 43 years
My dad was the head of truck maintenance at United Parcel Service for most of Ohio and I would go to work with him when I was a kid. At 16, I started to drive a straight truck there and then got work hauling chickens and turkeys locally. All the people I knew were truck people. My brothers drive too. As soon as I turned 18 I was in a semi, hauling livestock and pulling reefers into Virginia.
At the time, I thought, “I’ll do this until I find something better to do.” I started making quite a bit of money at age 18 — some weeks I’d make as much as my dad. I never stopped driving. When I turned 28 I bought my own truck. I hauled forklifts out of Ohio out to California for about 30 years. I quit that job three years ago and came to Liquid Transport, hauling sulfuric acid to Texas.
My dad taught my brothers and me how to maintain and build trucks, so I actually build all of my own trucks. I’ll buy a wrecked truck and build it into a brand-new truck, put a million miles on it and then sell it and get another one. If something breaks I can fix just about anything.
Both of my parents were very volunteer-oriented, always involved in a lot of things going on in the community, and that was an influence on me. A few years ago, I had three close family members use State of the Heart Hospice at the end of their lives. I watched what the people in the organization did, read the literature that they give out and realized how much hospice care helps you get ready for what will happen. They give a lot of support.
In my truck shop, I’d hear ads for State of the Heart Hospice on the radio and think that one of these days I would volunteer to work with them. Finally I picked up the phone and volunteered. When I’m home from the road, I’m available to help.
That can mean picking up and delivering medication, or I might be assigned to be a companion to a patient. Sometimes I will help with work around the house, like fixing a leaky faucet. Other times I’ll just talk. I’ll tell them where I’ve gone, what I saw on the road, the weather, where I’m going next. I may bring something back for them. If I’m not home I can call.
If I’m assigned to an older man in hospice, at first he may not understand why I’m coming around. But then he gets to know me and I get to know him. The guys I visit always like to hear stories from the road. It’s a rewarding, pleasant feeling to be able to help.