Trying Times

By on November 1, 2008
RoadKing Mag

Tim Philmon - Middleburg, Fla. - Driving for 25 years

When I was a kid,  I would look at those big trucks on the road, and I knew then that I wanted to be a driver. At home we had this chair that I used to climb into, holding a pot that was perfect to use as a steering wheel. My dad would ask, “Son, where are you headed today?” And I’d say, “Oh, I’ve got a load I’m taking down to Georgia today.”

That’s a boy who was born to drive a truck.

And I did. I began my trucking career in 1983 and have had a bag packed since.

I was a company driver for 13 years, when I bought a cabover and began the adventure of becoming an owner-operator. Right before I purchased that truck, I found out that I had contracted Hepatitis C. I had a wife and five kids by then, and the next 18 months were tough. There were times I just didn’t think I could do it.

Then I read Proverbs 24:16: “For a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again” and that has been my mission statement ever since.

The medication worked, but my illness was just the beginning of a hard road. In May of 2001, I purchased a brand new Mack. I was riding high until my wife of 12 years told me that she wanted out of our marriage. Soon afterward 9/11 happened. I found myself going through a sort of emotional breakdown and didn’t know how to fix it. I was a trainwreck.

My brand new truck was not holding up either. It had blown two turbos, three injectors, and the head came apart. I began to ask myself why I had given up the security of a company to become an owner-operator. I had one foot in bankruptcy court and one on a banana peel.

I had two choices: give up or get up.

I looked to my family heritage. My dad made eyeglasses and had a reputation as one of the best. My grandfather was a farmer in south Georgia for 50 years and never owned a farm tractor. To feed his family, he plowed 40 acres with a mule. When he couldn’t do it, my grandmother — 5’1” and about 100 pounds — did. When I was 9, my dad died, and my mom was left to raise two boys by herself. She did, plus she got her master’s degree before retiring after 37 years of teaching.

They were my examples. I kept going. Things began to turn for the better. I met my future bride. I saw an opportunity for success with Landstar and signed on with them about five years ago. I told my wife to give me six  months to see if I couldn’t get this train back on track, and if not I’d quit. She was 100 percent behind me. That’s all I needed.

Fast forward to the present. Record fuel prices and still, I’m having a banner year. I believe anyone can have success in whatever they do when they have support from their family. My brother, who was a moral support for me when times were bad, is trucking now too. He was burned out on the corporate world and came on as a trainee with me, then we teamed for a while. He had some trouble at first making it work, and because I know the business, I could give him some help. He’s having a banner year too.

Trucking is all I ever wanted to do.  I’ve been here for 3.5 million miles and plan on being here for some time.  

Tell us how trucking has affected your life and you may be featured in Road King.

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