Donald Cook, 50
Donald Cook slumped back into the edge of the couch in the musky trucker's lounge. His eyes looked heavy as his body went limp from exhaustion.
There have been better days, he said: Days when we wasn't waiting for a broken down truck; days when the trucking company's dispatcher didn't call to tell him his miles were being cut.
"I am sick of it," Mr. Cook said, as several more truckers came into the lounge. "It seems like the average drivers aren't appreciated any more."
Mr. Cook was introduced to the trucking industry thirty years ago when he was doing yard work for a neighbor who owned a trucking company. The neighbor was kind to him and by the time he was 16, the man taught him to drive and allowed him to make a few deliveries.
Later, when Mr. Cook married and drove for a company full time, he and his wife made a home of his truck cab, taking countless cross-county trips together and seeing all of America, he said.
"I was drawn to the coast-to-coast, the traveling the country," he said.
Today, Mr. Cook makes less money than he did 15 years ago and is planning to leave his job.
Mr. Cook used to drive an average of 2,800 to 3,100 miles a week for J.B. Hunt, but in the last six months those long rides that let him stretch out on the open road have been whittled down by nearly 1,000 miles, he said.
"I have lost all the love I had for trucking," he said. "It was self motivated. It was up to me. I had control. I lost that control."