Trucking ‘is well in the family’ for Holland man



This week, National Truck Driver Appreciation Week recognizes the 3.5 million American truckers who safely and promptly deliver goods across the country.

These men and women keep the wheels of the nation in motion.

The Herald interviewed Pat Kramer, a Holland truck driver who has worked for Best Chairs Transit for 39 years and has traversed more than 5 million miles in his career, to spotlight him in light of the nationwide celebration.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Where all have you traveled while moving furniture for Best Chairs?

I’ve been as far as Salt Lake City, Utah, to the West; and Massachusetts is as far east as I’ve gone. Everything else in between.

That’s a huge chunk of the country. As a truck driver, why is it important that we recognize your work and the work of millions more truckers across the United States?

If we weren’t out there, you wouldn’t have anything to sleep on or eat. Computers, phones — everything comes by truck. It may come across the ocean in ships, but trucks are what deliver it.

Other than failing to use their turn signals, what do passenger car drivers do that drives you crazy?

What drives me crazy right now is people who are on their cellphones. And not necessarily talking, but when they get involved in their conversation and they decide in the last 50 feet they want to get off at their exit. That’s the people texting and driving. If they ever had state police, sheriff or city police drive with a trucker and look down in the vehicles and see these people, how they text and drive, they’d know what we’re going through. That’s probably the worst thing [I see], other than tornados and hurricanes.

Is there anything about driving a semi that you think the public doesn’t know or understand?

Naturally, a lot of us talk about the blind spots. They [other drivers] don’t realize that if you’re going to pass a semi, get up there and get around them. Don’t just sit there and look at their truck and the wheels turning. Just get up and get around us. And then when you get around us, don’t slow down below the speed limit or the road conditions. Just be aware of your surroundings.

From your perspective, what are the most important skills a truck driver needs to possess?

One of our guys, when you came in to apply for a job, he would have you drive your own personal vehicle, and he’d watch how you drive you personal vehicle. If you can’t drive your personal vehicle, you don’t need to be out on the road with a semi. Just simple things like stopping at a stop sign, looking both ways, use your turn signals. If you don’t do that in your car, you could put somebody in a world of hurt with a regular semi.

Did you ever think you’d hit the 5 million mile mark?

No. (Laughs) I’m actually way over that. When I first started washing trucks, my dad was in trucking, and he said, ‘Keep track of every little mile you drive, no matter whether it’s just around the fuel pumps.’ He said, ‘Someday you’ll reach a million miles.’ Well, you can see what it is today.

I’ve also got two brothers, Mike and Mark, they drive trucks. My one grandpa was a truck driver. So, it’s well in the family.

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