David Jensen

Interview by
Published on
December 22, 2021

In this episode...

While some see a monotonous journey ahead whenever a driver starts the engine others like David Jensen anticipate their next adventures. They are guided by an understanding each new day has new lessons to be learned. Professionals with decades of faithful service and millions of miles across our beautiful, diverse nation invite a listening ear. In this episode, you’ll hear practical principles for being a great driver and also some of the best roadway eateries when it’s time to stop and take a break. Enjoy the conversational journey!

David Jensen

David Jensen is a professional driver at FreightWorks.


the first time I backed up the trailer it was like

uh I was trying to get it into the dock and it just took me forever to get back in and somebody finally had to calm me down well actually the trainer with jb hunt calmed me down and said breathe this is truck driving it's not rocket science you know we'll you'll get it and uh so he was encouraging yeah he was encouraged

life by the mile delivered by freightworks is your 30-minute weekly podcast adventure you'll hear the heart soul and passions of those who keep america moving join us we're ready to roll in this episode of life by the mile delivered by freightworks we have david jensen he's a 30-year driver been at freight works for three years native texan lots of great stories including three secret places to pull off the road and eat you're really going to enjoy this episode with david life of the mile delivered by freightworks so we're going to do what we do we uh just kind of dive in david and uh is that what friends call you david oh yeah they call me anything they want to as long as it's not late for dinner okay there we go there there we go well david how did you get your start in this colorful demanding sometimes chaotic world what we call trucking yeah pretty much i was born into it because uh my dad did it all my life and childhood memories riding with my dad and the cab over sitting on the dog house older i got i'd start shifting the gears for my dad and he'd be driving down he would he would let you shift yeah really and you were in a cab over yeah now for the people that don't know what a cab over is because we do have some people that follow us that may not know tell them what that is a cab over you're sitting completely on top of the motor and the tires the steer tires and you literally climb way up high and you're sitting way up above everybody else and when you you hit those brakes and everything else you feel like you know you could go over and stand on its nose yeah i mean it it gives you the sensation that you're right on the road right right yeah you're not detached from it you're right right on the road right there so there you are with your dad and in a cab over and he's letting you shift the gears how old were you i was probably about eight eight years old okay okay so you he was working for a company called micro products and that was when they were uh in texas was that in longview or no it was in garland i was born and raised in garland garlic moved in long beach okay right near mesquite mesquite garland now you know that i lived in dallas for a while oh yes right mesquite garland plano i was actually in coppel oh yeah coppell over closer to the to to the airport there smokey aids barbecue okay now you know what there's there's an organizing principle already which is that you know the good places to eat but we're gonna talk about that in a minute so let me let me ask you this so you observed your father and he was a driver for a number of years did he stay with one company no he worked for frozen food express micro products uh percolator armor uh that one there i was so glad when he got rid of that one because he would bring cowhides home inside the trailer on his way to like new york with him and it would stink up the whole neighborhood okay so let me get this straight you know what we've said this to you before folks here on life of the mile delivered by freightworks we never quite know what the stories are gonna be so you're saying that he would have a a truckload or a load of cow heights of a armored secured loaded trailer of cowhides and they would be headed up for leather works or yeah they'd be headed up to leatherworks going up to like maine or something like that and they didn't put no air fragrance in there and it usually took uh several pounds of coffee to get the odor out of the trailers isn't that something yeah okay so you saw the good the bad and the ugly of truck driving early on right and but then at some point you made a decision this is going to be something i step into and do when did when did that happen it was when i was yeah i was 21 years old i was working a security guard as a hospital okay and because i told myself i did not want to follow in my father's footsteps okay because he was never home and you know it was always mom and me and my sister but mom's the one who taught me how to play baseball football all that other stuff while dad was driving and i was a security guard and i just i looked at my paycheck and i said this ain't cutting it i i i can't do this so i started filling out application i applied for jb hunt and that's where i got my career okay and they sent me off to oklahoma to drum right oklahoma to learn how to drive and uh i haven't looked back of course jb hunt's a huge company it's a huge company now they don't do their driving schools anymore but central votech in drumright oklahoma was a was an awesome school i mean they really the uh it's like i tell everybody the shock factor of the films and and everything else that really sunk into your head is like hey you don't want this happen to you you got to be out here doing your job you've got to be on your toes yeah i remember back in my days of course i'm i'm older than you are but back in the day when we had driver education they would put in virginia which is where i went to high school they would put these films up there that would just frighten you oh yeah they they they frighten you and uh it was it was good to have that kind of fear because it instilled a sense of respect for the machinery that you were right and now now in the the problem is a lot of the classes they don't teach all that they don't have the the shock factor in there and i feel a lot of the the people coming out here they get misinformed it's not always fun and games and a party out here right i mean this job will make you cry it'll make you mad it'll sit there and you'll just one day wake up and you're happy in five seconds later you're mad at the world okay okay so you jump you jumped into uh professional truck driving and uh and you've been doing that for 30 years let's let's talk about this for for a little bit um you remember you remember the first time you backed up a trailer oh yeah what was that like oh yeah it the first time i backed up the trailer it was like

uh i was trying to get it into the dock and it just took me forever to get back there and it somebody finally had to calm me down oh actually the trainer with jb hunt he calmed me down and said breathe this truck driving it's not rocket science you know what you you'll get it and uh so he was encouraging yeah he was encouraged yeah and that that's a lot of the problem that if the students don't get encouraged they they sit there and get down on themselves and then they'll want to give up right right so you need to be a coach you need to be a mentor you need to really help them out right do you remember the first trip you took uh yeah the first trip where'd you go i went over to west memphis and from where uh from dallas and uh uh that was where i had my first incident okay incident uh can you tell us what it is all right an incident is where you damaged the vehicle because you did not use your head okay yo when you when you first start driving you're gonna make mistakes right and i made i made a u-turn oh okay that's a that's a no-no well right no it's not really enough okay the problem is if you got room to do it and they're able to do it safely you can do it but if you cut the wheel too tight and you get that fairing into the side of the trailer it's a oops okay so you had an oops experience i had a oops experience i called j.b hunt up and talked to the safety man and told him what happened said don't do it again right and that was it yeah right but it's just i mean tractor trailer is not the only thing that i've done in this industry i've done pretty much all of it talk real quickly about those different whistle stops that you've had different things that you've done well uh i've hauled flatbed i've hauled mobile homes hazmat hazmat you know being oversized what's that like what's it like when you're pulling an oversized load you have to be permitted by the state and everything else and if you've got to follow their route or if you know the route you can tell them how you want to run it as long as it's permitted yeah it's almost like an airplane you got to follow your flight plan right and then you you have curfew times okay and that's where you no matter what you have to shut down you know that's mainly during rush hour times and where do you go you you sit on the side of the road whatever you know and you're you're just sitting there until a couple hours till after the rush hour is over with before you start rolling and then you've got to battle the clock against the sun going down right because you're only allowed certain amount of time on certain loads you're carrying okay to haul them during daylight out right and you have a scout car or something you have no not always not always no not always now in texas you could haul up to 16 foot wide and not have to have an escort okay okay but when you get into 18 and 20 that's when you have to have yes well and that's i mean at that point you're straddling over the lanes right yeah you're close to it yeah you're straddling over the lanes and you're like it's like i took a 20 wide from mesquite and took it up toward denton and it was 20 foot by 80 foot long with the tractor and the tongue extension out i was 127 feet long all right we had inches going around the exchange from six uh i-30 on to 635 yeah yeah we were just creeping around there we had to have one in the front one in the back and we had to have the one in the back radio and us all right you're good back here you good back here because your mirrors are extended all the way out right and you you can see what you're doing there in the front but you can't you don't know what that back's doing right and then we get it out in the field and one of us will stand out there and uh you know where it's going and we'll tell each each other which way to turn the wheel we tell them don't look at the mirrors look at us we can see what's going on well and you know so so much of good driving it seems is is also a willingness on the part of a new driver to learn from the people that have been around the block a little bit right right right and we've heard some other people say david that um that if a person ever a driver feels like they've learned at all they're in trouble right if you feel that you've learned it all get off the road because you're fixing to have a bad accident right you know and it's not gonna be pretty and that's it that's just common sense of trucking right there no are you you're an over-the-road driver uh i do dkim and uh well actually i'm more i i'm our firefighter in a way okay you're are you the are you the one that's rescuing loads and doing stuff like that or oh yes yeah yes you know what you're saying pretty happy for doing that because i mean that that's like being that's like being a marine or an air force pilot on ready one you're just sitting there ready to help when you can right you know it's like yo i'll get a phone call from arthur and say hey i got a problem i need you to drop a load and go rescue this trailer deliver it and come back and get your look yeah it's probably not a good tell me if this is correct or not it's probably not a good industry for somebody whose whole life is organized around it's my way or the highway well uh now it's i mean you need to put boundaries but yeah you have to have boundaries okay and that that's where i get in trouble a lot with with andy and everybody else because i'm a rebel rouser okay okay okay so folks who want to let you know we we didn't know that it would be confessional here it is confessional i mean i have nothing to hide okay and you know uh i i i feel that you have a job to do because i was taught by my dad in old school ways

you got a job dude you do it no matter what right whatever whatever the cost get it done worry about the consequences later get it done right you know and that that's pretty much how it worked all my life and you know and working for some outlaw companies you know back in the day it was like uh you either run this or we're gonna find somebody else well you know what i somebody said recently we had a guy on named bud buyers he uh he drove for over 40 years over five million miles and he didn't have one incident in that many years which is just unheard of oh yeah remarkable yeah but he one of the things he said and and some others have said is that america's truck drivers are like the last cowboys you know they used to be like that you know they they had a commitment to freedom and they were out there making a difference and the like now do you have a favorite route that you'd like to run oh yeah tell me what it is oh yeah i i look i love that i-81 corridor you do i from from gulfport mississippi you know how far north does that go it'll go all the way up in new york you know but i i like to stop it in carlisle pennsylvania used to be lebanon but yeah that's where i like to cut it off at because i really don't like going up into the right yeah once you get kind of north of that you start getting into whatever is up there right now granted northern pennsylvania is beautiful country it is very beautiful up there the mountains and and the wildlife is that the is it neat is the are the adirondacks in new york uh i think so yeah i think so yeah yeah well but but you like i-81 now let me ask you this we've asked other drivers this before do you have any favorite places to stop and eat oh yeah but my favorite place to stop and eat is down on it okay folks we we know from some comments that have been made people really enjoy hearing about the secret places that folks can go to someone once said if you want to know a great place to eat follow a truck driver right so tell me give me a couple of places that you like and tell me why you like them and tell us where they are specifically all right well in exit 80 in just just west of lafayette louisiana okay exit 80. on i-10 on itunes is a place called the rice palace the rice palace okay it it looks it looks like a dive of a joint okay is there space for trucks oh yeah it's truck parking all that it's got a little casino in it and all that but it just it looks like something that from the outside it looks like a book you'd never read well age old saying never judge book by its cover you walk on the inside you're looking to see if anybody's in in tuxedos and everything else because it's glamorous on the inside okay and i go in there and that the the most fabulous cajun food it's great cajun oh okay black and catfish on the bed of rice with crawfish etouffee and and grilled green beans you know you describe that in a way that makes it very uh very very enticing um you know i used to live in in a place called laplace louisiana and uh and i i can still remember uh going to grade school and we had the same thing every single day for lunch it was red beans rice right that was just kind of the staple there okay so that's one place in one place what's the name again it's called the rice palace yeah the rice palace and folks i'm just gonna say this uh avoid the casino okay wait that's that's that's not a good direction to go by any stretch but yeah but but the food's great so tell me tell me about another another place is on i-40 exit 193. you know isn't it interesting how he knows exactly where the exits are okay four uh i-40 going west and go going west or east on exit 193. 193. and what's there there's a place called next barbecue nick's barbecue next barbecue in arkansas okay and it is just it is fabulous okay let me ask you this question okay so in in north carolina i'm not a native north carolinian but in north carolina there there are people that have strong discussions about what real barbecue is you got people that like the vinegar barbecue and some that like it was more of a mustard kind of base uh what kind of barbecue are you talking about oh we're talking about actually wood smoke barbecue okay we don't need you know from where we're at you know especially texas we believe in our wood smoke you like mesquite i like pecan you like pecan yes okay pecan wood smoke can you taste the difference with pecan oh yes oh yes you can okay it it matter of fact it even adds a little sweetness to it okay but the smoke is is great as long as you don't overdo it okay so you got to know what you're doing there you know david i have to tell you this the way you describe food the way you describe food i i did not eat breakfast or lunch today i'm getting very hungry as we talk wow

and you're part of the freightworks family and we love you for that give us a third place give us one more please third place i love to stop at is right there in holiday tennessee exit 126 the north 40 truck stop the north 40 truck stop so it says truck stop on the side yes it says okay and what do you like about it uh the the i love one i love the spaghetti in there but the catfish the burgers the breakfast you actually get real meals in the trucks yeah is it like home cooked potatoes and stuff it's not like you're it's not out of a plastic bag no it's not i have a plastic bag you know and that's the is like they even got these steak fries that are covered in in barbecue brisket with all the cheese the sour cream and butter on it and uh those are great you know what we we have had so many great recommendations from drivers about places to stop now let me ask you this one of the things that's so clear my little office over there in where the folks are working is just off from where the driver managers are and often what will happen is everything's quiet people just having casual conversations then all of a sudden the phones are ringing you got situations all over the place right for people that are not aware of what you have to deal with every single day when you're out on the road weather equipment receivers shippers can you describe for people just what you're managing you are managing every single day well on top of we're managing the laws that are placed upon us okay especially if we're hauling hazmat or anything else we have to take extra steps and boundaries because not only do we have to protect ourselves and to protect the company's interest we have to protect john q public right okay so and some of the hazmat that you haul would be things like what for the people that don't know well uh it's like the new account of coming down louisville kentucky is refrigerant it's freon okay but we used to do comores coming out of fayetteville and tanker and that was phosphorous dirty water it was contaminated water that was corrosive you know and we would take that down to baytown and let baytown take it and deadhead all the way back but uh coming out of like exalto it's it's flammables uh paint thinners acrylic bases things like that that can really burn up or prime example explosives sometimes we get fireworks loads and you know that's a explosive and it's like uh yeah you don't just want to drop it everywhere right okay now for people that don't know because it's a curiosity for some explain what these little cards are these on on the sides of the trucks okay those are called placards all right and you're required by law to express the danger hazard in the class hazard to john q public of what you're hauling now it's like if you're at a truck stop or something like that and there's something happens and you're away from that vehicle okay it lets the authorities know how to deal with know how to deal with it yeah you know so and that that's the whole purpose of a plaque because you have you have some you have some hazardous materials you put water on it makes it worse right right yeah if you if you sit there and throw water on the oxidizer or something like that you know you've got a bigger fire and if it's mixed with an inhalation hazard well you got a fire that's poisoning people right so it's like it's the the main thing about hazmat is expressing what you're hauling and you know what folks one of the things that we want life by the mile to accomplish is we want you to understand that professional truck drivers manage a lot on the road and it includes public safety and it's just so important i don't think a lot of people realize just all the different things that have to be managed each and every day now a quick reminder please subscribe to this channel it's a way for you to keep getting getting these episodes coming to you with some interesting stories like the ones we're getting here from david now let me let me ask you this david uh when you look at what's changed in the 30 years you've been driving paint a picture of the couple of biggest things that have changed i mean and we've had some we've had some people that have said things like when i used to get in my truck there was no air conditioning unless i rolled down the window i mean they went way way back this way or or i had to fight the gears or you know just all there was no gps i mean talk a little bit about what's changed for you well what's changed is is actually true the the gps there was no gps we had to pull out our road map atlases sit there plot our routes we we that's why i know the exit numbers like i do you you know those as well as anybody that we've had on right you know and it's like i tell everybody oh it's like you know you go up to up there to loves in in virginia at tom's brook it's 294. you know you need a truck stop there it is you got one at 213. you know you know you know exactly where all your stops are right well that's because too you you had years of having to do it for muscle memory and memory up here and looking at your atlas and there was no gps and you know that on that aspect too that's where my mom would come in and wake me up sometimes when i was asleep when i come in off the road and i'd be giving her directions in my sleep you know i i was driving the truck in my shoes yeah like 18 miles to such and such and then you make a right-hand turn banks around yeah right you know and she she just got tickled and all get out on it and that's something you know but um but also too by protecting the john q public and everything else on these hazmat loads and things like that and the changes that have been made it protects the company and then as far as that goes it protects you because you're protecting your cdl because the thing that changed is a ticket used to be a ticket all right now tickets points too many points bye-bye cdl right you know and that that is what a lot of people need to understand that if you don't protect your cdf in different ways that's your work that's your work right you know so sometimes it's best to have a legal standby for if you do get a ticket right or uh do your best to keep it off your record right but you know it then then uh another thing that's changed is the automatics yeah okay real trucks were manual transmissions right and you know what you still got you know what when i when i came into this this position here in communications at great works i told people real quickly i have no background in this arena at all so you know who i'm learning from you right people like you there have been some drivers that told me something along the lines of if it doesn't have a lot of chrome and if you're not shipped in gears don't don't give me some volvo truck that's an automatic because it's america to them it's not american right well chrome don't get you home but it had a big old uh 475 caterpillar motor with with a 13 or 15 speed or a 5 and a 4 transmission and they said peterbilt kenworth or freightliner or the true western star marmon autocar you know diamond rio i've gone back several years uh bobo and all that i mean yeah gmc white bowl okay they all merged together and

i've never been a fan of okay well i'm gonna i'm gonna make it clear you're probably not gonna be asked to be a spokesperson for them there but uh but in any event you know any any tru any any truck comes with its own i guess kind of issues right and uh and of course that's why a good relationship with your maintenance department is always so good you know the mark of a great conversation is it goes quickly we're running out of time and i want to ask you a few more things okay how do you you know you got all these issues that you've you've dealt with in life uh there are always ups and downs that people have if you were to give a couple of bits of advice to brand new drivers let's say you had six or eight brand new drivers they're coming to freight works and uh or they're just coming into the driving professional driving career what would be a couple of things you'd tell them leave your past in the past leave your past in the past yeah don't don't bring it out here on don't don't let it affect you in your everyday life right you know when you're out here on the road you've got to sit there and live for the moment be in that moment and be aware of everything that's going on right if you don't do that and if you're distracted you're going to find yourself in a situation yes and you you've seen i'm sure you've seen accidents oh big time yeah big time and some of them will stay with me for the rest of my life they haunt me in my in my sleep mm-hmm you know uh you just you come up on an accident and you know i don't want to get into the gory details or anything right but you know you just know that that was somebody baby that you couldn't save right because you were the first one on the scene yeah you know it didn't matter if he was 20 years old but he was on the way home from college that was something right right we know david one of the things that we take very seriously i know you know this at rate works is we're a family and we're a family that is caring and committed right to uh to all of the drivers and if you go to the blog section of the light by the mile web platform you'll even find there a prayer for freightworks drivers we we pray every day that the drivers are ones that will have the sense that they're being cared for and you know it's part of the you know that having been your part of the personality of our of our company you know i knew we were going to have a good talk together and you know what uh it's not cash compensation but i want you to know something we really appreciate every single person that comes on life by the mile delivered by freightworks so this is our gift to you it's a genuine yeti mug it's got the life by the mile logo here on the other side it's got the freightworks one logo that's yours and we want you to take that on the road and when people ask you where did you get that from you can tell them hey you know what freight works and it's a great company and you ought to come and be a part of it too well freightworks is a great company yeah and it's just my life has changed tenfold since i've been here granted i've been here three times already and you know what that's a good that's a good segue into a second episode that i'm sure we're gonna have at some point you know david it's been great to hear just your story how you got into trucking um great places to eat along the way and uh you're very open-hearted and we're really grateful for that thank you this has been life of the mile delivered by freightworks it's our twice a week podcast we come to you subscribe please become part of the growing great works life by the mile family and david we look forward to having you back again soon thank you that's a strong handshake too i was taught that way thank you folks have a great day


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