John Gamble 1680x945

How long have you been driving Mercedes-Benz trucks?

6 years permanently at Carey Glass. I’ve also driven Mercedes trucks between 2006 and 2008 for another company. They had double drive Mercedes trucks that were straight 6’s and V8’s, the really big stuff. They were really good but they had a steptronic box with a manual clutch whereas these are fully automatic. I prefer the manual trucks because the lorry doesn’t think for you; you have to think for the lorry. 


Some of the younger truckers have said the automatic gear boxes are great which I think is because they never fully experienced the older trucks. Is that a fair statement?

Yes and that’s where I think the industry is falling down. They never get the chance to understand the various types for example you had Eaten box you had a Fuller box, slap box, 4 over 4’s – different combinations and a driver got used to them. It was fascinating whereas now the lorry thinks for you. Sometimes the lorry will change gear at an inappropriate time in a tight spot. Other than that on the road they are lovely, they just do their thing. 


Nationality: Irish

Truck Experience: 28 years 

Marital Status: Married with 3 children

Place of Residence: Tipperary 

So you haven’t always been driving Mercedes-Benz trucks have you?

No. I started off driving a MAN 240. I was doing tipper work in London for a while. Then you had the Scania’s and when you break in to artics the first one of them I drove was a Foden so we’re talking very old lorries. When I came back to Ireland I switched to Volvo and finally after that it was all Mercedes-Benz. I drove for a waste disposal company and their truck of choice was the Mercedes-Benz Econic so that introduced me to Mercedes-Benz trucks. 


How do you find life on the road with your family at home?

When I started driving I didn’t have a family, it was just my wife and I. The children actually adapt to you being away. If I break out of pattern and I’m home on an unusual day or if I’m home for 3 or 4 days the children will actually ask my wife ‘what’s wrong with Dad?’ ‘Why isn’t Dad working?’  They are used to the pattern of me coming home on a Friday morning and leaving on a Sunday afternoon. Most of the drivers working here would be the same if they’re going to England. Even the Mammy’s get a bit upset when the pattern is off because they think you’re getting under their feet! 


What appealed to you when you were younger about being a truck driver?

I liked to travel and the idea was that it was a good way of seeing the country. People pay to go on holidays whereas I’m paid to go on a holiday, that’s the way I look at it. I get to adventure around and see different places. That said, life changes and when family comes into the equation you have to shorten your distance and you stop going as far as you once did. 


Would getting to see different places be your favourite part of the job?

Getting to see places and meeting different people. You meet characters and so many drivers come back with a story about everything! Then there are times that you like to be on your own and you just focus on what you’re doing. 


Are you constantly travelling back and forth to the U.K.? 

Yes. We leave here and get our load on a Sunday afternoon at around 2p.m. and we don’t come back then until Friday morning so you’re away for 5 days. 


Do you sleep in the cab?

Oh yes, it’s the Mercedes-Benz hotel with a beautiful view every night!


What’s your favourite memory from being out on the road? 

I wouldn’t say I have a specific memory however I have always enjoyed being out on the road. I like being around my family a lot but 48 hours would generally be the time limit my wife wants me to be around because I start getting in the way! So I just like being out on the road where every day there is a new challenge.


You mention the job being a challenge, is that challenge yours to figure out each day?

The challenge is yours to figure out. Almost every scenario you go into you have to adapt. You have to know your truck and what it can and can’t do. You also have to know your abilities and what you can and can’t do. Then when you come across something that’s different you have to challenge yourself. It’s great and gives you a buzz. 


We’ve spoken about the old gearboxes, you mentioned indirectly the PPC in the trucks now – What features stand out as being essential to you going forward in your truck? 

Trucks that are being supplied for long distance for what I would call ‘nights out’ need to be adapted properly and set up correctly. Take a cooking feature like a microwave for example – something very simple but also a necessity. There’s only so much salad a guy can eat in a week! It’s not about over-comfort; it’s just the practical simple things. 


Finally, would you have any advice for anyone thinking of starting out in the trucking game? 

Yes I would say don’t listen to the hype and don’t listen to the old men. I wouldn’t consider myself an old driver and I wouldn’t consider myself a young driver, I’m somewhere in between. The old drivers will tell you all about the hard times and the rough element of the job. My generation will tell you that the job is getting easier and I reckon the younger generation can be quite ill informed. They can get caught up in the bells and whistles in the newer trucks when what really matters is the driver behind the wheel. I’ve sat in many different trucks and I can tell you that the Mercedes-Benz has one of the best views. It’s much clearer and everything is positioned to be at arm’s length and you know where it is. In other trucks there’s a bit of reaching involved and you don’t want to be constantly moving your seat. You can make a living out of being a truck driver and be very comfortable at it. There aren’t many young people coming up through the trade because they believe it’s a hard life. It’s only as hard as you make it.   

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