Originally published December 13, 2014 on the Oakland University News Bureau
BY MATTHEW E. SEMRAU
OU News Bureau
Few can measure distance driven in trips to the moon, but for these identical twins, that’s their life.
Don and Dave Wolf of Fenton, Michigan, are 25-year veterans of the trucking industry. They’ve driven over 4 million miles. That’s eight trips to the moon and back.
“We just really love the freedom,” Don said.
The twins worked as roofers in Phoenix in the late ’80s. Don drove loads of material to the dump, but was only working three times a week. If he was going to drive a truck, he decided he’d try full time. Dave joined him.
“It’s a twin thing,” Dave said.
Their very own truck
For two years, the brothers drove a company truck, but, according to Don, they only were given four days off a month.
So, they bought their own truck — and essentially more freedom. At the time of this interview, they had just finished a monthlong bow hunting expedition to the Upper Peninsula.
“So, what keeps us in it,” Dave began, “is the freedom to take time off,” they finished in unison.
Everything used by Americans is shipped by truck at some point, the brothers said. That includes cargo that is a tasty treat for criminals.
“If you haul computers, you sign a form that you won’t stop within 200 miles,” Don said. “They are a big commodity to be hijacked.”
But that’s nothing compared to a couple of shipments they carried from a Remington factory.
“Had a trailer full of shotguns, maybe some long rifles,” Don said. “That’s the one place leaving I was looking in my mirrors.”
But criminals aren’t the only danger. Truckers don’t stop when the weather gets cold. Even when it’s very cold.
“A few years ago in Montana, without wind chills it was a flat 50 below zero,” Dave recalled. “Somehow, we lost the heat.”
They put on their hats, gloves and, when not driving, retreated to a sleeping bag until they could get to the next truck stop.
“Don went to spin around to back into a place, and the air line [for the brakes] just snapped like a twig, so brittle,” Dave said.
The brothers had to take turns going into the truck stop and working on the line. The attendant gave them free coffee they used just to keep their hands warm, Dave said.
It was so cold that a container of windshield solution, rated down to negative 20 degrees, became an icy slush — and it was in the cab.
Trucking can be a lucrative business, they said.
“We could make a lot more than what we do, but if we go out and do 5,000 miles in a week,” Don explained. “We could bring home $3,800.”
New drivers make a little less. A downside to the business: there isn’t much room for advancement. Veteran truckers don’t make significantly more.
Up until about five years ago the brothers would average around 250,000 miles a year. This year, they’ve driven less than 100,000 miles.
“Our new motto is work to live, not live to work,” Don said.
Neither of the men are married and they’ve managed their money well. Their staple diet for the road reflects that — a log of pepperoni and a big wheel of cheese.
Both men agreed the business is still as lucrative as it was when they first started, but some things have changed.
“Back when we started, truckers were still kind of seen as the white knights of the roads,” Don said.
Prior to cell phones, truckers would often help motorists, he explained.
Now, most drivers have cell phones and most truckers use a satellite communication system that removes the need for outside help.
“It’s a me-me society,” Dave said. “They took God out of the schools, and now look.”
Working as truckers for 25 years, they wouldn’t do much differently. They enjoy the job and have made a reputation for being reliable and punctual.
“I’d started driving sooner,” Don said. “You make good money, you don’t have a boss breathing down your back, the open road ahead of you. Nope, no regrets.”