Gene Robbins loves being on the road.
“You’re on your own most of the time and need to make decisions on your own,” he said.
Robbins, who works out of Madison, is one of several Wisconsin-based USPS tractor-trailer operators (TTOs).
TTOs drive 18-wheel, semitractor-trailers and other trucks to haul mail, equipment and other materials between postal facilities.
“We sometimes work with older equipment and heavy loads. I’m mindful of the people around me at the stations so I don’t injure them when moving equipment,” said Jerad Werth, who drives a semi out of Milwaukee from a downtown plant to the airport and back.
Communication is an important part of the job, Werth said.
“A TTO also needs to have that customer service mentality. Me being on time helps [stations] be on time. I communicate with people so they know the times I arrive and need to go.”
In order to safely transport mail or equipment, TTOs also must keep their eyes on the road and on other drivers.
“People are on their phones. You’re looking all the time at what is going on around your vehicle,” said Darryl Fiedler, another driver in Milwaukee.
Werth added that “you have to be mentally prepared to move the mail in a safe manner.”
While they spend hours on the road, the Wisconsin TTOs wouldn’t have it any other way.
Said Robbins: “It’s a lifetime dream of mine to be a truck driver.”