Hardimon is Hudson’s top

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2000

man behind the wheel


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When Johnny Hardimon got his first paycheck as a big-rig, long haul driver, he went to his boss and asked, "Do you mean I really get paid for this?"

For Hardimon, driving cross country for Hudson Transportation, Inc. was like a dream come true.

"Traveling and getting paid for it. I couldn’t believe it," Hardimon said.

Those who enjoy their jobs as much as Hardimon, in all likelihood, they are going to be excellent employees. And, sooner or later, they are going to be recognized and rewarded for it.

Saturday night, Johnny Hardimon got his just reward. He was named Hudson Transportation’s Driver of the Year.

A surprised, Hardimon said he was almost at a loss for words.

"I didn’t go expecting anything like that," he said. "It was a real surprise and a great honor. I just had no idea

that it would be me. I guess it shows that, by being reliable and dependable and doing your job the best you can, good things will happen for you."

However, Hardimon said good things happen for him every time he climbs behind the wheel of the big 18-wheeler.

"I just like getting out on the road and going places," he said. "You’re in there by yourself and the whole world is out there in front of you. Every trip is interesting and different."

Hardimon averages driving from 2,500 to 3,000 miles a week. Sometimes he’s in the helter-skelter traffic of the nation’s biggest cities. Sometimes he’s in the wide open spaces of the plains and other times he’s chugging through a treacherous mountain pass. But, no matter where he is, Hardimon is in his own private little paradise.

"Yeah, it’s nice. Real nice," he said.

Hardimon is a "quiet kind of man" so he’s not much for talking on the CB unless it’s an emergency type situation. He would rather listen to gospel music and tune in to his own thoughts.

"One of the most enjoyable thing about being a truck driver is the people you meet on the road," he said. "I’ve got several places that are usual stops for me – like the Flying J’s – and I know a lot of people at the stops. And, too, I meet up with other truck drivers I’ve gotten to know in the 10 years I’ve been driving and we have a good time talking shop."

For Hardimon, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas are his favorite places to drive because he likes the countryside and the freedom from highway hassle. His least favorite place is New York.

"The traffic is always heavy and everybody’s in a rush," he said. "They go like they’re on the way to put out a fire. And, New Jersey – it’s not a lot better."

Some of the prettiest country is also some of the hardest to navigate, especially when the weather is less than ideal.

"One time going over Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado, the weather was so bad nobody could get across," Hardimon said. "Wreckers were all up and down the highway pulling people over the mountain and I was one of them."

In all of his long distance driving – about 1,560,000 miles in 10 years, Hardimon said

the most treacherous stretch of highway is Donner Pass in northern California.

"It’s about a 76-mile steep downgrade and it’s tough but it’s real pretty country," he said. "I enjoy seeing the country. I still can’t believe I can do something I like this much and get paid for it. It’s amazing."

For being named the driver of the year, Hardimon received a plaque, a jacket and a vacation package worth $1,000.

And, where will a man who has been just about everywhere in the USA choose to spend a few days off the road?

‘Disney World," he said, laughing. "I’m going to Disney World."