For many, retirement is a life goal. May strive to attain that goal at 55, though the more realistic target is most often 60 or 65.
For Dave Sheets, the word “retirement” is kind of meaningless, because he never felt the slightest desire to retire. He's still working, despite being 88 years old, and despite not having what you’d consider a physically “easy” job. Dave Sheets is a truck driver.
Sheets has worked for his current employer, Savannah Transport based in Salt Lake City, Utah, for 25 years. His boss, Terry Crawford, describes him as “a great old-school trucker. He's able to do more than most of my younger drivers.” Sheets delivers general cargo and even hazardous materials in the western and midwestern states. He doesn't go to the coasts, but explains that he “handles a pretty big territory and is always busy”.
Last week, Dave Sheets and his Peterbilt were in North Dakota where they were checked as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's annual three-day International Roadcheck blitz, which took place across the United States. The North Dakota Highway Patrol officers who conducted the check found it worth marking and posted a notice on its Twitter feed:
“(Our) troopers encounter professional drivers who are committed to safety. We commend Mr. Sheets who is 89 years old and keeps his 2000 Peterbilt in top condition. His dedication to safety earned him a CVSA decal after an inspection yesterday during InternationalRoadcheck.”
Dave Sheets said he was surprised when the officer inspecting his truck asked if he could take his picture and post it on social media, but agreed good-naturedly. “It wasn’t going to be anything negative, and I thought it would reflect good on the company and possibly the industry itself,” he said.
He was even more surprised to learn that he has since become a bit of an online celebrity. The patrollers' Facebook post about him received hundreds of comments and had been shared 3,600 times by Thursday afternoon. He doesn't have a computer, so he learned about all the fuss from his son, daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Sheets explained that he started driving trucks in the 1950s. He got out of the business to work as a Volkswagen mechanic while raising his family, then returned to trucking in 1974 and has been doing it ever since.
Miles driven? “Millions,” he said.
His wife, Ardelle, passed away in 2016 just days before their 64th wedding anniversary. Dave Sheets explained last week that as a result there’s “no need to be home” and expects to keep driving as long as he’s able. He turns 89 in August.
“As long as I can pass medical and physical,” he said, “I intend to keep doing it”.