Truck Driver Terran Tillman is a Changed Man, Inside and Out

By Allen Allnoch

When Terran Tillman interviewed for a driver position with Argos, he knew he was bringing some baggage with him.

Years of trouble on the streets had come to a head in 2010 when a drug charge landed him a lengthy prison sentence. He was paroled after serving less than five years and had started to get his life back together by going through Westside Works’ Driver Ready program and earning a Class B CDL license from Daly’s Truck Driving School in Buford.

Then came his meeting with Winette Sharpe, Atlanta Employment Center Manager for Argos, a multinational company that produces cement and ready mix concrete.

“I was nervous, and I just broke down,” Terran recalls. “I said, ‘Look, this is what it is. I’ve done wrong, I’ve made mistakes.’ I just told her the real, uncut story. It was basically like, ‘I am what I am. Talk is cheap; I’d rather just show you.’ And she gave me a chance.”

With a character transformation already in process, Terran also underwent a dramatic physical change, losing 80 pounds over a four-month period. “I was 330 pounds when I took the physical,” he says. “I started counting calories and doing a lot of cardio.”

The weight loss helped him fit in the cab of his Argos concrete truck. The honesty and work ethic helped him fit in as a dependable company employee.

“He’s taken ownership of his truck and his job,” says Plant Manager Daniel Jernigan. “ He keeps everything in good working order and he’s gotten familiar with the area. He’s come along very well, considering he had no experience driving a ready mix truck.”

Born in New Orleans, Terran spent time growing up in Atlanta, where his mother moved to attend college; and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where his grandmother lived.

“I sold drugs and drove my grandmother crazy,” he says. “I had an ego; I thought I was all that.”

The hard living caught up with him while driving through Alabama en route to see a Mississippi woman he had fallen for. He was stopped and caught with seven pounds of marijuana. The ensuing prison sentence marked what he calls “the worst time of my life, and the best thing that happened to me.”

He says he found a relationship with God and started to mature. He wrote a letter to the parole board, admitting his mistakes and asking for leniency. His sentence was first cut in half, then waived altogether. “I prayed and prayed, and God brought me out,” he says.

After being released in December 2014, he moved in with his mother in Atlanta and “slept on the floor for about a year.” He had failed to find steady work when a friend told him about Westside Works. “I said, ‘OK, let me give it a shot.’”

Now, he cheerfully points out, “I’m not on the floor anymore. I have my own apartment, and I’m hoping to buy a house next year.”

And that’s not Terran’s only dream. With a new career and renewed ambition, he says, “I plan on owning a business one day. I’m seeing how the industry works, seeing the bigger picture. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t wanted to go to work. When I come home and look around at what I have, where I came from and what I’ve been through, I appreciate it so much.

“Everything is good,” he adds with a satisfied smile. “Everything is new. It’s a new beginning.”

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