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​My Tipping Point

By Roger Clark

November, 2018

I don’t tip some people. In fact, I don’t tip a lot of people. That would include load brokers, funeral directors, flight attendants, or folks standing on the corner of a get-on ramp. I don’t tip the last group in particular, even if they are load brokers, funeral directors, or flight attendants. Nor do I tip police officers, if I appreciate my freedom. But more on them later.

Another group I don’t support are the evangelical TV hucksters preaching prosperity. Oh, I know, Joel and Joyce and Benny and Creflo have yacht payments just like I do, but they don’t have a spouse like I do. I even have to hide receipts from the QuikTrip bakery.

But I’ve recently started to wonder about something. In an industry characterized by Sign-On bonuses, quarterly pay raises, increased detention, and annual vacations, many drivers can’t afford the four basic human needs: cellphones, laptops, lottery tickets, and video games. Some of my fellow gearjammers can’t even buy their own CB radios. It might be the money. Or it could be they don’t know what they are.

Anyway, I once thought basic human needs meant food, clothing, shelter, and warmth. Not in today’s trucking culture. A healthy meal takes the air out of a twenty-dollar bill, but many truckstops have just fast food. A cute little bungalow in flyover country is a hundred grand, but a hundred-inch ARI sleeper is only half that much. With a ten-thousand-dollar fireplace, er, APU, you don’t even need any clothes.

The economy is so good right now I could afford more chrome, a newer car, traditional funeral, and tipping the highway patrolman that just wrote me up for an illegal U-turn. If I do that, of course, they’ll take away the car, sell my chrome, and fast track the memorial service. Even good deeds, it seems, don’t often go unpunished.

This is a crisis of indescribable proportion. Markets are up, unemployment is down, politicians are getting along, and food stamp use is dwindling. Well, okay, most lawmakers are on a hard-earned vacation. They’re on it. We earned it.

But there is a group of people I look forward to tipping, and I see them every day. The server that brings me breakfast, the porter who cleans my shower, and the mechanic that services the stepdeck so I don’t have to. They don’t influence the rates I get or the hours I lose, but still pave the way for an attitude of gratitude.

They’re not perfect. Sometimes they’re even bad. But they’re on the job so I can take a break from mine. They drive to work in rolling junkyards, using tools they had to pay for, living on the equivalent of minimum wages. They wouldn’t be there, if they could go anywhere else, and I wouldn’t be there if they weren’t.

The Bible doesn’t tell me what to give, exactly, and I would never tell you what to tip, but Scripture does encourage us to look out for the less fortunate. Especially the ones who keep breakfast hot, towels dry, wipers intact, and tires aired up. There’s only so many times, after all, that I can get my wife to crawl under the trailer with a grease gun.

Seriously, we can all do a little better job of appreciating those who serve us, protect us, provide for us, and work for us. Like that Ohio State Highway Patrolman who wrote me a ticket, then took the time to lead me to my destination. I sincerely thanked him for his service to me, and to his country. Like the construction flagman I was able to give a cold Gatorade to. Or the PFJ mechanic who snapped on my new wiper blades without a labor charge. That was an easy five bucks for both of us!

Thank you, driver, for giving me space, keeping a distance, using your signals, and checking on my welfare. Thank you making a difference, putting your foot down, and keeping up with the traffic. Thank you for giving folks a hand up, not a handout, and for drafting, not tailgating. Your reward will be in heaven. Or at least an IOU.

TODAY’S WORDS TO LIVE BY: It’s better to keep your mouth shut and look stupid, then to open it and remove all doubt.

You can reach Roger at rogerclark437@gmail.com