Truck drivers have a bad reputation, and many have certainly earned it. From speeding to blocking, and drugs to drinking, drivers in the big rigs often become a big story. They are sullen, defensive, obnoxious, and self-centered, becoming more brazen by the day.
Not everyone, of course. Not even the majority. Most drivers are professional, thoughtful, self-disciplined, and conscious. Many just want to work hard, rest easy, give thanks, and collect a check. In the heavy haul business, I get to meet both groups.
The guys and gals who cause all the problems are often unaware of their impact until they have one. They can’t stand still, stay in line, put down the phone, or follow instructions. They believe every shipper, receiver, cashier, and dispatcher has a single objective, and that’s to make their life miserable.
That doesn’t mean we don’t all have bad days. Of course, we do. The world is not a pretty place, sometimes, life ain’t fair, and the field of play is not always level. There’s nothing like staring at your watch while the truck is being repaired, knowing the cost goes up with each tick of the clock.
It’s not easy being a truck driver. I ought to know. It’s been a part of my every day for decades, and I’ve been terminated, incarcerated, bankrupted, and abandoned. I’ve been used up, turned down, shot at, and rejected.
I’ve been blamed for things I didn’t do, accused of saying things never said, and charged with crimes I didn’t commit. Sometimes all I had to do was be there, and I was blamed by default. All I had to do was listen, to be accused of using bad words.
But I’ve done dumb stuff, too. There were nights I wouldn’t sleep, days I couldn’t stay awake, and hundreds of miles I still don’t remember. I’ve left plenty of tire tracks where wheels ain’t supposed to go.
Every incident I’ve ever started, and many I couldn’t finish, could be blamed on the “F” word, or fatigue. Virtually all my issues, with cops, customers, ex’s and dispatchers, and were seeded with impatience and motivated by defiance. Or maybe it was the other “F” word, called fatalism.
The turning point was anything but quick. The actual number of years remains classified, but trust me, the wind was finally at my back. I had a unique job, with an awesome employer, and mutual admiration. But when I first applied for the position, it was met with raised eyebrows, rolled eyes, and shrugs of doubt.
Right then, I decided to improve my disposition, increase participation, accommodate others, and improve our surroundings. All the energy previously expended on complaining, avoiding, and disrupting was turned to working smarter, driving safer, and living happier. The efforts paid off, and I became an overnight success in less than ten years.
The message is simple. We can all be redeemed, some overnight, and others over a lifetime. If there’s hope for this long-haired, foul-mouthed lowrider, then there’s hope for you, too.
Somehow, somewhere this week, we’re all going to be standing in line, whether it’s a loading dock, Walmart, DMV or truck shop. This much is certain. Even if it’s the unemployment line, someone has it worse than we do, and it’s a chance to give a break, buy a breakfast, or just share a smile. If you make their day, then I promise, it’ll also make yours.
Thought For The Day: If your Bible is falling apart, chances are you’re not.
You can reach Roger Clark at [email protected].