View Out My Windshield During This Troubled Time

Linda Caffee
April 2020

The news reports are changing our world faster than we can keep up with, but that is not what I see out of my office window.   The traffic keeps getting lighter and lighter, which means our travel times between pickup and delivery are getting faster without increasing our speed.  No traffic jams are one of the most impressive things we have experienced!  We are noticing fewer accidents and a lot more police patrolling the road.  Our fuel mileage is better without the stop and go traffic, so that is a win-win for us.

Our freight has been more varied than usual as expediters.   We are thankful that we have a lift gate as we have used it a lot lately.  One of our unique loads was carrying several skids of computers and monitors to a building that had been sealed off due to a case of Covid-19.  A tent had been set up to distribute the computers to the employees so they could work at home.  This was an all-day event as the employee's followed a schedule of when they could come in and get their equipment.  The reason a few of us stayed all day was to keep the skids of computers dry as the tent was not large enough to accommodate all of the skids. When a new skid was needed we would use the lift gate and get the appropriate skids out to replace the empty one. We were impressed by the employee's attitudes and everyone coming together to get the job done.

One delivery got interesting when we arrived at the consignee. Bob was told to have me back into dock number 24. The dock door was not opened and the conversation inside must have got interesting. Next we were told to move away from the dock as they were bringing over an older truck they owned.  They had decided to move our freight out of our box and onto their truck as "those people down there" had touched the freight.

Not sure what they meant by "those people," but we got unloaded in plenty of time to get to our next load.

We are even more proactive once we get a load as we call the shipper and receiver to make sure everything is a go. Once we are loaded, we again call the receiver to make sure they are still open.  Our world is changing fast, and one minute a business might be open and the next closed.  So far, while we might not be unloading where we thought, we still have got unloaded with minimal hassle.

For the most part, the shippers and receivers have been going about getting the job done with minimal changes.

Many of the gate guards have used gloves to look at our driver's licenses, or they have us hold the license while they look at them.  When we get back to the docks or if using our lift gate to load, we have found these people have not changed much at all.  They are there to get the job done at hand then move on to the next job.  Some shippers and receivers without thinking shake our hands once we are done loading or unloading.  We wash our hands and go back to our job.  

We have also noticed the use of Thank You and you are Welcome much more than we have had in the past.  The truck stops seem to have more parking available, and I believe part of that is due to the trucks that are dedicated to one type of shipment, automotive, show freight, slot machines, furniture, and that list goes on. We are in the enviable position of being leased to a carrier that has a variety of freight, and we have the credentials and the truck to haul most of it.

The travel centers have well-stocked shelves, and while the roller dogs are not available or any self-serve food, there is a lot of other items to choose from.  The fast food restaurants have all been open for business inside the truck stops.  They are taking orders at the counters with no need to go outside and use the drive-up window. Some of these fast food places have had all the tables roped off, and others have had every other table roped off.  The traffic in front of the travel stores has been unusually quiet as there are few cars fueling.  If the travel center has fast food, I have seen very few sit down restaurants open even for take-out orders.  This worries me as I wonder if these sit-down restaurants will reopen.


Something that we hear more about is people creating goody bags to give to truck drivers. This practice seems like a very bad idea to me as the water and the snacks that are being gathered up in huge amounts to be given to truck drivers that do not need goody bags would be better served for the people that need help.  The sit-down restaurants might be closed, but there are plenty of other choices, and no driver should go hungry.  Truck drivers are luckier than most as we are overall still working and earning a wage.

Now we as truck drivers are enjoying being treated with respect and people realizing that we are one cog in the wheel that keeps America supplied with toilet paper and other items deemed essential in the interesting time.  Everyone is being asked to behave a little differently, and having patience as the problems get worked out is essential.

If you want to help, thank a truck driver the best way I know how would be to learn how to drive around trucks and have patience when we are looking for an address or are trying to get moving after stopping. All of us are wondering what the new normal will be once everyone goes back to work.