Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Rest Of Us

It's my pleasure to bring you another post by Ed, something I like to call Ed’s View. He's done a few posts so far and they seem to be a hit with the five people who read my blog. Thanks, guys! So here we go...

Trucking Ain’t For Sissies.

That was the banner on display at
Landstar Appreciation Days held in January of this year in Jacksonville, Florida.

It's completely accurate.

We roll around the clock; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And in all weather conditions;
snow, ice, mud, rain, fog, on holidays, on weekends, in natural disasters, in manmade disasters, and even in war zones. Someone always needs something, and we're usually the ones delivering it.

In this profession, and it is a profession despite what the Department of Labor thinks, we have to keep our eyes on the road constantly. It doesn’t matter if you’ve driven a million miles without incident, it’s what you will do today that matters, not what you’ve done in the past, so every day counts.

This bit of information was imparted to me by my brother’s lifelong airline pilot father, who flew as a captain for domestic carriers without incident for over 30 years. He didn’t even have a high school degree and started flying before having a pilot’s license was even necessary, so it's clear formal education wasn't needed to be a safe, conscientious transportation employee. He finally earned his GED at 70 years old, while in retirement.

As a truck driver, you do accrue experiences that help you along the way, just as you do in any other job, but in this field, you are a sitting duck. You can get hit by anything, at any time, and it can end your career. It really is your job to just keep the truck on the road. You are always in the hot seat when operating an 18-wheeler; dealing with every weather condition imaginable, equipment failures, Department of Transportation rules and regulations, FMCSA edicts, etc.

It doesn’t matter where you worked before you came to the industry either; I have met doctors, lawyers, pilots, retired military, active military, NFL athletes, engineers, farmers, and all other sorts of people out here driving trucks. Once you start driving a big rig, you join the club - you become just like the rest of us.

No better, no worse. It doesn’t matter what kind of truck you drive, how big or shiny it is, how old or new it is, you are still a duck. It doesn’t matter if you once were a war hero, or a lottery winner, or a famous inventor, you are just another CDL-holding sitting duck.

When you come into the profession, you are the very obvious newbie; when you leave, you’re a "former trucker". Some people come into this business with high expectations and leave screaming - sometimes after their first time on the highway, which they nervously tried to navigate under dispatch (true story).

Other people are naturals, they take the wheel and enjoy the ride (like Salena!). It doesn't matter which type you are - the one who takes a while to get used to their new job, or the one who takes to it like a sitting duck to water - the bottom line is that you, and only you, are responsible for a huge rolling mass of steel, rubber, and glass when you're sitting behind the wheel. It is not a responsibility to be taken lightly and driving carelessly can not only easily destroy your life, but the lives of those around you. In a split second.

As ridiculous as this may sound, we save more lives by driving safely, than we lose to
medical errors - I'm pretty sure I come across more people in a year (and vehicularly "interact" with them) than a doctor does. Yet every day we have more and more hoops to jump through just to do our job. The parking situation in this country is abysmal, and the mandatory breaks we’re required to take every day are increasing in number. Even as the pollution caused by our vehicles has gone down, and accident rates have dropped across the board, we are still being regulated to the nth degree. I guess the doctors have a better lobby in Washington.

The point I'm trying to make here is that trucking seems to be the great equalizer. We all do the same thing and for the most part, and I may just be speaking for myself here, we enjoy it.

~ Ed

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Change Of Plans. Another Lazy Day Is In Order.
2 YEARS AGO: First R2-D2 And C-3PO And Now, Ed’s Phone
3 YEARS AGO: Droppings Might Be Too Delicate A Word
4 YEARS AGO: Eddie’s Bedtime Snack Friday
5 YEARS AGO: Activities I Need To Participate In
6 YEARS AGO: Unwarranted Annoyance


Gil said...

Ed, Takes for an insiders view of the life of the trucking industry in 2012. The change in more required breaks seems to have come in around the same time as rest areas are being closed along with state and municipal governments outlawing where trucks can park these days. Keep up the good work!

june in florida said...

Another great post,thank you Salena and Ed.I wish some of our government officials would read your blog and Marlaina's blog.I don't comment much but i do read and enjoy every post. Do you have a tracker to see who reads your blog?

Scott said...

I bet there's a lot more than 5 people reading your blog....or at least there should be!!!

Scott said...

I bet there's a lot more than 5 people reading your blog....or at least there should be!!!

The Daily Rant said...

GIL: You're so right about the taking breaks thing and the rest areas closing - I guess those two government agencies don't talk to one another. Idiot #1: "Hey, let's make them take more breaks." Idiot #2: "Hey, we can save money by closing rest areas!"

JUNE: Thank you. Marlaina and her husband (personal friends of ours) and Ed and I have very similiar takes on what happens in the industry. We also have the same low tolerance level on it. As far as writing about it, Marlaina takes the cake - she's got incredible writing and research skills - she used to be a journalist and it really shows when she does a piece on our industry. And yes, I can see who reads my blog...just numbers and locations mainly.

SCOTT: Well, there's you, Gil, June, my Mom and on occassion, my best friend. Um, that's five. LOL But yeah, there are more than five...I would just love more commenters! :)

Thanks to all of you who do comment - I appreciate it!

ELH said...

Great post ED, spot on, you really nailed it...spoken from the heart, the only way it should be..always enjoy your insights, as well as Salenas..

Gil said...

Salena, Please do not take your writing skills lightly. Your skills are right up there with Marlaina's!

Ed said...

Thanks everybody. Although we do have a lot of fun out here on the road, we never lose sight of the tremendous responsibility we have.

all things bradbury said...

great post, ed!...i especially like what you said about it being a profession....most of us out here strive to hone our skills every day....with every single mile......

Marlaina said...

Unfortunately the stereotypes still dominate commercial driving, crack-snorting, filthy, rude truck driver.

I appreciate Ed, who has more than 17-years experience, and was recently honored as a 10-year safe driver, talking about the skill involved.

If you're a sales guy and you make a big sale, you can rest on your commission for a few weeks, or a journalist, a big scoop and editors leave you alone for a few weeks. But commercial drivers have the same demands of proficiency as doctors and engineers.

Every day requires the same skill and attention to detail -- lives depend on it -- to make sure we arrive at our destination safely. Yesterday's good day doesn't matter, it's always about today. What is happening today?

It makes the profession, the job, interesting and satisfying. There are yahoos in every industry, this one of course, but most drivers that I talk with take their responsibility seriously.

A million mile safe driver told me that safe driving involves as much patience and luck as skill and it must be practiced every day.

Marlaina said...

P.S. Ed's entire driving career has been safety first. The award is for his time at their current carrier.

Don Olney said...

Thanks Ed!