by Allen Smith
Professional truck drivers have a lot of enemies. Many drivers perceive the DOT as one enemy . . . and without question it is the general public who looks at trucking as something that is just in their way: a big, slow 18 wheeler creeping up a hill at 25 MPH, making a huge wide turn that cuts them off, a dirty machine that smells of oil and diesel . . . enemies can even include entire towns or cities that proudly make it known by stating, “Truckers Not Welcome,” such as was the case of Greenwich, Connecticut.
The world of the professional over the road truck driver is a secretive one that few on the outside ever experience. Mainly, the trucker talks and converses with other truckers . . . few else would be able to relate. The nine-to-fiver has no comprehension of how a long haul trucker will run more miles in one year, than they will drive in ten. For those who jump into OTR trucking as a new career . . . statistics prove that most will only last six months. It takes a ton of stamina to be a professional over the road truck driver . . . stamina, that most do not possess.
The truck driver will find enemies at nearly every turn . . . shippers and receivers who will treat them like they are less than dogs . . . law enforcement telling them that they will have to move their rig, even though they are parked out of the way on some small, forgotten empty lot overgrown with grass and weeds . . . enemies that even live within their industry itself . . . lies reported on their DAC report . . . a disgruntled dispatcher who will “cut” their miles because they refused to haul an illegal load . . . enemies everywhere.
Professional truckers will talk among themselves at the docks, rest areas and truck stops . . . talking about the abuses of the industry and keeping these insights quietly to themselves. They cannot let their company catch wind of such discussions . . . they can’t afford to lose their jobs. The veteran driver knows that for every one truck driver that loves their profession . . . ten more hate it, due to the abuse that continues to survive within the industry.
As one trucker said to me a few weeks ago: “The trucking companies own us . . . we are nothing more than slaves.”
I would not go so far as to referring to trucking as slavery, (we can all quit at anytime we want to), but for many thousands and thousands of OTR truckers . . . they are faced not only with a highly stressful, demanding and tiring vocation . . . but also with the daily misfortune of having to deal with so many misinformed outsiders who have no understanding of what over the road trucking is all about. Enemies who look at truckers and their big rigs as a nuisance of the roads and something that just simply slows down their ever increasing, fast paced way of life. None of these, however, are the truck driver’s worst enemy.
I’ve always had a saying: “There is only right and wrong . . . and nothing in between.“ Fighting for a right is a much tougher battle than fighting for an obvious injustice. History proves this. Like water which takes the path of least resistance, it is much easier to join forces with the injustice, than it is to fight against it. How you know that the “right” is gaining ground to winning, is that the voices of the injustice grow louder. Right versus wrong has existed since the time of man and will continue to exist . . . it is just human nature. There are those in which their sole purpose in life is to argue, attack and to continue spewing hate . . . even when they know that they are wrong. I could make a post tomorrow about how the sky is blue, and I would be attacked by those who would say, “No . . . the sky is amethyst.” Truth, or the “right” is meaningless to them . . . their pleasure comes only from continually provoking hate and discord.
Trucking companies in the United States have never worried about a trucker strike. These companies know that the brotherhood of truckers does not exist anymore and that many truck drivers could not get along, together, long enough to form a successful strike. An easy way to prove this is to simply turn on your CB radio and try to have a normal, decent, intelligent, adult-like conversation. You may make it for a few minutes . . . but it will soon be attacked by other truckers. It does not matter why or how the conversation is attacked, just that it is. It’s the world we live in today.
It is understandable to have disagreements . . . it is more understandable to have professional and civil discussions. Yet, there have been truckers who have actually “attacked” a widow of a murdered truck driver: a women who is fighting to bring about a new law that will provide more safe and secured parking for our nation’s truck drivers. No professional, civil or adult conversations . . . but written, verbal attacks against a lady who lost her husband who was a fellow trucker. “Professional” truck drivers filled with jealously and rage because somebody else is doing something of such importance, and it’s not them . . . even organizations who came out strong in support of the new bill, only to fall weak and abandoned it when faced with losing their funding from those with special interests in mind.
To her, I say forget about them and don’t lose any sleep over it. These are the segments of truck drivers and industry “leaders” who prefer to follow the path of least resistance.
Fighting . . . discord . . . hate . . . jealously . . . pride . . . whatever the reason, a large majority of the nation’s truck drivers will continue to follow the easiest path. The thousands of others who are professional and civil . . . may work quietly in the background or even raise their voices . . . but they will do it in a manner that shines with their professionalism and commitment to bringing change to an industry that needs change in several areas. There will always be those who will fight and wreak havoc just for the sake of fighting and wreaking havoc . . . the truck driver’s worst enemy is the truck driver.
Anyone who has been in trucking for any length of time knows that trucking is a tough vocation. Over the road trucking is especially rough . . . hard on the body, the mind and apparently, even the soul. It no doubt has come around due to the hardships of the trucking life. It not only exists in trucking, but sadly, you can witness this fall in human kindness and decency throughout many aspects of our society. Personal attacks have become a past time favorite for many. A large majority of mankind now gains complete satisfaction from launching verbal and textual attacks against anything and anybody, purely for the sake of what they perceive as entertainment. They contribute nothing good or positive to society and they care not to.
The simple art of “believing” is nearly dead. When anyone attempts to work for something for the sole purpose of helping, it must be for “other reasons.” In today’s society, there is absolutely no way that anyone would take on a task for the sole purpose of “helping.” That aspect is simply absurd! What the trucking companies have over a large vast of drivers, is that they can all “get along” with one another . . . they know the chances of this among drivers is next to nil. This is how companies can continue to abuse drivers through the use of the DAC Report . . . this is how trucking companies can work together to “blackball” a driver from the industry, a control tactic if you will. Together, they are a nationwide “team” . . . on the contrary, assaults and attacks are launched against drivers by drivers. Obviously, the trucking companies know that they do not have to do anything . . . the drivers themselves will do the job! The companies understand human nature and use it for their benefit.
Over the road trucking can wear you down. Enemies from all sides . . . the stress, the lifestyle, the demand . . . and so often the case, another enemy that can creep in if you allow it: cynicism.
Cynicism. This word is actually very interesting. It refers to a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics, dating back to four B.C. Today, cynicism describes the opinions of those people who see self-interest as the main, primary motive of human behavior, and who fail to believe that anybody does anything simply out of sincerity or virtue. Cynics truly believe that no human being invokes any action of any kind purely out of goodness. Also, the way cynics express themselves, due to this belief, are through sneers and sarcasm.
Sad, isn’t it? We only have one life to live, which is so short, and one must live it through cynicism and failure to believe in anything right and good . . . living life by attacking others who are sincere in their goals, only to make themselves look like a “hero” and to bring attention to themselves. Another amazing aspect to this is that so many of them complain on a daily basis, yet will not even attempt to get involved and change things for the better. If things changed, they would no longer have the reasons they need to throw out their sneers and sarcasm. It is an odd characteristic.
For many, over the road trucking has worn them down. On the other hand, those stronger did not allow the OTR life to destroy them and they enjoy the trucking life and prove that it is possible to remain a highly trained professional in a very difficult lifestyle . The life of an over the road trucker can transform you into a bitter, jealous, hate-filled cynic . . . . but only if you let it. Remember, that the “truck” is not your home . . . your HOME is your home . . . remember, other truckers are not your family . . . your FAMILY is your family . . . and always remember, that the freight is NEVER more important than those loved ones waiting back at home.
So, for all of you new CDL students and drivers breaking into the industry . . . over the road trucking can provide a decent career eventually, but only if you are up to the drastic change in lifestyle. Will you follow the path of least resistance, or maintain the strength to stand up for what is right?
Before entering into the world of long haul trucking, you should answer yourself one question: “Will I be a follower or a leader?” Do not allow yourself to become your worst enemy.
© 2009 – 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.