Monday, August 8, 2011

A Victim Of The Times...!

My dad was a trucker. He was gone quite a bit and not all of it was because of how far he was driving.

Want to learn something about truck driving you may or may not know? Well, sit back and pay attention while I tell you just how things are today. A lot more regulated than back in my dad's day, but it's never been an easy way to make a living! Believe me, I know.

This story from the Star Tribune will fill in the details!

That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

Article by: DAN HANSON
Updated: August 3, 2011 - 9:53 AM

Let me tell you a little about the truck driver you just flipped off because he was passing another truck, and you had to cancel the cruise control and slow down until he completed the pass and moved back over.

His truck is governed to 68 miles an hour, because the company he leases it from believes it keeps him and the public and the equipment safer.

The truck he passed was probably running under 65 mph to conserve fuel. You see, the best these trucks do for fuel economy is about 8 miles per gallon. With fuel at almost $4 per gallon -- well, you do the math. And, yes, that driver pays for his own fuel.

He needs to be 1,014 miles from where he loaded in two days. And he can't fudge his federally mandated driver log, because he no longer does it on paper; he is logged electronically.

He can drive 11 hours in a 14-hour period; then he must take a 10-hour break. And considering that the shipper where he loaded held him up for five hours because it is understaffed, he now needs to run without stopping for lunch and dinner breaks.

If he misses his delivery appointment, he will be rescheduled for the next day, because the receiver has booked its docks solid (and has cut staff to a minimum). That means the driver sits, losing 500-plus miles for the week.

Which means his profit will be cut, and he will take less money home to his family. Most of these guys are gone 10 days, and home for a day and a half, and take home an average of $500 a week if everything goes well.

You can't tell by looking at him, but two hours ago he took a call informing him that his only sister was involved in a car accident, and though everything possible was done to save her, she died. They had flown her to a trauma hospital in Detroit, but it was too late.

He hadn't seen her since last Christmas, but they talked on the phone every week. The load he is pulling is going to Atlanta, and he will probably not be able to get to the funeral.

His dispatcher will do everything possible to get him there, but the chances are slim. So he has hardly noticed your displeasure at having to slow down for him. It's not that he doesn't care; he's just numb.

Everything you buy at the store and everything you order online moves by truck. Planes and trains can't get it to your house or grocery store. We are dependent on trucks to move product from the airport and the rail yards to the stores and our homes.

Every day, experienced and qualified drivers give it up because the government, the traffic and the greedy companies involved in trucking have drained their enthusiasm for this life.

They take a job at a factory if they can find it, and are replaced by an inexperienced youngster dreaming of the open road. This inexperience leads to late deliveries, causing shortages and higher prices at the store, and crashes that lead to unnecessary deaths.

It is even possible that is what led to the death of this driver's sister.

This is a true story; it happened last week. The driver's name is Harold, and I am his dispatcher.

Dan Hanson, of Belle Plaine, Minn., is a fleet manager.

Just a little something to think about this morning!

Ready for some coffee on the patio? We can toast to all the truck drivers on the road!


Momlady said...

I totally respect those drivers and know that their jobs are not glamorous. I just wish the AFL/CIO/Teamsters wasn't so deeply entrenched in the business.

chinasyndrome said...

Sure adds some perspective doesn't it? Thanks Jim!


linda m said...

Thanks for sharing. Definitely food for thought. I would never want to be a truck driver as I know how hard a life they lead.

Baby Sis said...

Bubba -

memories of days long past, for sure......

And Hubby was a furniture mover in his past life, with his own fleet of 3 trucks. Not home for months on end, criss-crossing the US and Canada. He says all was well until de-regulation set in - the long arm of Big Brother.

Then he went into the office of heavy-haul trucking, getting permits, etc., and it got worse. He finally had to hang up his hat - too much BBBS going on.

Big Hugs -

Mechanic in Illinois said...

My son is a local driver,venturing out up to 150 miles. I worry every day and wait for his call to say he's home safe. It pays the bills, that's about all I can say about trucking. Thanks for the story and have a great Monday.

HermitJim said...

Hey Momlady...
During the time that Dad was driving or was involved in the trucking business, he hated the unions!

We never talked about it and I was too immature to understand his dislike of unions at the time.

He was a hard working man, just making a living the best way he could! Wonder what he would think about all the BS going on today!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey China...
Boy, does it ever! Opened up a lot of memories for me when I read this article!

Hey man, I appreciate you coming by today!

Hey Linda...
I do know that Dad was making good money, but he spent a lot of time away from the family! Not by choice.

Happiest time of his working life, I think! Earning good money, I mean!

I do thank you for the visit today!

Hey Sis...
That was a real time of adjustment for us!

Easy to associate with these guys, when you know first hand some of what they have to go through!

Thanks, Sis, for coming over this morning!

HermitJim said...

Hey Mechanic...
Way too many bad drivers on the roads now days to make it fun!

I do understand about that waiting around for the "home safe" call to come! Part of being a parent, I reckon!

Thanks, my friend, for the visit today.

Wretha said...

Thanks for sharing that story, it's heart wrenching, but the drivers of this nation need to read it and show some respect for others on the road.


HermitJim said...

Hey Wretha...
So good to see you again, my friend!

So many times we don't think of the other drivers out there as real people. We should!

Most of the truck drivers I've ever known were the best drivers I knew! After all, that's how they fed their families!

Time is long overdue for a little respect, I think!

Thanks, girl, for coming over today!

ladyhawthorne said...

My dad was a trucker years ago too. God bless them all.

Dizzy-Dick said...

This last trip I took through 13 states, I tried something new, set the cruse control at 57 mph for the whole trip. I was passed by a lot of truckers and I would always flash my lights to let them know they were clear to pull back in the right lane. Most of them would thank me by flashing their tail lights. I appreciated the thank you. I respect truckers.

Gorges Smythe said...

The biggest thing that I ever drove on a route was a straight-frame with a 22 foot box. Still, I found truckers to be a whole lot better bunch than the average auto and pickup drivers. Younger and foreign drivers may gradually change that, though.

Carolyn said...

Nice to read this ;) ... my husband is a driver and has been for almost 12 years. He was a computer programmer and phased out at 53... not many jobs ... he's an excellent driver and would drive to ease stress. I never knew any drivers. But let me tell you that you can not be a dummy ... he has driven through ice, snow sleet and you name it... mountains ... many many traffic jams and construction ... there are bad truck drivers and good truck drivers... most are very well trained, considerate professional drivers that treat that love this country and its beauty. Mine fits in the good guy category ;) ... I've cried many a night when he was caught in ice in the mountains... they deserve a lot of respect ... don't pull in front of one and slow down... they have to have momentum and trying to tell a big rig to get outta your way is really dangerous... believe me... they want to be out of your way...

Thanks, Hermit Jim for this post ;)