Monday, August 6, 2007

The good, the bad and the ugly

A trucker, I’m not. But, most of you know that I’ve been around the industry long enough and fought enough battles with you to know that I am a huge fan and advocate. I love my job and what I do.

One of the things I face every day it seems like is debunking the myths, tall tales and outright misconceptions of truckers. You know what I’m talking about. The one where truckers are wild-eyed, drugged-up, sleep-deprived, running-with-scissors renegades.

I proudly explain that’s not the case, spout off statistics to back it up, talk about those of you I know personally and do whatever I can in my personal life to change those perspectives.

But, I honestly have to say after spending last week on the road with my three kids that I’m more than ready to kick a few idiots in the butt. They’re honestly screwing it up for all of the professional truckers on the road.

I’m a professional road-tripper, if you will. It’s nothing for me to load up my kids and my dog and head out on a 1,000-plus-mile trip. The kids travel great and the dog loves it.

I’ve been around trucking long enough that I’m a share-the-road kind of gal. I’m not passing you on the right. I’m out of your blind spot. I don’t hang out in the left lane. And for crying out loud, I would never dream of cutting a big truck off in traffic.

I’d have to say that 95 percent of the truckers I encountered on my most recent trip afforded me the same respect.

A few of you even gave the kids a honk – I thank you for that. I’m trying to get them out of the “give me a honk” mode. But, they’re kids and they love it. Then again, you could have been honking at my OOIDA stickers.

I was grateful for the tanker driver who led me through the stormy weather. And then there was the Long-Haul Truckin’ driver who slowed down and let me over when we crested a hill and immediately ran up on a wreck. Common courtesy stuff, but it is appreciated. You’re the good guys in my book.

But then, there are those other drivers. The bad and the ugly.

They are the numbskulls that were out there acting like they were in a road race in Monte Carlo. Running up on stopped traffic like they really could stop on a dime. Hanging out in the left lane going 60 mph in a 70 mph speed zone. And that’s the minor stuff.

These yahoos need to have their CDLs yanked. They are a menace on the highway and they are making the image problem this industry faces harder to combat.

Knowing my frustration with them, I can’t even begin to imagine how sick of it the professional truckers are. Again, I find yet another reason to respect your patience and professionalism when you’re faced with wannabe truckers who won’t even follow the rules of the road.

So, the next time I talk to one of you and end the call telling you to “be safe,” I mean it. The four-wheelers are bad enough, but when you’re battling your own to stay safe, that’s just downright wrong.