Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tilden Curl’s ‘Five Plus’ challenge

Here at OOIDA headquarters, one of the ways we stay tuned to the industry is by reading the letters, email, comments, social media and blogs written by our members. Tilden Curl of Olympia, Wash., writes a blog that we like. Last week – inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – Tilden wrote one we really like and promise to support. On Tuesday, we watched Tilden take it one step further with a video clip on Facebook. The whole idea is best explained by Tilden himself. Here’s his blog:

As truckers, we often talk all about what is wrong with the trucking world. What those stories hold might depend on what segment of the trucking world you are involved in. There are a few general topics that most of us can agree on (for the most part). What we agree on may also depend on your experience level. For instance, minimum training standards. Many just out of school seem to think they are well trained. Seasoned veterans say they shouldn’t be on the road yet.

Diversity is a double-edged sword. Diversity is what makes our industry work to supply the transportation needs of a nation. It is how we all find the segment of transportation that suits us the best. Diversity is also what separates us. While some are tanker drivers, some are reefer drivers, and some are ________( fill in the blank), we all have our own set of concerns.

When we talk about how to fix our problems, we talk first and most about our own problems. That is just human nature. That is also part of the problem. Sometimes we pit ourselves against each other.

I heard a song tonight that had a line that said, “When you throw dirt at me, you’re just losing ground.” While we may act to the best of our own behalf, seldom do we act together to solve one problem then move to the next.

Frankly, we generally just complain to each other and do very little more to solve any problems. I’ve heard more than once,” They’re going to do whatever they want.” Well, “they” make up a relatively small number of people. “They” just have the ear of the rulemakers. We can change that.

There are over 3 million truck drivers in the United States. Granted, some will never do anything more than drive a truck. But if we can show them an easy way to support the industry, some of these drivers may get involved to some degree. Involvement is out of the comfort zone for a lot of drivers, but doing something to make things better appeals to our basic nature. Being part of something larger than each of us individually. That is where the challenge comes in.

The only thing that will turn the course to a better direction is if we speak louder than the people currently directing our path. It really doesn’t matter the issue that is most important to you, just speak up! My challenge to you is to have conversations with others about our issues.

Find five people that will contact their representative on your behalf. This could be anyone that you know. Relatives, friends, neighbors, anyone that could use you as a window into a world that needs help. Encourage drivers that are sitting on the sidelines to get involved. If we all get five people involved, that could be millions of calls to our representatives.

Part of the success of a plan of this sort is the ease by which someone could get involved. It is pretty simple. Choose what you see as a problem, and then educate your listener as to why it is a problem. Let them know that they could be a big help in changing things for the better. After they have a fair understanding of the issue, you show them how easy it is to help.

Each of us have three lawmakers to act on our behalf: two senators and one congressman. It is important that they all hear from you. It may be a little awkward at first, but it gets much easier as you go along. The first step is the hardest.

There are three basic ways to be heard:

1)  Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Give them your ZIP code and they can connect you with your representatives.  Call back to each of them until all three have heard from you. Each call gets easier.

2) You can email each of them directly. Do a search for them on the Internet and you can easily find a “contact” button. Write your message and send.

3) No. 3 is probably the easiest of all! Simply go to FightingForTruckers.com. From there, you can either type in your message or use the pre-prepared statement to address a problem. This site will put you in touch with all three of your reps at one time. You might be surprised, but they will often get back to you thanking you for your input.

So, the challenge is to find five people (plus yourself) every month to contact a lawmaker. Address an issue that is important to you. It can be the same issue every month. It can be the same five every month. Just make the effort. As you find people that are receptive, pass the challenge on to them. You will find that in a short amount of time, you have made a difference. Don’t be a naysayer; give it a try. What have you got to lose?

We can do this.