Wednesday, August 13, 2014

That ‘deep dark well’

The death of Robin Williams and the revealing stories about his struggle with depression have prompted statements from everyone from the president to his best friends. Many are posting comments about depression on Facebook. One that I liked was posted by “Land Line Now” Senior Correspondent Terry Scruton.

If you read “Roses and Razzberries,” you know Terry. If you listen to “Land Line Now” on Sirius XM, you know Terry. But there’s a side of him you don’t see, one that is particularly insightful and frequently profound.

Terry’s friends and family do see that side of him and we were privy to that this morning with a post on his personal Facebook. I have his permission to share this with you. 

I’m seeing a lot of posts today about depression in the wake of Robin Williams’ death, and understandably so. I’ve never suffered from clinical depression, but I know plenty of people who have and I thought I'd offer a few thoughts from someone on the outside looking in. 

The constant refrain I've heard throughout my life when dealing with people who have depression is “you don't get it. You don't understand.” You’re right. I don’t. But what you need to understand is that I’m trying.

My college girlfriend was bipolar and I got that refrain from her all the time. It made me feel small, ineffective and useless. It still does when I hear it today, even though I’ve learned so much more since those days. One thing I’ve learned is that depression is a disease. It’s not just a state of mind. People with depression don’t need to “cheer up” or “get over it.” They need medical help. The hard part is convincing them of that. Convincing them that there is hope. That they can get better.

I’ve heard that suffering from depression (I refuse to call it “being depressed” because that makes it sound like “being sad” and it’s so much more than that) is like being in a deep dark well with no way out. Here’s what it looks like from the other side: Since we can’t come down there with you, we just keep dropping buckets down the well, hoping you’ll grab one and we can lift you out to safety. But having never been down that well ourselves, we don’t realize how dark it is down there. We don’t realize that you might not even see the bucket or know that it’s there. We also don’t realize that sometimes those buckets might accidentally hit you on the head. Sorry about that. 

But know this: We’re not going to stop. No matter how deep or how dark it gets down there, there is always someone, somewhere who is going to keep trying to fish you out, whether you realize it or not. We are here. Buckets at the ready. You are never as alone in the dark as you think you are.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lauer. Lawyers. Lies.

On Monday morning NBC’s Matt Lauer interviewed Tracy Morgan’s attorney, Benedict P. Morelli. Lauer handled the details of the wreck better than expected – especially in light of the recent teardown series on the industry put out there by CNBC.

One criticism of Lauer: He tried to slant the accountability from motor carriers. Clearly he lacks an understanding of the industry and how some motor carriers operate. He clearly was fishing for Morelli to say that only drivers are responsible for crashes when they happen. But that wasn’t even close to the worst of it. Morelli was so full of bad information it was appalling.

Morelli said there were “75 deaths a day from big rigs. It’s been increasing.”

Seriously – 75 a day from big rigs? If that were true, it would add up to 27,375 a year – which is so far from the truth it made me cringe. Then scream. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the actual number of truck-related deaths in 2012 was just over 3,900. And that number doesn’t reflect the fact that the truck driver was usually not at fault.

It’s not in the article on the website, but he states it at about the 4:05 mark on this video.

Watch the whole thing, though. Morelli’s “facts” are the gold standard for the misinformation that we in the trucking industry battle. Morelli not only butchered the actual facts, he said Walmart driver Kevin Roper had been driving his truck for more than 13 hours. DRIVING?

It will be interesting to see if Morelli is going to go into a courtroom with a load of lies and a very poor understanding of the hours of service. Let’s see, how many weeks has this guy been on the job prepping to represent Tracy Morgan in court with the facts? And he still doesn’t get it? Maybe Morgan has been paying him way too much.

Last week I blogged about the mainstream media having a field day with twisted truths and half-baked statistics, which of course results in a push for lawmakers to rush to respond with more regs and sadly perpetuates the killer trucker stereotype.

Here (again) are the real facts.

The most recent year of complete crash data released was 2012. Here are some key points:
  • There were 3,464 fatal crashes involving large trucks.
  • 3,921 people died in crashes involving large trucks..
  • Research shows that of those 3,464 wrecks involving large trucks, 75 to 80 percent of those wrecks were not the fault of the trucker.

What the media should be focused on is how MOST people on the road are dying.
  • There were 26,540 fatal crashes that did not involve large trucks.
  • 29,156 people died in crashes that did not involve large trucks.

Funny thing, Morelli complained to Lauer that the press had first reported in error that his client was dead. Then it was erroneously reported that Morgan had lost a leg in the accident. Morelli was actually outraged that those rumors were reported by the press. Ironic, eh?