Clash of the generations

Carolyn Magner and Misty Bell | July 01, 2010

An open discussion between seasoned veterans and emerging drivers dispels some age stereotypes


Word on the street is that old-school truckers view the younger generation as mechanically inept, technology-addicted, bad-attitude slackers who consider trucking nothing more than guiding a vehicle to a paycheck. The young truckers see the old-timers as smug, condescending, out of touch with technology and unwilling to lift a finger to help them out in a bind.

Rick Hodge trained truckers ages 23-73 for Oregon Truck Co. and says he found many of the stereotypes are true, though there are always exceptions. “For the most part, older drivers appear to be more insecure about the peripherals of trucking, such as paperwork and the changes in the industry coming down due to CSA 2010,” Hodge says. “Younger drivers seem to be more cocky with an ‘I know it all’ attitude but have a harder time driving. I have also noticed that neither group wants to adjust to the new ways that are coming due to CSA 2010.”

Do generational stereotypes apply to all drivers? We chose seven truckers, based solely on their ages, to participate in a roundtable conference call about the differences across the decades. The youngest driver, Jayme Snow, 24, was far from the stereotypical bad-attitude young driver, and John Bryant, 56 (who was interviewed separately because he was unable to attend the conference call), was definitely not the burned-out, techno-stupid old-timer. The 30-somethings, Chad, Trucker Steve and Chris, could see both sides of the debate. Kathy and Lacey* brought their experienced/female perspective to the table. You can draw your own conclusions from the conversation that’s re-capped (and edited for length) here. Ages are noted in parentheses at first reference.

*Name has been changed at request of driver due to a domestic situation.

 

Generational stereotypes

Newbies

Bad attitude

Poor driving skills

Look at trucking as a job, not a career

Non-professional attire

Distrustful toward old-timers

Trash talking on CB

Technologically savvy

Bad work ethic

More business-oriented

Like flashier equipment



Roundtable Discussion

Attitude

Truckers News: Do you view trucking as a job, a career or a hobby?

Chad (31): I would have to say that I look at my job more as a hobby. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. I love doing what I’m doing. I’ve turned it into a career and a professional business, and every day that I go to work, I feel like I’m still doing my hobby. My grandfather had a livestock trucking business, so I was kind of raised with some of the old-school guys. We wear nice, starched pants, nice boots and a nice button-up shirt.

Chris (35): I look at trucking as a way to make a living and support my family. I think the attitude out here is to go to work every day and make a dollar and go home and relax. I think some of the older truckers may have the attitude of “I’ve been there, done that, and I don’t have to do it again,” and some of the younger guys are coming out of school with the attitude “I was trained by a trainer, and you don’t have to tell me no different.”

Trucker Steve (31): Trucking’s definitely a career for me. I’m a third-generation truck driver. Everyone in my family drives. Everybody that I know, pretty much, drives. It is what you make it. It can be a lot of fun, or it can be a lot of work. I think there are a lot of people in the industry who are bitter, but I don’t think trucking has changed as much as a lot of people think it has. You know, everyone’s responsible for their own happiness out here.

John (56): Trucking is a profession for me. I think some of the new-school drivers don’t look at it as anything more than a job. I enjoy what I do. It’s just getting harder and harder, especially with the new laws in [CSA] 2010. I still love what I do. I don’t think the young guys love it, though. I think they look at it more as a job, that they couldn’t do anything else and they came out to drive truck.

Jayme (24): I’m in livestock hauling, too, and by all means I look at it as my hobby. I told my dad when I was in the fifth grade that I was going to drive a truck when I turned 18. It’s always been a dream for me, so I look at it every day as I get to do my hobby. I work lots of long hours, and I work ­really hard to get to do what I do. Even when I was a kid, I enjoyed listening to the older drivers, because they were always talking about how they did it in the good old days.

Kathy (49): This was a safety valve for me, and I made it a career. I do see an attitude difference between the older and the younger generation, and I can say this also from the standpoint of having been a trainer. I’m a female, and I hear it all the time: “You don’t know what you’re doing” and “You don’t know how to do this because you’re female.” I find a lot of the attitude toward us is “Leave me alone, you’re a female, and I don’t want your help.” And this is not just from the younger generation.

Lacey (47): It’s a job. That’s all it is. It’s a job.


Knights of the highway no more?