Your business and your relationship to authority

Updated Feb 6, 2012

I learned today how to take a passenger for a ride in our truck. Learned when Diane and her passenger completed the paperwork and went for a drive.

Diane and I woke up this morning in our Florida vacation house where we plan to stay until mid-February. We have been here since early January and the truck has been parked for more than two weeks. To keep it limber and make sure everything is still in good repair, we will drive it for an hour or so every couple of weeks. Diane took it out today and took an eager neighbor along for the ride; her first ride ever in a Class 8 truck.

We have leased our truck to two carriers in eight years. We were with FedEx Custom Critical most of the time and moved to Landstar Express America in June, 2011. Our former carrier prohibited passengers in the truck. Our present carrier permits them but a form must be completed in which the passenger names a beneficiary and to which a copy of his or her driver’s license or other acceptable ID is attached. (A similar process existed at our former carrier but we were denied every time we asked.)

We are thrilled to be now able to give friends a ride in our truck. It’s not something we expect to do often but having the ability to do so gives us a greater amount of freedom which we deeply appreciate.

However, the thought comes to mind; why should anyone have say over who gets to ride in our truck? I mean, it’s our truck, isn’t it? If we want to take a friend for a ride, that’s our business, right?

This is where your view of and relationship with authority comes in. When prohibited from giving a friend a ride, you can comply or cheat. When allowed to give a friend a ride, you can follow the process to make it all legal or ignore it and give the friend a ride anyway.

What direction do you go and why? Truckers are burdened with rules every time they move, and even when they don’t. On duty, off duty, passenger authorization, enter scale or bypass, log every minute of every day, don’t use frayed straps to secure a load even if they are extra straps, do your pre-trips, do your post-trips, fax in your paperwork, don’t park here, don’t drive there, don’t recap your steer tires; the list is endless.

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People react in a wide variety of ways to authority. Some become cheerleaders of and collaborators with the authorities. Some rebel. Some cheat. Some comply. Some could care less about the rules and do what they want to do. Some explain the rules away. Some dive into them and make them their own.

Much depends in the situation. When asked, most law-abiding, taxpaying, good Christian people say they would not hesitate to steal food to feed their starving children. Yet they will name the faults and urge the prosecution of a stranger who does that very thing (lazy, lack of respect, does not try hard enough to find a job, bad parent, etc.).

Think about the trucking rules you comply with without even thinking about it. Then think about the rules that upset you. What’s the difference? When presented with a rule, is it your nature to buck the system and rip into the rule makers? Are you one who feels powerless to do anything about it and resolves to adapt as quickly as you can so as not to be threatened by the authorities? Or do you react in a different way?

These are more than theoretical questions. As owner-operators, Diane and I have a business to run and we actually try to make money out here. I’m a self-reliant, independent sort and generally dislike it when someone tells me what to do. Yet I’ve placed myself in an industry where there is no end to new rules, often from questionable sources, written for questionable reasons.

I have to be careful. When a new rule comes along, do I rebel because I don’t like it when people tell me what to do? Do I go home for a week to stew about it? Do I inject myself into the process and try to change things? Or do I keep my cool and consider my business goals first?

It sucks when rules are imposed on us. It may suck more and cost a great deal in lost business and future opportunities to give free reign to our inner rebel. It is better to give free reign to your inner business person. That’s the one who will see not only what is lost but also what might be gained when a new rule is encountered.

For us today, it was not the loss of freedom because Diane and her passenger had to comply with a process. It was about the gain of freedom because a process exists at our new carrier that did not exist before.