I enjoyed John Latta’s column on Labor Day, “The Honorable Road.” I am an owner-operator. In June of 1999 I started my business with profits and savings from the stock market. After getting out of the Army in 1971 – Vulcan Gunner 16R 7th/61st Arty 32 ADCOM – I was a company driver for a few companies. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for good companies and learn my trade from honorable people. Now, I am able to live a little of the dream that most drivers have. I have my own authority and a couple good accounts.
A broker recently burned me for the first time (bankrupt), not bad from what I hear. The percentage of owner-operators who do it this way is small, but then the percentage of people who get to defend the freedom of our country is small, too. Capitalism needs some fine tuning for sure and if the politicians can take care of the bad guys and reform themselves, there may be hope for the greatest country in the world. As for Labor Day, I was on the road enjoying the fruits of my labor.
It’s Time to Take a Stand
I have been in the trucking business for almost 30 years.
I have watched the steady decline of our industry for years, and the other day I overheard a couple of guys discussing the way things are. I told them that I have seen the enemy, and he is us. After much discussion they finally agreed with me. It’s our fault that freight that I used to haul for $1.50 per mile is now being moved for 88 cents per mile. It’s our fault that police and DOT officers harass us. When we decide that we’ve had enough, and do something about it, then things will change.
People say that they can’t afford to shut down. Why not? Companies can’t replace whole fleets of drivers. Banks and finance companies don’t want our trucks, they want their money. We are the only industry in America that never gets a raise.
I recently read about an owner-operator who found a 1972 rate sheet and couldn’t believe how much less he was making 30 years later.
It’s time to look in the mirror and ask yourself, why do I stay away from my family for weeks at a time for minimum wage? Why do I put up with being just a revenue source for the states? Why don’t I demand to be paid for what I do and be compensated like the professional I am?
Who is more important to the survival of this country – a professional athlete or me? It’s time to look in the mirror and ask, what am I going to do about it? Shut ’em down Jan 1.
Where’s the Parking?
Regarding the FHWA report on parking: the only time you find enough parking is if you are in a truckstop early or a rest area. There needs to be more places for truck drivers to park. I have been on the road with my husband for the past three years and I do not understand how the survey can say there is enough parking. Who did they ask? Not the drivers that are out there every night trying to find a safe place they can park their tractor-trailers.
JoAnn M. Bauman
A Little Respect
How can people in America sit on their duff and bad-mouth drivers in the trucking industry while those drivers are hauling the things we all need to survive?
It seems everywhere you go, someone has something nasty and hateful to say about a driver or trucking company. Think about it – how many things do you use every day that at one time or another didn’t arrive in a warehouse or a local store by motor freight?
Gas for your vehicle comes by a tanker to your nearest convenience store or gas mart. The clothes you wear come to your local department store by truck. The toys you buy for your children come by freight, and the food you buy also comes by truck.
So next time you find yourself behind a trucker who is driving 40 mph up a hill, or you have to back up so that the driver can make his wide right turn, or even the next time a driver walks by and has not had a shower yet, maybe you should bite your tongue and think about this. You may be a minute or two late for work, or you may be in a rush to get home, but think about the driver for a moment. What is he doing? For starters, he has given his time and efforts to get the things to us that we need. The driver spends days or weeks at a time away from his family, while we rush home every night to be with our family. He can’t always stop when he wants and take a shower. That does not make him a slob.
Give drivers a break. Just because you are held up for a minute, don’t swear at them or wave your “little birdie” to them. Don’t jump in front of them just to gain 70 feet at the next stoplight. Don’t pull out in front of them to keep from getting stuck behind an 18-wheeler. Keep in mind, it takes more to stop 18 wheels than it does four wheels.
Truckers are on the road because we need them and we owe them a great deal of respect.