Every generation has had its take on “kids today,” but I have noticed this about the current teen generation: Change is a more natural and accepted part of their lives than any previous generation. Whatever age you are, you too have seen change come into your life when you were young. But far more slowly than today’s teens. I have a 14-year-old who barely shrugs when a technology he has come to accept is changed before his eyes. One sort of gaming system becomes obsolete, so he simply drops it on the floor, walks away from it and learns the new system. Videos are out and DVDs are in? No problem. This computer system has to be learned only to be replaced by a new one before a grade or two of school has passed.
Now depending on your generation, change came more slowly.
I’m thinking about this because of the new hours-of-service rule.
So many of you have built a system that you work by. Successfully. It is your profession and it’s a way of living and working that you have taken a long time to put together. Over time you have made adjustments here and there. Some of you may have left solo driving to go team or left flatbeds for vans. Some abandoned OTR to run dedicated or vice versa. Some just perfected the management of time, loads, equipment and routes.
But you did it to build a living, to become the most efficient and profitable professional you could be.
Now you have to change the way you live and work. The government says so.
But most of us are not like today’s teens, casually ringing the changes without giving them much thought, without any dedication to the ways that must be changed. Most of you don’t drive so many hours or miles a day just because you can, you do it because it fits the way you work and your productivity. Sometimes you stop because you’re tired and sometimes because you like the coffee and carrot cake at a mom-and-pop diner where they all know your name.
Now you have to rethink your daily work and leisure schedule. The government says so. Someone is telling you that your old way is no good anymore, and you must use this new one now.
How many teams will have to completely reconfigure the way they share time? How many solo drivers will suddenly realize that somewhere between where they are and where they have to be they have to stop, climb back into the sleeper and sit there for a few hours before they can do their last 50 miles to a drop? What happens when you’re sitting in a terminal lot in Columbia, S.C., when you should be in Biloxi, Miss., loading for Stockton, Calif.?
You’re not a teen – the changes will chafe, they will frustrate you, they will make you angry at people in Washington you will call names, they will make you feel someone has taken away your authority to run your own life and business.
How you handle these new emotional and mental pressures brought down on your head by Washington may be just as important a part of your continued success as a well maintained rig and a plentiful supply of loads.
I had a colleague once who taught me a valuable lesson about patience. After tough, tense days at work, most of us would leave the office and hit the interstate home (I-95 in South Florida) tighter than an overwound spring. My colleague told me to drive entirely in the slow inside lane of rush hour traffic for the five or six miles I used the interstate. It took me weeks to do it; my impatience was too hard to smother under kind thoughts and deep breathing exercises.
But OTR drivers have more patience than most people I know. So act like a teenager again. Consider these major changes to your life something that you will take in stride, as if it were nothing more than learning how to handle a new transmission. You’ll live longer, feel better and stay in the money. Letting the frustration and anger they will create at first get to you may seem inevitable, but it will only hurt you. It always does.