As I read Kathleen Blair’s essay “You Want to be a Trucker?” in the December issue of Truckers News, a huge smile formed on my face and in my heart. I, too, am one of those people who doesn’t fit the “trucker mold.” I don’t look like a trucker, I don’t act like a trucker, I don’t talk like a trucker – yet I am one!
Reading the essay was like looking into a mirror and seeing both who I was eight years ago when I first started driving and who I am today as a driver. I, too, am divorced and have had big ups and downs.
Truthfully there is no mold to fit; we can all be drivers out here. All you need is the desire and a smile. When the rest of the world is coming apart at the seams and you are surrounded by hate, anger and vulgarity, I’m going down the road with the sun in my windshield and a smile on my face.
Sure, there are bad days to be had out here in this thing we do, but as long as we keep the problem as small as we can and work to resolve it smartly we can keep that big smile and survive.
My fleet manager calls me “Sunshine.” I start my day with a smile, and I end my day with a smile, good or bad. I love what I do, so I can overcome all that life throws at me. It’s all about having a great attitude, an open mind and a great big smile to get you through the day.
Let’s Go Teams
Along with the new HOS rules, it has been said that there will be a shortage of 84,000 drivers, and I believe it is time for teams to stand up, take action and demand to be paid what we’re worth.
It seems strange to me that a company can pay a solo driver 30 cents per mile, but when hiring a team, which consists of twice the manpower and has the ability to drive twice the distance, sharing the one piece of equipment, we’ve allowed them to pull the wool over our eyes and pay us only a few pennies more and be satisfied with that. Why?
As a general rule, the greater the demand and the lower the supply, the higher the price, no matter what it is. The new HOS law is going to make a much greater demand for team drivers. Just how many companies can afford to have their trucks parked 10 hours a day, provided they can find a space to park them?
There’s still going to be freight that needs to be moved far and wide, fast and efficiently, and a team can move it twice as fast as a solo driver can. This is our only chance to stand up and demand to be paid what we’re worth. So I need all of you under-paid, under-appreciated teams to help me out here. There is a shortage of us, we’re in demand, and if we don’t demand it, we’ll never get it. Now is the time for us to take advantage of this situation, and together I believe we can.
Public Health Threat
The National Institute of Health has granted Emory University 1.1 million dollars to conduct a four-year study of the sexual behavior of long-haul truckers, with emphasis on sexually transmitted diseases. While Emory University conducts its study on truckers and sexually transmitted diseases, a potentially greater public health threat involving truckers is going unnoticed.
Truckstop parking lots and highway rest areas are virtual cesspools of truck driver body waste. It’s not just urine residue covering the ground where truckers park, there’s excrement and toilet paper mixed in. In the summer months, urine fumes boil up off the pavement, creating a sickening stench. I need to get under my 18-wheeler truck to perform safety inspections and adjust brakes, but I can’t do it without coming in contact with truck driver body waste.
New virus strains such as SARS can survive in body waste several days. If SARS or some other deadly virus transmitted through human waste spread in the United States, truckers would be a primary source of transmission.
Of course, truckers aren’t the only ones urinating and defecating on the ground. Inappropriate disposal of body waste is a widespread public health problem. Mostly men are doing it; women seem to have more sense. The matter needs to be brought to public attention.
We need to improve our sanitation habits now before a major pandemic strikes.
Jack James Elias
Send your letters to Randy Grider, Truckers News, 3200 Rice Mine Road N.E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406, by fax to (205) 750-8070 or by e-mail to rgrider@eTrucker.com.
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