So Jeff Clark and I enjoy a verbal spar now and again. Jeff is a good guy. I don’t agree with a lot of stuff he says, and he feels the same way about me, but we have a mutual respect for one another and I won’t hesitate to rag him when I get a chance. It’s all in good fun, I actually learn a lot from Jeff, which should be the point of argument. It’s not always about winning, it’s often about having a well-rounded view of whatever you’re arguing about, and being able to see both sides of the argument when you’re done picking at each other. There is no defeat in greater understanding.
Jeff and I got into a little spat over the Road Hog eating contest that’s going on at MATS this year. He was righteously indignant about the import the image of a bunch of truckers snarfing up as many White Castle hamburgers as they can in a timed event may have for an industry that already has image issues. And while I agree the image is really important, my position was that this is a truck show, and if there’s anywhere a trucker should be able to relax and have fun, this is it.
Here’s what Jeff had to say about the event–
A few weeks ago Wendy and I debated the Road Hog eating contest. Wendy feels that it is harmless fun. I believe that it promotes a stereotype and harms the image of the professional driver. Do I believe that the contest is a big deal? No, it isn’t. My objection is more over the name of the contest than the actual contest. It is on the OOIDA sponsored stage, but OOIDA itself has clearly stated that it has nothing to do with the contest and has been working hard to promote the positive image of the professional driver. Personally, I don’t like the image of the road hog, but it isn’t that big a deal. I’ll get over it.
So just a couple of days after we had this exchange, I was perusing the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics site specifically for the purpose of setting someone straight on facts they had posted about truck drivers that were wrong. This person had been going on for days about how disgusting, sloppy, fat and uneducated truckers were, so I whipped up a little paragraph, complete with statistics to back my claims. But when I opened the BLS page, I saw this:
Great. The BLS has a picture of an obese guy, who doesn’t look very healthy, as their model for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers. This is not what I want to attach to a snarky paragraph about how wrong someone is about the image of trucking.
So I sent it to Jeff, and told him if he wanted to gripe about an image to someone, it should be the BLS.
Here’s the progress Jeff made with it:
Wendy, being a troublemaker, sent me a photo from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS used a morbidly obese trucker as its model. It is the equivalent of using a butt-crack photo on the site talking about plumbers. I contacted the BLS, as a member of the press, hoping to get an interview with them. I also contacted my congressman. Yesterday, I spent a good part of the afternoon with a field representative of my congressman. We talked about insurance minimums, ELDs, training standards, and marathons. As of yet, not a response from the BLS.
To his everlasting credit K.C. Phillips, of the Road Hog eating event, has responded to my concerns. He is a good guy. The BLS apparently feels that it can do whatever it wants.
Go get em’, Jeff.
P.S. I’m not a troublemaker, I’m a concerned citizen. Most of the time.