The art of complaining

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We’ve all been around “that” person. You know the one, someone who could find something wrong with a free ice cream cone. Or someone who would complain if you handed them a gold bar, because it was too heavy to carry. Someone who would gripe loudly and start a Facebook page about the fact that free samples of corn on the cob at the State Fair aren’t gluten free.

Strawberry Ice Cream ConeStrawberry Ice Cream Cone

They’re gripers. They gripe and wallow in it, and love it. They’re also annoying as hell to the people who find great joy in free ice cream, even if comes in a (gasp) sugar cone.

Unfortunately, these people get a lot of other people all riled up, but none of them ever direct their griping to the source of their injury. They just spray it all over, like giant manure spreaders, hoping to hit something pertinent once in a while.

We had the opportunity to talk to a lot of corporate folks at the show last week. These are the people who sit in offices and hypothesize about what life on the road is like, to the best of their ability, so they can offer trucking folks the things they need while they’re actually on the road. These folks use the information they gather from trucking folks to make those decisions, and when they’re not getting that information directly, it reduces their ability to change those things or make them better.

In a perfect trucking world, everyone who runs a company or business having anything to do with trucking would start out as a trucker, but we all know that’s impossible because there’s a driver shortage. Yep … last count from the potatoes was eleven, I think. We have eleven available drivers in the entire world. (I believe there are actually more black rhinos than truckers, and we all know this is probably a filthy lie.)

I kid, but the point is, the people running the businesses we spend money at in this industry need our feedback. They need our information. We have something they don’t have and it’s boots-on-the-ground everyday life experience on the road. That being said, they’re really not interested in a hair on the toilet seat of their truck stop in Hell, Michigan. I realize that may be a big deal to someone, but bear with me here.

There is an art to complaining, especially when it comes to corporate level complaining. First off, lodging a concern with the correct person is really important. The Cinnabon lady could care less if there’s toilet paper in the stalls — she’s working the Cinnabon booth, and frankly, I’d feel better if she stayed strictly with the rolls in the Cinnabon booth for her shift, wouldn’t you? You can complain to her about cold cinnamon buns, but find a bathroom attendant or manager for the other buns.

Another thing to take into consideration is the “flies to honey” thing. I’ve often said my Gran can tell you to go straight to hell and do it in a way that you thank her for it and ask if she needs you to bring her anything before you go. It’s amazing the difference an approach makes. I get that it’s so much more rewarding to scream. Believe me when I tell you I’ve had days I’d like to line about nine people up and just scream directly into their faces for about an hour – we’ve all been there. But time and again I’ve experienced a much better reception, and quicker solution to my problem, when I don’t lose my mind.

It doesn’t always have to be bad news, either. Corporate folks love to hear good things. If someone goes over and above for you, call corporate and let them know. Give the employee who is actually looking you in the face and helping you the benefit of letting their bosses know they’re doing a good job.

I’m encouraged by the community feel the industry is striving to return to. People in higher positions are listening a lot more — social media and instant communication has enabled them to participate in real-time. I would encourage drivers and their families to use these tools to craft the environment they’d like to have on the road, and take responsibility to participate in it by giving their information to the people who need it most.

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