‘Fuzzy Math’ Goes Beyond Greed

I enjoyed Editor Randy Grider’s March column “Fuzzy Math” but was confused by the last paragraph. When you said “the limits” in the very last sentence (“When drivers no longer have to push themselves beyond the limits to earn a decent living, the problem will finally be solvable”) to what were you referring?

“Greed” is a word with a lot of negative connotations, and anytime you use it in the place of “justifiable need” it takes on the form of insult or accusation.

Finally, to set hours-of-service rules requiring free American men and women to be required to give detailed legal documents showing exactly where they have been in the last seven days, and for how long, to every petty officer of the government merely upon request (or face extreme consequences!) is the ultimate insult to the supposed Constitutionally protected freedoms of being an American.

Unsolvable problem, fuzzy math, indeed.

Al Holm, Glendale, Ariz.

Editor’s note: By “the limits,” Grider was referring to both driving past the mandatory limits in some cases as well as unpaid work like waiting to be loaded and unloaded that forces some drivers to try to make up for lost driving time.

CSA 2010 detrimental to roadside service?

Last week I was in Sugarland, Texas, and found the taillights not working on my tractor during a pretrip. To be honest, since it was daylight and I was hooked to a trailer if it was not for CSA 2010 I would have driven to a repair facility. But with CSA 2010 I’d risk getting negative points against me and the carrier if I happened to be stopped for a roadside inspection. I don’t move anything with any defects and wonder how many other drivers have the same attitude.

I waited seven hours for a repair truck to show up. Luckily this had no serious consequences on my schedule. I had two days to go 700 miles. But I wonder. Will more reluctance of drivers and carriers to move equipment with defects result in road services being overburdened, causing longer response times and higher rates? Will there be more missed appointments because extra time is spent waiting for road service? Will some carriers still push drivers to run with defective equipment?

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I know of a carrier that was known to be strict on compliance encouraging drivers to join a legal service to “protect” their CDL. Not hard to see their real motive there: They want the drivers to pay for a service to avoid points being assigned to the carrier for driver violations. Many drivers feel that not many will actually be disqualified by the FMCSA. Rather, their carrier will terminate them before they reach that level of points and no other carrier will touch them. With CSA 2010 going back two years, which driver do you think will be most likely to commit a violation now, an experienced driver with points already against him or a new driver with no violations yet? I think the driver with previous violations and his CDL in jeopardy will be much more cautious.

Rick Gaskill, Owensboro, Ky.

Where credit’s due

After many years of reading TN I must confess that this is the first time I paused long enough to read the I’m Just Say’n column. I found the entire page of advice full of depth and discernment and probably very helpful to all who inquire. Perhaps in some small way Carolyn might be encouraged by my letter, and yes, contrary to her short biography I believe she is a very nice person.

R.D. Longmeier, Wallula, Wash.

Act like you own the place

Professional Truck Drivers have one of the most difficult occupations. Paid by the mile, drivers push to earn a living by keeping the wheels turning. Time spent away from home, deadlines set up by dispatchers and laws that regulate the driver add to the job stress.

In addition, delays of any kind enhance the stress of an already tension-filled job. Waiting on others becomes an expectation, a way of life over the road. When drivers expect a shipper or receiver to hold them up, the irritation can escalate, adding to the pressure of being away from family and loved ones.

Communication skills can establish authority with shippers and receivers that, without coercion, will produce results. It seems that receivers, above all, almost enjoy bullying drivers into submitting to the warehouse faults. Scheduled appointments mean very little to the warehouse employees, paid by the hour, and they can be somewhat uncaring at times. What can the trucker do to raise his or her chances of getting in and out of warehouses in satisfactory time?

Go in and act as if you own the freight and the truck. The receiver, perceiving that you have control over your own time, becomes more amiable. When confidence is in the air, the person notices the authority. They are less likely to try to assert their authority, because you have shown self-respect.

As difficult as it may be to remain optimistic while approaching a warehouse, this is foremost in getting in and out. Most important is that you arrive on time, as scheduled by the warehouse and the dispatcher.

Now go in, and act as if you own the place by asking questions and responding, without reacting. If you have imagined the event favorably, your attitude will reflect this.

• Approach the receiver with paperwork in hand, looking forward to positive results.

• State your name along with the company name.

• Tell the receiver what you are delivering and what your appointed time is.

• If the receiver insists you wait in line, calmly ask, “How long can I expect to be delayed?”

• If the receiver insists on having authority, telling you how long you will wait, say, “Very well, then.”

This may seem simplistic. However, it does show the receiver that you are respectable, have patience and poise.

My husband utilized this simple method and had his dispatch astonished by his efficiency. His approach to receivers sounded like this. “Hi, I’m Mark Hendricks with Montana Express. I have twelve pallets of Gerber Baby Food scheduled to deliver at 1:30.” Mark got so efficient at getting in and out that the dispatch was unable to keep up. When he called to let them know he needed another load, they declared that he would need to call back. What did Mark do on these occasions? He utilized the same technique with them. “How long can I expect to be delayed?”

Sandra Hendricks, Gooding, Idaho

What do you think of Pres. Obama’s health-care reform legislation?

Via Facebook

I am for it because my daughter has a pre-existing condition and was being denied health care. This way we can finally get her covered. I am unemployed, and she isn’t covered.

— Sarah C.

It didn’t go far enough. I hope that ultimately we will get socialized health care for everyone.

— Viktor G.

This health-care reform bill is something we desperately needed for a long time. It is time that the people of this country take back this country. I can’t get insurance without paying some crazy premiums. My wife can’t get traditional insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

— David J.

We should not be forced to buy something we don’t want to buy. Commie Obama needs to rethink this crap.

— Danny N.

Once again Big Government is out to put the screws to us. Anytime they vote behind closed doors on something that size you know it is to control, not aid, the common folk. I think a bill should only be one subject at a time, no earmarks or additions or special treatment for special people.

— Jackie W.

Reform = To improve by alteration, correction of error, or removal of defects; put into a better form. Doesn’t say anything about forcing anything on anyone.

— Chuck C.

I think this health-care reform is crap. I see people everyday when I’m on the road begging for money, food and whatever they try to get for free. These people just have to get off their lazy asses and go find a job. I’m tired of having to pay for everybody else’s needs and tired of hearing from them that nobody cares, which I don’t care for these people.

— Frank O.

As of 4/7/2010, there have been 18 states that have filed lawsuits against it. So in my opinion I don’t think it is something that will be right for all Americans. There is no such thing as something that will fit every American. They should leave good enough alone.

— Jamie R.

It’s a start, which is more than previous Republican adminstations have done in their 20-plus years in control.

— Bruce B.

There is no constitutional right for your health. Period. I am tired of people not able to fend for themselves. Quit wanting Uncle Sam or others to pay for what you think you are entitled to.

— Eric M.

How will the health-care bill affect you personally?

“I don’t believe it’s going to help me a bit in the truck-driving business, because the health bill right now takes three to five years before it comes into effect, and we have to pay more in taxes, so I just don’t feel like it’s going to help me.”

— Ken Holt, Inman Trucking, Leland, N.C.

“You know it’s going to affect my employer. … It’s going to cost them a lot of money. I have health insurance through my employer. If this goes through, it could raise the rates for them so high that I could lose it to them. You know, I just don’t know enough about it to like it.”

— Ronald Morgan, Janco, Conroe, Texas

“I think it will raise the costs for all of us that already have health care that we’re happy with. What I don’t like most is the socialism involved in it, with the takeover by the federal government that they do not have the constitutional authority to do, like force us to buy something we don’t need.”

— Fred Pitts, Beelman, West Frankfort, Ill.