I know you’ve heard it said by many who complain on a regular basis that truckers are “disposable”. In other words, in some cases and at some companies, there’s a list of new recruits just waiting for your job. Is that what YOU think?
We have never felt that we were “disposable” except maybe at the first company we went to work for years ago. We weren’t there very long and soon found our place elsewhere and have not felt that way since!
To me, the disposable trucker is one that’s on the verge of losing his or her job for various reasons. I think in some cases, being a disposable trucker in some way is a result of some not so smart choices that may have been made throughout one’s driving career.
The Story of The Disposable Trucker
Johnny Smith barely made it out of high-school. He didn’t get along with too many people and had a hard time keeping a job because he was not the type of guy who liked to be told what to do. He went from job to job and was never really happy. He also had a bad habit of telling people off on a whim for the littlest things.
One day, Johnny was sitting in his little apartment that he was about to lose cause he couldn’t keep a job . He began watching a movie on the television. It was a trucker movie. The movie portrayed truckers as people of the world. Never being pinned down to one place, a girl in every town, drinking and having a good time and driving on the highways like a bunch of outlaws. Johnny got to thinking that he wished he could have a life like that. Nobody to answer to, living free as a bird. Durring the commercials, there was a truck driving school advertisment. Johnny wrote down the number. Durring the rest of the movie, he imagined himself in that life he saw on TV. Dirty mouthed, disrespectful, unclean, and having a good ol time every day. “WOW, what a life that would be’ thought Johnny!
The next day, Johnny found the number to the truck driving school and called them. He gave them his information over the phone and made arrangements to get on a bus a travel to the school where he would spend two weeks getting his CDL and then be placed with a company for a job.
So he packed his bag with a few things and got on the bus. He was excited and kept thinking of that movie and how happy he’d be.
When he arrived at the motel, he only had enough time to throw his bag in the room and get on the shuttle to the school. There were about 45 or so other guys and gals there for the same reason he was. They talked amongst themselves about their dreams of being a “trucker” and how “cool” it was going to be.
Once at the school, the paperwork began. Everyone placed their driver’s license and social security card in front of them along with a paper that had their name and current mailing information. The instructor collected everybody’s credentials and went to make copied and start files while the class was left watching a series of safety videos.
When the videos were over, the students were piled into vans and taken to the clinic for drug testing and DOT physicals.
Day two was classroom instruction on how to pass the written exam. The basics and even mock tests were given out and explained. The didn’t need to know why the right answers were the right ones, only that that’s what they needed to know to pass the test. After a brief lunch break, they piled into the vans and went to take the tests.
The next two days consisted of learning basics like, pre trip inspections, straight line backing, split shifting, double clutching and various maneuvers around the yard. Durring this two-day on the yard stuff, Johnny and the others were patiently waiting for drug test to come back so they could start their road instruction.
By the end of the week, almost half the students had been sent home for various reasons. Failed drug test, other medical problems, criminal record, or just a plain bad attitude!
Over the weekend, the remaining students buddied up and walked down to the local bar and shared dreams of what their truck driving career would be like. Johnny would say “I just can’t wait to be on my own cuz I’m gonna buy my own truck some day and ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to do. I’m gonna be a owner-operator” others would say things like… ” and if they think they ain’t gonna get me by the house to see my wife and kids, they got another thing coming”
This group had it all planned out. They sat and talked for hours just how they were going to be the next “super truckers” of the highway. “well I’m going with xyz company cause they have this” another would say “yah but abc company offers this”!
Each one thought that the company they were going to was the best ever. They had no idea that they didn’t hold the cards and if they didn’t change their attitude, just how “disposable” they would become!
So a few of them made through the school and got jobs. Johnny went to XYZ logistics and was paired with a trainer. They didn’t get along so he went with another, and then another. Finally he made it through the training program and got his own truck. He thought he knew it all. When things didn’t go exactly how he thought they should, he complained. Sometimes he didn’t use the nicest of language either! Eventually his miles got fewer, he sat for days at a time. You’d think he would have figured it out that he was not in control. All he had to do was be nice to his boss and do as he was told just like any other job. He learned the hard way, quit and found another company to drive for.
Johnny never did “get it”! He went from company to company til eventually nobody wanted him because of his job history and several companies made derogatory reports on his record. All he did was bad mouth the industry and every company he’s ever worked for claiming that truckers were all “disposable”.
We learn from the time we are small children that when we grow up, we get a job. We also learn when we are children that rules are meant to be followed in order to stay out of trouble. Getting a trucking job is really no different from any other. Your employer gives you an employee handbook and sometimes even makes you sign an agreement of conduct. You agree to do your job and they agree to pay you. Can you imagine what would happen if some of the attitudes we see in trucking made its way to the retail industry? Nobody would go to a store that had employees with bad attitudes, dressed like slobs, and didn’t bathe regularly would they?
Your attitude as a driver makes a difference. Your appearance, cleanliness and professionalism is what gets you places. You can go up or you can go down. The choice is YOURS!
So if you think that truckers are “disposable”, I guess some are, but so is anyone at any job that has a bad attitude! Anyone can make themselves “disposable”.
I think that proving you are as asset will get you much further don’t you?
GOD BLESS YOU ALL Think Positive and go places!!