The internet is a wormhole. It doesn’t matter what your search plans are, all of the search engines and websites have a way of sucking you in. You go looking for the best pizza in a town and wind up buying some kind of new grilling glove that protects your hands and guarantees brighter laundry.
One of the best examples I have found is Reddit. NAIT is active on Reddit, particularly in the sub-Reddit r/Trucking. As with any wormhole, we wander into r/Trucking to see what people are talking about in the trucking world, check on posts we’ve made – just a quick 5-minute visit. Two hours later I’m still there and the inspiration for another blog post has presented itself.
We truckers can be a snarky bunch. We don’t like Rookies. We laugh at those struggling to back their trailer between two trucks and panic if one of those trucks is ours. We bark on the CB (or Reddit Groups) about trucks parked too long on the fuel island wonder openly why drivers don’t give the courtesy flash when we pass or thank us when we extend the courtesy to them. We post pictures of messy trucks and the trash left behind after someone leaves a parking spot.
But what are we doing about it?
When I was a Rookie, I was lucky. I had family who had been in the business for a while, and a lot of people knew me. They knew I was coming out on the road and they looked for me – even looked out for me. When I wandered into the 76 Truckstop in Ontario, CA, they moved over in booths to make a place for me or pulled a chair up to the table. They took me with them to load or deliver, spent drive time talking about working with dispatchers, keeping my business and my truck in order – all the small things that take a long time to learn, and make a big difference.
I wasn’t on the road long enough to be a mentor to the next class of rookies, and it’s something I’ve always regretted. I never got to repay the kindness all those drivers showed me. “Pay it Forward”. It’s something we all should do. Not because we benefit from it, but because everyone else does.
While lost in the wormhole that is Reddit, I began to smile as I read some of the posts and comments. New drivers would comment on their lack of expertise backing or navigating difficult load/delivery situations; and more senior drivers were encouraging them to keep working and offering stories of their own early days. The world could use more of that attitude and a lot less passing judgment.
We didn’t all grow up in a truck. Some folks must learn. They shouldn’t be penalized for that. Those of us who have been around for a few years need to teach/guide/mentor. Failing to do so penalizes everyone.
Why does our sense of success depend so heavily on someone else’s failure? Why do some of us find joy in watching someone else struggle or pointing out their shortcomings? It is so much more fulfilling (and true) that our success is reflected in the success of those around us. When on-the-road, or life in general, you see someone struggling to complete a task or understand a concept, help them. Guide them. Without judgment or expectations of anything. Otherwise, our complaints and grumbling as senior members of the trucking world become self-fulfilling prophecies. Because guess who is teaching the next class of Rookies?
Most of us have stories like mine. Stories of those who helped us get started or provided some guidance along the way. Hours of Service rules are confusing. Blindsiding isn’t easy. Being too lazy to walk your trash to a trash can is unacceptable. Take pride in your truck. Take pride in your industry. Take pride in yourself. Instead of finding opportunities to make a negative post on social media, find opportunities to make positive impacts.
Future generations of rookies will be glad you did.