In preparing for this month’s blog for Truck News I decided to do some homework, so I cataloged every month’s writings by date and subject matter that I have written to date. Time flies and I hoped to discover some pattern of thought I might have followed over the past number of years from my many articles.
I won’t bore you with the chronology of articles I have submitted and truth be told, it really didn’t reveal anything to me that was overly thrilling; and I was even less thrilled after I shared my findings with the wife after which, she gave her reply and said “yea, so!” At that point I took matters into my own hands and gave her, the “do you know who you’re talking to and how important this is” look! For which I got another “yea, so!” Then she said, if you want a good article, tell those drivers to plan time with their families; its summertime! I think she likes it when she’s right a little too much, but that’s another story.
For some of you the title of this article might ring a bell as it is a title an old Toby Keith song. The message becomes obvious as the song unfolds, which is, what in the world takes priority over the ones we cherish most… our families and friends. My wife Connie has an honest appreciation for the songs sentiment and knows it, the same way every drivers spouse knows it. I was on the road for ten years and family holidays were not had, period. I did my 12,000 miles plus consistently, month in and month out. In fact for years I would leave on Boxing Day to run to Texas and return from out of the valley with 44,000 pounds of citrus hoping to make it home before New Year’s Eve. There was decent money to be made when others didn’t want to truck; the traffic usually wasn’t too bad either.
Don’t fall into this trap folks, as life is too short to ignore what’s important. I know this first hand as I lost both parents at a very young age. My dad was a driver who worked hard his whole life and died when he was barely fifty. Many of my summertime memories as a kid were vacations with my sister and Mom while Dad was on the road doing what he felt he had to do. Next thing we knew they were both gone. Shudda Woulda Coulda won’t get the job done.
During a recent trip I made to Dallas where I was part of a seminar program on success, I ran into an old friend Mr. Marvin Shefsky. Marvin is the principle behind a couple of US publications on recruiting/retention and other trucking related topics. One of his latest endeavors is yet another innovation in marketing which Marvin is known for. He has partnered with the company that distributes blood pressure machines, which I am sure many of you are starting to see in many of the US Truck Stops. The machines are currently servicing 150,000 drivers per month
Marvin revealed to me that during the rollout of this promotion at the Louisville Truck Show, his booth had checked more than 2,000 driver’s blood pressure in 21 hours. The results were a little scary according to Marvin and in fact, there were 20 drivers that were taken immediately from the show to the hospital because the readings were so critical that these drivers needed medical assistance immediately. To emphasize the problem even further, one person actually had a heart attack on their way to the emergency room.
As we all know, the sedentary lifestyle of a driver contributes greatly to an increase in health risk; this is obvious to us all. The other item that relates to this though is of course, stress, and not just the stress of driving or finances, it is the stress we put upon ourselves through the strained relationships that are prevalent in this industry because of separation.
I share this story for another reason. It has been well documented that success in business or a career cannot be achieved fully without a balance in life style. The balance referred to is between work/career, family and oneself – including your own health. Of course that balance is all the more difficult when your occupation causes long separations from your family or whatever significant relationships you might have. But keep this in mind, there are no tombstones that I am aware of in the great drivers bone yard that read “Here lies John Brown, his only regret is that he didn’t get more miles in.”
In my research into my past writings the majority of articles have been about planning. They were about planning to be a successful Owner Operator or career driver, choosing a career path or planning an enjoyable retirement by budgeting etc. Here is a budgeting idea for you. Set some money aside from each statement for a family vacation away from it all. Plan it well and include as many of you’re close relationships as you can, and Just Do It. You need the brain drain…we all do!
Get out of the truck, park it someplace safe and forget about it for a couple weeks. Regroup, refresh, relax and reacquaint yourself with the important people in your life away from the industry. It just might save your life!
Safe and Healthy Trucking
Here is an interesting web page with driver tips on healthy hearts.
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight