Yesterday, I tweeted out a list called “You Might Not Be a Trucking Protest If…” after engaging with a driver on Twitter about the Washington D.C. shutdown.
The list was written a couple of weeks ago, before this whole thing got any major traction, and was inspired from the protest’s original list of demands:
- Impeach President Obama
- Congressional Hearings on Benghazi
- Congressional Hearings on Seal Team Six
- Louis [sic] Lerner put in jail
- No Amnesty
- Remove all Muslims in our government that do not uphold the Constitution
- Remove Eric Holder from office for crimes against the people and the Constitution.
- Fuel Prices
The shutdown’s Canadian Facebook page, when it first launched, was using a low-resolution image clearly lifted after doing a “Canadian trucking” Google image search. It was — get this — an old Canadian Trucking Alliance logo.
So clearly (clearly!) the organizers knew nothing about trucking.
Ah, but wouldn’t you know it — a bunch of Canadian truck drivers hit “Like” — ones Today’s Trucking editors know. The fact that this whole thing managed to grab the traction it did, and the fact that some truckers I know to be intelligent, thoughtful people supported this thing, points to a deeper issue in the transportation industry.
I have an idea as to why. But first…
You Might Not Be a Credible Trucking Protest If…
1. Only one of the items on the list of goals for the protest has something even remotely to do with trucking.
2. You mention a specific religion or group of people in a negative context.
3. You heavily — like a lot, a lot — appeal to people’s nationalistic pride, religion, political beliefs, and fears.
4. You make more emotional statements than factual ones.
5. If you do make a factual statement, it is not backed-up by a legitimate source.
6. As the “organizer” (sarcastic quotes) of the protest, you only have a peripheral connection to the trucking industry.
7. Also as the “organizer” (still sarcastic) of the protest, you have a product or service that will benefit from all the attention.
8. You make more than five references to conspiracies.
9. You have copious amounts of spelling and grammatical errors.
10. You don’t have a phone number, email or general contact information save for the number of some website radio show that plays very bad, boring rock music.
11. Well-respected independent trucking organizations are suspicious of your motives.
12. You stole a low-resolution image from another trucking association that has absolutely nothing to do with whatever it is you’re protesting… and then Facebook told you to take it down.
13. Your entire movement depends on Facebook “Likes” and the spread of disinformation.
Let’s step way back: a truck driver is a person — they are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and in my case, uncles and step-dads and high school girlfriends’ fathers.
They are people that sit for long periods of time in isolation. They are people that are in a vocation where other people treat them with no respect, no dignity.
The very nature of the job — a highly regulated working environment coupled with random acts of traffic jams, long periods of waiting, of being away from loved ones, of equipment breakdowns — is crazy stressful.
It’s a physically and mentally unhealthy job. It’s a good, necessary job — don’t get me wrong — but man, it’s tough.
And for every carrier treating their drivers well, there’s another one treating them horribly. Or treating them with little respect. Or “tolerating” them.
A conference I was at featured trucking consultant Dan Baker. He said a lot of insightful things, but this one stuck and has been ringing a little louder lately:
“How many of our drivers perceive that we look down our noses at them,” Baker asked, the audience nodding in agreement. “Other people will respond to you in terms of how they perceive how you perceive them,” he said.
Let’s take my Twitter friend Willie — A.K.A @WatchD0gg.
Willie had been quite vocal about his support for the protest, and I — having enough of all of the noise and the sudden mainstream coverage (because now, in the eyes of the public, my truck driving uncles and friends, like all drivers, lumped in with the politics and beliefs of these organizers), engaged Willie.
“I see it as a living thing, evolving and growing. I know it’s not ideal, but it will promote solidarity in trucking,” Willie said in response to me pointing out the racism and non-trucking roots of the protest.
“I see it as a fringe, self-invested group exploiting another group’s fear, anger, further distorting issues in public sphere,” I had tweeted. Still see it that way.
Willie has been vocal on social media regarding this issue — with nearly every trade magazine and trucking journalist. He’s not trolling — he legitimately cares about the industry and how drivers are treated.
Then, Willie asked “What’s your experience in the seat?” Credibility, if you want to be a trucking journalist, is necessary. I gave him what cred I have, and pointed him towards a story that showed where I went to bat for drivers, and the trucking industry in general.
And his response was telling: “You took my request seriously, tx LOL didn’t expect that & I remember the BCGEU fiasco, was stupid…”
Dude, of course I took your request seriously, I thought.
But then I remembered what Baker said.
And then I thought about how these people are treated day-in-and-day-out, the stress of the job, of how award winning carriers constantly stress the importance of engaging your drivers, and of how a team of trucking executives sat down and penned a report on how to treat drivers.
Name one other industry that puts as much emphasis on how to treat employees?
So I’m left with a couple of questions:
Why do we have an entire group of employees this angry, feeling so powerless that the only way for them to be heard is to join this disjointed, confused protest?
How can a fringe, racist, paranoid and magnificently uniformed group gain this much initial knee-jerk trust and credibility from our family, friends, colleagues and employees?
No matter how many jokes I make about the protest organizers, no matter how many sarcastic lists I can think of, I can’t help but feel that this protest (or whatever happens) is on all of us.
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