Looking for happiness today derived from the golden days of the past is a fool’s errand. We do that in our politics, in our personal relationships, and it’s a practice we follow in the trucking industry.
Even if we could duplicate past experiences that our minds have enshrined as golden oldies, we have no way of duplicating the circumstances from which they grew. Times change and our wellbeing is dependent on our ability to adapt.
I had the pleasure of taking a young “millennial” with me on one of my weekly Winnipeg rounders just before Christmas.
This new young driver has been working for our company part-time in a variety of warehouse positions and just obtained his learner’s permit for a Class A (Class 1) truck licence.
He has been shunting trucks and trailers around our yard for a few years and was eager to see the open road and visit one of our other facilities.
When we talk about millennials and boomers, we often reinforce stereotypes around the generation gap that exists between us.
But what I took away from our short trip together was how we share the same values across the generations. It was easy to see within the first few hours together that young people today are no less passionate about their interests than boomers such as myself were in our youth.
But through our conversations over the course of the week, I learned there is one stark difference between our generations.
When I was a young man at 20 years of age, I faced a world that was filled with opportunity and riches yet to be discovered.
That was how we viewed the world, or perhaps it’s better to say that is the way the world was presented to my generation. It was a very positive outlook. I thank my parents for that every day.
Now, contrast that to the world we are handing off to our young people and the prevailing attitudes of today. It’s very much every person for themselves in a world where the social contract between business and the individual has been severed or is on life support.
I am sure that many young people look at the world as a fixer-upper that has been neglected by the previous tenants.
The structure is sound but it needs gutting and retrofitting. This is a metaphor that fits the trucking industry perfectly.
Fully half of us that drive today are of the boomer generation.
Changes are being rained down on us on what feels like a daily basis. Our expectations as young people were of stability and growth. We would commit to a job for life and in return for that sweat equity and loyalty, there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Well, we never allowed for any twists in the plot and here we are. It’s time we take off our rose-colored glasses and recognize that young people today face a more difficult road than we did at the same age.
My young friend that made that trip with me was filled with the same passion for trucking as all the old dogs on the road, but he recognizes that change is imminent.
He is not looking at driving a truck for life to provide for himself and a family.
He recognizes that driving is just one of the skills you need. Tomorrow’s trucker will need a skill set that extends far beyond the inside of a truck’s cab. In fact, a trucker up to this point has been viewed as a lone wolf, independent and free from the constraints of a regular “job.”
Drivers of the future need to be connected, not isolated, if they want to prosper.
I have no idea what trucking in 2050 is going to look like. I’m certain it will be very different from today. That’s a safe bet and an understatement.
Al Goodhall has been a professional long-haul driver since 1998. He shares his experiences via his ‘Over the Road’ blog at http://truckingacrosscanada.blogspot.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @Al_Goodhall.