There is a lot of negativity in our industry. Look at the disturbing trend of unreliability in our equipment that I highlighted in last month’s column and it’s easy to see why. We also have impending legislation that will shake up...
There is a lot of negativity in our industry. Look at the disturbing trend of unreliability in our equipment that I highlighted in last month’s column and it’s easy to see why. We also have impending legislation that will shake up hours-of-service rules and the Sword of Damocles that are electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) hanging over our heads.
The roads are getting worse, spending cuts have left them in a state of disrepair. The economic downturn has seen rates and wage levels stagnate and fleet replacement schedules have been extended. Manufacturers, shippers and receivers have made job cuts, meaning less freight. And when there is freight, we spend more time on the dock, decreasing the dollars that go in our pocket.
I try to keep my ear to the ground while I’m out on the road and just recently I’ve seen things taking a turn for the worse. Speaking with some drivers in a Calgary truck stop, I learned that they hadn’t hit 10,000 miles in a month since the summer. They regularly spend a day sitting around between loads.
Another driver was fuelling on the next island in Regina. We got talking and after fuelling, we went our separate ways. I returned to the yard, went home for the night and as a weekend was approaching, I came back in the next day to do some local work before taking the weekend off. At my first pick-up in Portage la Prairie I spotted the driver from the fuel island the day before.
He was still waiting for a door, as he was early for his appointment. I dropped and hooked and returned to the yard, dropped and hooked again, went out and delivered another load and then went to drop and hook in Portage again.
My new friend was still there! He had his load off by now and was waiting on dispatch for his next load. I went back to the yard, parked the truck and went home for the weekend.
On Monday I set off again, heading out west. I was fuelling in Moose Jaw when my new friend rolled in next to me again. He had been sitting for the weekend and had loaded Monday morning from Portage la Prairie.
He arrived there on Thursday night and left on Monday morning. That was a total of 80 hours sat with neither the truck nor the driver earning a single cent! A team operation could have put 4,000 miles under the bumper in that time.
During my conversations with the drivers I mentioned above, we spoke about EOBRs and HoS, lack of freight and all that good stuff. Their responses were typical: they’re hanging up the keys, there’s no way they can earn any money with all the extra regulations, blah, blah, blah. By contrast, the way I see it, whatever comes down the pike will come – no matter what I think about it – so I have to adapt and learn how to make the best of it.
I’m not alone in this respect. There are many within our industry who are doing better now than they ever have before. They will continue to do so, no matter what regulations are implemented. Speak to them and all you hear are positive comments.
Even when you ask them about the bad parts of our industry, they manage to find a positive. One such driver who had nothing to complain about worked at the same company as the driver in Portage; he had plenty of miles.
That’s the big difference between the negative and the positive. The negative are consumed by their situation and make a lot of noise about it. The positive just get on with it and look forward to the future. So what if we have a little black box in our cab? So what if we have to drive a little less each day? So what if freight levels drop? They’re confident that they do a good enough job that they have nothing to fear.
It’s all about state of mind. If you wake up each morning dreading the day ahead, you can be sure it will be awful.
Concentrate on negativity and you will find something to confirm your thoughts around every corner.
The same applies to those who wake up looking forward to the day ahead. They go around the same corners and find something to be positive about.
Even if they turn the corner and there’s a big black cloud waiting to greet them, at least they get a free truck wash.