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Wit and wisdom in trucking

There are various ways to make a point in life. Some are subtle; some less so. I have always admired those who can turn a humorous phrase to advantage or to get you thinking.


David Bradley
David Bradley

There are various ways to make a point in life. Some are subtle; some less so. I have always admired those who can turn a humorous phrase to advantage or to get you thinking.

People like Yogi Berra (“the future ain’t what it used to be”), Oscar Wilde (“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”) and Winston Churchill (“Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught”) are among the best of all time. But, wit and wisdom are also in no short supply in the trucking industry.

For the past 17 years at each OTA annual general meeting, I present the Trucking Industry Quote of the Year to the member who has said something that is not only humorous, but also poignant. There is never a shortage of material. The following are some of the highlights of the past several years. In order to protect the innocent the identities of the recipients of the Quote of the Year award shall remain anonymous. However, the trucking industry has made the use of one-liners an art form.

Ever tried winning a debate by shouting louder than the other guy, or become so flabbergasted with the person you are arguing with you blow your top?

Sometimes in the heat of debate or an argument it would be worth remembering that:”Things slide easier on bulls%@t than on gravel”and “You can’t win an argument with an idiot.” Excellent advice all around and guaranteed to reduce your stress level if not your powers of persuasion. We’ve all had to deal with people that are “so dumb, they couldn’t drive a starving rat to cheese.”That’s life.

The trucking industry has more than its fair share of regulatory issues to be concerned about. For example, concerns and debate over the industry’s ability to accommodate the new hours-of-service regulations has been the subject of decades of debate.

The following pithy suggestions were made by carriers during the development of the federal standards: “If you are going to build a sidewalk, build it where people are going to walk” and “Regulations should fit like a well-tailored suit; not too tight in the elbows and the crotch.” Makes imminent sense to me.

On being asked what the industry got coming out of a breakfast meeting with a federal cabinet minister a few years back, a carrier replied, “What did I get? Coffee, a donut and a bun.”

Ah, the power of understatement. Sometimes you have to take what you can get and come back to fight another day.

Truckers are great at rolling with the punches. And, while we all try to be as optimistic as possible, a dose of reality is also a good thing.

In commenting on the economic state of the industry today, one carrier said: “You can roll a dog turd in sugar, but that still doesn’t make it a jelly roll.”

A while back another reminded us that “You can’t put lipstick on a pig.”

Things are what they are. Both of these expressions pretty much sum up the current industry state of affairs. These down-to-earth observations epitomize not only the sense of humour of the trucking industry, but its dry, no-nonsense wit. The industry needs a large dose of both. Luckily, neither is in short supply. •

-David Bradley is president of the Ontario Trucking Association and chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.


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