Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2017: Truck Drivers

I know I’m totally guilty of saying expletives with regards to truckers.  Being honest, most of it is due to my own impatience / selfishness.  Still once I realize, that I’m getting upset about a person that’s driving a 40-ton vehicle cautiously, things tend to fall back into perspective.  In fact, the more I’ve watched shows like Ice Road Truckers, and various documentaries about truck’in, the more I find that there’s just not enough gratitude expressed for these folks.

The funny thing is, you’d think a guy like me, would actually appreciate some of the work hazards that a trucker deals with for 8 – 12 hours a day.  I commute about 1 – 1.5 hours each way, which in the grand scheme of things, is nothing compared to these folks.  However, it’s enough to have a rough idea of what they might deal with.

  • People who cut you off.
  • People who are always break tapping, or worse, waiting till the last minute and slamming on their brakes.
  • Getting stuck in traffic
  • Dealing with inclement weather
  • Dealing with road rage drivers (I’m throwing my hand up as an occasional offender)
  • Being stuck in a vehicle, by yourself, with nothing but music or the radio to keep you company.
  • Dealing with drivers who drive stupid aggressive
  • Dealing with drivers who drive so timidly they cause all kinds of traffic issues

 

And really, that’s not even scratching the surface of what a longish commute is like.  Seriously, I used to start my day at work pissed off on an almost daily basis dealing with what I view as a bunch of morons on the road.  Then doing it again on the way home.  It’s a wonder that every trucker isn’t out there just plowing people off the road.  I can’t imagine dealing with that for 12 hours a day.  Heck, I hate driving 9 hours for a vacation destination, and that’s supposed to be the start of a fun day.

Most of these issues that I’m writing about, are orders of magnitude worse for truckers.  I didn’t even touch on the more unique challenges a trucker deal with, like…

  • Driving a really large vehicle on relatively narrow roads. Think of something like a small town or worse an old city.
  • Trying to find a loading dock for some new delivery, and compound that challenge by dealing with the above.
  • Having to keep a constant eye out for bridges that might be too short, or roads that aren’t truck approved.
  • Keeping a constant eye out for signs that most of us ignore.
  • Dealing with weigh stations and random vehicle inspections
  • 12 plus hours, day after day of being stuck in a cramped space by yourself. At best you have a CB with some colleagues to keep you company.  Or maybe they’ve got a pet / or family member riding with them at times.
    • A lot of us can get up and walk around, or even stand up.
    • Most of us can bring a healthy meal to work. I’m not saying it’s impossiable for them, but it’s probably nowhere near as easy.
  • Their bathroom breaks, require finding a rest area that’s tractor friendly, or using an old cup.
  • You think changing a flat suck on your car, imagine what it’s like on a tractor?
  • Dealing with towing all kinds of different loads and needing to make sure that your cargo arrives intact. I mean, just think about driving a tanker.  There is a liquid that is sloshing back and forth while you drive.  You hit the brakes, and then there’s this delayed surge that start pushing your vehicle forward.  Now take that delayed response, and it apply it to every direction.  You accelerate, and then all of a sudden something starts pulling you back, you turn left, and something wants to go right.  Just crazy impressive the skill it has to take to haul that safely.
  • How about driving extra wide / long loads. Yeah, they do get an escort a lot of times, but that doesn’t diminish the challenge of it.
  • You and I get a ticket, at most it’s a fine and a few points. A trucker gets a ticket, it could be the end of their career.
  • They break down, they’re not making money, and to compound that issue, its likely there’s something coming out of their pocket.

I’m sure there are a ton of more unique challenges, but I think you get the point.  These folks, have a hard job, that’s totally underappreciated, and worse, most of use effectively tell them to go pound sand based on the way we drive.

How can you be thankful?

I’m just taking a stab here at a few things.  Any truckers, please feel free to let me know if anything should be added.

  • Before you merge in front of a tractor, put your blinker on for a good ten seconds to give them time to slow up and build up a new buffer space. You might think that space is huge between them and the vehicle in front of them.  That’s because they need a lot more stopping distance than you and I.
  • Those white lines at traffic stops aren’t there to look pretty. Stop creeping over that line or braking past it.  That is engineered so tucks can make a turn without you needing to backup.
    • If you see a truck getting ready to make a tight turn on to your road, and you’re approaching that intersection. Just stop early and given them plenty of turning space.
  • If they were driving in the left lane, and are trying to move back into the right, don’t pass them on the right. Instead, flash your lights and let them over (presuming you’re in the right). And if you’re in the left, don’t trying to whip around them on the right.
  • Don’t sit next to them on a highway unless you have to. I’m just guessing here, but I imagine it’s really hard for them to see you.  You and I have some pretty bad blind spots, theirs are a lot worse.  If I were them, I’d be pretty darn scared to change lanes.
  • Get out of their way on a downhill. They need the momentum for the next hill.
  • When they’re broken down on the side of the road (or anyone for that matter), do everything in your power to slow down at the least, and better, move to the left if you can. In some states, this is becoming a law, so failure to do this, could result in a ticket.
  • If you see them attempting to pull into a loading dock, or a narrow road, or whatever, give them plenty of space and be patient. They’re just doing their job, they didn’t make the loading dock or road, but they’ve been forced to fit a big thing in a small space.

I’m sure there’s are other things we can do, but I suspect this would help a bit.

Closing:

To every trucker out there, thank you!  I know you folks are responsible for getting all the things we need (and want) from its source to the destination.  America would be in a world of hurt without you.

Thanksgiving 2017: Sanitation and cleaning crew

Series Introduction:

Back in October I had a grand plan to have 23 days of thanks.  Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I never had the time to pre-write all the posts I wanted to.  Rather than giving up, I’m going to punch out as many as I can before the 24th.  Since I want to focus on the month of thanks, by giving thanks, I’m not going to be writing any technical posts.

Some of these posts will be discussing jobs that are dirty and with dirty jobs, naturally comes some dirty details.  There’s someone dealing with this stuff, so if the closest you get to anything I write about, is the words in this post, consider yourself lucky (and be thankful).

Sanitation and cleaning crew:

I was at the KOP mall with the family sometime over the summer, and I distinctly remember waiting for the wife and kids to complete their bathroom stop.  The act of the bathroom breaks itself wasn’t exactly a memorable one, it happens all the time.  What made me remember this specific event was the sanitation worker.  It was an older guy, and he was taking care of anything from changing the trash in the food court to cleaning the restrooms.  I had looked up from my phone and he was smiling while he worked.  I kept my phone down and admired him for a minute.  It’s rare to see most people smile at what they do, especially when it’s cleaning up after someone else.

At one point, he walked into the mens bathroom to empty the trash, and when he came back, he looked at me, and said something to the effect of “I swear I can never win this battle” and then we both laughed and moved on.

Aside:  If you’re wondering what happen to the wife and kids, you’re probably a male.  Let’s just not think about that trivial detail, but if you must, the blame is 100% going on the kids.

Now most of us walk past these amazing folks all the time, and probably don’t give them a second thought.  I know I’m guilty of this.  However, I’m never more keenly aware and thankful for them than when I walk in a Men’s bathroom.  Here’s the thing, “men” are pigs in the bathroom.  I know some of you aren’t, but most of you are.  Not lifting the lid up in the stalls (you can guess what’s all over the seat), leaving your toilet paper shreds all over the floor, letting paper towels that fell out of the trash lie on the ground.    You know how else I know that most men are pigs, I used to have to clean up after them myself.  While going to college, I used to be a butcher’s assistant.  I’d come in, and basically clean up after the guys, and the place was always a total shit hole.  So, while I’ve never cleaned up someone else’s urine (other than my kids), I can at the very least empathize with cleaning up someone else’s mess as a job.  It’s a tough, unrelenting, unappreciated and ultimately an undervalued job in our society, and we owe these folks better.

How can you be thankful?

Here’s the thing, saying thanks is probably the most disingenuous thing you can do, if that’s all you ever do.  While I’m not a sanitation worker, I’ll take a stab at a few ways you can say “thanks” through your actions.  These are some things I personally do.

  • Lift the lid up when you go pee (male specific of course). Besides the fact that no one wants to clean up your urine, I suspect YOU don’t want to sit in anyone’s urine either.  I used to think the biggest offenders were kids, until I saw more than a fair share of men (I mean little boys) doing this.  I got news for you, don’t ever sign up for a sharpshooting contest, your aim sucks.
    • For the record, moms, I get that you can’t supervise your kids (or husbands), but you can instill the behavior at home.
  • If you pull the TP and a little shred breaks off, pick it up and throw it in the toilet, don’t leave it lie on the ground.
    • If you don’t want to touch the floor, I assure you where you’re getting ready to put your hands is equal to or dirtier than that floor.
  • If your trash won’t fit in the trash can, go find another trash can, and let management know. Don’t keep stacking the trash.
    • This goes for any trash can for any need.
  • If you spill something on the table or ground, clean up after yourself. No one is expecting you to carry a container of Greenworks around, but you can take a napkin and at least make sure you get the substances removed as best you can.  If it’s bad enough, let someone know.
  • Take all your trash with you when you leave.

I’m sure there’s other things we can all do, and if any sanitation worker wants to make a recommendation, I’ll be glad to add it.

Closing:

As genuine as I possibly can, I want to thank everyone that’s responsible for making our spaces clean.  Like most jobs, no one appreciates you when you do your job well, but everyone will be sure to let you know when you’re not.  I want you to know, I notice when the bathrooms, or tables, or whatever it is that you clean, is clean.