They’re big. You can’t see around their wide loads and double doors. Acceleration isn’t really their modus operandi. Chances are you’ve been cut-off or nearly run over by many. They flagrantly linger in bike lanes and no-parking zones. They are, of course, semi-trucks–the universally despised, sluggish bullies of the interstate highway system.
But truckers get a bad rap; outspoken voices don’t often come to their defense. Someone needs to set the record straight. “Let me tell you a little about the truck driver you just flipped off because he was passing another truck,” writes fleet manager Dan Hansen for Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, “and you had to cancel the cruise control and slow down until he completed the pass and moved back over.”
Hansen’s op-ed chronicles the day-to-day life of a long-haul truck driver, focusing on the tragic–nay, Dickensian–career of one of his former employees. His portrait is sympathetic in a drive-1,500-miles-in-another-man’s-shoes sort of way.
Although the job is romanticized and mythologized, the pay isn’t glamorous. “Most of these guys are gone 10 days, and home for a day and a half, and take home an average of $500 a week if everything goes well,” writes Hansen. And, he says, the rising costs of overhead are only compounding the stress: “[T]he best these trucks do for fuel economy is about 8 miles per gallon. With fuel at almost $4 per gallon–well, you do the math. And, yes, that driver pays for his own fuel.”
Hansen urges us to show compassion, or at least patience, for the working class folks who support America’s economic infrastructure:
Everything you buy at the store and everything you order online moves by truck. Planes and trains can’t get it to your house or grocery store. We are dependent on trucks to move product from the airport and the rail yards to the stores and our homes.
Every day, experienced and qualified drivers give it up because the government, the traffic and the greedy companies involved in trucking have drained their enthusiasm for this life.
Source: Star Tribune