THEY WALK AMONG US
There’s many a shonky operator who has reinvented themselves to be an upstanding member of the trucking community. Scotty Douglas writes
EVER NOTICE how aliens only ever seem to abduct stupid people? Considering how many smart people there are in the world you’d think the law of averages would mean that occasionally they’d net at least a couple of academics, scientists or at least someone with some sort of credibility. But no, the little green men only choose to beam up inbred mid-western corn farmers with a taste for backyard hooch and then return them with their minds erased and a sore bottom.
Makes you wonder what sort of picture these aliens have painted of humanity after their research.
But imagine you dumped one of those recently abducted, moonshine swilling, inbred corn farmers with a freshly erased mind and a sore bottom into an Australian transport industry association conference and then asked him his opinion on what is going on.
No doubt our corn farmer would shift uncomfortably in his seat for more than a couple of reasons (sitting, for example, may be a little uncomfortable).
But I reckon it wouldn’t take too long for the word hypocrisy to come up in conversation.
Ever noticed that most of the faces that sit on some of the industry associations in this country also have a long history of running transport companies? Of course they do, and many of them have been quite successful. Good on them for having the gumption, guts and determination to succeed.
But, it’s the pontification that sticks in my throat. There are more than a couple of faces speaking on behalf of the industry that made their money from fast trucks, drugged drivers and elastic log books. Okay, so maybe that was the way of doing things back in the day, but to then bolt on some respectability and preach to the rest of the industry reeks of hypocrisy.
These people are kidding themselves if they think that anyone with a history in trucking doesn’t remember their trucks flashing past in the night, often, I might add, with a TruckSafe placard shining from the back doors. Get off the f***ing soap box!
It’s okay now, though. Over the years you’ve made your money, built your relationships with customers, bought your own infrastructure and now have a nice house, a boat, and a suit that isn’t shiny. Now you’ve got depots in most states and maybe are even even publicly listed.
You can afford to preach about accountability, compliance and best practice. Hell, you can probably even afford to have a whole compliance department.
How easy it is to pretend that the business wasn’t also built on the blood, sweat and tears of hardworking drivers, many of whom bent the rules to get the job done for you and ultimately sacrificed their longterm health and, in some instances, even died building that business?
Just hearing any of them lecturing on compliance and what the industry needs makes my vasectomy scar ache.
Of course people have the right to reinvent themselves. Sure, back in the day things were different. But at least be honest about it. Stand up in front of your peers and admit that you used to run a shonky outfit but turned it around. At least some people outside the room you are addressing would maybe have some respect for you. Geez, after all it works for footy players after a big night on the town.
No, best to pretend that no one, now respectable, ever specced their trucks up to run fast, no one ever encouraged drug use, and no one ever completely disregarded driving hours. It was only a small cowboy minority that gave the industry a bad name, wasn’t it?
As the driver population ages we’re seeing some well-respected long-term drivers shuffle off to that roadhouse in the sky. Many of them too soon as a result of the trucking lifestyle. At least have the decency to acknowledge the sacrifices they’ve made over the years.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not painting drivers as victims of some evil empire.
We make choices, we know the job and there was a time when that meant pedal to the metal and logbooks be damned. But that time is now over. Just stop with the preachy double speak and be real for f***’s sake. Maybe people will then actually listen.
Aim for a better industry, aim for a safer industry by all means. Promote a better image for trucking. But don’t pretend that the past didn’t happen and it was all someone else’s doing.
You know who you are. Even alien brainwashed Cletus from Iowa who married his cousin in a hooch-induced haze would be able to see through your bullshit.
In the meantime, I’ve got some great candidates for the aliens to speak to. It could be an interesting study into human ethics, honesty and the rewriting of history.
Speaking of which, the truck stereo is going all weird and I can see strange lights in the sky. Maybe I’ll pull over to have a look.