Among the languages I know, several aren't taught online or in the classroom. Life and experience has helped me master "snark", "sarcasm" and "asshole" to a level far above "scholar". These, in addition to just plain English, have become my most common forms of communication. Unfortunately, however, I haven't learned to speak "dumbass" yet. Which led to yesterday's miscommunication.
See, there's a new Petro truck stop in Illinois and I had to stop there for fuel. Nice, big place with pleasant employees. Inside things were great. When I walked back out, however, things went not great. There was a guy outside with a sign advocating getting trucks off the road.
My first thought was, "is this some radical new form for committing suicide??" I couldn't help myself. Target acquired and locked. Prepare to engage!
"Um, excuse me, what's with the sign?"
We are a group supporting Bernie Sanders' proposal to get trucks off our roads.
"Hmm. You're a Sanders supporter AND you're at a truck stop advocating putting trucks out of business. So that already tells me what I need to know about you but I'll play along. This could fun for a minute." That was my internal thought. What I said aloud was "you know you're at a truck stop with this, right? That's about like a rabbit hopping into a wolf den.
"So why're you wanting trucks off the road?"
"Because they cause too many deaths and accidents."
"Hhmm. Ok. How many deaths and accidents a year are trucks responsible for?"
"Wow. A lot, eh? Is that an official number? Try this number out: the department of transportation states that in accidents between cars and trucks, the car is at fault for 86% of those accidents. 86%. That's an actual number.
"So maybe we should advocate to get 86% of the cars off the road and the roads would be much safer. Whatcha think, Sparky?"
"Well trucks go too slow and clog up traffic too."
"Hmm. Let's explore that. Most companies govern, that's limit the speed of, their trucks for insurance purposes. My truck isn't governed. Should I run around driving as fast as you guys do? Let's also remember most cities restrict trucks to certain lanes but not cars. So you guys are free to get around us slow rolling wildebeests of the road.
"Since we're here, though, let's talk some more. Let me ask you, how long can you be up and driving before you're required by law to stop?"
"That's absurd. No one tells me when I can and can't drive. But at least I'm smart enough to get off the road when I'm tired. You guys aren't. You drive tired all the time."
"Ok. So you can drive as much as you want. Do you know that the department of transportation limits us to no more than 14 hours on duty, meaning 'up and doing stuff', with no more than 11 hours of those being drive time? And, of those 11, we can't be on duty for more than 8 hours before being required to take a break.
"Look around, Tiger, you see all those trucks in the parking lot? Those guys are sleeping or taking their required break. Our choices for places to stop are more limited because of the size of our vehicle but we do stop when needed.
"Now, what's your solution to trucks? People need stuff. We bring stuff. It seems to work that way."
"We could just move everything by train. It's better for the environment and won't cause so much trouble on the roads."
"Capital idea, my man! Capital idea. Wait. You seem to be wearing store bought clothes. So let me ask you, if I may, when you went to the mall to get your clothes did you happen to see... Oh, I don't know, a TRAIN STATION there? Get your car at a dealership? See a train depot on the lot? At the gas station? The grocery store? Should I continue or are you getting the general idea here?"
"We could build more railways. It would create more jobs."
"Oh. You mean jobs for the 650,000 plus people you're looking to put out of a job? You ever pick up one piece of railroad rail? It's heavy. How do you plan on getting that rail everywhere? Got a train that doesn't need rail? Yep. It's called a truck.
"Look, killer, right up until I saw your sign and you started speaking I assumed you were brighter than your shoes. After that I rapidly changed my mind. I recommend Tony Chachere's."
"Tony Chachere's. It's a seasoning. We like our food seasoned. Good luck out here, you're gonna need it. I've gotta run. But, before I go, consider this:
You want trucks off the road in your county, imagine when you've gotta drive to the next county for pretty much everything you need that you can't grow. Welcome to the Wild West, pardner"
Now, as it turns out, the website he mentioned (yes, I've omitted their website because I simply don't promote their cause) was founded by a woman who lost her 8 year old grandson due to a "collision with an 18 wheeler". Let's process that. Not "was hit by", but collided into.
In other words, THEY ran into the truck. The loss of a loved one is tragic, I understand that. However, to fault trucks for people in cars not knowing how to drive is idiotic.
We (truck drivers) deliver products that everyone needs. Just like the rest of you, we are simply trying to do a job. We don't run around looking to cause problems for cars. More often than not, cars are the ones causing the accidents. Think long and hard about what life would be like if you couldn't just go to the store to get what you want. What life would be like if you couldn't just stop in and fill up your car at the gas station. Even what it would be like if there were no lumber stores or buildings to get materials needed to build or run your home.
People hate that our giant vehicles get in the way and slow them down. They blame us every time they cut us off and cause an accident. They want us off the roads but they fail to realize how much we drive the economy. Highway usage taxes and fees in the billions yearly that help support construction of new roads and repair of old ones. They fail to realize how post apocalyptic the world would be within a week if we all just stopped.