Wow, what happened to summer? I don’t remember the end of spring, and now we are already getting trucks dressed for the upcoming snow season. Oh my goodness – did I just write that four-letter word? Say it isn’t so! It can’t be that time already. Shoot, we haven’t even had the election yet. Between a hard winter, then the Covid thing, riots, and then the hot weather and wildfires, we have had almost everything happen to us during this, the year of troubles. America has been through a lot, and I’m sure this year will go down in infamy as the year simply called 2020.
Before I get too far into this month’s article, let’s take a minute to think about trucking. For those of you not familiar with the term, it translates to “the act of moving materials from one place to another while driving a motor vehicle.” This summer’s heat is fading fast in much of the north country, that includes most every place north of Interstate 10. In its place will soon be falling leaves, along with pumpkin spice flavored drinks. That also means more kids will be playing outdoors and in the streets. In case you forgot from last year, they again are not looking for or paying any attention to traffic. That’s where you drivers come into the picture.
Remember, our number one job as truck drivers is to protect the motoring public. Sometimes that includes bikes, skateboards, and yes, those crazy joggers. I’m sure that’s why Jake brakes and straight pipes we’re invented – if for no other reason than to scare the bajebbers out of these darned fools. Maybe you drive a more sophisticated type of rig, possibly a euro-styled, sleek, swift, but deadly combination that has a train horn. Either way, you get the picture. At the appropriate time, when they are near to let’s say a water hazard or close to the edge of a ditch, lean over and rip that train horn! I’m not sure you can find this maneuver in the driver’s handbook, and I’m also sure 10-4 Magazine does not endorse it either, but hey, it’s what we all want to do to wake these fools up.
School has been back in session for a good month now and we are beginning to see some buses back on the road. If you are not a regular two-lane runner (local streets and state highways) and you find yourself heading off into the toolies, be aware of these buses because kids will now be boarding and disembarking from these yellow behemoths. Early mornings can be most difficult, because children can be hard to see standing in the shadows and beside dark objects. I have had many encounters in the early morning when the sun distracts my view and the reflection from my hood leaves me temporarily blind for a few seconds. Afternoon delivery of these same young kids can create a different experience. They may not wait for traffic to clear before they dart out into the street. Please take extra care an exercise caution when following a school bus.
Any of our avid 10-4 readers know I’m a biker, as well as a truck nut. When I’m not burning up the interstate dragging my reefer around or pulling wrenches on my equipment, I like to fire up the old big dog and eat some bugs. The darned things get stuck in my teeth, since I can’t stop smiling when I ride. It’s a biker thing. Now that the weather has cooled off a bit, more of my brothers and sisters are taking to the road for seasonal trips and color tours (fall leaf tours). In the upper Midwest, this is a very popular activity, especially with the older set and retirement-aged people who may not be the most experienced riders.
These bikers may travel in groups of only a couple or as many as a whole club. When you do witness a gathering of riders and one pulls out on the road, assume others will, as well. They like to travel together as a unit. When possible, give them the same courtesy you hope to receive from them. Please don’t crowd these guys! If anything goes wrong and a rider goes down, they don’t stand a chance against a loaded 18-wheeler. Something as simple as a pothole or an unchained dog can be deadly to a biker. You don’t want that on your conscience for the rest of your lifetime. Tailgating or aggressive driving is reckless driving, and in the event of a fatal accident, it could end your trucking career.
I think I have covered most of the hot button issues I have been thinking about lately. However, it’s October in an election year. What could that possibly mean to a truck driver? That depends on if you are eligible to vote or not. Now, hold up there, partner, don’t jump the gun and start with the political rhetoric. I don’t intend to lead you in any one direction, but rather I want all of you who are eligible to vote. This means being responsible and finding out how to exercise your constitutional right of the people to self-governance.
Some of you out there in 10-4 land might be wondering, what exactly is self-governance? Simply put, it is the election of the people who will run your government. This starts at the local level and runs all the way up to the president. None of us have the right to complain about our police and the laws they are expected to enforce if we do not fully participate in the process of elections.
Trucking is one of the heaviest regulated industries in America. How it got this way is simple – political power. This power allows for laws to be written and voted on not by you the individual but by our leaders. These leaders are local, federal, and state officials. As a child we were told the story of Peter and the wolf, and how a young boy who was calling out for attention by screaming “Wolf! There’s a big hungry wolf and he is going to eat me!” At first, everyone came to his rescue, but no wolf was there. He did it once more, and some people came to help scare the wolf away, but still no wolf. The third time he called out there really was a big hungry wolf, but no one came because they didn’t believe the alarm was important.
Our elected political officials are much the same as that big bad wolf. We may not see them in our day to day lives, but they are still out there, waiting to feast on the general public. They may not eat you in the physical sense, but they can eat away at your liberty and restrict your potential opportunities. As free-spirited Americans, we thrive on our constitutional rights and the freedoms they afford us. The right to select our own leaders is essential in maintaining this way of self-governance. The most important of these are in your township officers and your city council members, who direct the local police departments and, thus, law enforcement.
This has been a tough year for our policemen and women. It doesn’t matter where you stand on some of the issues that have shaped this summer’s events, it’s the political leaders who hold the cards that can make a difference. Now, I live in a small town over here in the great state of Michigan, so what makes sense to us farmers and factory workers may not be the same for the west coast office workers. That, my friends, is why we have the “Down Ballot” (with local candidates and propositions) during the presidential elections. Why is this so important to you as a driver? Because the people on your “Down Ballot” are not the same as the ones on mine (unless you are my neighbor).
People, you should be researching all of the candidates running for every office. Even if you think you know their positions on the most important issues, read up on them to make sure. An informed voter is a crooked politician’s worst nightmare! When we elect the same political leaders year after year and the problems don’t go away, maybe it’s the leaders that could be the problem. I don’t know who your elected politicians are, but I do know who mine are, and I intend to retire a few and send some of them home after this election.
How can we average Americans help? First, you’ve got to register to vote. Do you know where to vote? Do you have the appropriate paperwork? Most states still require some form of identification to prove where you live and to ensure you get the correct ballot. Every state is different, and the rules may differ from one city to another, too.
If you’re reading this today and aren’t registered to vote, today is the day to start getting your ducks in a row. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to belong to a political party to register to vote – you only need to be a citizen in good standing (the description of “good standing” may vary from one location to another). The time allowed to register may range from 30 days ahead of an election to the day of the election. To find out about voting in your area, call or visit your local city offices.
Sure, I hear you asking, “How can I vote when I’m 1,000 miles from home and not able to plan my home time this far out?” That’s why I want you to call your city office. There are multiple ways for you to get a ballot. The most common method for people who work out of town or are unable to attend in person is an absentee ballot. This ballot is the same as everyone else receives at the polls on Election Day except it can be mailed to you or you can pick it up ahead of time. Then, after you fill it out, return it by mail or in person. I prefer early voting where possible because of the extra security. Most of us get home at least once a month – if not, you can still request a ballot be mailed to you or your company’s office. Just make sure to return it before the end of the day on November 3rd. If it’s not postmarked in time, it won’t be counted.
Some of you drivers have never voted, but still you want to complain about the laws and regulations we must operate under. If you are not responsible enough to make the effort to promote change through the ballot box, then you need to step back and stop talking, because what you have to say isn’t important. If you really are committed to seeking change, then be sure your vote is counted in November. The best way to ensure that is to show up, stand in line, double check your candidates, and then punch the card with your choices.
The right to vote in this country is a sacred duty, one best performed by an informed citizen. These are rights granted by our constitutional form of government and protected by the U.S. Military and your local police force. The act of voting is not to be taken lightly or with humor. When casting your choice, please make the decision to vote FOR someone, not AGAINST someone. All too often, the media pundits will say after an election, “The people have received the government they deserve.” I cannot think of a truer statement.
For those who choose not to be a part of the process of selecting our next leaders, don’t cry wolf! As for me, I will be making an appointment with Aunt Barb so the two of us will be waiting in line when the polls open on November 3, 2020. If you are one of those who think your vote doesn’t make a difference, you’re right – but only if you don’t vote. “Can you hear me?” 10-4!