Here we are again. Welcome to 2022! Ready or not it has arrived, and one month has already passed. I’m sure you made some of the usual New Year’s resolutions – I just hope you haven’t already abandoned them.
What are you waiting for, more time? Maybe you are holding out for someone or something to intervene and you will be able to adjust or just fall in line and follow the crowd to wherever they are going. That’s what some of you did last year. Not sure how that worked out. I read some place, “If you want the best for yourself, you must find the best in yourself.” Wishing good things to happen doesn’t often bring about the positive results you might want but working to the benefit of good deeds can make it happen. You might want to write that down and stick it on the back of your windshield as a reminder.
What’s all this happy talk about good deeds, and what’s the deal with that runaway train headline? Be patient, the train is still at the station, hooking up more cars, unsure of its cargo and its destination. Our train has yet to learn what options or opportunities are even available. The start of each new year gives us all the chance to start over. Much like our freight train, which makes adjustments in the station yard, we start and stop our activities with the counting of the calendar and mark our lives in 12-month segments (especially we in the magazine business). December closed our last year, and Christmas probably emptied out your wallet, as well. I know it did mine. Now I have to get back to work. So, what do I do? Freight rates are higher than I have ever seen, but so is fuel, insurance, driver’s wages, and everything else. Trucking looks good to the untrained eye.
Most of us spend much of our day listening to some sort of media coverage, and at present it’s all about the driver shortages and the need for more trucks. I’m not sure I want to wade into that argument and have the stench of it stuck to the bottom of my shoe, but they are getting plenty of airtime and attention from the folks in Washington D.C. Once again, someone has to be the scapegoat and, as usual, it’s the truck drivers. If only we – the men and women behind the wheel – put in more time, drive more hours, buy more equipment, and make the changes necessary to solve transport troubles, then all would be good in America. As some of you can guess, I don’t subscribe to this prescription for success. If you’re looking for a runaway train, here’s the place to start.
Life is a runaway train – and you are the engineer! How you control the throttle will determine your ability to make changes or alternate choices. Running full steam ahead will cover lots of ground quickly, but along the way you may miss the opportunity to change course in a timely manner. Just a thought, but could that be the trouble at our ports this year? Maybe they were so busy changing policies that no one noticed the shortage of trucks or the lack of equipment available to meet their unjustified standards. There are 47 states and several provinces of Canada with access to California, and none of them have the same requirements as the ports. Has anyone besides me noticed the number of California port trucks in the Midwest? There aren’t any, but there sure are a lot of out-of-state trucks in California. Hey Joe, here’s an idea: change the requirements for port entry.
You may wonder how I got on that subject when I started out with New Year’s resolutions. What I really wanted to address is what you can do to bring positive things into your life. Now, I can’t know each of you personally, but if I could, I would encourage you to be positive and reach for your full potential. What does that mean – to reach your full potential? I took the time to look the word up in the dictionary and here is the definition: POTENTIAL; having or showing the capability to become or develop into something in the future. Just repeating that at the start of each day should make you more positive.
As I repeat these positive words, I’m envisioning a brilliant sunrise over the hood of my old truck, parked on a hillside someplace, sipping my first cup of java, and planning my actions for the day. Your personal involvement is required. There is no room for passive, non-aggressive actions. If you want to take control of this runaway train, you need to be an active player and grab the controls. Trains and trucks have a lot in common, and our roads and their tracks often cross in our daily lives.
What can I do to change my luck? First off, if you are operating on “luck” then your chances of success are limited to 50/50. Second, if you’re the type of person who never wins their money back on a lottery ticket, you might want to think twice before buying one. I just got a phone call from a lifelong friend who wanted me to pick up an industrial machine for him. He was telling me he sold his transportation company last month and was reinvesting in tooling for one of his lesser support businesses. This is a guy who started with one truck and a fist full of ambition. By the way, he sold his trucking interest a couple years ago, partly because his other fist was full of payment books, fuel receipts, tax bills, and all kinds of expenses. But he never let that hold him back.
I can’t remember a time when this friend of mine wasn’t looking forward and working on not just his business, but himself, as well. In his case, that meant taking off his blue jeans and putting on a suit, then learning to talk intelligently to important people. Along the way, his skill set also had to include more than just driving goods from one place to another – he also needed to build the things he couldn’t buy. From that first opportunity he built a solid foundation for his future. Now, years later, this friend of mine is reaping his rewards. That’s what potential looks like. One must first believe in themselves before anyone else will believe in them. Then, after years of hard work, their dream will take shape and success will follow.
Not everyone is going to be an employer or even self-employed. Some people are content to work for the man and devote their total attention to developing a set of skills. I have known many drivers who never wanted to own a truck or even work in the office. They just liked to feel the vibration of a good motor, on the open road, and see the sun rise each day, content they were going to make it home the same night. My father was one of those drivers and he was a master at his craft. Neither rain nor sleet or snow kept him from his destination with those loaded trains (trains are what we in the north call two multi-axle trailers combined with a 3-axle tractor). His goal was to be a good father and husband, along with being a valued employee. None of us can set the goal for someone else, no matter how much we want to.
Remember this: greatness is not the same for everyone. Like my father (and so many great drivers here in the north country), I too have taken my turn pulling the trains. It’s a skill set not for everyone. But just because I know how doesn’t mean it’s what I like to do. My potential is somewhere else. But I still look forward to seeing the sunrise over the next hill, and never knowing what or who I might meet along the way.
I’ve wandered around a bit this month and my editor will no doubt be reminding me to stay on point. The point is, there are plenty of opportunities available in the workforce today, and the direction a person takes is as personal as they are. It is great to have hopes and desires for that dream job, but unless you make the choices to direct yourself to them, you will wake up again tomorrow in the same place you finished today. So, the question still remains, “Would you recommend going into trucking?” And my answer is still, “That depends.”
There is a great difference between getting your CDL, learning to drive, and buying your first truck. It takes a strong mind and plenty of guts today to start up with your own authority. As a driver, there are jobs everywhere you look, owner operators are jumping companies faster than a Kentucky racehorse, and many start-up operations are falling by the wayside. In these uncertain times, the most commonly asked questions are, “Why?” and “Why me?” I would like to add “Why not me?” to the mix. If I could answer these questions, that would make me a consultant, and then I would have to charge for my service.
The potential is there for all of you if you are willing to do the research. Find an under-served market and match the need for service with the ability to complete the task in a timely manner. Every time we see a fast train rolling down the tracks, with smoke rolling and sparks flying, we can’t know it’s final destination. Those steel wheels are burning up the tracks as it rolls into the future, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of control. It is possible there is someone at the controls who knows the difference between taking chances, calculating risk, and driving the all-night express. Now grab the cord and take charge of this fresh new year. Ding, ding, ding, all aboard train 2022, 10-4!