As a driver with over twelve years behind the wheel, I have fought my fair share of stereotypes, regulations and other stressful circumstances beyond my control. Whether it was a flat tire in the middle of nowhere or a dispatcher telling me "You made this career choice, now deal with it!” few things get my nerves rattled quite as much as sitting around doing nothing! Most of us will agree that it is something
usually beyond our control and once in a predicament such as this at a shipper or receiver, we are generally at their mercy. This feeling of helplessness and aggravation when someone does not value your time can really make the blood boil, especially given the idling restrictions at many facilities and hot weather. To quote Shakespeare, "For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring."
Seeming as though we are always out there trying to fight an image left behind for us by some of the less professional drivers out there, it is important to conduct ourselves professionally, even in the face of adverse conditions. I am far from perfect and catch myself venting from time to time about how so many of my customers seem to de-value my time just because I am a truck driver. I have to often tell myself to be the "better person" and understand that I am the face of a company and the front line of the customer
service department. Keeping my cool and fighting the instinct to rip off my customer's head is something I am faced with often, since I see anywhere from six to eight different customers every day. Some of them know my daily struggle of time vs. money and others could care less, it's just a big crapshoot sometimes until I arrive.
As I sit here and write this very article, I happen to be at a customer that does not value my time. It has been an hour in a door with no action in the trailer. What will I do you may ask? The same as I always do to keep my cool; walk in after an hour, ask if there is a problem with the loading process, accept their answer (regardless of what they say) and wait for another thirty minutes to roll by when I can then begin to charge them detention for sitting per my contract. Sometimes it is just worth it to remind them I am here to haul their load. There are plenty of other things to do to be constructive with my time and keep my mind off of how long the process of loading or unloading is actually taking. Sometimes I will just go for a walk around the facility, making sure to let the customer know that’s where I will be and giving them my phone number in case they finish while I am gone and need to contact me. I have also known some friends of mine that have a guitar or set of drumsticks to practice their musical talents in their downtime. Some might be inclined to take a note from fellow Team Run Smart Pro Jeff Clark and carry a bicycle on the truck to explore the surrounding areas. In the instance of this customer today, I am actually going to relax in the cool comfort of my cab (since it’s over 90 degrees out) and listen to some Road Dog Network on Sirius/XM Radio after this article is finished in the cool comfort of my cab for a change. Being constructive with your detention time and trying to see a positive light at the end of the tunnel can help any driver stay a little “cooler”, more sane and better focused!