Throughout my career, I’ve always wanted to be a problem solver. When I see something that’s not right, it’s in my nature to try and fix the problem. It can be as simple as when you see a driver trying to be “that person” when they see another driver having a hard time backing up into a parking spot, and gets out to lend a helping hand. Too often in this day and age, people simply start taking videos, so they have a mishap to post on social media! Don't be like that! Get out and help!
Being “that person” can also lead to many rewards. For example, during my tenure as a company driver for a private carrier, I earned myself a reputation for always looking out for a more efficient and profitable way to do business. Because of my actions, the branch manager started to entrust me with more and more responsibilities, such as spec'ing out our trucks the way we needed them, reorganizing the inventory for quicker loading of the trucks, and organizing and planning our routes. Most of the time I just jumped in and started to help with these tasks, before they were officially entrusted to me as one of my responsibilities. Accompanying these added responsibilities, were some very handsome pay increases.
Later in life, when I became an independent owner-operator, I continued this same mantra by trying to be a problem solver for each and every one of my customers. One example was a new shipper with new forklift drivers at a new facility where they loaded plastic, conduit pipe. Their forklift operators had little to no experience. From my previous job with a private carrier, we also loaded a lot of pipe, so I had experience handling this type of material. After a conversation with the customer's shipping manager, I was asked to help to train his new employees. I accepted the offer, and in the end, also helped them organize their yard more efficiently, along with a handsome compensation for my efforts.
There was another case, in which the shipper had just come out with a new product line. Based on my interactions with this customer, they noticed that I liked to solve problems. In this case, the material they had to ship would be traveling via flatbed and was highly decorative composite fencing - it was easy to damage if not loaded correctly. They approached me about spending a week with them loading my trailer, taking test drives, and video recording how the product rode on the trailer. Afterward, we would unload the material and inspect for damages. On the early loads, there were problems with damage, but we kept working together and by the end of the week, we had created fail-safe methods of securing the material without damage. In this case, it was very interesting work, and the compensation was very rewarding.
But being “that person” isn't always for monetary reasons. Often - it’s just the right thing to do. I remember one particular occasion while traveling on the Washington D.C. Beltway, I learned that a car was broken down in the middle lane. This made traffic come to a standstill, while people dodged to either side of the stranded vehicle. As I approached the situation, there were other trucks right next to me, so I contacted them on the CB radio. I asked them across the radio, while we were all side by side on this hazard along the highway, if we could stop, get out, and push the stranded vehicle off the highway before something bad happened. They agreed and we all stopped, exited our trucks, and in under 30 seconds had the car pushed over to the shoulder. We climbed back in our trucks and continued on the highway. As we drove away, we received numerous thumbs-up gestures from passenger vehicles that had witnessed our good deed.
Sometimes, being “that person” is as simple as holding a door for someone, picking up a bolt that could puncture someone's tire laying in the parking lot, picking up a piece of trash instead of stepping over it, or pushing your shopping cart back to the corral.
All of these acts of being that person don't necessarily come with a great deal of fanfare. However, if each and every one of us did our part in being “that person,” it would contribute to all of us having a much better day.