So many times we hear how professional drivers don't look out for each other like they used to in the good old days. We hear about "steering wheel holders" who can barely get the truck down the road and only care about themselves. I will admit there is the whole "Me, Me, Me" attitude that seems to be pretty prevalent out here, but I would like to tell you a story that will show you there are plenty of Professional Drivers who will lend a hand to help a fellow driver out.
A few weeks back I was headed across PA and was shutting down for the night at one of the PA Turnpike service areas. Parking was tight at this particular stop, and once parked in a spot, I shut it down and settled in for some rest. A few minutes later the truck parked next to me pulled out and another driver immediately wanted the spot. The problem was he did not have enough room to make the turn without bumping me or the truck to the other side. Grabbing another spot was not an option either, as the Plaza was almost full, and pulling to another spot could have resulted in the loss of both of them.
The driver gently knocked on my door and was standing there away from my window, with hands exposed, letting me know he meant no harm. He asked if I could pull forward a bit, just so he could get parked. I obliged, pulled forward, and waited for him to park. I then backed back into my spot, set my brakes and waved to my new neighbor.
I decided to sit in my front seat for a while and watched as the dance I just had with my neighbor happened again with the trucks in front of me. Then I watched it again down the row. As one driver left, another was right there to take his spot. Drivers looking out for each other is what it was all about. There may have been someone with a phone at the ready waiting to catch a driver screw up. I didn't see that though. I saw fellow truckers helping out fellow truckers. Company Drivers, Owner/Operators, Rookies and old-timers just helping each other out, many times without even talking to each other.
It Only Takes A Minute
The entire encounter for me, from door knock to neighborly wave probably only took 2 minutes. Most good deeds are not a big-time suck. Helping a fellow truck driver slide their tandems, or being a spare set of eyes for a new driver backing into a spot doesn't take much time, but it does help make someone’s day a little bit better.
I recall such an event with fellow Freightliner Team Run Smart Pro, Henry Albert. We were heading back to our vehicle after spending the day shaking hands and meeting tons of great drivers at The Trucker Jamboree in Walcott, Iowa at Iowa 80. There was a driver for one of the carriers that is frequently mocked trying to back into a spot. We could have taken out our cell phones and recorded this poor driver trying to back up, but instead, we gave him 2 extra sets of eyes and made sure he got safely into his spot without hitting anything. A few minutes and we were in our car, headed to dinner. Sure, we didn't get any views on YouTube, but the driver was grateful and we felt good.
Handshakes are Better than Clicks
There is a video on YouTube where a driver came upon a low bridge and tried to do a U-turn. This didn't turn out so well and the driver ended up Jack-knifed. As he continued trying to get turned around, the damage to his tractor became worse. Taping this entire event was a driver, sitting in his tractor, narrating the video. It would have been easy to get out, go offer the driver help and maybe block traffic as the driver backed up to a place where he could have safely turned around. Maybe help was offered and refused, I don't really know. Judging by the commentary, I am betting it was not. It sure did get a lot of views though.
We see this a lot, where drivers would rather record the struggles of a fellow driver for a few "likes" on Facebook rather than help that struggling driver. I'd rather get a handshake. Imagine if one of your most embarrassing moments was recorded and then posted on YouTube for the world to see. We were all new once. We all made mistakes. I am thankful for the professional drivers who helped me out and prevented a situation from becoming worse. I hope to always do the same for others, and maybe, just maybe, help the image of professional drivers get just a little better.