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Yesterday, my wife and I went exploring small towns in our area. We like to do this, and it’s interesting as you come upon a small town or city, that some towns look to be thriving and growing, while others seem to be in limbo. Some cities seem to be on a decline, and some look to be abandoned, or nearly abandoned, while slowly being reclaimed by nature itself.

Whether a town or business is thriving or declining, is typically the result of the cumulative effects of many actions. An island can form in a river after one rock impedes the flow of the given waterway.  As sediment builds up around one rock, an island is created from many small pieces of debris, as they coagulate. It’s no different than how a blood clot gets formed in our body’s arteries. The blood clot was not caused by one improper meal or one day of sitting on the couch.

The trucking industry, and how it’s viewed by the public, is affected by the actions of many. Each time we climb into the cab of our trucks, we are painting a picture for the public. The public’s perception of truck drivers, and the trucking industry itself, is not formed from one movie, or from one truck crash. It’s formed from many individual events. The unfortunate problem is that people tend to focus on the negative aspects of any given event or activity. The reason for the concentration on the negative, is because positive things usually don’t need to be changed or fixed. For this very reason, the news media spends much of their time and resources on bringing us “bad news”.  

My fellow Team Run Smart Pro, Clark Reed, started a very positive initiative of picking up 3 pieces of trash per day. Clark has challenged other professional drivers to also get out and walk while on their break, and pick up a minimum of 3 pieces of trash along the way. I want to take Clark’s challenge and expand upon it to find 3 or more positive actions, to give the trucking industry a better public perception. Examples could be as simple as slowing down in a construction zone on the highway, or dressing and presenting ourselves professionally.

When walking through the travel centers or rest areas on our breaks, do we greet the people as we pass them in the walkways or hallways? Do we treat the restaurant facilities with respect by not leaving a mess behind when we’re done eating? Do we leave the parking lots and bathrooms as clean, or better, than we found them? Places where we pass the public, other than on the highway, are travel centers and rest areas. What a tremendous opportunity to form the public perception of who the person is that they are sharing our nation’s highways with.

It starts with a small, positive gesture or action from each of us to begin setting the stage for a favorable opinion towards our chosen profession. Be the instrument of change, and start out the day with the mission of making today better than the day before. Before we know it, the travel centers where we bathe, dine, and rest could possibly become the perfect place for us to influence the public’s perception of professional drivers. 

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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