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Many years ago we started decorating our house for Halloween. We had been decorating for Christmas for a couple of years and thought we would decorate the yard a little for the trick-or-treaters that would come knocking for candy. Here is a picture of that first year.

We were pretty happy with this even though it wasn’t much. We knew an hour or so of work would bring smiles to the kids, including our own. You can see my youngest, Jack, checking them out. He was 4 in this picture, he is 15 now. Time sure flies.

It Was Never Enough

The following year we added a little more, the next a little more, and so on and so on. Every year it would improve. We started adding more lights, more blow molds, and more extension chords. It also took longer and longer to set up. Time well spent.

Not everything we tried was successful though. A few years later we had seen people putting up arches over their driveway. We did this for several years for Christmas and Halloween, and as you can see from the picture below, it looked pretty good. We had a little girl who lived across the street that would come over every night just to stand under them and look around. She was in awe. They were quite the sight (Sorry about the quality of the picture).

But there was one little problem. Our driveway is about 40 feet long and 18 feet wide. That is a large span for the PVC pipes to span. We tried several different ways to build these. Nothing seemed to work. The problem was the fact that we live in Northern Illinois. Heavy, wet snow would eventually weigh these down causing them to droop and eventually fall into the driveway. After a few years, with sadness, we scrapped this idea. As much as we liked the idea and the way they looked, they just weren’t working in our situation. We liked the driveway being lit though, so we came up with another idea. One that is not only easier to put up, but looks pretty good. You’ll see that in the last picture.

We Changed as the House Changed

Over the years, we made some landscaping decisions. The large bushes and the Arborvitae at the corner of the house had to come down. We lost a large part of the decorating potential and had to adapt. We added 4 little Arborvitae’s and that gave us all kinds of room for blow molds and a blow-up Mickey. We also continued to add lights, blow molds, blow-ups, and extension chords. We moved our cemetery to the other side of the yard and expanded it. We threw some stuff away as it wore out, but almost always added something to replace it. The time to do this has also grown, and everyone helps put it up (Thanks Joanne, Luke, Jenna, and Jack for all the help). This year, our display ended up like this.

But What Does This Have to do With Truck Driving?

Every day we are out here, I believe we should strive to become better at our jobs. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you ever quit learning out here, you need to get off the road.” Learning is just a way to improve ourselves and our performance. It’s easy to rest on our laurels and simply be happy with how we do our jobs. For me, that isn’t enough. Finding ways to improve should be an everyday thing. Sometimes we will try stuff that, as much as we want it to, just doesn’t work. Other times, changing circumstances, whether of our own doing or someone else’s, may open up an opportunity to try something new.

Continuous improvement takes time. Failure is part of it, but that doesn’t mean stop trying. However, there also comes a point where we have to accept some things just aren’t meant to be, like those arches. If you look at the last picture though, lining the driveway with lights looks pretty awesome too, and with less work.

So let’s try to get better every day out here. Talk to other drivers and grow your skills, both behind the wheel and at the customer. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It may make your job easier and you may learn a better way to do something.

And lastly, don’t be surprised if people start doing what you do. As we added to this and our Christmas decorations, which honestly make our Halloween decorations look a little sad, we noticed our neighbors putting up lights in their yards, making the entire neighborhood “better”. It was an unexpected surprise.

We are also taking donations for our electric bill.

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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