Fellow Team Run Smart Pro, Linda Caffee and I often talk about technology and how it has changed our profession in the trucking industry. So much has changed over the year’s, things like the CB radio which today has its airwaves mostly vacant. The old round tables where drivers used to gather and talk shop at the truck stop have mostly disappeared into the transportation industry history books.
This discussion has led us to believe these past social interactions have been replaced by the cell phone, internet, and social media. In the past a driver was all alone in the cab of his truck. Hearing a voice over the CB radio speaker provided the interaction to quell the silence of the truck cab. It really in the end was just early social media, in fact the CB was probably the original social media.
When drivers used to stop at the travel centers they would gather at what used to be known as the round table which provided a level of interaction through the many stories and tales that were told. In the case of the kiosk I often refer to it as one of the last gathering spots for social interaction. But first let’s go to life before the kiosk in which you received any of your travel center services through the fuel desk attendant. This made the fuel desk a gathering spot, drivers would be waiting for fuel tickets, showers assignment, scale receipts, and any of the other services available at that particular truck stop.
The fuel desk attendants of that era where very key to the smooth operation of any travel center/truck stop. Back in the day they had to record the license plate number, company name, and truck number of every truck that passed through its fuel island along with allocating showers and a myriad of other services these establishments provided. Through all of this it was not uncommon for the fuel desk attendant to get to know the regular customers on a more personal level. As you were fueling the truck a voice would be heard across the loud speaker asking how you were, call you by name, and ask if you were planning on getting a shower as they would reserve one for you after you parked.
The kiosk replaced all of this interaction that would happen between drivers and the fuel desk, thus taking the burden off of the feel attendant and streamlined the process. Now it seems as though the kiosk is become a dated piece of technology soon to be read about in the transportation history books.
The kiosk is quickly being replaced by an app on our phone where we can schedule many of the services we utilize at a travel center before we enter the building. The app is more streamlined, convenient, and at the same time we will lose a social meeting spot. Currently this interaction is sometimes just because you meet someone who does not have a shower credit, and in fact the other day, Linda Caffee had a chance meeting someone at the kiosk. Of course, I had to jab her a little bit and remind her that she would not have met this person if they had not been using the kiosk.
In the end though I will have to concede that the kiosk has outlived its usefulness.