By now we have all read the story about the young man who got lost delivering a load of potato chips. Through a series of mistakes he ended up on some forestry roads that were not designed for his truck. Like a lot of things, one mistake led to another and another and they snowballed. He ended up lost, and could have died. Thankfully he is going to be fine. His truck and his load are going to be fine as well. Some in the industry seem to want to vilify him. Others seem to want to exult him. I want to empathize with him.

We have all screwed up. Lord knows that I can’t count the number of times that I have. I remember driving a Fort Howard Truck getting lost trying to find the Fort Howard mill in Muskogee, Oklahoma. That was embarrassing. I had gotten off of the wrong exit and driven about 15 miles too far. I turned around and came back. Yes, I stopped and asked for directions. Standing there next to my Fort Howard truck wearing my Fort Howard coat asking how to find Fort Howard. That didn’t happen again.

There was the time that I was delivering a load in Pittsburgh. According to the map, my delivery was just outside the tubes. Unfortunately the street was one way going the wrong way. Every correction that I mad took my further from my destination. It was probably 2-3 in the morning. A Pittsburgh cop helped me get to where I was going. He laughed. He said that it was 02:00 and I should have just gone down the one way street.

Things are different now. Apparently he had typed the wrong address into his GPS. When he figured it out, he typed in the right address. Apparently his GPS knew a short cut? The kid is only 22 years old. Give him a break. I hope he has a long career.

If I could meet that kid and talk to him, I would buy him a beverage. We could talk. I would tell him my mistakes. We could laugh with each other. Then I would buy him an Atlas and show him how to use it. We could talk about trip planning. That those things (GPS/TND) are pretty good. They aren’t fool proof, especially if you don’t program them right. My advice would be simple. Don’t compound your mistakes.

Mostly though, I would tell him that it is going to be alright. We all screw up. Some of us remember our mistakes and learn from them. Others seem to forget them and ridicule others when they make mistakes. I would rather remember them and laugh at myself, and not repeat them.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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