After about 13 hours on the job, I had dropped my trailer at the customer and was heading to the terminal in Green Bay, WI. It was about 19:30 and traffic heading westbound on WI 172 was moderate. I had my cruise control set at 63 MPH in a 65. There was a Dodge Charger coming up the long on ramp. There were cars passing me, or I would have pulled over into the left lane. The driver of the car did not seem to worry about traffic on the highway. She first checked the highway as we were next to each other. She would have come onto the highway slightly behind my cab and about where my drive axles would be. So. I held my steady speed. There was a solid gap in front of me for her to easily accelerate and get ahead of me. She chose to get in behind me.

As she passed me, she gave me the well known international sign of displeasure. Yes, she flipped me off. It irritated me a little. My first thought was to catch up to her and return the gesture. My second thought was that would be stupid. My truck and my actions represent me and my profession My name, the one that I got from my parents, is on the side of my truck. It matters how I represent myself. I let it go.

It brought back a pleasant memory. 40 years ago I worked at a small Sears store in Glen Ellyn, IL. The store was a “catalog” store. It had a catalog counter. People ordered from the Sears catalog and picked up there orders from the store. We had retail. The retail section included hardware, electrical, paint, automotive, and appliances. There was also an Allstate Insurance man there. I mainly worked in hardware and electrical, but helped out wherever I was told to. I made $2.30 an hour and I was always eager for more hours. We had the occasional angry customer. So, there I was a 16-17 year old kid, making minimum wage standing there getting yelled at by a customer because their screwdriver broke. Most of the screwdrivers that broke got that way because people used them instead of a crow bar. This was frustrating to the young me.

That is when I got some great advice from our store manager Mr. Serguta. Mr. Serguta told me that you could almost always settle a customer down, by saying “What can I do to make you happy.” Mr Serguta told me that Sears (the largest retailer in the world) was in business to stay in business. Replacing a $2 screwdriver or a $50 circular saw when the customer cut the cord with said circular saw was not that big a deal. Just do it, if it makes the customer happy. Simply stopping them in their tracks and asking them what would make them happy, makes them stop and come up with a solution of their own that could work for both or us. So, I guess I could just ask that angry four wheeler - “What can I do to make you happy?”

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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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