The definition of a hero:
A person admired for achievements
One who shows great courage
An object of admiration
Too often, truck drivers are thought of disparagingly as the bad apples that stand out. The truth is that driving a truck is not an easy job and to do it safely each day in traffic could be the definition of a hero. When talking with solo drivers, I am always in awe of how they get their job done while driving all over the United States.
Recently we have been doing a lot of multiple drop loads going to many different locations. Deliveries are in the middle of major cities amongst the tall buildings with hidden docks, or most often no docks, and some are on the outskirts of the city. Time after time, as we circle a building looking for where they want their delivery, I think of the solo driver that is not only driving but looking for an address and where to deliver their load.
Once they get to their delivery address, this is not the end of the story. In the case of an LTL load delivering to a business, we have to find the customer to ask where they want their freight. In our situation, there is often not a dock, so we have to see if there is a handicap ramp or a way to lower the liftgate to the sidewalk so that we can use the pallet jack to move the skid. Often the skids are over 1,000 pounds, and the customer wants them moved up an incline. When the product needs to be placed in a storeroom, the pallet must be unloaded onto a dolly or hand cart and taken inside to be restacked.
We’ve also had the customer ask to have the pallets put into containers that are set back away from the parking lot on gravel. The goal then is to get the liftgate into the container so the pallet can be set inside. The alternative is to unload the pallet, place pallet inside the container, and then restack the load onto the pallet. It’s much easier to back up with the liftgate extended when we have a partner guiding the maneuver. Yet I know that solos do this sometimes daily. They are my heroes.
When delivering in the heart of a city where there are a lot of tall buildings, lots of pedestrians, no docks, and alleys that are very narrow, it helps to have two sets of eyes looking over the situation. One can concentrate on driving and avoiding other vehicles and pedestrians while the other looks for the safest way to make a delivery. A solo driver does this day in and day out safely and efficiently.
There are many situations where we have delivered in our straight truck at the same time as a tractor-trailer had also made their delivery and said to the agent, "Do not EVER send a trailer into that location again!". When we see the location and hear how the tractor-trailer's driver made the delivery, I am in awe. One delivery we had the receiver tell us the driver before had unhooked from the trailer to get a better angle several times before they finally got the trailer into the dock. How that driver made that delivery is beyond me. The patience and skill showed was beyond hero status.
Often while sitting in a truck stop, we will notice a driver back into a parking spot as if he was in a wide-open field. Yet the parking spot was very tight, and many others had failed before they came along. The skill that is shown time after time by drivers backing into narrow areas is often overlooked by one bad apple that did it wrong. If you ever want to see a lot of skill, go sit at a truck stop and watch drivers back their trucks in a tight parking spot that you might think twice about driving a car into. These maneuvers are a skill that takes years to hone.
Give credit where credit is due. Solo truck drivers are amazing people who get the job done while keeping everyone around them safe.