The other week I left out on Saturday evening instead of Sunday morning. We had a snow storm coming in. The run was about 560 miles. My trailer was hooked up and sitting in the yard. It had to be delivered by 19:00 on Sunday. Normally if I pull out of the yard by 07:00 – no problem. This weekend it was going to be a problem. Experience told me that if I left Saturday night and put 100 miles behind me – it would take the hurry out of the load.

As I was driving I started thinking about the places that I could park at along the way. I remembered a truck stop where some of the parking places had a slight uphill grade to get out. For drainage many parking lots are slightly higher in the middle. I made the decision to put another 50 miles behind me, and get to a truck stop with a different pitch. I reached the truck stop. The pressure had been taken off the load. I spotted up to the parking place and pulled in and out of it a few times to cool the tires a bit and make a path in the snow. I (pat myself on the back) marveled at how smart I was as I set the tractor break and left the trailer brake off.

Okay – maybe I am not that smart. Perhaps it was marveling at how dumb I used to be. There was this dumb rookie (ME!) who pulled into a truck stop exhausted from fighting a storm. I backed into a parking place with a slight upgrade and set all of my brakes. Crawled into the bunk and went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, my trailer brakes were frozen and the truck stop was a sheet of ice. An old dog trucker helped out this young pup and we got it going.

Experience teaches us. The question is “Are we willing to learn?”. Are we willing to teach? That flatbedder who helped pull me out of my parking place almost 30 years ago did more than help get me down the road. He taught me the trucking tradition. It is up to us old dogs to teach the young pups. If we pay attention we can learn from them as well.

This industry had evolved since I started trucking. Some things should not change. Too many of us old dogs look down on the young pups and don't help them. Too many of the young pups won't listen. Get past that. I still value what that flatbedder taught me, more than the fact that he got me out of my parking spot. So, in a way every time I help a fellow driver, it is to help that old dog flatbedder.

Comments (3)

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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Thanks - I have been lucky over the years. Hope to pass that luck along.

December 20, 2016 11:24:25 AM

Great article Jeff! We need more people to help and teach others.....those that are new need to listen to those who have been doing this a long time.

December 20, 2016 8:25:18 AM

Nice article Jeff. Paying it forward can be very powerful!

December 20, 2016 7:13:09 AM