Friday, March 22, 2013

Truck Driver Disrespect

It so happened last week that I was in one of our competitor's store, a very large facility, getting some material.  I find it unfortunate that we frequent a competitor for parts, but we do. They don't have the same rules that our company has in inventory - they will carry whatever and leave it out there for however long. Our company ranks inventory and when it gets to D rank, it's toast.

So, they carry parts we don't and sometimes if we don't have something we normally carry, we go to them if they have it. They mark us up 10% on parts, we mark them up 10% on parts, a mutual agreement.

I have been in there 50 times at least over the last 7 years.

Random interjection: I am up in the mountains, the wind is howling and it's starting to rain heavily.  The wind is blowing so hard the trailer is shaking, the trees are dancing and my Direct TV dish on it's stand just blew over. I am not watching TV right now anyway, so no biggies.

Back to the story.  The place has very little driveway space. To go in there with a semi means a rather involved ordeal of backing around a lot of objects to get turned around and then pull up to the place next to the dispatch building - blocking much of everything but there is no choice.  They are moving soon to alleviate that problem.

I went in there last week to find the place filled with trucks. I stayed out front, but my truck was parked directly in front of the will-call (store) entrance.  People had to walk around my truck to get into the store.  I left the truck running - it was warm that day and the truck gets hot inside even if only warm outside - and started to walk into the store.  I heard a noise behind me, someone yelling.  I ignored it and continued walked.  But then the yelling occurred again: HEY, FERGUSON, YOU NEED TO MOVE YOUR TRUCK!!! This wasn't a "nice" request to a customer, this was a verbal command being yelled at me such as I used to hear schoolyard teachers yelling at us kids as 5 year olds in elementary school.

I ignored it again and continued walking.  I do not respond to people yelling at me.  Ask me nicely and with respect, the same as I will give to you.  His voice got as loud as it could go, apparently, as he yelled a 3rd time, I looked around, told him I don't respond to yelling and walked into the store.  I had never seen this guy before, to add to this story.

This guy followed me right into the store - where many employees were working behind the counter - and he started to raise his voice to me again.  I interrupted him loud enough that everyone could hear it: Are you going to start yelling at me again?!!  YOU NEED TO MOVE YOUR TRUCK!!! I was at the counter, I turned my back to him and completely ignored him.  He just stood there, staring at me at that point.

I was outwardly keeping my cool, inwardly I wanted to deck this guy.  The counter manager for the waterworks side wasn't there.  I waited a while, there were plenty of plumbing associates but they don't deal with the waterworks material or tickets.  Finally, a salesman came out.  We shook hands and I told him what I was there for.  He knew the ticket and headed to the doors to the warehouse, but not before this dude stopped him and informed him that I "won't move his truck".  The salesman said nothing to me, disappeared behind the doors along with this fellow and came back several minutes later.

I informed the man that I hadn't moved my truck because of this individual's attitude.  If he had asked me nicely, I would have gladly moved (but to where, I have no idea, their yard was full of vehicles).  This guy, the yeller, is standing there with this icy glare, arms crossed and attitude written all over his face.  Is Vito here? I asked, because I know Vito will not tolerate this kind of shi*** behavior from workers.  No, he's somewhere out back.

Well, some words were exchanged as I had had enough of this guy's BS, I had my material in hand and walked out to the truck, half expecting this moron to follow me out there.  He did not and I had to back out of that place because, again, there was too much traffic back there to do anything.

I was back in that store again several days later.  Several individuals started smiling - back for more, huh? - referring to the dude's attitude of several days earlier. I got into a discussion with them about that guy, he did not get out of that mess scott-free.  In fact, he got into quite a bit of trouble.  Vito was sitting there and profusely apologized for the man's behavior and demeanor and informed me that man shouldn't even have been up here at the store, he is a yard worked and belongs - in the yard.  Vito then stated that he had forgotten to discuss with the general manager this guy's attitude.  Well, we talked about that for a while, but got lost in the discussion of a P.O. (purchase order) that was skewed. I had to call our salesman a couple of times to clarify things that  - our salesman had not made clear and I wanted clear before getting stuff from this company. They have a no-return policy with us.  We buy something, we own it forever.

When I was leaving, Vito got up and went in and started discussing - rather loudly and door opened - the event that had transpired earlier in the week.

This isn't just something I am writing about concerning a particular thing that happened - though I frequently do that.  This is also to describe how truck drivers are treated at many places.  At many warehouses and DC's and such where drivers have to deliver, you are treated as nothing more than a number.  You are a piece of dirt, in umpire's terminology.  Many of the people running these places have no respect for drivers and could care less how disrespectfully they speak to drivers.  It's quite amazing to stand there and listen to some of it.

I am not "just" a truck driver.  I am a representative of our company and I am involved with just about every detail of running a store, when I go into a place such as the place I was at in this story, I am a customer and I demand to be treated like one.  When I see long haul drivers coming into places like this and being treated rudely, I almost always speak up.  I have gotten into altercations with arrogant, obnoxious, self-aggrandizing idiots that have a title in these places and have gone to their management to complain about how they are treating drivers.

Eventually, reform to the trucking industry will be forced upon it.  The hours; the wages; the disrespect.  All of it.  As I have stated several times in the past: the newer generation is generally not interested in the trucking industry.  They do not want to spend their lives out on the road and they do not like the pay.   If they knew how they were going to be treated out there, that would only add to the list. The over-regulation of this industry is so grand, it is amazing any of us drivers can actually drive without getting into trouble at every turn, it is not possible for humans to meet the over-bearing amount of regulation without violating some of it at any given time.  We aren't walking computers or robots.  It will eventually come to a head.  There will be, at some point in time that I cannot predict but I can tell you it's definitely coming, a shortage so severe in the trucking industry that at some point, news media coverage will become much more intense about it and the public outcry will emanate so loudly that Congress will have to force the FMCSA to reduce it's extremely severe restrictions on drivers.

They are enacting even MORE HOS crap on drivers (hours of service) to the point that the trucking industry outcry was enough for a petition to halt the implementation of it for at least 3 months while they decide whether this new regulation, on top of new HOS regulations ALREADY put into place, is really going to do any good - at all.

But the sticking point? When the public has to pay so much at the furniture store; the grocery store; the whatever store because the costs of transporting the goods  there have skyrocketed because of the extreme shortage of "qualified" drivers, THEN and only then will this issue be crammed down Congress throats.  Well, if truck drivers could ever truly unite and simply stop driving for a week, oh myyyy.  What would happen then?  But drivers are hugely divided group of people and coming together even on something that would benefit the entire industry?  Probably not going to happen.  So, I leave it to the statistics that show the younger generation is generally disinterested in trucking as a career and the ensuing chaos it will have on the transportation of nearly everything that is grown, produced/manufacture or shipped into this country in getting goods from point A to point B.  When the older generation that is the current majority of drivers all retire?  Yeah, good luck!

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