12 steps to Sister Boland’s Sunbeams

April 6, 2018

Wendy Parker



Sister Ena Boland’s Sunbeams ranged in age from 3 to 5 years old. The year I graduated from Sunbeams to Sunday school, there were 22 of us. It was 1972.

Our church pre-school teacher artfully mastered wrangling cats before the term, or the internet ever became a thing. During my tenure, Sunbeams under her charge were rambunctious but well-behaved. And, Ena Boland never raised her voice.

She handled the situation with one firm rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Sister Boland simplified things to such a basic principle, even a gaggle of preschool kids understood it. It made her job easier and improved the entire situation for everyone involved.

Easy stuff, right? Really basic things we learned when we were kids, right?

Apparently not.

Sister Boland came to mind this morning, as I perused an article in the Journal of Commerce titled, “12 Steps to Becoming a Shipper of Choice.”

First off, let me express clearly, in no way was the level of revulsion felt after reading it directed at the author of the piece. I appreciate any effort to improve workplace conditions.

The level of revulsion is a direct result of this needing to be said to shippers at all.

Really y’all? Do you need to be told it’s not cool to hold people for hours on end without offering them bathrooms? You’re surprised carriers ask for more money or refuse to come to your facility at all when they need six different checks to pay all the “fees” they’ve incurred, delivering your stuff?

Ena Boland would slap you.  OK, maybe not, but seriously this is why you can’t have nice things.

I understand everyone wasn’t fortunate enough to have a Sister Boland breaking things down for them at a very young age. Even if life were completely void of Sunbeams, a thing called the labor movement happened about a 120 years ago. It kind of spoke directly to “how to be a shipper of choice.”

Basic human rights aren’t anything new. Google it. Being paid isn’t, either. Or being informed of all costs before delivery. Or pretty much anything on the list of 12 “golden rules” to becoming a preferred shipper.

What’s new is the fact that drivers can communicate in very public forums, in real time, about these shippers. It’s not just talk around the counter of knowledge anymore. Rather, this is “sitting in your dock, taking a picture, and posting it on social media.”

As always, there are two sides to every pancake. Rolling up into a dock on private property and acting like you own the place is unacceptable. Respect and co-operation are generally met with the same. In the end, we can’t expect to be treated well when we don’t treat others well.

Sister Boland said so.