Extra ain’t always better

February 14, 2019

Wendy Parker


If you live long enough and pay the slightest bit of attention, you eventually mature enough to recognize patterns in the world around you. If you’re fortunate enough to have been raised by a family of strong Southern women – like I was – you often find yourself referring to things my momma and them have said throughout my lifetime that prove to be truth, over and over again.

My granny was a softball player. She played the church league, and she was good. She was what they call a “pistol ball,” and she loved to play. Opposing teams knew when Sister Benton got up to bat, she was gonna whoop one out, and if she didn’t she’d run like a bat out of hell full-speed at the base with no regard for anything, or anyone, in between her and the bag.

(This included Sister Hawkins, who got plowed more than once trying to guard first base for the Macon Ward Relief Society Stingers in a hotly contested regional championship game. But that’s another story.)

Granny Benton also covered a mean infield and knew where the play was and how to execute it.

So naturally, when I came up old enough to play on the girl’s church softball team, I looked to granny for guidance. I wasn’t great at softball. I could bash the hell out of a low pitch and catch pretty good, but I didn’t know the rules of the game or the art of strategic outs.

When I lamented my inability to “snap one in the glove” like one of the other young sisters who could put a little something extra on the ball, granny unloaded this truth about being “extra” on me.

“Extra ain’t always better, sugar. Let them extra kids get it out of their system, keep your head down, work hard, be consistent. It’s better to know where to throw the ball than it is to just throw it hard.”

And like pretty much everything else in my life since then, I learned that you can’t just bash the hell out of things and catch a fly ball once in a while. Things aren’t as easy as they look when you learn the rules and the strategic value of playing smart instead of hard.

Being extra isn’t nearly as valuable to the team as being consistent.

There’s a lot of extra going on in the trucking industry these days. A whole lot of glove-snapping and shoulder-tearing throws past the cut-off that granny might call “hot-doggin,’” which is one step further than extra and even more detrimental to the team in the long run.

I was reminded of granny’s advice recently after receiving a not-so-nice series of tweets about how OOIDA doesn’t really care about truck drivers and are “out of touch.” I’m not going to take a lot of space or time to go into detail, but I will say the tweets were removed when I asked the hot dogger if they had any plans past the chaos and they had no answer.

“It’s better to know where to throw the ball than to just throw it hard.”

If you know anything about OOIDA you know the prevailing message has always been a plan past the chaos. It’s what every board member I’ve interviewed for the “Know Your Board” series up to this date has said in so many words. They’ll throw the ball when they know exactly where to throw it and how to execute the play that comes directly after it. That’s the mark of an organization that operates in a head-down, hard work, consistent-for-the-team manner.

Extra ain’t always better. And just because it’s not splashed all over the headlines every day doesn’t mean people within the organization have stopped working or are out of touch. It’s because they’re busy – working – to identify and combat bad legislation the hot-doggers aren’t even aware of because they’re busy hot-dogging.

So calm down a little with the bashing. It’s not a good look. If you don’t want to participate, fine. Awesome. Do yo’ thang. We’ll be over here, doing what we’ve done for almost half a century, for the professional truck drivers of America. Without all the extra.