Observations about being nicer

March 27, 2018

Wendy Parker

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Somebody’s screaming
looking at the ceiling

Oh oh
Everything’s so funny
I don’t have the money

Oh oh
People don’t even know me
but they know how to show me

Oh oh

Why can’t you be nicer to me?

– John Anthony White

 I’ve informally adopted the White Stripes song, “Why Can’t You Be Nicer to Me?” as my personal anthem in this current riff between small-business trucking and the gubmint. Jack White belts out feelings pretty parallel to what most trucking professionals are wondering about the FMCSA these days.

Why can’t you be nicer to me?

No one wants to be told how to do their job by someone who’s never done it. It’s a key issue in the industry, and it goes both ways.

Let’s talk about being “nicer.”

I was at two of the ELD listening/information sessions. I was just as frustrated with the “I don’t know” and “I’m not sure” answers as everyone else.

Even more frustrating were Mr. DeLorenzo and Mr. Martinez repeatedly expressing previous knowledge about hours of service concerns before the deadline. If they knew ahead of time the ELD was going to exacerbate HOS issues, it seems really stupid to have gone full bore into the obvious “known” of this “unknown territory.”

I was just as put off as everyone else with multiple references from Mr. Martinez to the industry “having the safest drivers out there” and yet being unable to explain why the safest drivers are being punished. That just don’t make no sense, y’all. These are the operators you should congratulate, not punish with further regulation.

Believe me, I understand the irritation in wondering why. I promise you I wanted to yell, “What is wrong with you?” about a hundred times.

(For those of you unfamiliar, I was raised in the South. When my momma asked, “What is wrong with you?” she expected an answer. If you didn’t give her one, the next question was, “Have you lost your mind?” If you were still dumb enough to defy answering, the third, and final, question was, “Do you need me to knock some sense into your head?” When I say, “final question,” I mean it was the last thing you heard before she slapped a knot in your head for acting ugly. For obvious reasons, in adult life, we have to forgo threatening to slap other adults, at least in public. More on that later.)

It would also be nice if audience members didn’t yell and act the part of people who need to be regulated because they can’t control themselves.

It would be nicer if everyone understood the FMCSA is an enforcement agency.

They do the bidding of our representatives in Washington, D.C., who actually make the laws that dictate regulation. This is the other side of the pancake Dr. Phil is so fond of talking about.

It doesn’t do us any good to scream at these people. Even if it feels good, but it doesn’t help.

I’d also like to point out that this issue has been prevalent for more than five years now. I’m not sure why a lot of folks waited until the last minute to start voicing their opinions so loudly, but we started begging for comments a very long time ago. And there were very few posted during the official comment session.

When my kids were little and pitched a screaming fit in Kmart, I’d let them lay right on the floor while I stepped over them and ignored them. I have been known to leave a fit-pitching child on the cereal aisle at Kroger until they nearly snotted themselves to death. And as much as I would love to lay down and scream my head off, I realize it won’t do any good. The representatives and spokespeople from D.C. will step right over me. And the ATA will point and say, “See? Those people act crazy and need to be regulated. Did you see Wendy Parker nearly snot herself to death on the ELD aisle?”

It’s not a good look. (See what I did there?)

A calm, united front is always more impressive than a fit in the cereal aisle.

I can’t say it enough. Register to vote. Vote. Talk to your reps. Stay informed.

And be nicer to each other.

 

Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker has covered the trucking industry since 2012 after she says she “lost my mind and decided to climb inside my husband’s big truck to travel with him as an over-the road, long-haul trucker.” Her unique writing style that ranges from biting satire to investigative journalism coupled with her unbridled passion for fighting round out a wildly talented stable of writers.

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