Trucking? It’s elementary

By Bill Hudgins, columnist

With kids going back to school now, I got to thinking about how much those first few years shaped young lives. What we learned – in class, in the hall, at recess – laid the groundwork for how we live our lives.

Whatever you grew up to be – from trucker to rocket scientist – by the time you finished first or second grade, you had learned the most important lessons you would need to know.

These, of course, are lessons about people and about being a person.

Be nice to everyone you meet – aka the Golden Rule. This one is tough to keep. It sounds easy until you try it, and then you learn the secret: Being nice is hard work. Who among us can spend hours threading through traffic, bad weather, detours, rude and dangerous drivers (of all sorts) without wanting to blow our stacks at someone. Maybe it’s the dock foreman, your significant other or a rookie server at the diner. Like I said – hard.

Help others. I think most truck drivers got this lesson. As my wife likes to say, if you put a sick kid, hurt animal or needy veteran in front of a trucker, don’t get in their way as they rush to help. That may not be as true for helping stranded motorists as in the past. In too many cases setups are designed to rob the trucker. And yet, when you look at the Highway Hero and Highway Angel programs, you see incredible tales of heroism.

And these are just the ones who were nominated. Lots of time people sound as if they’re in a Lone Ranger movie when they ask, “Who was that trucker? I wanted to thank him.”

When you make a mistake, say you’re sorry. One of my earliest experiences with a CB came many years ago after four-wheeling me drove in front of a rig and then had to slow down suddenly.  

The driver explained to me – without ever raising his voice or cussing – why that was a bad idea. I dislike ever saying I’m sorry, but he made me feel so ashamed to have been such an idiot that my apology was completely sincere.

You can never get even. That driver mentioned above coulda laid on his train horn, or got up in my rear bumper, or gone around me and then slowed down. He didn’t – too much effort and too many ways it could go wrong.

And what would that have proved? Instead, he made me a better driver.

Granted, if you admonish another driver even in a gentle way you may get an earful of words that mama didn’t approve of. But it might stick better than making him or her feel like a fool.

Yield the right of way. Remember how they taught you to share in grade school? Yielding the right of way is, of course, smart in traffic. But it applies in other ways, too. As in conversation – let the other person talk first while you listen. Hold the door for others. Don’t hog the parking spaces. … You get the drift?

Have a buddy. Remember what I said about how hard it is to be nice to everyone? This is the person you tell it all to. Probably not your spouse or main squeeze. Give them the Twitter version and find something more pleasant to talk about. Save the full “can you believe that?” tale for your buddy.

Wash your hands often. I don’t know about you, but I’d feel a lot better at the buffet if I knew that the people who used the tongs before me had washed their hands before lunch, or even sometime in their last duty cycle. It’s a good way to avoid getting colds and flu, too.

And, of course, look all ways and watch out for traffic.

Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often. LL