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Skip the doom and gloom; I'll keep truckin'

By Dave Sweetman, contributing columnist

We all remember the old “Hee Haw” TV show, with Buck Owens and Roy Clark moaning, “Gloom, despair and agony on me … Deep dark depression, excessive misery.”

It was sad but funny and a good laugh, as they sang of some awful circumstances. I can’t help but place that bit of pathos into our present time of all the woe and misery and hand-wringing about the economy. How awful everything is, according to the mainstream media, newspaper accounts of so much doom and gloom.

I, on the other hand, roll across this great country and notice the shopping centers and malls are jammed. Restaurant parking lots are full. I see many new cars with dealer temporary tags and I wonder. Someone is out there spending and buying and carrying on with life. Don’t they know times are hard?

Being a news junkie, I read all the publications every day from NYT and L.A. Times, local papers, trucking mags and business journals. I like to be informed, but perhaps that is part of the problem. Perhaps it is time for me to step back and NOT read how bad things are because, honestly, in my little corner of the trucking world, it’s pretty darn good. Yeah, I know, it can be better, but judging by the number of trucks on the road and how tough parking can be, especially around metro areas, SOMEONE is buying “stuff.”

I also realize that my little corner of the trucking world is a bit different than the meat, produce and freight lanes I used to run, but still I see what goes on around me, hear what drivers and owner-operators say, and it just isn’t that bad. So I have decided that if they are having a recession or depression or whatever name the talking heads want to call it, I refuse to participate.

Much like the old slogan, “what if they gave a war and nobody came,” I’m not going to be a part of the doom and gloom.

I choose to stand behind that idea and commit to another handful of years behind the wheel by buying a new truck. I doubt that my spending will save the country, but the nice people at Kenworth get to build me another one. The nice people in Shipshewana, Ind., get to build me a new custom sleeper. The component manufacturers of microwaves, fridge/freezer and all the doo-dads involved, get to work another shift. It takes people to make all of those products, large and small. We need to keep America working.

I’m not finished yet. I have sworn in the past that this one is my very last truck, but so was the last one and the one before that and the one before that. This will be my very last truck No. 9. Maybe I am too stubborn to quit. Maybe I want to stay around to see what happens next and not just read about it. Maybe I still haven’t seen all the sunrises, rides down Donner Summit, and traffic jams on the 405. Ok, so two out of three aren’t bad.

I figure I am too young to retire. I still love what I do and actually look forward to every new day. Like most out here, there is so much I love and so much I hate about trucking. I look down the road and see more oppressive regulations, restrictive rules, and counterproductive laws that could further hurt our industry and our country. But with OOIDA’s legal eagles battling for us and a new post-election administration that will hopefully take a saner path, there is hope. I am not put off by the future and, even though I have been called a dinosaur, my formula is still working.

In the meantime, I choose to vote with my wallet, invest in the future and try, in my own little world, to keep some of the economy rolling one truck at a time. I run it as a business, treat my equipment well, and get a good return on my investment.

You can keep your doom and gloom; I’ll keep on trucking across America a while longer.

Happy Trails. LL