The Oil Bath

A blog mainly about chemistry and driving trucks, describing how the world looks from the bench of a lab and how the world looks from the seat of a cab.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A day at the office

Hi, my name is Smokey Clutch, and I am a lousy truck driver. Holy shit, the lights not on! What are you fucking doing? That fucking light isn't on? What are you doing in my fucking trailer? Sorry about that.

I'm a lousy truck driver, not because I run over people or break things, but because I'm basically lazy. How lazy am I? Well, for starters, I'm not even typing this. Dweezil's taking dictation over my cell phone.

I'm currently at an engine plant, operated by one of the Big 3 automakers in southeast Michigan, and I'm sitting around getting paid for doing nothing. Well, at least most of the time. This job is great for a truck driver like me. I don't work for the Big 3, I don't work for the motor carrier that's hauling these engines for the Big 3, I work for a driver leasing company - think temp agency. You see, the forklift drivers here are so lazy that the owner-operators (real truckers) can't make any money doing this. So the invisible hand of capitalism has placed me, to sit here, while the lazy union dockworker makes up his mind whether to load the next rack of engines or continue having the lunch that he spent his entire lunch hour purchasing and now must eat, at some point.

The truck I drive is your low-end International day cab, which does not belong to any of the aforementioned companies but, is leased from yet another company. If you're not familiar with the trucks, think the Ford Escort of commercial vehicles. These things are basically the worn out whores of the truck world, and I've driven several of them of various vintages at the many shit jobs I've had. Anyway, it's the new style interior and at least this time around, they've at least moved the cupholder away from the gearshift so it doesn't dump your coffee in your lap when you hit third. The biological unit of this whole operation (me) is the same sort of just-in-time thrown-together "it'll do" ...

See, I never really learned how to drive a truck. My last job, before I entered the exciting world of commercial hauling, was as an under-the-table food delivery guy living in my parents house using the car my parents bought. Unfortunately impending fatherhood necessitated a change of lifestyle and a serious career. So I did what every white, Oakland County, multiple college dropout does in times like these. I begged Daddy for $6000 to go to truck driving school. Let me tell you, these guys are awesome. I chose the school on the criteria that it was the first truck driving school on the employment page and I didn't feel like making 2 phone calls. Plus the salesman sounded convincing. The good side is that $6000 buys you a CDL in Michigan. I could get your dog a commercial drivers license. The bad news is that I never really learned how to drive a truck. Most of the tuition that didn't go into the owner's pockets and the extensive recruiting and advertising budget, didn't go towards equpiment or training materials or anything like that. It went to the State-certified driving test administrator, a former employee of the school.

The last 5 years have, to say the least, been interesting and eye-opening. In that time, I've bounced between many jobs, driven dozens of trucks, through about 25 States, I've been to hundreds of docks, and spent countless hours just realizing how amazingly intricate and stupid the world around me really was. During this time I've collected the fuel for hours of mindless ranting. And these rants are too good to remain solely in the world of truck drivers.

As soon as I get around to pounding out another entry, I'll let you all in on just what the men and women go through who bring you everything, and I mean everything, you will ever buy.


Anonymous Ichtsnay Oggerblay said...

As a business development guy in the driver leasing industry, where we put drivers to work on a long term basis for particular clients, not the temp driver model, how best can a "sales" guy like me develop new business in this sector, from the perspective of a driver like you?
Usually we're directing our efforts to focus on private fleets talking to logistics directors or fleet managers who are hiring the drivers. We seek to make an impression with those who have a more strategic view of business, who do you think that'd be?
Outsourcing of driver management in this day and age, getting drivers who like you have described have a cavalier approach to the tasks, and fleet managers who don't want to have the day in-day out responsibility for the driver MVR, or recruiting, or benefits, or workers comp liability, or unemployment, or discipline, etc. They'd often rather just 'play with their pencil' it seems, but they don't want to surrender their influence by assigning these roles to a driver leasing company. From the perspective of a driver, in this case you, dear Smokey Clutch, what is the value proposition that comprises this WIN-WIN-WIN scenario, where:
A.) the driver leasing company gets satisfied that both the driver is happy AND that their client is pleased with the service,
B.) that the driver is overall pleased to serve the company for whom he is working AND the client company of the driver leasing co., as well as
C.) that the client company manager's or executive's expectations are met or exceeded since the driver leasing company is able to generate a return, serve a customer AND has hired a productive employee, a qualified, quality driver, someone who is more than just a seat in the seat?
WIN-WIN-WIN is the goal, to ensure a well rounded, mutually beneficial business case in each instance, A.), B.) and C.).

Riddle me this, Smokey? Any solutions, benefits or real world quirks that put holes in my logic? Your articulate, honest perspective would be appreciated and I presume be insightful.

6:54 AM  

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