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If you’re trying to find your bliss in your work, you’re looking in the wrong place

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For the last few decades, there’s been a certain breed of self-satisfied would-be life coaches out there spreading this idea that the key to professional happiness is to “follow your bliss,” that if you “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

I get the feeling this quote was written by someone who literally never worked a day in their life, at least not at a real job. Nevertheless, it has been a very popular saying among people who like to present themselves as wise in a wind-chime tinkling, “embrace the universal energy” metaphysical kind of way.

But, here in the physical realm, Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion teaches us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And for every herbal tea-sipping spiritual healer type, there’s a coffee-swilling cynic hell-bent on bringing the conversation back down to Earth. Ironically, at least in this situation, a lot of us gravitate to journalism.

For several years there’s been growing pushback in the form of counterarguments to the “Do what you love” concept. First of all, it just isn’t practical. Many jobs – check that – most jobs aren’t anyone’s idea of a good time, but they have to get done. That’s why people get paid to do them.

And even if you did find something you really enjoy that you can get paid to do, once it’s your job obligations get attached, as well as standards, rules and deadlines. You can’t always do things the way you want; you have to answer to other people. Soon that thing you love doing isn’t the thing you love doing.

Oh, you still may enjoy doing it compared to a thousand other kinds of drudgery you could be stuck doing, and at least you have that going for you, but don’t kid yourself. When you’re doing it for a living, it’s work.

But for a long time now, we’ve been fed this idea that self-fulfillment should be part of the compensation package for any “good” job. This creates a smug, sanctimonious class who spread the “follow your bliss” mantra, the implication being that it has worked for them, the further implication being that their success is due to some innately superior aspect of their character or force of will, rather than admit the role that life circumstances and dumb luck have a lot to do with how our lives pan out.

The “do what you love” philosophy also implies that anyone who’s doing a job that isn’t their “passion” is, at least on some level, failing at life. This leaves a lot of people put in a position where society sends them a subtle message that they should be ashamed of the way they make a living.

This attitude had caused a lot of people to have a hard time handling the frustrations of the working world. I see a lot of that among truckers. Even among truckers who like most of the daily aspects of the job, there’s a frustration at feeling like they are looked upon as second-class citizens because they do a job that isn’t society’s image of bliss.

Recently, while doing my job, I’ve met a couple of drivers, Dave and David (yeah, that’s their real names) and when I compare my impressions of the two it brought the issue to mind. I interviewed Dave as he ate at a truck stop before heading out on an overnight drive. He said he drives at night by choice because there are fewer hassles – less traffic, less trouble finding parking when it’s time to knock off. He’s figured out how to shave the stress off the job.

Dave started driving 10 years ago out of necessity when his business went belly-up. He does it because it’s the best paycheck he can make, plain and simple.

A week or so later, I spoke with David in a morning phone interview as he was also starting his daily run. He was still basking in the glow of a major award he’d won a few days earlier that recognized his long, successful career.

David has been a truck driver since the mid-’70s, and he told me if the Good Lord himself came down and give him a chance to go back and do it all over again, he would – exactly like he did it the first time.

They do the same job, and they seem to live on opposite ends of the occupational bliss scale. But they are more alike than you might think. For one thing, they’re both grandfathers – in fact they have the same number of grandchildren. And on any given day if you gave either one a choice of being on the road or hanging out with the grandkids, they would immediately hang their truck keys up on a nail somewhere.

Dave and David are a couple of graybeards, they came up in an era when people were taught work was for making a living, not to make life worth living. Relative job contentment aside, they both know the real happiness in their lives lies in what they do off the clock, once the paycheck is in the bank.

You know, I’ve met all kinds in my profession, from some of the most famous movie stars in the world to street-corner panhandlers and all points in between. No matter what their position in life, I never know how well I’m going to click with them until we start talking. Interviewing people can feel like happy hour with an old friend or like a nightmare blind date.

I can honestly say I’m glad to have met both Dave and David. They gave me something to think about, and that’s when this job is a pleasure.

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The Nation

Lamb, SBTC plans to introduce legislation to stop enforcement of ELD mandate

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The proposed bill the Small Business in Transportation Coalition is planning to have introduced in the House would require the Secretary of Transportation to immediately cease enforcement of the ELD mandate. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — James Lamb is taking his fight against electronic logging devices right back to where the current mandate for ELDs was birthed.

The head of the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) said Wednesday he plans to have introduced in the House the “Suspension of Electronic Logging Device Mandate to Protect Americans Working in Interstate Commerce Act” which would suspend the current ELD mandate.

The electronic devices were mandated by Congress as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century transportation bill passed in 2012.

Lamb said he would name sponsors of the bill when it is formally introduced.

He said he hopes to have an identical version of the bill introduced in the Senate.

The bill would direct the Secretary of Transportation to:

  • Immediately cease enforcement of the ELD rule promulgated at 49 CFR 395.8 (a)
  • Require carriers to revert back to paper record of duty status logs
  • Study the unintended consequences and effects of ELDs on operators of commercial motor vehicles
  • Determine whether commercial motor vehicle operators have experienced adverse psychological effects that have induced reckless speeding and have caused an increase in large-truck occupant fatalities since implementation of the ELD rule in December 2017.

Meanwhile, the SBTC has asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to delay the December 16 deadline for carriers using Automatic On Board Recording Devices to switch to ELDs.

In addition, Lamb and his organization, which reportedly has 15,000 members, are currently circulating an online petition to get the federal government to immediately suspend the ELD rule.

As of Wednesday, some 32,000 trucking stakeholders had signed the petition, which Lamb plans to present to the White House. He hopes to get 100,000 signatures by November 29.

The bill and the petition are only the latest efforts in Lamb’s fight against ELDs.

The first effort came when in February 2018 Lamb and the SBTC filed an application for an exemption from the ELD rule for carriers with fewer than 50 employees.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration denied the petition in July of this year and in late October, the SBTC filed an application for reconsideration of the denial.

The FMCSA immediately published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on the reconsideration application.

When Lamb filed the original exemption application, the FMCSA said it received over 1,900 comment, most in favor of the exemption.

Among other things, in the proposed legislation, Lamb says:

  • The ELD mandate must “must “ensure that… the responsibilities imposed on operators of commercial motor vehicles do not impair their ability to operate the vehicles safely…”
  • In 2018, the first full year the new ELD rule was in effect for the trucking industry to enforce commercial motor vehicle operators’ compliance with hours of service regulations, a total of 885 large truck occupants perished in crashes last year. That number marks the most since 1988. (The fatality total included all large trucks, which the federal government defines as trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more; most Class 8 trucks such as tractor-trailers carry a GVWR of 33,001 pounds or more).
  • The number of speeding violations issued to U.S. truck drivers increased 7.8 percent in 2018, climbing to 146,945 violations, according to FMCSA data. The number of violations issued to truckers for driving 15 mph or more above limits rose 10.3 percent last year.

The bill would require the Secretary of Transportation to do a study to determine if a correlation exists between the implementation of the ELD rule in December 2017 and the rise in truck speeding incidents and large truck occupant fatalities in 2018.

Talk about electronic logging devices goes back to at least 2000 when the newly-created FMCSA first attempted to reform Hours of Service regulations to mandate the use of electronic tracking devices. This attempt to mandate HOS tracking with an ELD device was shot down by a 2004 court order.

 

 

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The Nation

James Lamb issues last call for truckers to sign ELD suspension petition

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The SBTC's Electronic Loggin Device Suspension Petition has gather 32,000 signatures toward the goal of 100,000. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — Small Business in Transportation Coalition Executive Director James Lamb Tuesday called for a final push over the next week to increase the number of signatures on an Electronic Logging Device Suspension Petition.

The petition calls on President Donald J. Trump to direct the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to act on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) findings and immediately suspend ELDs until unintended consequences can be studied to decide if the rule is ripe for repeal.

The petition can be accessed here.

Lamb said the NHTSA findings and unintended consequences revolve around recently-released statistics showing an increase in the number of fatalities involving large trucks.

The petition currently has 32,000 signatures.

Lamb set a goal of 100,000 signatures by November 29.

“We believe these data prove the ELD mandate took us ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire,’” Lamb said. Immediately, numerous trucking groups including “Black Smoke Matters” and “Trucker Nation” joined the SBTC’s efforts, he added.

Lamb said the new data show that in 2018, the first full year the new ELD rule was in effect for the trucking industry to enforce commercial motor vehicle operators’ compliance with Hours of Service regulations, an average of more than two occupants of large trucks died daily.

“This is the highest number of such deaths since 1988, making this statistic a 30-year high,” Lamb said. “We believe ELDs have caused drivers anxiety to such levels that many now recklessly speed to beat the clock. These data show the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was wrong that ELDs would save 26 lives per year.”

NHTSA defines large trucks as trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.

Lamb also claimed many ELDs routinely malfunction and are unreliable.

“Case in point: the recent major crash of Omnitracs,” he said. “This poses public safety concerns if drivers have not been properly trained on how to use paper logs as a backup. and sheer chaos could result.”

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The Nation

Carriers on losing end as cargo thefts show upward trend; electronics most targeted product

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SensiGuard report indicated cargo thefts were up over Q2 2019 and Q3 2018, with electronics being the most often targeted product.

Sensitech United Technologies, a company specializing in supply chain integrity and visibility, has released its 2019 third quarter report on Cargo Theft based on data tracked by SensiGuard, a division of the firm dedicated to cargo security. The latest statistics do not include information truck carriers will find positive.

Cargo Theft Overview

In Q3 of 2019, a total of 165 nationwide cargo thefts were placed in the SensiGuard database, and the report notes that this figure will likely rise as late reports are received. The data shows monthly distribution of thefts as being 46 in July, 67 in August, and 52 in September with an average loss per incident of $155,709. The total thefts and average value represent increases over Q2 data by 13% and 31%, respectively. Compared to the same quarter in 2018, volume increased by 3% while value was down 8%.

Theft by Product

Of the 165 thefts reported, electronics were the target of the most thieves (22%), moving the product up two spots from the Q2 2019 report. The average value of electronics stolen per incident came in at $331,443, bolstered by single-incident thefts in California and Kentucky exceeding $1 million. Rounding out the top three product types stolen are Home and Garden (19%) and Food and Drinks (14%). It should be noted that Food and Drinks do not include Alcohol, which at 2% represents the lowest of any category tracked. Alcohol thefts were down 47% from Q2 2019 figures and 88% from Q3 2018. Clothing and Shoes thefts continued an increasing trend (33% over Q2), as did Home and Garden (35% over Q2).

Theft by State/Location

California reports the highest percentage of thefts among the states (26% of nationwide total), substantially increasing its lead over Texas (10%), the widening gap largely attributed to rush shipments from China ahead of tariffs. The quantity of container freight combined with limited security resources is reported as a major factor influencing California’s ranking. Following Texas, Georgia came in third place in incidents reported (9%), followed by Florida (<9%), and a three-way tie for fifth place between New Jersey, Illinois, and Tennessee (6%). In terms of the physical location of incidents, Unsecured Parking remains the most likely target (74%), followed by Warehouses (15%) and Secured Parking (11%).

Event Type

The most prevalent method of theft continues to be at the Full Truckload level (56%), with the average truckload cargo value of $166,787. This data is a decrease from Q2 2019 and Q3 2018 figures. Pilferage had set a record for five consecutive quarters; however, in Q3 2019 it fell 1%. The value of products stolen by Pilferage also decreased 29% below Q2 2019 data. Facility Thefts were up 59% over Q2 2019, although the average value attributed to this location ($189,800) decreased. Fictitious Pickup of products increased over previous quarters and represented 5% of total thefts.

In the report’s concluding statements, SensiGuard suggested that any decreases in the number of incidents of value per incident do not necessarily represent trends. “…The organized cargo thief is still shifting tactics to evade capture…” the report noted. Likewise, the report stated, “High value or low security will not be the only determining factors in theft risk to cargo as thieves will adjust to increased risk and modify their efforts accordingly.”

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