Ever notice how many times your patience won’t even extend itself beyond the windshield of your car? It’s early evening, and you’re cruising along the three-lane highway, enjoying the uninterrupted flow in the left lane. You’re headed home from work, 10 miles to go. Monday Night Football will be on in 60 minutes. You’ve already called in a pizza to pick up on the way in. There is no rush. What could possibly set you off?
And then it happens—something that you’ve instinctively predicted: 70,000 pounds of a freight-haulin’ semi-trailer has just moved over into your lane to pass a car. 70,000 pounds that is not exactly turning over the kind of speed you’re trying to will it to possess. How quickly it becomes not your day. Basically, in your mind, you’re screwed. You’re losing precious seconds in a race that’s not even a race. Your flow has been interrupted, and that is enough to wish you had a missile launcher bolted to the top of your car. Does this guy have any idea how much he’s inconveniencing me? What is his deal!? Just gimme one shot!
For two miles you remain behind the big rig. Two of the most aggravating miles you’ve ever endured. How is it possible that such tragedy has been born into your life? As if some higher power has been tracking you, and then, in an unexpected decision of spontaneity, roars in great exaltation: “THAT MAN THERE! THE ONE BEHIND THE TRUCK…HE SHALL SUFFER A PAIN LIKE NO OTHER!!!” And suffer you do. 120 seconds of hemorrhaging impatience, bleeding profusely from the center of your brain. Finally, as the truck moves back to the center lane, you accelerate past him, shaking your head in frustrated disbelief. In your mind, the truck driver has not only disrespected the unimpeded flow of the left lane, but has also proven that he is nothing more than 18 wheels of utter inconvenience. Your last emphatic, grumbling thought as you exit the highway: Trucks!!
They transport 70% of the country’s freight. Where would we be without them? As you make your way to pick up the pizza before settling into Monday Night Football, you will have the luxury to do so because of trucks. The car you’re driving wouldn’t exist had trucks not delivered the separate parts that combine to make the car. The pizza will be freshly baked, boxed, and ready for pickup when you arrive because trucks delivered the framing lumber, sheet rock, nails, screws, plumbing and all else down to the napkin dispensers that make Perfect Pizza as perfect a pizza palace as possible.
The comforts of our homes exist all because of trucks: sofas, beds, sinks, air conditioning, spatulas, toilet paper, and that magnificent, rectangular household staple that radiantly illuminates Monday Night Football into our living rooms.
Trucks keep us well fed. They keep us clothed. They build us airports, skyscrapers, water parks, and zoos. So involved are they, that they help us heal the sick and mend the wounded. And while life is being restored on one floor of a hospital, on another, trucks are playing an integral part of providing supplies that help bring new life into the world.
Yet, as much of the world that they move in order to make the world go round, what is it about our impatience with trucks? Why are we so annoyed when a semi moves into our lane of traffic, causing only a relative blip on the radar delay in our travel time? Why is it when we want to park at a grocery store, but have to wait as a truck maneuvers itself into the unloading dock to deliver all that we buy, that we are looking for the first sign of an opening to swerve around it? For all that they do, seems to me that we should be getting out of our vehicles and dropping to our knees to pay homage to these miracles of transport. Anyway we can include trucks into our National Anthem? The Pledge of Allegiance?
“I pledge allegiance to the trucks of the United States of America…”
Forget the Super Bowl. Let’s have Beyoncé and the Red Hot Chili Peppers shakin’ and jammin’ on top of a semi-trailer parked on the 50-yard line at the NFL’s Championship Freightliner Bowl. Move over Benjamin Franklin… we’re inking a big rig right smack dab on the face of the one-hundred-dollar bill. And why not honor trucks with the Transcontinental Red Carpet Highway—an exclusive coast-to-coast (literally) red carpeted freight interstate system where never an impatient car driver shall ever roam.
Regarding the issue of our impatience for trucks…what’s it going to take for it to sink in that trucks are the backbone of making things possible? Perhaps we should pass a law requiring mandatory ride-alongs in big rigs. See the world from a truck driver’s perspective. See what it takes to back up a 53-foot tractor-trailer into a narrow unloading dock. See that when a truck changes lanes on the highway, it’s not an attempt to annoy you, but to simply get around the car slowing them down. Are you enjoying your dinner at Red Lobster? Ever wonder how that food got to the restaurant? Good lord, give the truck a break. Until we finally come to understand, admire, and honor freight trucks, our ignorant impatience will forever continue to be an embarrassment to ourselves.
Remember: 70% of the freight in this country is delivered by trucks. Strip that down to 20-30% and you’ll have your dream highway of zipping along with so few big rigs to worry about. Of course, it’ll come at a cost as hospitals will lack surgical equipment, tire shops will lack tires, grocery stores will lack produce, and construction sites will have so much idle time that the workers will do very little but play washers in the dirt. And those who won’t be playing washers will be at home, laid off from their job. And you could be next.
As much as you may not like to hear it, that lumbering 18-wheeler whose rear wheels are riding the curb in an awkward right turn in order to deliver a mega-load of products to Home Depot, is one of many such vehicles you depend on.
Perhaps the time has come to embrace patience. Perhaps it’s time to ease up on that accelerator, and invite a world where drivers cordially wave trucks into their lane of traffic.
Copyright Ros Hill 2016