Truckers and Expediters...Can't we all just get along?
Please understand that, although my wife and I drive long-haul eighteen-wheelers, everything I write is intended for all men and women who deliver freight via America's Federal and State highway system.
As I mentioned in a profile of muleskinner Alexander Majors, the word "truck" was in use long before Henry Ford introduced his gasoline engine. It's a shortened version of the English word "truckle," which was itself bastardized from the Greek word "trokhos," or wheel.
Even in George and Martha Washington's day the men and women who transported the nation's goods were collectively called "truckers" and "drivers."
So, Mr. and Mrs. Expediter, please don't be insulted when someone labels you a trucker.
Me, for instance.
I readily admit that, while all expediters are truckers, not all truckers are expediters. Guess that distinction throws you guys into a separate category, huh?
Well, in my opinion the chasm between the drivers of tankers and the drivers of fifty-three-foot dry boxes is far deeper. The tanker's freight generally pumps into another tank: your expedited freight and my freight generally goes into a building.
Let's examine some of our differences:
Your payload is smaller, certainly, so your equipment is smaller, less expensive to purchase and operate. Speaking of the average expediter, your routes are shorter, sometimes hours-long instead of days-long.
Most of you stop by your home-twenty several times per week. My wife and I spend roughly twenty-six days of every month thousands of miles from home.
Discernable differences, to be sure.
The similarities of our working lives place us in the same IRS category, however.
To State and Federal DOT enforcement officers everyone who drives a commercial vehicle is fresh fruit, always ripe for the picking.
We "enjoy" the same lousy commercially-processed restaurant food.
We have to eat the same insults at the docks and offices of our customers (i.e., "Restrooms for Employees Only").
Petite little four-wheel delivery vans, six-wheelers, ten-wheelers and eighteen-wheelers are, each and every one, heavier and slower and more cumbersome to maneuver in city traffic than a family car, which makes us a target for public ire, and stupid restrictive legislation.
In my opinion, then, expediters and all other truckers are members of a fairly exclusive club -the brotherhood of the road.
We need to come together; we need to stick up for one another, both privately and publicly. We certainly don't need to separate ourselves into cliques by (forgive me for slaying what some of you consider a cherished distinction) silly labels.
It is a screaming, crying shame that we so often disparage one another. But, believe it or not driver, most of us who drive the bigger rigs respect those of you who drive the smaller equipment.
If a "trucker" ever sneers at you, or makes some snide comment under his breath or (more likely, over the CB radio), please chalk the turkey's comments up to his lack of life experience, his need to feed his own fragile ego by putting someone else down.
We're all in this together, driver. We're all blinded by a brilliant sun; we've all danced in the wind blowing hard across a truckstop parking lot. We're all too aware of the sorry state of the nation's highways.
You're an expediter and I'm the driver of a so-called Big Rig, but so what! We're both truckers. We're siblings, you and I, and though we may fight amongst ourselves, to the rest of the world let's produce a unified front.