Folks, I’m listenin’. Lots of you have asked why I haven’t done more scribblin’ about truckin’ lately. Well, a couple of reasons. I haven’t had much to say, as I haven’t been on the road as much, and there have been so many other issues that have occupied my thoughts!
But here is a good one for ya. Last week I wrote a little about how government interference does more harm than good to the small-business man. Well, I got a good one for ya. For years now the government has been trying to put a law in place that would track trucks and drivers, and even though there has been much resistance from the industry, the law is coming into action this coming Saturday, Dec. 18.
So being someone who just loves change to my business being shoved down my throat, we got really proactive last summah, tryin’ to figure out what program to buy and what devices to work with. After much head-scratchin’ and a lot of adult language, we decided on a company called GPSTrackit. Sounds good, I thought.
This system, like most of the programs out there for companies with under 100 trucks, runs through a combo of GPS and cellphone service. So I’m thinkin’, well, cell service works pretty good about everywhere, and our GPS in the trucks is pretty accurate, so this must be a pretty good marriage, right?
So we buy the program and hardware and try, I say try, to get them installed in the trucks, and after a lot more adult language, we succeeded in getting all but one working. And folks, I’m here to say, Archie and Edith got along better than this GPS and the cell service does! And me bein’ the technology genius that I’m not just added a lot of salt to the whole deal.
So first day of this deal, I’m lookin’ at the computer tryin’ to follow the trucks, and I look and there is a truck in Akron, Ohio. Hmm, I’m thinkin’. That’s odd. He left there yesterday around noon, I thought. So I called the driver and, sure enough, he is near Bangor for delivery. Great, I’m thinkin’, spent several thousand bucks to find out the computer says Ohio, but in reality he’s in Bangor! So I called the company. “Hey, why’s your program tellin’ me my truck is in Ohio, and he’s in Bangor?”
“Well, let me see,” the tech support guy says. “Oh, you need to be updated!”
“What? Updated? How can I need an update when it’s the very first day of being online?”
So he tells me that this program is being updated constantly and that when this happens, all I have to do is call him and he will straighten it out! “Oh, wonderful,” I tell him, “that just makes me so happy. You’re on the West Coast and don’t come to work until noon my time. I’m sure that’s going to work just like gravel in a gear box, or ridin’ down the road with two flat tires!”
So day two of this adventure comes along and my brother Frank is unloading in Pottsville, Penn., and I look at the computer and sure enough he is there, but one minute earlier he was in Manahoy City, Penn., and that is 12 miles away! Now, Frank might have a fast truck and a heavy foot, but if ya know Frank, he’s good, but he ain’t that fast!
So I called my friendly mister tech guy, and I get a lady this time, and I describe my problem with being in two different places at the same time. She tells me, “No problem, the DOT doesn’t look at addresses!”
So I says to her, “Really? Then why have we been keeping records of where we have been going and loading and unloading for the last 25 years and longer, and why are we even recording all this data now?”
“Well,” she says, “it’s a government mandate.”
“Is it?” I ask. “You mean we aren’t doin’ this just so you can make money and drive us totally off the road?” So I says to her, “Tell ya what, lady, you give me your cell number and when mister inspector comes up to my truck and starts askin’ questions about how I’m in two different places at the same time yesterday, and it’s about 3 in the morning, I’m givin’ him your number and tellin’ him you said it was OK! I bet that will work real good!”
But on a more serious note, folks, what electronic log devices, or ELDs, are going to do to the industry is drive productivity down, as they are very restrictive in how a driver can utilize his time, which in the long run will drive the cost of goods transported up, which means more cost to the consumer. This is just a small example of how Big Brother is lookin’ out for us!
But one thing I wanted to add to the letter this week is my thoughts on our GOME, that’s Govnah of Maine. He finally said something that I am entirely in agreement with. The folks in Wiscasset have been trying to figure out how to eliminate the traffic bottlenecks every summah for 50 years now, and I agree with GOME: build a bridge right over the top of ‘er and let the traffic flow! In the meantime, we’ll see ya on Main Street!
Yankee Pride Transport