September 25, 2007

Truckers


I don't know why, but lately my uncles have been on my mind a lot.

My mom had five brothers. They were all so different in personality, and character, too, but I loved them all. Only one of them became a success as the world defines that. He owned a service station, and little cafe there in that Georgia town where they all were born, and grew to adulthood. He, also, raised hogs, and owned a poultry farm, at one time supplying chickens to all of the area grocery chains, and other states as well. He made his first million sometime in the mid-to-late 1960s, I think. He and his wife had no children, and most of their wealth went to charity. They owned a lot of property, and that was left to the Baptist Children's Home there. Two of my uncles were roofers, and two were truckdrivers. Three of those uncles had an abundance of children, but Uncle Amos -- a truck driver had none.


I don't know what it is about truck drivers, but it seems to be in their blood, so to speak. No matter what other kind of work my two truck driving uncles tried, they always went back to that. Especially Uncle Amos. He hauled missles back and forth between California and Florida for a long time. He was always so careful to follow all the rules and regulations, taking great pride in what he did. He used to entertain me with all the stories of his close calls, and the closeness, and comaraderie of his fellow drivers. He drove a truck, in some capacity, right up to only a few weeks before he died, stopping only when he became so weak from his chemo that he felt it was no longer safe for him, or for others on the road.


That's it, I think. The reason that he's been on my mind lately --the fact that he loved his job, took so much pride in it, and followed all the rules, and at the very end, was concerned about the welfare of others.

I received an email from a friend, who also has a truck-driving-relative. Here's what she said: "My brother-in-law is a trucker by trade. He works for a local grocery chain, but he also takes some long haul runs across country for a friend of his. A couple of weeks ago he told us that the government opened up the borders to let Mexican trucks start coming into the U.S.


U.S. truckers are under all kinds of rules and regulations and restrictions and are always having to stop at weigh stations (when they're open). A friend of his pulled into a station the other day and they had a Mexican truck pulled over for being overweight. However, the guy just kept saying he didn't speak English. Finally, in frustration, the officials LET HIM GO... then fined the guy behind him for some minor infraction in his log book.

This is the problem. You have to be 21 in the U.S. to drive a semi between states, but a Mexican can get a license at 15. They don't have to keep their trucks maintained and inspected, like we do... they don't have the rules we do. Can you imagine a 15-year-old Mexican trucker in a poorly maintained truck driving through the mountain snows in winter? Yeah... I know I'm scared!

Lastly, like my BIL says, if there is an accident they'll never say it was a Mexican driver... just that it was a truck driver at fault. Giving truckers a bad name."

I guess I was thinking about what my uncle would think about that -- giving truckers a bad name. There is just something really wrong with this picture.

9 comments:

Vin De Vine said...

I come from a long line of truckers in my family. My grandpa ”Bus” Houston, Uncle Aidee, Uncle Howard, Uncle Moss, Cousins Norman, Manny, Tubby, Tom, and my Dad Herb, several nephews as well. So family gatherings were often filled with competitive story swapping of the hazards on the road; serious tales as well as bungling madcap misadventures like the time my Dad drove his rig into an underpass that neglected to update the height limit sign after several road repairs making it necessary to deflate all the tires in order to pull the crumpled trailer back out. What a difference two inches can make! Or the story behind the picture my Cousin Tubby carried around and loved to share of a washed out bridge with a sign barely visible poking out of the water that read, “If flooded, back up 500 feet” he always ended his tale saying the sign should have been, “If you can read this, I hope you know how to swim!” My Dad drove long hauls from Canada into Mexico and back for many years back before air conditioning and air cushion seats. So I have heard the pros and cons of International trucking for years.

As far as the idea of unskilled drivers in unsafe vehicles traveling our highways is concerned, the possibility is not so very likely with the current program’s restrictions (as I understand it is limited to 600 new vehicles). I have lived a good many years in Southern California and dealt with short haul Mexican Truckers (Mexico to Los Angeles) on a daily basis, and quite honestly have not encountered many Mexican trucks broke down on the side of the road, or involved in a traffic collision as one might anticipate from the driving habits which I have seen first hand in Mexico. That is not to say that sometime in the future as border inspections fail due to lack of funding or lack of competence or interest that sooner or later unskilled drivers and unsafe vehicles will indeed slip through the cracks. Of course we have the same local problems with stolen and unsafe vehicles on the road now. There is too much bureaucracy and not enough enforcement on the roads already.

National security is another matter, currently the proposition is to inspect each vehicle as it crosses the border for safety as well as content ( again we are talking 600 vehicles in a closed study) but if the Department of Transportation is anything like California’s Department of Motor Vehicles then the process will be lax, with no enforcement, and yet another jumble of non productive paperwork that leads nowhere. But in reality, if a terrorist wants to slip WMD’s through customs unnoticed, why not come down through Canada’s vast borders, or better yet transfer questionable cargo onto private boats offshore and cruise up a delta to like say the Sacramento River then find some quiet dock to unload. Or follow the ever popular drug trafficking routes by private jet into the Arizona deserts. If we don’t pick up some details through covert monitoring of suspicious activity we really don’t have a clue where to be looking and we cannot have all seeing all knowing eyes at all times in a country based on individual freedoms.

I am all for international commerce on the highways, but I am less than convinced that we will regulate these road permits any better than so many other government programs out there. Someone will find a way to personally profit from the chaos that will ensue from the legislation involving international traffic and will fill their pockets for however long they can juggle the rules and regulations in the air. I have been to several countries and obtained a permit to drive in their country. I do not see that as a problem here other than how responsibly we handle and enforce such privileges. Of course as always that is the big question; whom do we trust to make sure the rules and regulations are followed?

The Hermit said...

Letting Mexican trucks on our roads is a big mistake, but what can we expect from a president who wanted to legalize 22 million illegal aliens.

rockync said...

We had a judge in a nearby county who had three Mexicans in front of him for some traffic violations. They were doing the whole shrugging, "no English" thing when the judge roared down from the bench, "Produce a license and pay the fines or 90 days in jail! Do you understand that?" They sure did!

Jan said...

vin..yes, I understand what you are saying, but the sad fact is, that as long as it is happening anywhere it is just wrong, no matter who it is, or which nationality, they happen to be.

And when it comes to national security, can we afford to be lax in any way, at all?

In the area where I lived, in N.Alabama, there were so many traffic accidents, and traffic violations involving illegal immigrants with no license, no car insurance, who could not speak English, they said, and they were just being let go, because they had no idea what to do with them.

Turning them over to ICE didn't seem to make much difference, because of the overload in that department. To make matters worse, they kept seeing many repeat offenders. Meanwhile, the law abiding citizens, American and Hispanic, or any others, were left holding the bag for the damages done to them.

They finally passed an ordainance allowing every car to be confiscated, automatically, if the driver has no license and/or, insurance. You'd be surprised at what a difference that made.

I guess there is no easy answer, but a lot more of this goes on, all around the country, than people are even aware of, because it is not always publicized.

It has become a real burden for this country.

Jan said...

Hermit..it's a big mess, that's for sure.

Jan said...

rockync..yeah, sometimes that language comes across loud, and clear.

I don't think any of us would get off without paying the full penalty for violating the laws of the land.

We just dished out nearly a thousand dollars today, for a new catalytic converter, after one of our cars didn't pass the E-check which is required in the particular county that we live in. Without passing that, you are unable to obtain tags for your car.

There are laws that we don't like, but we still have to abide by them.

Jan said...

'in the particular county that we live in' LOL I must have gotten carried away in my rant...I didn't LIKE dishing out all that money!

GUYK said...

Some years ago I told a class of young USAF non coms that voters get what they vote for but seldom realize
just what they are voting for.

This is the situation now..we voted for a man who claimed to be a compassionate conservative who may be compassionate but damn sure is no conservative...but then when I look at the options I was given I have to say that I would vote the same way again.

We do have choices..none of them really desirable and as I see it right now the best is too just lock down the borders..and ship everyone who cannot prove they have a legal right to be here out of here.

Will it cause some economic hardships on Americans? Sure, in the short run but when looking at twenty years down the road where do we want to be? A republic that offers economic freedom and allows us to keep a major portion of our earnings or a third world country with laws and graft just as the countries the illegal alien criminals are coming from.

I choose to lock and load...

Jan said...

"A republic that offers economic freedom and allows us to keep a major portion of our earnings"

guyk..I'd prefer the one above.