By Stefan Pertz:
There should be more fun in a truck driver’s life.
We all need to work. Well, unless we have won the lotto that is. Most of us, however, have to pursue some gainful activity to ensure a steady flow of income. While most people are consistent in showing up for work, I would argue that most people do not particularly enjoy the idea of having to go to work. Why is that so when we spend a third of our day at work?The commercial vehicle drivers, probably spend even more hours in the cab. What makes work such a chore these days? Is it the mounting pressure to perform better, to be more fuel efficient? Surely, one would want to be a good driver, but when the fun of trying to set new personal records becomes a company mantra, then it may lose its appeal. If you have to push your vehicle to the legal limit just to be able to manage schedules, then stress mounts. If the public sees you as nuisance, you may not really feel like you are doing a good job in the first place.
I remember my father’s generation talking about the fun they had at work. Secretly welding someone to a T-Bar or sneaking aluminium foil into a co-worker’s sandwich. Where has all that gone? Why is it that we cannot make some jokes at work anymore? Have we all become very bitter and disenchanted? There was a time when driving a truck was associated with romance and adventure. Truckers in Europe would be away from home for a week, and back then there certainly wasn’t any GPS signal that tracked how much weight difference there was in the truck after a toilet break. Are drivers of commercial vehicles all completely serious? Don’t they ever have fun? They have a lot of fun, but too rarely in my view. The work environment has become that of constraint while there are very few outlets to enjoy. At a recent trucker gathering I witnessed how hundreds of drivers just let their hair down and had a good time. What is interesting to note is that truckers typically arrive early for events. They chat with each other, joke and exchange thoughts. We have also seen some really crazy truck creations recently in Thailand. Driving nightclubs really. As one can imagine, if a dozen of them come together in one place, they are not only having a great time together, but also put a smile on the faces of passers-by.
When looking at Facebook, one will find that many truckers are very active on social media. The posts that can be found are typically either very serious (reporting accidents) or downright silly. Apparently, truckers have taken up social media as a new way to poke others and have some fun. What puzzles me is that companies spend a fair amount of money on making office spaces fun to work in. Look at the headquarters of Google or Facebook and you may think you have wandered into a gigantic amusement park. If letting your thoughts roam and giving you space for some entertainment at work is good for office workers, it surely is for truckers too, wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps we have lost our way in the pursuit of efficiency? The solution to our problems may not lie in the creation of better Apps, but more fun workplaces. Imagine, if drivers enjoyed starting up the engine to go on their long trips that take them away from home for a while. And maybe, if the job of truckies would be described as one that is enjoyable, younger people would think about taking up that profession instead of venturing into huge firms by default?
(Stefan Pertz is Editor, Asian Trucker Malaysia and Asian Buses. Views expressed are personal)