There is an old saying, "You should never judge a book by its cover."
If you have read my articles, you will know me as a truck driver. What you may not know is that I was in the General Insurance business for over 12 years. I insured cars, houses, construction companies and also trucking companies. And therein lies this article.
When I was in the Yukon, I had insured a trucking company. A lot of insurance companies wouldn't insure anything in the "Frozen North," so they were very picky about who they insured, and as an agent, we were limited. The insurance company I had insuring this trucking company asked me to obtain a driver's licence abstract for every driver, interview them, and send them the results.
With the company owner's permission, I had every driver into my office for an interview. I had the good drivers come in first and saved the worst for last.
The last driver had an abstract that was nearly a novel – he had seven infractions in 3 years. I pointed out to him that when I send the insurance company my report and his abstract, they would not be impressed, and the way it looked, they may not insure him. He immediately said, "all you pencil-pushing a%#@&*&s are the same; you don't know the back from the front of a truck, and you can just sit there and cost a man his job." I said, "slow down, I can help you here if you will just listen for a minute." Then he goes into another tirade about "pencil pushers," and they don't know up from down about driving a truck. So once again, I said slow down and keep your trap shut and listen – I can help you.
This speeding in a playground zone – I can tell them it was 4:00 am in the morning and you were going 30 mph – the posted speed limit when the playground is not in effect. Playground speed is from 1 hour before sunup and 1 hour after sundown. In the Yukon, in the summer, when you got your ticket, the sun is up at 4:00 am or before – that's why it's called the land of the midnight sun. There are no kids playing in the playground at 4:00 am. Now, doesn't that make it appear a lot better?
Then there is driving an unlicensed motor vehicle on a public road. It looks bad when you see it on your abstract, but if I explain that it was a snowmobile and you were on a back road with no traffic present, and you were only on the back road for less than ¼ of a mile, to get to your pick-up to load it. That makes it look a lot better.
He was still talking and not listening, so I suggested that he go home and think about it and that I wanted to see him in my office next week.
After he left, I phoned the company's owner and arranged to see him at his home that evening. When I got there, I explained the interview with the driver and his attitude toward "pencil pushers." Then I showed him my Class 1 driver's licence, told him I had driven a truck before, and told him of 2 companies I had driven for. Then I asked him if he would allow me to drive one of his trucks. (They were all semi-trailer tankers hauling fuel). He said okay. I said I wanted to be dispatched on Sunday morning in one of the trucks and that the "problem driver" would be driving, and at the same time. He agreed and said I trust you, and if you bend it, at least you are the insurance guy.
So early Sunday morning, I got there an hour before dispatch time, and I was ready to go when the driver came. I was parked so he could not see me, and when he pulled out, I was right behind him and followed him to the first coffee stop. I parked beside him, got out, and met him in front of the trucks. He said, "what are you doing here?" I replied that I thought I'd come on a trip to experience what truck driving was all about. He then asked me who was driving the truck. That's when I said, "you are looking at him." He was taken aback, and that's when I told him that sometimes those "pencil pushers" may know your job just as well or even better than you!
We went and had our coffee and chatted. I could see that he was seeing me in a different light. I said I had hauled tankers before, but I didn't know the procedure at this bulk plant and that I would appreciate it if he would guide me. That way, he was in control again, which was good. We picked up our loads and returned to the yard, and he said I'll see you in your office on Tuesday.
When he came into the office on Tuesday, he was a changed man – most notably his attitude about "pencil pushers."
P.S. He kept his job (with the help of my "elaborate" explanations)
P.P.S. To err is human – to forgive is divine.