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I, Truck Driver — An Ode to the Drivers of Goods and Keepers of the Supply Chain

There’s a lot of talk about the supply chain these days. Whether it’s disconcerting images of container ships stuck in the port of Los Angeles, or unopened shipping containers stacked and unopened in the docks, or the hundreds of “Now Hiring” posters across trucking companies all over the nation, the talk about the transportation of goods is on the minds of policymakers, business owners, consumers, and trucking companies alike. 

And yet, most consumers might not be completely aware of just how delicate and complex the supply chain is, hanging on the balance and depending on the cooperation of many moving parts. Not to mention the role of the trucking industry and truck drivers. 

So, how is the trucking industry front and center when it comes to ensuring store shelves remain stocked and ready? How does the supply chain work and where does the truck driver fit into the big picture? 

Let’s take a closer look at the intricate beauty of the supply chain. 

The Famous Little Essay That Cracked Open the Beauty of the Supply Chain

Most American consumers don’t spend a lot of time considering just how their products make it to their doorstep or grocery store shelf. A few decades ago, Leonard E. Read published an essay in 1958 called “I, Pencil” that would transform the way people thought about, understood, and visualized the intricate global chain required to make products. 

Even more so, Read’s message had philosophical layers that espoused and advocated for the beauty of the free market and decentralized power. His message was humbling, as the core of it entailed and proved that most people could not make a simple pencil all on their own. 

In Read’s essay, the first-person narrator was the “ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.” More specifically, the focus was on the genealogy of this little pencil and its amazing journey. The essay begins by tracing this little pencil’s origins to a tree growing in Northern California and Oregon. Read continues, “Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding.” 

Read encourages the reader to envision the many workers and varying types of skills that were required to make the pencil happen. This act of creation is aided by what Adam Smith would call the “Invisible Hand.” 

The journey of our pencil narrator continues when the logs are sent to a mill and then “put into a kiln, dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty,” says the pencil, “not pallid white….How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light, the power?”

The forward-thinking little pencil even goes into the detail of its lead-filled center. “The graphite is mined in Ceylon [Sri Lanka]. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped…” 

The essay continues by tracing the complex labor, skill, and tools that are required to complete the design of a simple lead pencil and it does so by venturing into descriptive and philosophical little quandaries about the nature of creation, production, and human desire. 

“I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on.But to these miracles that manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies…” 

The Humbling Role of the Truck Driver 

Similar to the ideas conveyed through the journey of that little pencil, the journeys of countless of our products merit a similar kind of attention. It’s a multi-faceted complex web of human energy and potential that at some point rests in the hands of truck and delivery drivers. And today’s global chain is much more complicated and convoluted than it was a few decades ago, although the idea is relatively similar. 

As many experts have pointed out, the world’s economy might come to a screeching halt if one day every truck driver in the country threw their hands up and walked away from the job. According to the American Trucking Associations, 10.23 billion tons of freight was transported by trucks in 2020. That figure represents 72.5% of total domestic tonnage shipped. 

Estimates range that about 7.65 million people are employed by the trucking industry. That staggering number suggests that there is almost a 7% of people tied to the trucking industry in some way. 

The 2021 truck driver shortage is only one part of the larger supply chain backlog and bottlenecks that people are seeing around the nation’s ports. As reported by CNN Business, the trucking industry was short about 800,000 truck drivers. This was a 30% spike from the pandemic. 

Trucking Compliance Keeps the Roads Safe

And while there are still thousands of truck drivers transporting our goods across the country, there is also a large responsibility that rests on the shoulders of trucking companies to train drivers and ensure that the roads stay safe. 

That’s where we come in. 

For Your Trucking Compliance Needs, Call BTC 

Our job is to work hand-in-hand with the trucking industry and drivers to ensure full compliance in the realms of drug testing, title and registration, tax reporting, and more. The right team working on compliance is essential for companies deploying dozens or hundreds of drivers onto our nation’s roads. 

Want to work with a reliable partner to ensure you are in compliance? Call Border Trucking Compliance and talk to an expert. 

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