NOTE: I took the following from my book, Trucker. In my Blogroll, there’s a link to Smashwords where Trucker is available as an ebook or PDF.
Several years ago, my wife, Jo, and I drove a transcontinental semi. This was out of the character of our middle- to upper-middle class lives. It was done out of certain sense of necessity — our business went flat. We chose trucking because it offered a respite from the cares and woes of business. We’d just hook up a loaded trailer and off we’d go.
In trucking, we learned which truck stops had the good restaurants. We learned which shippers demanded an emolument for loading and unloading trailers, and etc. There’s something else I’ve learned while trucking: There’s a great cultural divide in America, a divide of expectations and it is unbridgeable.
On one hand. If you’re someone like, say, a software developer (Bill Gates, Jo and me), or an attorney (Bill Gates’ dad), or an entrepreneur (like the guy who founded the trucking company), the sky’s the limit. You go, boy! America expects you to do well. You are expected to charge for your products or services, and expected to charge big. If you suck the business dry, so much the better; you’ll be called a Lion of Commerce, get your picture in the paper and be elected president of the Rotary. The public will love you. In a reverent worship, they’ll ask you to autograph copies of your best-selling book.
On the other hand. If you earn your bread by driving a truck or lumping cargo on a warehouse dock or welding parts at GM, you are expected to stay in your caste. Should you have the temerity to want improvement in your life – say by unionizing, or taking a higher paying job, or even going back to school – you’ll be vilified for “hurting the economy.” You’ll be denounced for “igniting inflation” and “creating a labor shortage” and “waging class warfare” and “impacting corporate earnings” and “driving up the wage/price spiral.” You’ll be called greedy and self centered.
A good example is found at the trucking company. I have been told by more than one trucker that el Presidente has gone on record saying that if we truckers ever unionize, he’ll shut down the business. Out of naked spite, he’ll close the doors and liquidate the assets. Finis. Kaput.
Here’s man who, each year, takes home a fortune from his business but to prevent those who work for him from bettering their lots, he’s willing to destroy that business and the fortune it generates. This is the divide I’m talking about.
Of course I always knew this divide existed, but until I got into trucking, I never appreciated it first hand. Nor did I appreciate the ferocity with which the first group enforces it on the second. Nor the cowed resignation with which the second group accepts it.
Such is America in 2012.