So I don’t exactly work in a customer service industry but my placement in the mill is definitely the closest to that definition. Although the true ‘customers’, the ones who are buying the wood from the mill, are miles and miles away on the phone with a sales rep, the ‘customers’ I deal with are the truck drivers who get the product to the buyer. They’re the ultimate middle man in the mix and over the last week I’ve gotten to know some of them better than I would wish.
First off, I always thought that driving trucks was a very noble profession. My mom told me that she used to want to be a truck driver, inspired from driving trucks on the farm, and I know a very normal dude from my church who drives trucks as well. However, I’m noticing that my preconceived notions are a little more naive than I first thought. I mean, all of the shippers give the truckers crap because everyone always thinks that they’re better than the next guy, but most of what they’re saying isn’t too far off.
The paperwork that they fill out gives us the information we need to make sure that the right wood goes on the right truck to the right place as quickly as possible. When my boss asked me to Google Translate the paperwork into Spanish, Russian, and Hindi I thought that maybe they were not giving these guys quite enough credit, but I think it was actually a great idea. After all, who was I to doubt the master when I’ve only been in this new world for a short time. It must be especially difficult to barely speak the language, fill out forms with company jargon, abbreviations, and incorrect spelling, and to deal with shippers who are frustrated with your lack of understanding. When I re-did the forms I fixed all of the basic issues which hopefully helped the related problem in the process. Who knew that Google Translate could actually do a good job? And who am I to know if the Hindi translation for ‘truck tandems’ would be correct? I just barely know what that means in English.
As smelly, slow, unintelligible, and ramble-y as some of them are, I’m going to give them their time to talk. I figure it must be a little lonely in those trucks all the time so if they want to have a chat I’ll just keep talking, nod, and flash them a smile. If I was in their place, I figure I would hope for at least the same treatment. And besides, they’re not all that bad; I think it has become more of a stereotype than anything. Keep on trucking!