Inspection Woes

Every day that I’m is the road I pass several weigh /inspection stations. I remember the days when you had to count on them being open and you needed to make sure you were legal.

I’ve heard urban myths about people that avoided the scales because they weren’t, let’s say, completely law abiding. I’ve also heard the rumour that yours truly may have been one of the dodgers. I will neither confirm nor deny that it may have happened.

The issue wasn’t as simple as you may think. It wasn’t always a case of being legal or not. Sometimes you just didn’t want any hassle. Yeah, yeah, I know, “if you’re all good you don’t have to worry “. That’s ignoring the fact that inspectors are human. Sometimes as humans, we have bad days and we take it out on the next unsuspecting person. That next driver may be piloting a beautiful shiny rig in great shape but Inspector Hard Time is looking to pass on their misery. Some will deny it, but I know, and many others know that Inspector Hard Time can find something wrong in every unit or with every driver.

One such person was working a booth at a truck show some years ago and because I was asking a work related question, he wanted to know if I was currently “on duty – not driving” in my log book. He didn’t like the question I asked so he wanted to be an a$$. He really didn’t like my response and threatened to come follow me to my truck. I called over other inspectors at the booth and asked, and received an answer. He got told to back off. It was completely unnecessary. I ask questions. I am always looking for better ways, or explanations for why we operate the way we do.

So it hasn’t always mattered if you’re legal. Years later, I drive a beautiful shiny rig and I still flashback to days of driving junk and worrying about the inspectors.

Another issue can simply be discrimination. Not just by race, but by type of vehicle, where you’re plated or size of your company. It’s called profiling. Some jurisdictions are ordering their inspectors to not pull over certain races because they’re afraid of being called racist. That bothers me.

There was a certain scale in the USA that was known to target Canadians. I played that card one time when I thought I was getting harassed. If I had kept my mouth shut and gone into the scale with a good attitude I would have fared much better. But, I was arrogant, upset and accusatory. It didn’t work out well for me.

You know what I was told? “If Canadians behaved themselves better in the town nearby you wouldn’t be targeted”. It’s hard to argue with logic in an argument. He was right. I was a perfect example. My rig was good, but I was mouthy. A couple decades later I still think of that. What image are you promoting? Hurrying through town? Dumping trash on the ground? Driving with a rig held together by bungee cords?

I would have walked out of that station trouble free if I had just listened. I really don’t remember if I got a warning. What I did get was a lesson.

Don’t cry discrimination if you are part of a group that warrants a second look. I worked for a couple companies over the years that were targeted because they were so bad at following the rules. I have since learned to check safety ratings of the company before I sign on the dotted line. It was a great experience though because I had to rise above the company’s reputation. Scale operators got to know me and it didn’t take long to build my own reputation.

I was thinking of this recently when I was cut off by another truck 100m from my fueling stop. After a few minutes I walked up to the driver who did not look like me.

Now, I encounter this all the time. Am I going to be some angry old white guy telling another what I think in salty language? Not anymore.

I take my role as a senior driver very seriously. I must treat others how I want to be treated. I must help teach, rather than yell.

You know what? That driver was awesome in his response. “I’m sorry, I thought you were turning before me… “. I didn’t need to yell or get racist. All I said was to please be careful. It may not work out next time.

Will it make a difference? I choose to believe that it will. If we are all considerate to one and work together we will be better as an industry.

Keep up the essential work, drivers!