Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Revolution In You

I had to put new numbers on Truck 131, the International, because it has a new hood, grill and other front end parts, owing to a young driver creaming my front end at the TA truck stop. I put the hand applied custom Home Depot numbers on while I was getting loaded the other night on Chappell Street, or Chappel Street depending on which street sign you're looking at. I'd picked up the truck that morning after work, slept and only had time during loading. You want those numbers on there when you go through the weigh station.

The kid who hit me wasn't watching his trailer as he swung around me. He tried to take off and I had to run him down and cut him off on the other side of the parking lot.

He works for one of the big carriers. It was kind of hard to make him go through it because I know what it will mean. I know the impulse to take off, believe me. In my first few months of truck driving I knocked down a stop light pole and kept going, but hitting someone's truck or car seems different and when I did that, I did stop and made it right. He probably didn't know what it would have meant to me. The bill was $11k. I paid $2,500 but should get that back from his insurance company.

For him, it goes on a record the US DOT keeps of you and goes on as an accident, and you don't want that. I've paid off a couple of truck drivers whose trucks I sideswiped on the spot out of my own pocket. One was a scratched mirror and one was a scratched chrome front bumper so I was lucky.

I think I gave the one $50 and the other $200 but it was money well spent. When times get hard, as they have during the recession, it's hard to get hired with an accident, or with more than one ticket on your record. Having two tickets on my record is how I ended up where I am. I had to take a job with a fly by night oil field company and then a fly by night distribution company and it eventually became this, owning two trucks, when the last job was contracted out and I bid on it because I knew I'd have trouble finding another job.

I was talking a few posts ago about getting out. This truck and the Freightliner had both been run into, both at the TA Truck Stop on University where I was parking the trucks at the time, both within a month, and that was on the heels of both trucks needing major work done in succession - a new turbocharger for the International and on the Freightliner a new power divider, which on those trucks is the splitter, i.e., the high-low range transmission, and the front differential in one unit. An extended warranty helped with one of them but I had to pay out several thousand for both, and on the body shop repairs I've had to pay the $2,500 deductible twice, although I could well get all that back.

The worst of it is, though, as far as I'm concerned, is that when one truck is in the shop I only have one truck and they're both older and breakdown prone and it's very nerve racking.

And there's the constant dealing with shysters at every point along the way, and the realization that if I keep going and keep buying trucks it won't get easier but likely harder. On the other hand, with both trucks running now and having survived the economic onslaught I'm likely to keep going, simply because it's easier that way, and if I'm feeling good about things when another opportunity presents itself I'm likely to go for it.

It's always been this way, carried along by currents I don't control. It's what I have to work with. I'm not alone in that. There was a time, as they say, when I couldn't support myself, couldn't make anything happen in my life.

This, of course, what I'm dealing with now, is "business." It's life. Everyone has their own version of the same struggle, but I seldom think about it that way. Perhaps no one else does, either. We're consumed by our own struggle.

People are apt to keep that aspect of their life out of public view, I think, because that's part of our natural defense mechanism. We can't show weakness if no one else is and if we do, someone will try to take advantage. And it's tied up with that primary agent of our self defense, our ego. Our ego likes to protect the idealized image we have of ourselves, to make us think that the self we put forth for the world to see is the way others actually see us.

That's a funny thing about human nature, and the ego. If we think people are buying what we put out there, it's the same, in terms of our own personal psychology, as if they're buying it. It's the same as when someone is blatantly lying to you and you, for whatever reason, let it go. It's the same thing, to them, in terms of their own psychology, as if they convinced you. If people can make it through a conversation with their bullshit uncalled out, they have not only survived but they have survived with their ideal image of themselves intact. The world, they think, bought their bullshit, and so did their ego. It's satisfied.

The significance of it all is this. People who wish for a better world and who don't think about it at the level of personal psychology are most likely wasting their time, I believe. Capitalism perpetuates itself generation after generation because it's the best system that's come along for managing the kind of species we are, that is, Capitalism closely corresponds with the psychology of the human species. If we've got the new car, the new house, the nice clothes, then we're projecting the kind of image our ego is satisfied with. If we're a CEO and the salary and the profits and laudatory comments and articles are all there, it doesn't matter what you had to go through to get those. The ego doesn't really care. It only cares what others think.

Marx knew all this. He said that anyone who was put in the place of a Capitalist would behave the exact same way. He and others like him, however, thought that it was the Capitalist system that formed our personal psychologies and not the other way around. It's the old nature/nurture question. Are we genetically hard wired to be like we are, or are we the products of our environment? Marx thought it was the latter, that another kind of system would produce a different kind of person.

So far the alternative systems people have tried haven't produced the desired results, and Capitalism has made sure that no one's attempt to try anything else has been allowed to play out except under conditions of severe stress because of the constant harassment and continual efforts to undermine it.

That's why the Revolution, really, is inside of us. It's the only place no one else can know about and get to. We are who we are, and if we try to live any other way than inside a Capitalist system we'll have to make it work with who we are until it has a chance to affect human behavior. It's not even known if that will work, but we have to try. It's in our nature to try.

So keep struggling. Try to resolve the contradiction, when you can, between who you are and who you'd like people to think you are and thereby free up a little space for someone else to do the same. When you can't do that, which will be most of the time, keep the faith. Never give up.

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