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Pilot/Flying J Corruption….Taking Responsibility

On 5-8-2013 I tuned in to the Center Lane Show radio program on BlogTalk Radio and it addressed the situation with Pilot/Flying J and then turned into many other topics associated with truck stops in general. Some of the people on the program shared some valid points and ideas and some also exhibited what I like to call the “Truck Driver Should Have It Easier” syndrome, first let’s talk about Pilot.

By this time just about everyone knows about shady business practices that took place at PFJ headquarters and if you haven’t then you really need to open up the door of the root cellar you must be hiding in. It’s no secret that I have never been a big fan of Pilot or its acquisition of Flying J years ago, I don’t agree with what has transpired within their company and I won’t be using their services anytime in the near future until I see them make some genuine progress in taking responsibility and making changes to create a better professional relationship with drivers out there today. Those are my personal feelings on that company and I leave everyone else to their own opinions on the matter so with that being said lets address what was talked about on the show.

Rich Wilson was kind enough to offer his recent dealing with the owners of PFJ, Mr. Wilson is a man whose opinion I personally hold in high regard and his review of the discussions he had with PFJ showed that the company understands what happened was wrong and should have never been allowed to happen. Unfortunately the reality of situation is that the damage has already been done, trust has been defeated and the company must now go into full damage control mode to right the wrongs that have transpired, regardless of who was the person that pulled the trigger on shady dealings the ultimate responsibility belongs to the ownership for not having stop gaps in place or a system to stop the action in its tracks. All we can do at this point is wait and see if they make those things right, for me on a personal level and on a professional level it’s going to be a long time.

Of course the conversation involving PFJ ventured into discussion about truck stop policies in general and this is where things can get confusing for some people as to who is responsible for what happens at a truck stop. One topic addressed was fuel island procedures and protocols, specifically the problem of parking for extended periods of time on the fuel island or not pulling a truck forward after fueling. Ideas presented on how to remedy the problem ranged from the truck stop having a tow truck on site to tow trucks from the fuel island to not giving the operator of the truck their fuel discount for that particular stop, there was even an idea proposing they remove all fast food restaurants from truck stop locations because in the speaker’s view it would solve the problem of people parking on the fuel island while getting something to eat. Yes we covered a lot of ideas on how to solve the problem but lets look at the real problem……RESPONSIBILITY.

As a business owner I understand that there are certain operating costs and overhead to be expected with running a business however if I owned a truck stop corporation could I justify purchasing millions of dollars worth of tow trucks to serve the purpose of pulling trucks off a fuel island? Should I be considered responsible for the actions of drivers who are lacking common sense and common courtesy? Absolutely not, would I be all for not allowing them to fuel at my establishments anymore? You bet I would, because for every single driver that has no common sense there are five more that do. Let’s take a look at the idea of removing fast food from truck stops, I have always supported the idea of doing away with fast food in a truck stop for a long time in favor of a real restaurant with the choice to order a meal that I feel suits my needs at that moment, however for someone to suggest that banishing all fast food from a truck stop will aid in the problem of people parking on a fuel island to me is a bit insane. Would you also ban showers, restrooms, and lottery tickets? because as we all know some drivers are parked on the fuel island while using those facilities or partaking in time-consuming gaming. Instead of asking for an establishment to endure more expenses to make our lives easier in this matter, how about we as drivers start taking responsibility as it’s a very simple fix to a very annoying and counterproductive problem in the industry……FUEL YOUR TRUCK AND PULL IT FORWARD WHEN DONE. If you have other business to attend to that is going to be longer than 5 minutes then pull your truck around and park it in a designated parking spot.

Paid parking and reserved parking was another interesting topic that was discussed briefly and to say the idea of it is unsettling is an understatement at least. Why should any driver have to pay $2100-$3600 in additional expenses each year just to park at a truck stop? Are those drivers that choose to pay for this service somehow more entitled to a parking spot because they called ahead and paid to reserve one than say the guy who was just out running his tail off and had an unexpected breakdown or cancelled reload and is forced to park somewhere for the night? Quite frankly I’m tired of rolling into a truck stop to see 30-40 reserved parking spaces empty while trucks are circling the lot looking to park. Why should those people be treated any differently than you or me? I want to hear your input on these issues because the only way to get them resolved is for people to get involved. Until I hear from you all please have safe travels and please drive safe, smart and professionally because you represent not only yourself but every other driver out there as well.

J. Haggard










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