One Step Forward and Two Steps Back
(the truckers Waltz)

Chapter 14

THE START OF SOME THING NEW

Bill spent the rest of the winter hang around the house, working in his shop and doing some of the things Jeanne had for him to do. He made the odd trip down to the truck stop when ever an old friend rolled through town, to have a coffee and he finished Jeanne’s coffee table.

One day when he and Jeanne were having lunch, the phone rang and he answered it.

“Hello,”

“Is this Bill Ivors?”

“Yes it is. What can I do for you?”

“Mr. Ivors, my name is Donald Jacobson and I’m with a group of people that are trying to put together an organization for the owner operators. In conversation with some our members your name came up, it seems that you are a very well know person in the industry and that your experience could be an asset to our people. If you would be interested in talking to us we could meet and talk about it.”

“I don’t really know if I would be an asset to you. Could I think about this, you could give me your phone number and I’ll get back to you-------------Ok, I’ve got that, it won’t take me long------Ok that’s fine, you will be hearing from me shortly,” and he hung up.

As he sat down at the table, Jeanne asked, “What was that all about, I hope it wasn’t someone wanting you to go on a trip?”

”No dear, it’s not about me going back on the road driving truck,” and he went on to tell her what had been said.

She sat there a while running her teaspoon around the inside of her teacup and finally said, “I think it would be wonderful for you to do something like that, but only in an advisory capacity. I don’t think you, at your age, need to be tied down in an executive capacity.”

“Well, well, well, after fifty years of marriage we have finally agreed one thing,” he said jokingly, “It’s a funny thing, it wasn’t a month ago, I was going through a bunch of my old papers in the basement when I came a crossed a bunch stuff from when we tried to the same thing in the 60’s, remember?”

“Yes I do, that’s why I said only in an advisory capacity. I remember how much time you spent at that, only to be disappointed when it fell apart.”

“It’s a deal then, I will do it.”

Bill phoned Don Jacobson the next morning and they agreed to meet at Don’s office the next morning, “I will bring along some stuff I have had in the basement since the 60’s. It’s the charter and a lot of the paper work we had when we were trying to get the Independent Owner Operators Association going, maybe you can get some ideas from them, at least where we went wrong.”

“Hey Bill, that would be great, I’ll be looking forward to seeing it and finally meeting you. The way some of the guys talk, you’re a bit of a legion.”

“Most people, including my wife think of me as an old windbag with to much to say.”

“Don’t sell your self short my friend, that’s not the way I have heard it, see you tomorrow.”

Bill spent that evening going through what he could find from the earlier day and putting them in files.

The next morning, he met Don Jacobson in his office. Don stood up and walked around his desk and shook Bill’s hand, He was a pleasant looking man in his late 30’s or early 40’s with a bit of a weight problem and was on the verge of losing his hair.

“Thank you for coming in Bill, from what I’ve heard you are well respected in our industry. I think some one said, ‘Old Bill Ivors, that old fart has been a lease operator since before they were putting air in tires.’

“Well I don’t think it has been that long, but some times it just seems like it. After I talked to you last night, I went through a bunch of my old stuff and I’ve brought it in for you, it just might help.”

“Tell me, Bill,” Don asked, as he thumbed through some of the papers Bill had handed him, “What happened to your organization that made you fold it up?”

“Well I’ll tell you,” Bill said as he sat down, “It all started when a bunch of us truckers were sitting around B.S.ing. It was the spring of the year so there were a lot of loggers and we were asking our selves questions, like how come the people we were contracting for were charging us more for our fuel than they were paying the oil companies for it? Why couldn’t we get it for the same price? How come a lot of outfits were sitting on Authority that they weren’t using? What about medical and life insurance, the benefits that employs were getting and we were paying through the nose for? You know the routine, I don’t think to much have changed to-day.”

“No they haven’t and that’s why we are here to-day. But what happened?”

“Well we decided that we needed some kind of an organization that could get some of these benefits for us, so we started one, I think we were on the right track when we started, we set up a charter. We appointed a president and a board of directors and all the rest. As a united association we approached the oil companies, some Insurance people, hell we even had a voice in the Provincial Government, but if you look at our charter we had to have a majority vote and the vote of the executive to make any firm divisions and as you know our industry is a moving industry. So when the loggers went back to work and other people were on the road, we had trouble finding enough people for a majority vote and we ended up with a lot of unhappy members when thing weren’t happening and people started dropping out and it fell apart.”

“What do you think you did wrong, what would you do different if you had to do it all over again?”

“After thought is a wonderful thing. Looking back now, I think we should have had someone we all trusted, to make these decisions and back them up. You know like a President and if we didn’t like the decision he was making on our behalf, we could fire him.”

“This is great Bill, there is nothing like having a guide line to work from and I can assure you that we won’t make the mistakes your association made. Will you be able to help us?”

“Only in an advisory capacity, I’m a little old to be doing anything else.”

“That’s great; your advice will be indispensable. Thank you very much.” Don said as he got up and shook his hand, “I have some people that I want you to meet. Will you be available for a meeting next Friday? It will give me time to go through these papers you have given to me.”

“You bet, Don, I will see you next Friday, you can phone me when you have set a time.” And he left.

When Bill got home Jeanne asked him, “Well how did it go? Do you think they can do any good?”

“You know, Dear I think they just might, as long as they think about what they are doing and don’t make the same mistakes we did when we tried doing it. Yes-- I think they just might. Lord knows the lease operators needs all the help they can get, but I hope they don’t start running before they learn to walk.”

In the days leading up to the Friday meeting, Bill meet a lot of the Lease Operators, he knew and talked to them about the new association they were starting up. Most of them thought it was a good idea and they would be willing to join. A lot of them were exited and Bill had to tell them, this wouldn’t solve all their problems, but it was a step in the right direction.

Every body Bill had talked to, all most with out exception had two questions. “What will this association do for me?” And, “How much is it going to cost me?”

At the time Bill had talked to them, he knew for certain, after his meeting with Don Jacobson, that a few of the thing that would be addressed would be fuel costs, affordable legal advise, benefit packages and accounts receivable. These four subjects alone would be a tremendous advantage, but he was sure there would be a lot more after they had their first meeting.

Bill tried to anticipate some of these questions and wrote them down so he could give them to Don Jacobson so he would be better prepared when they had their first membership meeting.

The Friday morning of the second meeting, Bill was up early than usual, when Jeanne got up and came into the den to find Bill on the computer. He was sitting at the keyboard trying to type, smoking, drinking coffee and swearing. “You know those damn things will kill you,” she said, looking at the ashtray.

“I don’t think so; I’m starting to get the hang of it now.”

“I’m not talking about the computer, I’m talking about those cigarettes, you old fool.”

Bill laughed and said. “I know dear I was just trying to have a little fun with you, but I should know better at this time of the morning.”

When Bill got to Don Jacobson office later that morning for the meeting, there was another man there. Don introduced him, “This is Gordon Dunn, and he is going to be doing our legal work. George this is Bill Ivors the man responsible for most of the paper work we have been going over the last week.”

Bill shook Georges hand; he was a man who appeared to be in his early thirty and was dressed casually in slacks with a shirt and a pull over sweater. Bill liked him at first sight, which was different because Bill, over the year had come to miss trust Lawyers. As he use to say, ‘They charge to much and they never really seemed to get anything done.’

“Hi Bill, I’m glad to meet you. We have been going over your old Charter and the rest of the paper work you left with Don and although I can find some week points, I think it will give us a pretty good platform to start working on. Some of it won’t apply since they have deregulated the industry, but a lot of your concerns are still very outstanding.”

“Before we go any farther there is one thing I would like to ask you, George. I hope you won’t take offence. Why are you getting involved in this? Wouldn’t there be a lot more money working for some cooperation or in some fancy Law-firm? Here most of your clients will be broken down lease operators, with no money.”

“Bill maybe I should give you a little of my history. My father is, as you called it, a broken down old lease operator and I still have a brother who is involved in the industry and I put myself through law school by driving truck. I know the problems you people have out there and some of the injustices you people suffer. I remember when my father lost his truck because he never got paid from an outfit that packed up their tents and left the country, my mother and father almost lost their house over that. My mother was devastated.” He stopped and looked at Bill for a moment and continued, “I’m a simple man from a humble beginning and I don’t have aspirations of becoming rich or famous, but I know some thing has to be done. This organization, we are trying to build was my idea.” When he talked about his mother and Father there was real emotion in his voice.

“Well, George Dunn I can say with out hesitation, I think we are on the right track and that I’m am truly happy to meet you, us old truckers have to stick together.” And every one laughed.

They sat and talked about their charter and every thing they could think about. It was decided they would need a lot of help, starting with an accountant. They set a date for a membership meeting, but they realized that a lot of the people that would be interested would be on the road, so they decided they would pass out proxy slips so that the people that couldn’t be there, could fill them out, indicating their concerns and intent. They knew that they wouldn’t be able to hire staff to run the office at first, so they would be using a lot of volunteers.

“My wife is a paralegal and she said she would help us out on the legal end, she’s also a good little book keeper,” said George.

Bill looked at his watch and jumped up, “Holy Cow! Look at the time, we have been here for almost four hour, my wife is going to kill me, I’m supposed to take her shopping this afternoon.”

George and Don stood up as Bill got up to leave.

“Thanks for your time Bill, I know you are here only in an advisory capacity, but your impute, so far has been invaluable to us.”

“Hey you guy, I’m retired, and time has no meaning to me any more.”

George laughed and said, “Yeah, it means some thing to some one the way you jumped up when you realized what the time was.”

Bill looked back over his shoulder as he went through the door and said, “Older women are creatures of habit and when they want to go grocery shopping at 2-oclock, they mean 2-oclock,” and left.

Bill spent a lot of time over the next week, running Ideas through his head and if they seemed feasible to him he would put them in a file on the computer for further reference.

With Jeanne’s help he started to learn how to use the computer more efficiently, He bought dummy’s books for computer for using it and realized that it was a very efficient tool.

One day after a session on it he said to Jeanne, “You know Sweetie; I use to think that computer was only good for wasting time, playing solitaire, but I think it can be a lot of help for me.”

She answered, “Don’t tell me you’re becoming a computer nerd on me, It use to be that you were always consumed with that damn truck and now I have to contend with that computer, but at least I know where to find you.”

“No seriously, think about it. We can start our own web site. We can post the names of truckers that are looking for work, what kind of equipment they are running for perspective employers. We can inform Independent owners what kind of company they are thinking about going to work for.

I think we could rate companies. Like a report card, how they pay, how they treat their employ’s and so on.”

“Do you think that would be legal, Bill?”

“I don’t know, but we do have our own lawyer and he should know. I think if they can get this association going it can do nothing but good for the Owner Operators. Think about it Honey, they won’t be dealing with just an Owner Operator, they will be dealing with a person that has an organization be hind them, with a legal back bone.”

“Yes I think it might do the industry some good, if it is run right, but I don’t want you to get yourself too deep into this, you’re 71 years old and retired, remember the last time.”

Bill laughed, “No dear, I won’t forget, I am and will only ever be an adviser.”

“Bill I have been thinking, who is going to pay for all of this, you know, designing a web-site and all the rest of these fancy idea’s you are coming up with?”

“I have been thinking about that and you know most of these guys have wives that work in offices and have a good working knowledge of accounting, computers and just about any thing we need to know. I think that like us, every one else has a computer in their home. I think if we don’t try to load any one person down with too much to do and seeing it’s to every ones mutual benefit we won’t have too much of a problem finding people to help out. Do you?”

“You could be right, but remember these women are also house wives and mothers and they already have a pretty heavy work load.”

“Yes dear and I know you will keep me informed of that.”

Bill phoned Don Jacobson and arranged to have another meeting with George and himself. The following week they met and Bill presented them with some of his ideas.

“These are great,” said George, “I think we can use just about all of them, especially a report card on prospective employers and I don’t think there will be any problem with the legality of it. The web site we are working on now, most of the people we will have as members will have access to a computer.”

“Another thing I was thinking about George, is most of the contracts that a lease operator signs doesn’t protect him at all, it is company orientated, I don’t think you will have the time to scrutinize every contract out there, but would it be legal to have our own contracts, that the company signs before we go to work for them?”

“That’s some thing we will have to have a look at down the line after we get a little better organized and have enough members to make a difference. I don’t think that any legitimate company, with nothing to hide would balk at that.”

“When are we going to have the first membership meeting, there are a lot of guys out there that are getting anxious to sign up? I have given you a list of other retired lease operators that would be more than willing to serve in an advisory capacity; some of them might want to get more evolved.”

“Yes I know, I have been getting a lot of feed back from our little information campaign, I think we should try to have it a week Sunday and I think that wives should also be invited, they are as much Involved as their husbands, it involves their future.”

The Sunday they had their first general meeting, the hall they had rented was packed and about 30 percent of the participants were wives. Bill Had talked Jeannie into going.

There was a lot of excitement in the room and also a lot of droughts and question, but Bill was pleased with the turn out and how this were going and when it was over he took Jeannie’s hand and walked over to where George Dunn was standing and said, “Well George, the seed has been sown and the conception has begun so I think like any good Grandfather, I should stand back and see what has been created here. My one purpose in life now is to take care of this beautiful woman and relax. Good luck, I’ll be watching.”

As he walked out the door with Jeannie on his arm, she pulled him closer and turned to him and smiling said, “Bill Ivors, you are nothing but a self opinionated, old wind bag, but you’re my self opinionated, old wind bag and I love you.”

Old Bill Ivors was smiling to him self, ‘If it all ended to-morrow, I couldn’t be any happier, what a life I have had.’


The End or Maybe, The Beginning