Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Three Trucks
In my travels today, I saw three trucks going up the interstate together. It made me think of this story:
The three truckers all worked for the same truck line. It was their job to get the company's goods from Point A to Point B. The boss himself sent them forth, giving them only two rules: 1) Do not go over the speed limit; and, 2) Stay together.
But as they drove, the first one started thinking: Being first, I have to set the pace, but it's almost impossible to go the speed limit 100% of the time. If anyone will be guilty of breaking the rule, obviously they'll blame me. So if that's what they're thinking, I may as well fully exceed the limit and dare the others to keep up. If they keep up, we're all guilty. And if they don't keep up, they'll be guilty of breaking the second rule. Plus, it might be to our benefit to get there early, showing our efficiency. Very brash, but he had them over a barrel.
The second one's thinking: He's speeding up and we're falling behind. He's going at least 10 miles over the limit. I shouldn't go that fast, and yet I can't fall behind. Does one of the boss' two rules take precedence over the other? Surely the more important rule would be not to break the law, and yet, perhaps the first driver knows what he's doing. If he gets there quicker, with more efficiency, maybe he'll be commended. And we'll be condemned because we weren't efficient, while breaking the other rule anyway. So he speeds up.
The third one brings up the rear. He thinks: What's this? Everyone's going way too fast, but I need to keep up. I have the advantage in that there's no one behind me to obey the law and report me. And neither of the guys in front can report me because they're breaking the rule themselves. The thing is, if we share the guilt, we will also share the consequences of our actions, if there are any. If we're asked about speeding, we can always lie. Whereas anything could happen if we're separated; violating the second rule might show us to be incompetent.
The third one's thoughts continue: It's obviously better to arrive together than for me to keep to the speed limit and break the second rule. Or is it? Maybe the boss has it fairly well timed out, and if we speed we'll get there too early. I believe it might be easier to explain falling behind than breaking the speed limit. What would've been the reason to stay together in the first place if it didn't have something to do with mutual accountability? So he slows down.
The second driver then notices the third truck falling behind and thinks it over: It could be there's something wrong with his truck. Meaning we're not together. Or it could be that he's had a sudden realization of the dangers of getting there too fast. He's probably mentally calculating the advantage he'll have over us as to why he fell behind. He'll have us dead to rights, accusing us of violating both rules, whereas he would've violated only one rule. Plus, if I fall behind and driver number one continues on, that will put me in good not only with the third driver but the boss when we're questioned. Because there's safety in numbers, two against one. The first guy will show up, having sped, along with our united accusation, and he'll be blamed for our falling behind, our conscience having overridden the rule. So the second truck slows down.
The first driver keeps going for a while, then notices no one's in the rear view mirror. Of course he knows how terrible it'll look if he shows up without them. So he slows down and completely turns around. He drives back, thinking it over: We've all violated both rules, but if we get back in the pack, we can talk it over and decide mum's the word. Then we can drive the speed limit and stay together, as we probably should have in the first place.
He gets back to the other two, who have pulled over to the side of the road. They're glad he shows up and explains the situation: We're all equally guilty, leaving out the part of him being the first to speed and leave them behind. The others agree: We'll be a lot better off if we don't point fingers, but if we simply go the speed limit and get there together.
Which turns out to be exactly what happened! The boss says, "You stuck to the speed limit and you stayed together. Excellent! I honestly didn't think you could do it." He gives them all huge raises and his three beautiful daughters' hands in marriage. Finally, years later, the boss dies and leaves the trucking company to his honorable sons-in-law, the happiest ending any story can ever have.