Submitted by Sandy Ray, Carbonics Inc
“What do you mean, ‘your truck oil is thick and black?’ ” This is not a question he ever wanted to ask as he turned his eyes in laser-beam focus on his newly-hired driver.
Oil. The lifeblood of a vehicle. Is it clogged like a human artery, requiring surgery? Or does it flow free and smooth, a lovely amber color, without grime or gunk, enabling that fine delivery vehicle to hum and purr over the highways and byways, a testament to the superior, preemptive maintenance-check protocols?
Checking the condition of the oil is a critical element of the Vehicle Checklist that all drivers must complete before leaving the yard. Some companies require a trinary vehicle maintenance check to include before-departure, middle-of-the-day, and upon-return to the yard. He has tried different timelines over the years and determined that a “pre-flight” checklist in the morning met his needs. Usually.
“How did this happen?” is the involuntary inquiry that slips out of his mouth since he knows what the answer will be. “I don’t know,” came the inevitable answer with an accompanying shoulder shrug. This was the driver’s second day on the job. Of course, he didn’t know.
The responsibility always returns to the owner or manager. When a business plan involves the purchase of vehicles, then maintenance checks fall to the driver for a small company.
He released the driver from his presence with instructions to go immediately to the mechanic and wait until the oil was changed before beginning the days’ deliveries. He swiveled in his chair, reached in a drawer, and took out a crumpled-up and stained vehicle checklist from the previous driver. He peered at the categories.
Clearly, “oil” was at the top of the checklist, with boxes to rate the condition of said oil as good, fair, or bad. “Oil” was also at the bottom of the form, located just underneath ‘odometer reading’ with a line to fill in the numerical value of ‘mileage for next oil change.’ The challenge was to know, without any doubt, that the driver had, indeed, checked said lifeblood of said vehicle.
The phone rang with a customer needing some guidance on their regulator. The form was set aside for additional contemplation. The form was forgotten.
At 3:00 a.m., he bolted into an upright position with an “Ah-ha” moment. As he slept, his mind cogitated on the lifeblood-of-his-vehicles issue, and his mind formulated THE ANSWER.
He reached over to his nightstand, where he kept a pen and tablet for such moments, and wrote...