Running on Empty

Murray Pratt Blog, Business Insights, Life, Trucking

Empty gas tank


Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty five I was seventeen and running-up 101
I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on…’

You remember that moment vividly. You know – the first time you sat in the driver’s seat, grabbed the wheel, shifted the rig into gear, and headed out on the open road. It was different than any other time. You started in the seat on the right – someone else was doing all the driving, making all the decisions, running the rig – running the business.

‘Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind’

But you wanted something more… you wanted to run your own show. And so you got your own rig. You headed out full of optimism and you realized just how ‘open’ the road was ahead of you. You were a professional driver and you had a steady gig driving the highways and byways of the continent with your own equipment.

‘Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know when that road turned, into the road I’m on’

You were an owner operator and you had freedom, but you now understood the demands that were placed upon those who lead, upon those who ‘owned’… those like your dad. The pressure on the guys you had once worked for – the businesses they owned, the people they employed, the paychecks they had to cut – all that uncertainty and fragility.

‘Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind’

But you forged ahead, and built your business – from 5 to 10 trucks… and beyond! You invested in trucking software that would help you scale your business. You had the right people but you could do so much more with a transportation management system that would combine your dispatch and administration together so that it was easier to grow and scale your business.

‘Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don’t know about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that’ll be all right
If I can get you to smile before I leave’

And you worked hard through the good and the difficult times.  Your business grew, but more importantly, your life grew even larger. You raised a family, saw your kids grow into young adults. You built a wide circle of friends and business acquaintances and they stood with you, and by you, through all the trials and tribulations of running a trucking business for over 30 years.

‘Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too’

And now with the time running short in your business life, you think back to the early days… those long hauls across the country, coming back home with a partial load – looking at that fuel gauge, trying to figure out if you need to stop and refuel –  or maybe, just maybe, if the traffic is right, you can just make it home to get there before your tired wife puts your young 3-year old to bed for the night. You press down the pedal – and make the final push for home just so you can barge through the door before his bedtime just so you could hear the magic words of ‘Daddy, Daddy… you’re home!’

‘Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind’

And with only hours to go on the last day in your business, you sit back for a moment and wonder about it all – only now ready to feel some sense of satisfaction for the company you built, the livelihoods you created for your staff, the customers you helped, the suppliers you supported and who supported you – the family that you raised… the good business and the great life you created.

‘Honey you really tempt me
You know the way you look so kind
I’d love to stick around but I’m running behind
You know I don’t even know what I’m hoping to find
Running into the sun but I’m running behind’

And now that 3-year old boy that once cried out your name when you came home – is now a grown man of 37 – poised to take over the family business… and you are fulfilled. You know it’s time – it’s his time to lead – and, in your heart, you know it’s your time to go. With the challenges and opportunities the lay ahead in the business you realize that now you are now running on empty.

You see that fork in the road and you decide that it’s time to take the road less travelled, the open road to new experiences and new endeavors. But you are committed to travelling it because that is what you were born to do… and to make the most of your new your journey. Yes, you are runnin’ into the sun… and you are no longer worried about

Runnin’ on Empty

(Lyrics by Jackson Browne, Words by BlogMeister Mur)

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