A Head On Collision

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Blog | 6 comments

The last couple weeks we have been reflecting on a very serious topic that was instigated from the passing of Robin Williams. We took some time to share our thoughts and views on suicide. It’s an emotional subject and I thank everyone who participated.


You can read the post and comments and share your own thoughts here: http://www.louannstropoli.com/suicide-what-to-do/


This week  we’re returning to leadership lessons learned from my recent cross country trip. I’ve titled today’s post: A Head On Collision



During my cross-country trek I had a head on collision!!

It wasn’t with another vehicle, however.

It was with my prejudice.

We humans tend to feel most comfortable when the people around us live the way we do
spend money the way we do
talk and dress the way we do


We’re sometimes afraid of people who are different from us.
That fear turns into walls, relational barriers, and prejudice.


See…. the people who taught me the most on my cross-country trip and broke open my hidden prejudice were…….


The Truckers!!!


DSCN4400Prior to this trip I thought truckers were mean road-hoggers who couldn’t care less if I lived or died while trying to commute alongside them.


 These three experiences I had with truckers along the way, however, changed my perspective and taught me a very valuable lesson.


1) The Diesel Pump


Turns out the Diesel pump has a hose on both sides of the lane.
Both pumps are for you.
Every lane has two pumps.


So…. I pulled up to the pump, took the handle out of the holder and put it into my gas tank and squeezed…….


I tried again –  Squeezed. Still nothing!

What’s wrong with this pump!?!?!? – I shouted in my head.


Well – at this point, a very nice trucker came over to me and respectfully showed me that the pump on the left had to be taken out of it’s holder and laid on the ground in order for the pump on the right to actually pump gas.


Who knew?  Yep – that trucker knew!!
He could have been condescending
He could have stood back and watched my dilemma
Instead, he was wonderfully helpful at just the right time


Thank you, Mr. Trucker!!
I’ve learned that many people who drive the big rigs are actually really helpful and nice.



2) A Hearty Laugh

If you’re reading this blog – you are one of the first people to know this story. As it turns out, I had trouble with one of the pumps.


I gave up and got into my truck to drive to the next station.


The only thing –  I forgot that the hose from the pump on the right side  (remember there are TWO sides to the pumps!!!!) was still attached to the gas tank. OOPS!!


I heard something pop when I drove away but I figured it was just a bump in the road. (this was at the end of a very long day of driving ….. that’s my excuse :=) )


So I pulled up to a station AT THE NEXT EXIT and a full-bodied African American with one of the best laughs I’ve ever heard said
…..while laughing his deep sonorous belly laugh ….

“and you didn’t even hide the evidence?”


I had no idea what he was talking about.

I got out of the truck
walked around to the passenger side
and saw a gas hose trailing along the ground!!!!!


Well – that wonderful good-natured trucker laughed and laughed and laughed!!


He then assured me that:

a) that he had NEVER done that himself

b) that it was no big deal.


He just kept laughing and eventually I joined in.

Without his sense of humor I would have been mortified by my mistake.


Thank you, Mr. Trucker!!
I’ve learned that many people who drive those big 18 wheelers are busy filling the truck stops with laughter and joy every single day.

3) “People think we’re the scum of the earth”

When I was stopped in Ohio (O-H-I-O!!!!) I met a trucker from the Carolinas who was pleasant, clean cut, and quick to offer help. He was heading from Ohio to Atlanta. He made sure I was ok and had everything I needed.


He was even so humble as to tell me that driving (and backing up) my little Penske was actually harder than backing up his big rig.


True or not – It felt great to hear that.

I said to him,

“You know – I’m meeting a lot of really nice truckers on this trip. You guys are actually really neat people.”


That’s when he said – “People think we’re the scum of the earth but there are a lot of really good men and women out here driving these trucks.”


I expressed my agreement.
We wished each other well and headed off on our own ways.


Thank you, Mr. Trucker.
I’ve learned that many of you who spend so much of your lives behind those huge steering wheels are very respectful people who deserve to be respected in return.



This last example really sums it up for me.

It’s so easy to
create a prejudice
let our fears create barriers


It’s so life-changing to
reach beyond our fears
get to know those who are different
choose to love and learn in all situations


One of our biggest growth areas we have as Inspirational Leaders is to reach deep down in our hearts to find the walls of barriers that separate us from our fellow humans.


It’s only when we dissipate these walls that we truly begin to discover the beauty and magnificence of diversity.

So here’s 3 questions to instigate our leadership growth this week:

1) Who have you held at a distance in the past simply
because s/he was different?


2)  Who are you holding at a distance even today ?


3)  Are you willing to take a chance and let down
those protective barriers in order to learn?


Leave your thoughts in our comments section.
Let’s learn from one another.
Let’s grow as Inspirational Leaders together.


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Be Inspired! Be Inspirational! Be a Leader!

Somebody is looking to learn from your example.


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  1. What an experience! The gas hose, oh my. So glad that you had the opportunity to have your view of truckers transformed. What a fun story. There have been a couple of times I’ve been surprised by a prejudice I didn’t even know I had. What a great topic. I’m so glad that it’s never too late to correct our thinking.

    • hahaha You are the first to recognize that funny little fact. Yeah – it was a moment to remember for sure.
      me too….. every now and then my eyes get opened to yet another area where I need to do better in my perspective and rid myself of negative views. I’m glad too, that it’s never too late to grow.
      Thanks for taking time to read the post and for sharing your awesome wisdom!!
      You ROCK!
      Have and Inspired Day!

  2. great post LouAnn! Generalizations about people are so dangerous aren’t they! They harm them and us, the stop us from learning about people and being empathic to their perspective. I have been doing a lot of work on myself to reduce my judgemental nature, which partly comes from training as a doctor, where you learn to notice and judge difference, all the time. When I catch myself driving and mentally criticizing another person I now say “just like me”… just another person, trying to create a life for themselves. Thanks for reminding me!

    • Leonaura,
      Thanks, so much for sharing your inspiration and wisdom. Very interesting medical perspective. That makes sense that you would be attuned to the specifics of individuals.

      I love your internal response “just like me”. That’s powerful!!! I’m going to adopt your practice!

      Thanks again for taking the time to read the blog and share your wisdom. Hope you have a wonderfully inspired day!

  3. I agree we all have some prejudices towards people but I am looking at people as all deserving love even through it’s not always easy. I use to work for high powered executives and thought they were all not very nice, thoughtful people. This is not the whole truth. People see life through different glasses and might not have the same values as me but we are all one. It’s hard sometimes but I am a work in progress with this too!!!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Laurie. Yes… those kinds of people are definitely not the easiest for me to accept. You are a great example of how we can look beyond the surface and learn to accept all people – not just those who are like us.

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