May 15, 2021

When I was driving back from the north, I came upon a truck that looked suspiciously overloaded.  When I first saw the vehicle, it appeared to be loaded with bales of hay.  I could not for the life of me figure out how they got the pile to stick out so far to one side.  Even more, I could not believe they thought the stress of this load would not send the entire pile toppling onto the highway.  When I finally caught up to the truck and passed, I realized rather than bales of hay, the truck was carrying roof trusses.  I had no idea what was on the truck, so my mind moved it into a known category.  Perception is often based on what is familiar.

When I looked online, I found an ongoing debate on whether it is better to use trusses or rafters in building construction.  The discussion seemed to come down to the size of the roof being built.  A truss is a prefabricated unit built off site and then shipped to the building location.  The truss is then lifted into place to form the roof.  The cost of a prefabricated truss package as compared to the material and labor costs to build rafters on site is 30% to 50% less, and since it is built in a controlled environment there are fewer mistakes.  Once the trusses arrive, they can be placed on the structure in little time.  Depending on the size, the rafters take about a week to build.  It was also mentioned that unless the truss is more than 40 feet long it might be quicker and better to build raters.  The ones I saw were on the back of a flat-bed semi and were around 40 feet long.  Even though they overloaded the truck, they were prepared to get the job done.

When I was in college, I worked for a friend who was a stone mason and custom builder.  One day he asked me to pick up a load of stone at a quarry about 50 miles from the job site.  I took his two-ton flatbed pickup to the quarry and they began loading the stone.  When they had loaded to capacity, there was just a few hundred pounds of stone that needed to be transported.  When they asked me what I wanted to do, I said go ahead and load it.  As I drove home, every time I hit a bump the load would force the bed down onto the wheels.  I ended up driving really slow to avoid an accident.  It would have been better to have made two trips rather than just making one overloaded.

Thoughts:  When I made the one overloaded trip, I thought I was saving my friend time and money.  What I did not realize was the potential damage to his truck and my life had one of the springs snapped from the weight.  There are times when we ignore overloaded warnings.  This can happen like me because I was not aware of the risks involved.  This may also happen because we have followed the warnings in the past and never had any problems.  We become complacent and decide to take the risk and drive overloaded.  While taking risks can come from ignorance or complacency, it can also be the result of self-interest.  I often find claiming your rights has little to do with the constitution.  Instead, what is being “violated” are one’s personal preference.  Do the work.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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