You know what? The four days of driving Tram for the Good Sam Rally was a mixed piece of work. For a bit I was hot as a griddle from the comments and actions of a tiny minority...
After a bit of "reflection" and time to cool out, I've decided that this event was akin to finding a big ugly wart on a gorgeous gals behind. A little bit of bad, with a whole lot of Fine. This is a time that a fella has to be careful to not cut down a whole tree... just because he found one bad limb.
I've had the Good Sam Road Emergency Road Service for probably ten years or better. I've used it I think four times and received excellent service each time. The last time was just last year when we were broke down way out in the Utah desert. They took care of me. It's been Well worth my money.
They have the care facility down in Texas. (*edit: uh OOPS! That's actually Escapees :) I told you I fried my brain! :) )Good Sam runs a lot of good and worthwhile programs. You don't have to like everything the club does to be able to rate it as overall a good outfit.
So... it was disheartening to hear at the recent rally, that had massive difficulties... that the top officers of the club were blaming PIR employees for the problems and dishing out verbal abuse.
You can call me names, you can throw things at me... and to be honest... most of the time I'll just laugh at you. But, I'm kinda quirky... start making improper, and even fabricated statements about and to the good people I work with and my shorts get pulled up painfully tight... buzzsaw quick. Do that and we're likely to have us a difficulty.
Here's the deal folks. PIR provided the Facility and the trams, with drivers... and that's it. Everything else was Good Sams call and responsibility. They have no right to try and blame PIR for choices made by Good Sam officers.
Good Sam executed the venue layout, and ALL traffic control. Good Sam Officers elected to only hire 80% of the tram capacity. Yes, our capacity to move folks was Contracted to be nearly a quarter below our ability. Then a tram route was laid out that further degraded our transport rate, and made achieving safe tram operations a horrendous task.
During a race we've moved nearly 14,000 people in about an hour and a half. At this rally? A fraction of that... because the experienced advice of the people at PIR was refused.
Only a portion our Transport capability was contracted, it was then further obstructed repeatedly over the course of the rally. When the "turkeys came home to roost" those obstructing officials became angered because that reduced portion of our tram fleet failed to perform equal to the whole. Well gee, imagine that!
At every major event during the rally, whenever we needed maximum transport to handle the surge in people, one of those trams was diverted by club officials for skits... to move "Dignitaries" ... and for "Possible" use for "Other" actions.
When told that would degrade even further our ability to move people, my boss was told; "Whatever, that's what we want." People traffic is much like auto traffic jams. Once it slows up... it backs up geometrically and just stops.
They chose to put all vendor exhibits and the RV show, in the infield of the track, accessed only by the Choke point of the tunnel... Rather than out in the Midway area, with Multiple points of access, as has been NASCAR practice at races with far more people, for years. That advice to my knowledge was given and ignored.
They had tram traffic, vendor golf cart traffic, Good Sam Officials Golf cart traffic and Thousands of Rally Attendees in personal vehicles and walking, combined with vendor commercial truck traffic, ALL funneled through the choke point of the access tunnel to the infield. A tunnel primarily designed for the movement of the trucks moving 50 or so race cars maybe twice a day when the racing changes to a different category.
Good Sam's Venue plan also had all that same traffic combined and intermixed the length of the Midway. They had trams driving through heavy, congested foot, vendor and official golf cart traffic, personal vehicle traffic, vendor trucks and cars, and even RV's being moved by vendors... the entire length of the midway.
Little of the traffic that we had to run a 20,000+ lb tram through, with 52 or more living bodies aboard, would yield the right of way to tram traffic, as is our Routine safety procedure. Golf Carts would cut us off, people would step out in front of us, try to board our moving trams, try to offload from our moving trams.
It was far more difficult than ANY race has been... and half of those race fans are pickled.
At PIR, Trams have right-of-way over ALL other traffic except for emergency vehicles ON an emergency run. A Tram running upwards of 22,000 lbs, fully loaded, is not a highly maneuverable, quick stopping vehicle, and so it is given Right-of-Way. the safety of the 52 and more people on that tram, as well as those on the ground is dependent on adherence to our safety rules and procedures.
The word I had heard weeks prior to the event,was that the advisement was given that their "Plan" would not, Could not work... the reply was basically; Whatever, that's what we want.We know what we're doing.
The end result was that our ability to move people was impeded and reduced well in excess of 50%... maybe even 75% or more.
The "Rub" came in... when the advisement of the major faults in their plan proved to be true. The Official response that came down the grapevine was; "We will never come back here due to the poor performance of PIR personnel. This is your fault."
***Only the skill, patience and the co-operation with each other, of the
Phoenix International Raceway Tram Drivers and the Volunteer, Hosts/Hostesses from the Good Sam Club, got us through the entire Most Difficult Four Days with not a single, solitary, injury attributable to Tram Operations.
Our commitment to the safety of the folks we transport made the people I work with at PIR shine!***
It is that commitment to doing a difficult job, keeping their cool in the face of frustrated, angry passengers, and obstructing, clueless officials; and to doing everything possible to transport safely, our NASCAR Fans, and now the Recent Good Sam RVers that has given us the Finest Safety Record, to my knowledge, of any NASCAR Track. If Not THE finest, I'll bet both my kidneys and half my liver we're one of the Finest Tram Operations in NASCAR.
So... When someone, who has screwed up Badly, not only fails to man up and shoulder Their responsibility, but choose to attempt to pass off their bad decisions and arrogance of authority as being the result of a fault in someone else's performance, defaming good people in the process; it puts my shorts in a knot.
Now... Let me say right here, 99.9999999999% of the Good Sam Folks that I hauled, drove past and met at the rally are fine and good people. The several people I had work with Me, my Good Sam Volunteer Tram Hosts/Hostesses, Carol, Joanne, Colleen, Wayne, and a couple others who I must admit embarrassment at the fact their names are lost in the "Fog" of the past week, were AWESOME.
Jane, our primary contact with Good Sam was Awesome. She saw how we accepted every obstruction and found a way to get the job done in spite of it. Our only problem was she wasn't far enough up the totem pole to make any changes.
The hurtful and false accusations made by those who laid out the Rally are defied by the significant number of folks, who actually rode our trams, who walked up to our trucks at stops and thanked us for the Job we were doing. To those people, I believe the majority of the Good Sam RVers at the Rally I say, Many Thanks, It was a pleasure.
With renewed knowledge of where "corporate heads" are poked... I'll keep my Good Sam Services for now and just keep an eye open.
To the officials who CHOSE to force things to run as chaotic and poorly as they did, who chose to go against the counsel of those who had the experience to know better, I say; Shame on You... Cowboy Up and Learn from your membership how to be a Good Sam.
Happy to Have Met the Good Sams...