April 30, 2009

Parallel Parking and Disparate Impact

A recent study showed that IQ and similar tests were highly useful at predicting who would make it through a year-long truck driving training course. In comments, though, several of my readers (who tend not to be deficient in IQ) pointed to their own troubles during their abortive truck driving careers, which usually involved backing a big rig up.

Backing up can be a tricky cognitive problem. I suspect (on no particular evidence) that being good at backing up is not hugely related to g, the general factor in intelligence. So, a specific test of backing up skill could be useful. Backing up a trailer is harder than backing up car, but for applicants to truck driver training programs, a parallel parking test using the applicant's own vehicle might make a good first cut (along with paper and pencil tests). If somebody is bad at parallel parking his or her own vehicle, that might indicate something about the likelihood that they'll wash out of trucking school.

Parallel parking isn't easy, even for professional heavy equipment drivers. From the June 2005 issue of Concrete Producer trade magazine:

Back for its third year at World of Concrete, the John Deere Load America competition has become a popular mainstay outside the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Participants were more eager than ever to hop inside the cab of a John Deere 544J front-end loader and take on a formidable obstacle course for some terrific prizes. Participants received points for successfully executing a variety of maneuvers such as backing up, parallel parking, and driving up a ramp to drop a ball into a barrel.

Of all the obstacles, parallel parking usually give participants the biggest challenge ...

As a society, we don't benefit when people wash out of expensive training programs for predictable reasons.

So, why wouldn't a trucking firm at least consider a parallel parking test for job applicants?

Well, how about "disparate impact?" What if a legally protected demographic group such as, say, women turned out to pass the parallel parking test at less than four-fifths rate of the highest scoring demographic group?

I have no idea who tend to be the best and worst parallel parkers, but I wouldn't be surprised if women are below average at it. A key part of parallel parking is psychological rather than cognitive: it's the feeling that you damn well deserve to block traffic while you take your time so you can do it right the first time. (I'm reminded of something a PGA rival said about why Arnold Palmer sank so many crucial 20 foot putts: That Arnold had more confidence barely begins to describe the gap between him and the lesser mortals on the golf tour. The key was that Arnold just felt he deserved to sink 20 foot putts.)

And big rig drivers face much harder parking challenges. There's a reason that truck drivers in popular culture are stereotyped as insensitive: sensitive types who worry about how they are blocking other drivers while they try to backup through a three-point reverse turn into an alley 18" wider than their trailer tend to get flustered and mess up.

In a sane, effectual society, questions of disparate impact would be answered once and then we'd move on. We'd check to see if, say, parallel parking was a valid test that provided useful information about who is likely to become a good truck driver. If the parallel parking test had a disparate impact on women, we'd check to see if the unlikely might be true and the test had something odd about it that made it less valid for women. But, once it turned out that, yes, women tend to make lousier truck drivers and, yes, this test merely reveals that, we'd move on.

And yet the Ricci fireman promotion test case shows that when it comes to disparate impact, we don't move on. Fireman promotion tests have been studied and litigated longer than many of you reading this have been alive. Nothing ever changes. But we're all supposed to act like it could change at any minute. That provides a lot of money to discrimination lawyers (e.g., Barack Obama), testing firms, consulting firms that pick the testing firms, etc. etc.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

35 comments:

james said...

Never mind about driving a truck, I'm one of the few who can't drive a car.

I undertook driving lessons for the first time during my 40s (in a large city), and by then it was waaaaaay too late. Not only were my reflexes much slower than they would've been in my teens and 20s, but I totally lacked confidence behind the wheel, so that I was the despair of any driving instructor. (Cf. Bob Newhart's famous comedy sketch about the incompetent lady driving student.)

Most people who know me have told me I'm reasonably intelligent. So I guess I must be adequately endowed when it comes to g. Yet at learning to drive, which many a moron can manage, I was, and am, utterly hopeless.

Perhaps my one hope of getting a driver's license is the possibility that driving tests might someday be sufficiently Obama-ized and dumbed down so as to be dependent entirely upon the candidate's "self-esteem".

Heelntoe said...

No surpises here. Spatial skills are a component of fluid intelligence and yes men score more highly than women. However, let's remember that differences within each sex are greater than the differences between them. Some women do have superior spatial skills (and do make good truck drivers). I remember teaching my first wife how to reverse our car with pony trailer attached - she got it right first time and saw no problems. An old gentleman who had been watching came over and asked if she'd teach him as "I've been trying to do it all my life"

I, Citizen said...

In a sane, effectual society

This is a funny sentence fragment coming from you, Mr. Citizenism. Did the phrase "blood is thicker than water" always ring a bell with you, Steve? Or not? Did it ever? Did it always? Only lately?

All this talk of racial reality over the years and concurrently you serve up your Big Citizenism Theory to bring the diverse masses all together in a coherent whole, in spite of the racial realities of the human race. Or something like that.

Whether the bell is ringing or not: it is obvious that race/ethnicity/tribe concerns trump the "sane, effectual society" concerns every damn time. Yes, believe it or not, there are black leaders, politicians and successful black gangsters in the metro Detroit area that are generally satisfied with the situation, even though it is approaching total civic breakdown. For them, an ineffectual black fire department, under their control, is very much superior to any "effectual" fire department under any other race's control. Imagine that.

The Nordics made a run at the "sane, effectual society" and not coincidentally those were extremely homogenous Nordic societies. You should see now how quickly the "sanity" and "effectuality" is ebbing in a place like, say, multiracial, multicultural Malmo, Sweden.

Steve, why don't you parachute into Malmo and hold a Citizenist conference? Why don't you bring the two sides together and explain how allegiance to The Society is paramount? Rodney King could be the guest speaker. He could ask his famous question, "Can't we all just get along?" over and over again, and you could respond each time with Citizenism Theory riffs mixed in with your signature, no nonsense, racial reality warnings.

Anonymous said...

I Citizen:

You're being stupid. Do you think Steve would be able to get his message out if he called for racial exclusiveness?

The whole point of race realism is facts.

Let the truth get out there. Let people agree on facts. Then we can all talk about whether Citizenism is realistic. Till then you're being an idiot by attacking Steve.

Bill said...

I can parallel park very well. In fact, my friends sometimes get out of the driver's seat and let me do it for them in a tight spot. I don't know exactly why I'm good at it, but it is obviously a spatial task. As you back into the spot, you have to imagine your car moving in relation to several different points in space, on a curve.

I'm sure confidence has something to do with it, but I know some very confident drivers who also happen to be very lousy drivers. As for the relationship between this kind of spatial skill and g, I honestly have no idea. I can only say that I remember cheating on an algebra test that had us rotate curves on a graph by simply rotating them in my head (I hated algebra), so it may be a way to infer answers on multiple choice questions and make yourself look smarter. I used to do this all the time on chemistry and physics tests as well, which really angered a few teachers for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Oh, we women would do terribly. I think this kind of thing has been discussed here before and we concluded spatial skills were very important to parking and driving in tight places. I learned to drive in '94-'95 around age 17 and we were not taught to parallel park because it was considered obsolete; mostly, I think my instructor was lazy. I've been laughed at enough by my husband for all my scrapes related to misjudging distance to know I would stink at parallel parking. Another difference between us that confounds my husband: I turn my head around as much as I can when backing up instead of using the rear view mirror. I get extremely disoriented using it and if I do, I have to move at a snail's pace to keep from careening all over the place.

Steve, thanks for the work you've been doing covering the Ricci case.

used bucket trucks said...

It is great that people are thinking about the environment and working to make the world a safer place. Not only the materials that you are using on your home are safe for the environment but dump trucks have come a long way since the earlier models. We are learning and expanding and coming up with a wide range of safer more effective vehicles for the work force. I think it is great that many auto manufacturers are turning to hybrid vehicles to protect the environment and now they are even using hybrid dump trucks.

Anonymous said...

So wait, what you're saying is that if women or NAMs simply have more self-confidence, they'll do better? I think we tried this experiment already and it didn't work.

Anonymous said...

Another example of why this is one of the best blogs on the net. Steve's radar picks up and analyzes so much everyday.

Now we see why to be grateful for insensitive truck drivers, since prices are affected by how efficiently goods are delivered.

Insensitivity (to honking drivers you're holding up as you take your time backing) leads to unflusterability, which leads to concentration, which leads to competence, which leads to fewer accidents, which leads to lower prices.

Anonymous said...

Being insensitive helps all right, says the woman who's just learned how to back an ambulance into a bay while her fellow crew members are all ragging on her. (And they're a lot easier on me than they are on each other.) When I was younger I couldn't have tuned them out and concentrated on the job.

Dang, I can't wait until I have to back up at night by mirrors from a narrow twisty road with a drainage ditch onto an unlit unfamiliar narrow twisty driveway with a retaining wall alongside, and a little steering lag. My spatial skills and g test way up there - it's the nerve that comes hard, the difference between costless abstraction and reality with life, money, and embarrassment at stake.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder if there are multiple intelligences vs. a singular g constant. I scored 720 on the SAT math (old school scoring curve in the 80s) after answering all of the questions in 10 minutes without scratch paper. Yet, I do poorly on Wechsler-type visual pattern questions. I also have a poor sense of spatial relations (I have difficulty parallel parking, my handwriting is terrible). I gave some Wechsler questions with visual pattern to my idiot wife (who was in special ed as a kid) and she did better than me.

zylonet said...

If memory serves, Nigel Mansell failed his parallel parking exam in St. Petersburg, FL. I believe it was a joke.

I think Steve hit the nail on the head with regards to some narrow insights, a big part of parallel parking is not caring about those behind you. If you have a deferential personality, then you will have a more difficult time for that reason alone.

Anonymous said...

Steve-o,

A functional delete icon is showing up on these posts, which may explain some of the disappearing problems of late.

--Senor Doug

ben tillman said...

This couldn't be more timely. Just yesterday I was parallel-parking when someone pulled up behind me. I was in a line of cars stopped at a light at a light-rail crossing, but I had my turn signal on, so it should have been clear that I was parking. Anyway, the idiot behind me stayed there for a minute-and-a-half honking his horn instead of simply driving around me.

That's one of the great mysteries of this world -- the driver who won't go around an obstacle. Until yesterday, every such driver I'd encountered had been a woman.

Chief Seattle said...

Backing up with a trailer is a completely different problem than parallel parking. I learned to back up a tractor/trailer combination as a kid (ok, it was a lawn tractor, but still) and I can tell you that it's very easy to jack knife, and that the way you turn the wheel is dependent on whether the trailer is on one side or the other of the centerline. It's something you just need to get a feel for, and I bet a lot of redneck truck drivers have driven a farm tractor or a truck with a boat at some point in their lives.

Parallel parking is a city skill. I didn't have to learn that until I went to college at nineteen. And yes, some people have trouble with it, but it's much more mechanical than backing up a trailer. Check if the space is big enough, line up one foot over from the car in front g with the back of your car lined up with the front of the space, turn the wheel clockwise, back 2/3 of the way, turn the wheel ctr-clockwise, back in the rest of the way, pull forward. Much easier than backing with a trailer, which I couldn't explain without sitting next to someone.

Ronduck said...

1. I remember watching a truck driver pull a U-turn from the far right lane of a major street.

2. A friend of mine went through the hiring and training process for the Post Office. He had to go through an extensive driver training course that involved him backing up through an obstacle course in one of those distinctive rolling boxes the PO uses. He also took the exam and had to enter addresses in perfect conformity to established procedure. I wouldn't be surprised if the process weeds out a lot (but not all) of the low IQ applicants.

Ronduck said...

James said...

I undertook driving lessons for the first time during my 40s (in a large city), and by then it was waaaaaay too late.

It shouldn't be too late. My work has a floor cleaning crew composed of illegals, and I remember one of them, who has to be in his early to mid 50's learning to drive. I was walking home one day and I remember Jose pulling out of the parking lot, he squealed his tires while making the left hand turn across several lanes of traffic and the cars passing by had to come to a sudden stop in order to avoid hitting him.

Soul Searcher said...

O Citizen of the Highest Order,

I want this oh-so-obvious and self-explanatory reason why "race/ethnicity/tribe 'trumps 'sane, effectual, society' explained to me as if I were a dumb child.

In fact, I have come to some obvious conclusions: though the posts of the commentariat at popular HBD blogs like Sailer's and GNXP largely hint at a well-learned education, it is also true that the out-and-out White Nationalists tend to be the most cretinous and least scientifically literate of the bunch (harkening back to that forgotten term for the low-IQ).

Steve can often be snarky in his digging, but he is rarely gratuitous. When I read WN's sniveling tales of woe and oppression, I am reminded of the similar story of the repression of the atheist. There's an always an undercurrent of bewildering anger there that reminds me of the idiot left.

Am I mistaken, Mr. Citizen? Could you explain to me why a neutral observer shouldn't take this as a sign of an incorrect theology when smart non-PC conservatives don't harken to it?

Because for all their airs of sophistication, they start to sound loony if asked about dreaded interracial marriage and miscegenation with smart blacks or Jews.

Now I know in every "movement" there's always some intellectual division between the prole foot-soldiers and the elite policy-makers, but convince me the WNs are not truly retarded. When I venture over to Majority Rights and read their analysis and cutting-edge sophistications that include formulating social policy on "mishappen mulatto neonates", one has to wonder.

Soul Searcher said...

Bill,

That's very interesting, because while reasoning in 2-dimensions is pretty easy for me, try to handle the 3D stuff definitely becomes skull-splitting in its intensity for me. One of my favorite ways of understanding genetics and genetic substructure is analogizing to n-dimensional space of points - sort of like using n-sided die to think about probability - but usually after while I have to pull out the pen and paper and draw far too many bad diagrams and start wishing I were more spacially gifted. The weird thing is, I consider myself above-average in mathematics, more in areas like analysis or topology where there's much algebraic manipulation, but from observing Asians who have a different intelligence structure than I (above-average spacial IQs vs. verbal IQ), it's certain to me that they both think differently and can solve certain types of questions faster. I'd speculate from that data point that there should be some sort of observable disparity in the types of papers that Jewish and Asian mathematicians and physicists publish.

Anonymous said...

"Yet at learning to drive, which many a moron can manage, I was, and am, utterly hopeless.

Perhaps my one hope of getting a driver's license is the possibility that driving tests might someday be sufficiently Obama-ized and dumbed down so as to be dependent entirely upon the candidate's "self-esteem".

Nope. No hope for you there, either. By calling yourself "hopeless" you've demonstrated a woeful lack of self-esteem. Face it, you're just out of luck.
(just teasing ;)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I'll vote for there being some heritable brain-structure that helps significantly in backing up a trailer. My step-family, who all have lower (but not low) IQ's, have all been able to back up a boat trailer into a narrow slot on bad terrain every vacation, starting immediately after getting their driver's licenses. My bio family still screws it up years later - it just never clicks. The step-family is dramatically ambidextrous as well, which may be related.

Hank said...

Interesting.

When I was in Korea, I was amazed at how everybody, men and women, was so good at parallel parking. This was in Seoul, which is ridiculously crowded and dense, and has a mix of wide, modern thoroughfares along with extremely narrow and convoluted streets that survived the Korean War. It's much more difficult to drive there than in New York City for example. The people there were incredibly good at parallel parking in these tight spots and navigating these streets. Could be that they just get more practice, having to drive in Seoul everyday, or perhaps more rigorous standards for learning how to drive and getting a license.

The highways and larger, modern roads were another matter though. The Koreans seemed to be pretty carefree, and careless when it came to driving on these roads. Speeding is not really enforced; cops will never chase you down, they'll take your license number and mail you a fine but no matter how fast you're going they're not going to go after you (granted the cop cars are basically compact Hyundais). Also, even in Seoul, at very late at night if there's little traffic, taxis and other drivers will not stop and wait at red lights. They will often just slow down and then just run the red light. And the whole wearing a seatbelt in the backseat thing isn't that popular either. When I would automatically put on my seatbelt when sitting in the back some Koreans thought I was strange or an extremely cautious, worrywort or something. I would tell them that it's habit, and just feels secure and comfortable, but God knows what they really thought.

So after this, it was hard to know what to make of the stereotype about Asians and driving. On the one hand, they were excellent parallel parkers and good on these crowded, narrow roads, on the other hand they drive like maniacs on larger thoroughfares.

What to make of this? Strong visuo-spatial ability coupled with Oriental fatalism? Or just lots of practice and high standards?

albertosaurus said...

I used to be a driving teacher. Contrary to what most people think because of the Bob Newhart sketch, teaching driving is easy to do and easy on your nerves. Parallel parking doesn't really require any brains or skill either.

Teaching driving is a low anxiety job because the teacher has a brake pedal. I would always welcome a student trying to run into a parked car because I would just step on the brake at which time they wouuld sign up for more lessons. I had a colleague who would put the student on the freeway and then take a nap.

There is an algorithym for parallel parking a car using only the mirrors. It also requires power steering. You don't even have to bend your neck to look backwards.

The hard part of parking is the coordination of speed, perception of the space, and turning the wheel. Without power steering you have to move the wheel while you back up. This takes judgement. With power steering any klutz can make all the needed turns while fully stopped. Experienced drivers don't need to do it this way however it's still useful for parallel parking on the right curb on a one way street.

Tscottme said...

I prepared for a flying career. I worked at the second largest flight school in the USA. And then I worked as a truck driver. There is a world of difference in the fields but also remarkable similarities, just enough to give insight into the differences.

You can take almost anyone and train them in 3 weeks well enough to get a truck driver license. Most truck driver training is done this way. The results are not very good, but good enough for the next stage of student/trainer "team driving" for several months.

Almost everyone entering training in trucking has been driving cars since 16 so you only need to train on the regulations and then the differences between driving a truck and a car. Automatic transmissions are even gaining popularity in trucking and that makes the car/truck comparison even better.

Trucking companies don't invest much time and effort into screening potential truck drivers for skills because the turnover rate is extremely high. In the industry the most common approach is to hire warm bodies who bring training with them, give them a little extra training and wait for them to quit while you work them into the ground.

A segment of the trucking industry takes the other approach and heavily screens applicants for past experience and then retains them through better working conditions. Their turnover rate is less than the near 100% rate of "training companies" that hire anyone, abuse newbies, and replace them when they quit.

Aviation is similar but different. Aviation breaks down the learning of knowledge and tasks into discreet units, builds one block at a time and screens out for renegades. The two industries are filled with different personality and quality by self-selection mostly and employers at the end. The jobs and skills are nearly identical, otherwise.

Because of the cost of training pilots/versus truck drivers and because of the inverted supply/demand of applicants/jobs between the two industries the difference in quality between the two industries are exaggerated over time. There are 100 plus aspirants for every decent flying job and there are almost 100 jobs for every trucking applicant.

Learning the mechanical/mental skill of backing the truck is simply a matter of breaking it into the key components and teaching the applicant how to think the right things and then do the right things at the right moment. Nobody has nearly the same level of prior knowledge and background about flying airplanes when they begin pilot training as almost everyone brings to trucking when they begin truck training yet the results between one industry and the other are much closer because training in aviation is much more systematic and the applicants are much closer to the final product mentally at the start of training. Pilots become pilots because of the self-selection and the good training. Truck drivers become good long-term drivers because of self-selection and in spite of the early training. People become pilots because they like operating highly-complex machines with precision and put up with passengers and time away from family to do this. People become truck drivers because it's very easy to get a job and like being left alone as much as possible. The challenge of maneuvering a 53 foot trailer through Chicago or Detroit streets is demanding and sometimes dangerous but not the reason you take the job.

Aviation attracts rule-followers with a great desire for knowledge of the arcane workings of their craft. Trucking takes people who would rather be doing something else and teaches the differences between driving a car and driving a truck.

BTW, stop rushing in front of that big truck in front of you only to pull in front of him and make a panic stop. The truck is holding you up in traffic because there is traffic in front of him. The single most common thing car drivers do, and every one of you do it, is see the truck, think there is empty road nirvana in front of him, charge in front of the truck, and then discover the traffic in front of the truck is just as crowded as the traffic in front of you. You are volunteering to be squashed like a bug, and worst of all possibly spill the truck driver's coffee when you assume the suicide position. The truck can't stop as quickly as you and he's trying not to follow traffic in front of him too close, except morons keep seeing that safety cushion as open space for cars. I don't want to run over your car and your family, but Isaac Newton must be obeyed and the gene pool will be cleansed if some of you try hard enough on the roads.

Bill said...

So after this, it was hard to know what to make of the stereotype about Asians and driving. On the one hand, they were excellent parallel parkers and good on these crowded, narrow roads, on the other hand they drive like maniacs on larger thoroughfares.

What to make of this? Strong visuo-spatial ability coupled with Oriental fatalism? Or just lots of practice and high standards?
Asians drive like they walk. It takes time to understand what they're up to, but once you get it it has a certain kind of logic.

If you watch Americans walking down a sidewalk, you will see them walking purposefully in a straight line. If you do this in Beijing you will bump into people constantly. Instead, in Beijing you ought to slowly weave back and forth and just slip through the crowd. The driving in Asia is similar in that driving fast and in a straight line is a perfect recipe for an accident.

Reminds me of an incident before I traveled to Asia, where a large crowd of Japanese on their way to a Mariners game were walking toward me on a sidewalk. I kept walking, but got nervous as they approached, because the group just kept coming toward me as though I wasn't there. Finally, when I met the group, I was sure there would be a collision, so I threw my hands to my front, but they just parted and closed around me like a school of fish! No collisions at all.

When I lived over there I finally learned how this works. Culture is funny that way.

Anonymous said...

You may be right that as a population women don't parallel park as well as men, but having parallel parked on Beacon Hill for 30 years, if it takes me more than three moves I'm embarrassed. Once you get the angle right, you shouldn't even have to look. If you need more than 2 inches clearance front and back you don't qualify. But this is in the category of practice, practice, practice.
Gina, stah pahka.

Chief Seattle said...

"Finally, when I met the group, I was sure there would be a collision, so I threw my hands to my front, but they just parted and closed around me like a school of fish! No collisions at all."


I saw the same thing in Vietnam. The roads in Saigon had everything from old army trucks to scooters to farm animals. And at the time (1999) there were probably 3 stop lights in the whole city. So when people wanted to cross the dense traffic, they didn't wait for a pause, they just slowly shuffled across, often holding hands with their companions, while the traffic kept moving, but avoided them. It was horribly scary the first time I tried it, but it worked, and for the locals it was completely normal.

grumpy techie said...

do we hire stronger ditch diggers? Or do we rent a bulldozer?

It may well be that under current conditions it makes sense to do this sort of testing to get better truckers. But in the long term the solution is to eliminate the whole parallel parking issue using semi-automatic control.

Some things cannot be solved technologically, but this isn't one of them. Just like automatic transmission vastly expanded the pool of potential drivers of cars for the same level of competence, so appropriate technology will eventually fix this issue.

Hank said...

Bill,

...you will see them walking purposefully in a straight line. If you do this in Beijing you will bump into people constantly. Instead, in Beijing you ought to slowly weave back and forth and just slip through the crowd.I'm not sure what to make of how the Koreans walked. I'm sure they don't walk as directly in a straight line and purposefully as Americans do. But I don't think they meander and weave about as much as the Chinese. I remember the Koreans would constantly joke about the Chinese and their various mannerisms, including walking. The Koreans imitate the Chinese and say that they walked slowly and meander, splay footed like a duck, with their hands held behind them. This was probably the mildest of stereotypes and prejudices that the Koreans held about the Chinese, amazing as it may seem to Westerners that such seemingly similar could hold such views and see each other as such different peoples.

Reminds me of an incident before I traveled to Asia, where a large crowd of Japanese on their way to a Mariners game were walking toward me on a sidewalk. I kept walking, but got nervous as they approached, because the group just kept coming toward me as though I wasn't there. Finally, when I met the group, I was sure there would be a collision, so I threw my hands to my front, but they just parted and closed around me like a school of fish! No collisions at all.That's funny, I had similar experiences in Korea. And if there are collisions or bumps, people just ignore them and go on their way. One thing I distinctly recall though about being in Korea and Asia is the feeling of utter safety one has when walking around at all hours throughout the city. You just never feel unsafe, and if you ever did feel unsafe because of someone in the street, you can be assured 100% that they are 10X more scared of you than you are of them.

Anonymous said...

Actually, besides endurance and physical strength, the females do well in all the physical aspects of truck driving. In fact they seem to learn to shift better and tend to have fewer backing accidents (which constitute few fatalities or hughe judgments but cost the industry a lot of money and end many truck cereers). Almost all women driving trucks (outside of union LTL companies with big AA programs) today are either part of husband/wife teams or are lesbians who may or may not drive with their 'partners'.

The biggest problem is that in fact, very few women tend to want to drive trucks.

Bill said...

Hank said...

Bill,

I remember the Koreans would constantly joke about the Chinese and their various mannerisms, including walking. The Koreans imitate the Chinese and say that they walked slowly and meander, splay footed like a duck, with their hands held behind them.


Yes, that is quite accurate. Not only do they wander all over the place, but they also tilt their heads back so it appears that they are looking at the sky.

At first I was amazed that they could do this without falling into the numerous holes in the streets or the many canals and ditches, but eventually I started doing the same thing, and found it to be kind of enjoyable once I got the hang of it. I suppose the splay-footed walk and weaving around are ways to gauge the terrain with your feet, so you don't actually have to look where you're going.

Perhaps this could be called the "Peking duck walk." Har har.

Kenworth Keith said...

Actually, many union/LTL road drivers have never backed a trailer up in their lives or have done so just to pass the CDL. You can't back up with doubles anyway.

They get in the truck, which is "built up" or "humped" (after railroad trains put together by 'humping', or rolling cars down hill in a switched field of tracks)by yard drivers, and go forward.

In the old days you were either a union LTL driver or an owner operator, pretty much. Modern truckload carrier employee driving was a small subset of drivers until the Reagan deregulation when companies like JB Hunt exploded in size.

I remember as a kid when we'd visit truck stops while on car trips, the restaurants had "Professional Driver" areas. They still do, but then, some had TWO, on opposite sides. One was informally for OOs and the other for LTL and bus drivers, the union guys.

That's a thing of the past and now with cell phones even the phone equipped booths are going away.

Truth said...

"Perhaps my one hope of getting a driver's license is the possibility that driving tests might someday be sufficiently Obama-ized and dumbed down so as to be dependent entirely upon the candidate's "self-esteem".

With all possible respect, does a man in his forties who can't drive want to make a snarky comment about something being "dumbed down."

Dennis Dale said...

"You can't teach this."
--George Costanza, with wistful pride, on his uncanny natural ability to parallel-park.

Boom Trucks USA said...

I think I failed the parallel parking portion of my driving test and I was using a Ford F-150. Can't imagine parallel parking something like a bucket truck or a digger derrick.