‘Collectively dumbfounded and equally impressed’ — Mike Ryan on judging ‘Most Beautiful’
So it went at the Great American Trucking Show this past weekend, as the Most Beautiful contestants congratulated each other on a job well done representing themselves and the trucking industry throughout the final round of the competition.
Class 8 stunt man and racer extraordinaire Mike Ryan was one of several judges who took part in an extended round of interviews with the final three Overdrive‘s Most Beautiful contestants on Friday, Aug. 23, at the Great American Trucking Show. Ryan was moved by the experience to the extent that he sent in an account of the difficulty he and other judges had in making the final determination of the winner. Like Wendy Parker, whose own similarly situated account you can find via this link, Ryan was blown away by the stories of Libby Clayton, Tina Comer and (the ultimate winner) Maggie Stone. Of the three, he wrote:
Libby came from the world of being a mom with an office job, but she also served two years in the Army. Divorced and looking for a fresh start, she remembered fondly riding with her grandfather in his truck as a child. With the help of some friends, she got a job with Dillard’s Department Stores about six years ago and has been on the road ever since, hauling between the various DCs and stores.
As the interview with Clayton came to an end, Ryan described the dynamic among the judges as one of virtual certainty they had just interviewed the winner. Clayton’s “personality, easygoing way and bright smile had us all convinced,” he wrote, but then…
Tina Comer gracefully swept in… Tina, her husband and now-grown children live in a tiny mountain town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, and they are in the log-hauling business. She started as wife, mom and in her words “parts chaser and mechanic’s helper.” But as the kids grew, she migrated into the truck, a late-70s Peterbilt. Before long, it became hers when her husband got a second one and then a third, with a hired driver.
She was mom, bookkeeper, cook, driver, mechanic’s helper and boss for a while, until the boss part lost its charm and they went back to a two-truck family.
Summer days are long and working in the warm season is plenty of motivation to get up early and make as many runs from the logging job to the mill as you can in a day. They typically get up at 3 a.m. and drive to the job, somewhere up in the woods on logging roads … in the dark. They get to the site, get loaded and arrive at the mill at 6 a.m. when they open. For the rest of the day they do rounders and then drive home in the dark if it is close enough, or they set up camp at the logging job if it is too far away….
And, further …
Maggie … found her way into a truck, first as a driver and then as an owner-operator with several trucks and drivers hauling coal. When the coal job ended, she had to find a new kind of work, and since she was raised on a farm and lives in Iowa, working with animals was a natural thing to do.
She switched her dump trailer for a Wilson livestock trailer and began hauling pigs. My jaw dropped open. I couldn’t for a moment imagine [Maggie] loading pigs into a trailer. Pigs can be mean and they are big, surly, stinky and in my mind kind of sketchy to be around. Maggie keeps them calm by talking and singing to them and, as proof, she gave us her best rendition.
Top top it off, Maggie and her trucking pals started a charity to raise money for down-and-out truckers in their area, and I’m not talking nickels and dimes; more than $25,000.00 has gone to people that they have helped. When Arrow Trucking went belly-up, they raised money to get the drivers to a truck stop for a meal and some fuel to get home on, or bus fair if they would take their Freightliners to the nearest dealership, or even a couple of nights at a hotel for drivers who lived in their trucks.
I’ve been around trucks since I was a kid and I think that I know a thing or two about them, but both of these last women know how to do stuff in and with trucks that I don’t have a clue about….
Ryan described the judges at the end of the three interviews as “collectively dumbfounded and equally impressed.” After appealing to Overdrive staff for a three-way tie, all the tough decisions were made, and along the way, Ryan wrote, all involved learned a few things about particular notions of beauty.
We started thinking about the times we’d been broken down, flat broke and what it took to get home about the same time that we all started broadening our original concepts of beauty. Mom was right – beauty is more than skin deep, and these three ladies prove it all the way down to their great big hearts, but Maggie’s compassion for her fellow truckers and her line that went something to the effect of “it’s not what you make, it’s what you give,” rightfully earned herself the crown of Overdrive’s Most Beautiful!
For my part, I, too, am glad I got the opportunity to meet the women, however briefly given all that was going on at the Great American Trucking Show (duty called). It felt rather like I knew them already, given all that I’d read leading into the show — big indicator of truth in advertising that I’m always happy to encounter meeting interview/story subjects in person: Clayton, Comer and Stone were all just as exemplary, honest, wonderful examples of what it takes to make it in trucking as they’d been trumped leading into the competition’s final round.
Share their stories, as well as those of so many other operators male and female profiled on this site and in our pages, far and wide — the general public needs to hear more about the safe and successful in this industry.
Big congrats from me to the all the contestants.