Overdrive Extra

Randy Grider

‘Sputter’ hits higher gear in new book

| August 17, 2012
Shannon ‘Sputter’ Smith

Shannon Smith’s 15 minutes of fame are far from over.

The 35-year-old, Cleveland-based driver for a small fleet leased to Landstar Inway was spotlighted earlier this year in O, The Oprah Magazine.

The article’s author,Jeanne Marie Laskas, captured Smith’s journey to become an over-the-road trucker during an extended ride-along with Smith to last year’s Truckers Jamboree in Walcott, Iowa.

Laskas discovered Smith when reading an interview she gave to Career World magazine in 2008. Laskas was already working on a book about people who work in unrecognized jobs that support America.

The end result is Laskas’ latest book, “Hidden America (From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work.” Smith’s story is found in a chapter titled “Sputter,” which is her CB handle. The Putnam-published book is due out in September.

I have read both the magazine story and the proof copy of the book, which vary somewhat due to editing. The story is a moving — sometimes funny, other times melancholy — look at the life of a solo driver through the eyes and mouth of the highly energetic, and mostly overly optimistic, Smith. While Smith is the center of article, it deals with a host of real issues that many truckers face, including relationships on the road.

Semi-spoiler alert: Smith isn’t painted as your stereotypical driver-of-the-month as the book version starts off with an impromptu topless ride in an effort to stay alert and ward off boredom during a hot summer night. While some may have a problem with this not setting a good example for truckers – especially female drivers – don’t judge Smith too quickly. She is candid and unapologetically real. That’s becoming a rarer commodity these days in our politically correct world.

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