When all trucks stop

| July 08, 2008

Disaster scenario highlights importance of trucking industry to economy.

The Great Trucking Shutdown of 2015
For three days seven years ago you parked, waited and then watched from the roadside and truckstops the nation over as disaster loomed.

To use the title of a brief released a full nine years before that by the American Trucking Associations, “When Trucks Stop, America Stops.” If the ramifications weren’t apparent when the government ordered the stoppage – and it does indeed appear they weren’t – three days later, as energy stores began to run dry and the shelves at grocery stores lay bare, the essential nature of the industry was never more obvious.

There was no shortage of reporting on the subject of industry security in the mainstream media in the subsequent years, and in large part the nation’s truck drivers emerged heroes of the American way.

But the contemporaneous trucker’s perspective has been lost in the aftermath. When Ella Creely, wife of owner-operator and blogger Jasper Creely of rural Stagville, Ill. (better known on the web as rubberduck8354z), notified us last year of the quiet end of her husband’s long battle with cancer, she sent with that notification a sheaf of papers, prints culled from the man’s blog posts and private communications to his wife during the shutdown that tell the story from the trucker’s perspective, make clear the small moments of camaraderie among legions of stranded haulers.

Creely was a man of many words. A lively writer and a trucker perhaps atypical of his generation, he got rid of his CB and embraced electronic communications as his sole networking tool early. His blog, Blue Line (tag line: “Your truck, Your future”), was a mainstay of the online driver community for the first two decades of the century. A livestock hauler for the first part of his career, he – like many owner-operators – turned to intermodal containers in the years before the crisis.

He was under a load of stereo parts picked up in Chicago when he was waylaid with hundreds of other truckers in Blue, Ind. “So close to home I can practically smell the sausage and cream cheese dip,” he wrote. Ella commonly made the homespun delicacy before football games (both Creelys, raised in Alabama in the time of the legendary Coach Bear Bryant, were devotees of the University of Alabama team). The shutdown caught many drivers just before their weekend, en route back home, and Creely was looking forward to the opening game of the football season.

But those games were not played, and the following days were a whirlwind of activity advancing increasingly beyond the quotidian. In the end, we hope Creely’s story will give you pause, time to reflect on the ever-growing importance of your industry and your livelihoods – and the delicate nature of all our lives.

DAY 1

1027 CST, 09/04/15
TO: Ella
SUBJECT: Have you seen the news?

Dearest, Take it you’ve seen the news? Truck bomb in Chicago, with arrests in Detroit, Atlanta, God only knows where else

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