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Retired owner-operator Brenda Hawkins

Retired owner-operator Brenda Hawkins of Blue Springs, Mo., thought brash trucker Susan Hawk of Survivor didn’t represent the profession well. Now Hawkins, 61, has her own chance, as a contestant on PAX TV’s Cold Turkey 2, in which 10 people try to quit smoking.

Before her husband, Bennie, died of lung cancer in 2003, the two of them drove team for a decade. She has since driven limos and taken acting classes, which is how she met the Cold Turkey 2 casting director.

Hawkins enjoyed being on a show that required no bug-eating, though she wishes it had been filmed in the tropics rather than San Diego. “We had a very good camaraderie,” she says. “I’m doing all this for fun. I like to generate new memories.”

The show debuts at 10 p.m. Eastern on March 15. Hawkins says truckers who want to kick the habit will find the show inspirational – but she won’t reveal whether she wins.

Photographer Jane Floyd-Hendey, 58, grew up afraid of truckers. Her parents warned her never to hitch a ride in a big rig.

Yet for her Master of Fine Arts project at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Floyd-Hendey faced her fears and took her cameras to the Flying J on I-270 in Pontoon Beach, Ill.

“Everybody was incredibly nice and polite,” she says. “Now I want everybody to look at truck drivers in a different way.” Her trucker portraits, like this one of Victor Caseillo, have been exhibited in galleries – mounted on the galvanized backs of highway signs.

“Really Down in T-Town” wrote the “Dear Abby” newspaper column this fall to complain about her trucker husband, who never stopped talking. Columnist Jeanne Phillips suggested he get counseling, which prompted a January follow-up column.

One reader suggested the trucker was on amphetamines. Another trucker’s wife wrote: “He may just be lonely.”

A fleet employee wrote that long-haul truckers “need contact with another human voice. When they call in to the company, given the chance, they’ll talk for hours. They love to tell stories of their adventures, and I have found that if I listen, I learn a lot.”

“A friend is just a stranger who hasn’t done you over yet.”
– Motto of crooked owner-operator Sidney Maxton-Brown in Alexei Sayle’s new novel, Overtaken.

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