Banking on Truckers

There’s always going to be humidity in Holly Springs, Miss., in August. In Santa Rosa, N.M., blowing sand is a fact of life. And you can count on rain if you’re in Seattle for more than a couple of days.

We can all find things to complain about, but for the most part we like things we can depend on. We know there are inconveniences in life, so we expect them and prepare for them.

Truck drivers seem better prepared to routinely meet adversity head-on than those in other fields. They live each day hoping for the best while expecting the worst.

The rest of the world depends on truckers to be there – ready to pick up loads and deliver them on time. They probably don’t even realize how much they rely upon drivers to do their jobs in spite of the hardships truckers face daily.

Recently, some members of the Truckers News editorial staff, including myself, took part in the Overdrive (our sister publication) 40th Anniversary Voice of the American Trucker Tour. We stopped at almost 30 truckstops during the five-week tour, handing out gifts to truckers in appreciation of what they do for America.

Most of the drivers I talked to were more than happy to take a few moments from their busy schedules to chat with us. A lot of them told me how proud they were to see the editors out on the road and showing an interest in their jobs.

I can’t count the number of truckers who said they love Truckers News. Many offered suggestions about stories we should do. Others fondly remembered a story we had done in the past.

I know they were genuine compliments because they often quoted something from a story or said they kept a particular copy of the magazine in their trucks. Truckers were just as honest about stories that they felt needed to have been more in-depth, or in which we should have taken another angle.

For the most part, they just wanted someone to listen to them. Many were having trouble making ends meet with rising diesel prices, insurance costs and low rates. These stories are certainly nothing new; they’re the things they face each day. Despite these problems, a lot of drivers found a way to laugh at their hardships.

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“I can remember when I was paying 30 cents a gallon for diesel, had a $600-a-month truck payment and was making almost $2 per mile. I thought it was highway robbery,” quipped one career trucker. “Now I’m paying over $1.50 for fuel, making 81 cents per mile and I have a $2,300-a-month truck payment.”

What keeps many of these drivers on the roads is simple – they love their jobs. They like the freedom of the open road and the lifestyle. Sadly, most people in this country – instead of being appreciative of what truckers do for them – casually depend on drivers to quietly go about their business in the face of the trucking industry’s continuing problems.

Reality shows the public is probably right. As long as truckers can find a way to scrape by, they will continue to load and unload the materials and goods that keep this country running. Without them, everything would virtually come to a catastrophic standstill.

Instead of providing the compensation and appreciation the average trucker deserves, America banks on the fact that “love of the job” is enough motivation to keep truck seats filled and this country moving forward. It’s been a hard, cold fact for many years.

Like the hot summers of the South, the blowing sand of the Southwest and the rains of the Pacific Northwest, some things stay the same. We don’t always appreciate these realities, but we count on them.

Hopefully, one day more of the public will realize just how much it depends on truckers to make their lives better. That would be one change that most drivers would welcome.