Florida-based Eaton Literary Agency awarded South Carolina trucker Brian E. Scott the 2002 book-length award and $2,500 for “Tarnished Knights,” a story he authored about his frustrations as a 48-state company driver. The agency, which has secured publishers for the past few contest winners, awards an annual prize for manuscripts of more than 10,000 words.
As a youth, Scott admired truckers and their rigs. After working in a factory and serving in the U.S. Air Force, in 1994 he decided to pursue his dream and went on to drive for a succession of three carriers.
“It’s changed, just like everything else,” Scott, 38, said. Instead of the truckers he had once venerated, he found too many drivers who were overworked or were poor drivers, working for carriers that treated them shabbily.
“It was so bad, I had to write about it,” he said. “It was like medicine. I always loved to write. It’s my story – what I have seen and experienced.
“There are a lot of funny things in there, although at the time it was probably not funny,” he said. Some of the lighter moments included ludicrous company money-saving tips. Less amusing was the racism and sexism he encountered, especially on the CB.
Still, there were good times. In 1996, he gave his then 70-year-old mother, with whom he lives, her first truck ride. He drove her from Roanoke, Va., to Washington, D.C.
“She was in heaven,” Scott recalls. “My mom wanted to be a truck driver, but as a black woman in the 1930s, she just couldn’t do it,” the writer said.
Truckers who have read his manuscript feel “it represents their story, too,” he said. “They just didn’t take the time to write it.”
Scott left OTR trucking after more than two years. Since 1996, he has driven for Mail Carriers of America, which contracts with the U.S. Postal Service. He drives routes of less than 300 miles one way, and works only part-time. “Now it’s just a job,” he said. “I don’t do it enough to get disturbed over it.”