It’s hard for those outside of trucking to appreciate what they’ve never experienced, or even seen.
There are books featuring show trucks or antique trucks. There are movies that glamourize or demonize trucking. But rarely is there an accurate, in-depth view of what it’s like to earn a living by driving over-the-road.
Photographer Kim Reierson attempted to present that stark, honest view of trucking when she published her book, “Eighteen: A look at the culture that moves us,” in 2007. And sure enough, truckers and others told her they were “happy to see a different perspective” when she promoted the book at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas and the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.
Some of her book’s photos account for two-thirds of the images in Overdrive’s “Headed home” video. It’s part of our effort to celebrate National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Sept. 15-21, sponsored by the American Trucking Associations.
You can view the video at the site for Overdrive’s “I luv my trucker” contest. You’ll also find videos and photos submitted by family and friends of professional drivers, saying why a trucker in their life is special.
Reierson met hundreds of drivers as she visited truck stops in 20 states off and on over five years, capturing the gritty lifestyle of trucking on the highway, in truck stops and inside trucks. That included learning about truck stop prostitutes and crime, and being mistaken for a lot lizard.
“When you’re a little naïve, you don’t really know the ins and outs,” she recalls, though most drivers would help warn her of potential dangers.
While at an Ontario, Calif., truck stop, Reierson met driver Tim Young. As she talked with him, he received calls from home – his wife updating him on the latest family news, his daughter reading from her first library book.
“He seemed like a really earnest, into-his-family, loving father and husband,” she says. Reierson had never been over the road overnight, so she took the risk of asking if she could ride with him. “I’m kind of intuitive and good with people, knowing who is going to be the right person.”
It turned out she was right.
“It was almost nostalgic riding with him because he seemed to be coming from the real-deal kind of trucking, back in the day, where trucking was more of a family kind of thing,” she says. Tim had a “sense of community with other truckers. Because he was so friendly, he’d talk to anybody.”
The photos she got during her days on the road with Young, as well as those with his family at his home in Flat Rock, Ala., formed a key part of her book.
Excerpts from the book were featured in National Geographic’s U.S. and international editions. It led to publicity elsewhere, too, including an interview with trucking radio host Meredith Ochs and this interview on ABC News, where Reierson and a reporter ride in a truck.
The project also led to more exposure for Young. Through Reierson, he met Brett Morgan, the producer of the 45-minute “Drive and Deliver” video introducing International’s Lonestar. Young appeared as one of the video’s featured truckers. You can see him in the movie’s trailer.