It’s begun. The time change has darkened our early evenings. The temperatures are now consistently chilly and the electric blanket has been unpacked and fired up. Thanksgiving is upon us, that time of year when our thoughts turn to that for which we are grateful. While I experience gratitude for many things in my life, the past few months I have had thoughts of thankfulness for some people who affect my life as a trucker, people I really hadn’t thought much about in the past.
While some truckers might disagree, I believe drivers as a group get a decent level of acknowledgement for what they do to support to the economy. This past September many trucking companies, truck stops and service providers celebrated truck driver appreciation week by offering free meals, coffee, discounts and no small number of expressions of thanks for the work we do. Personally, I was part of a two-day event sponsored by my company that included lodging and meals on their dime, with plenty opportunity to visit with staff and the company’s top management. An evening of lighthearted entertainment capped it off. If anyone left there not feeling appreciated, they weren’t paying close attention.
But I do believe there is a segment of the transportation industry that doesn’t get anywhere near the recognition it deserves, made up of the people we depend on every day in the truck stops. I’m talking the porters, the servers, the fuel desk clerks, mechanics, and road service and custodial staff.
I am certainly thankful for those who power-wash the fuel lanes, empty the often disgusting trash and patrol the lots, helping to keep us and our equipment safe.
I especially appreciate the retired widow at one truck stop who makes fresh coffee in the morning and greets me with a smile. I’ve seen her offer a listening ear to many a trucker, and she often knows their names. She never fails to wish all those she serves a safe day.
Plenty porters take pride in clean restrooms, showers and towels. I recently asked two about their work in the shower area. Darrell and Bruce explained the urgency they feel to clean and turn over the showers at the end of the workday when drivers are lined up waiting. When I asked about tips, though their faces fell. “Not often,” they noted. I truly appreciate a sparkling clean shower and bathroom with clean, fluffy towels after a day of sweaty work throwing tires or unloading cabinets. Do you?
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing numerous servers, many who are single parents. These people listen to our daily trials, troubles and triumphs, and I know from experience many appreciate those who take the time to hear of theirs as well. But for years I’ve watched too many drivers treat servers disrespectfully and leave without tipping or even a thank you.
If you’ve ever broken down on the interstate on a cold night I am sure you remember the relief felt when you saw the lights of the road service vehicle in your side mirrors. Sometimes, in our distress, we forget to think about their reality often enough — getting woken from a warm bed to come assist. And we all know how dangerous it is on the side of a slick road with traffic whizzing by at 70 mph. These capable hands literally risk their lives to help us. It’s not a job I would want, but I’m appreciative someone is willing to do it, especially grateful when they do it timely in less than optimal circumstances.
In this season of thanksgiving, I encourage truckers to take a moment to walk in the shoes of the folks who serve us and approach them with an attitude of gratitude. I have been told that a kind word of appreciation can brighten someone’s day. (A little monetary token of thanks never hurts either!). Everyone needs appreciation for a job well done, something all of us would do well to remember, no matter the season.
Peace and happiness to all through this holiday season.