'Retired,' not 'dead': On remaining a voice for necessary change

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Updated Aug 7, 2021

We live in perilous times. Recently, I received the sad news that the trucking industry had lost a favorite son and longtime advocate for fair pay and rights. Pat Hockaday was a good friend, and we spent many an hour on the phone debating the issues around fair compensation for truckers. His passion and drive will be greatly missed.

Not long before that, I learned that another friend had retired after 50 years in the trucking business. Jerry Frits is someone you all might know, because he was often on trucking radio sharing his wealth of knowledge, and because the Petro truck stop in West Memphis, Arkansas, was named after him in the Citizen Driver program.

I myself retired from OTR at the end of January. It was not a particularly hard choice to make, exactly, but it was a daunting one. After all, I had been trucking for almost 25 years and was about to venture into the online world for an income, while still trying to help others as a life coach and nutritional coach. It was, and is, embarking almost entirely into the unknown.

[Related: Retired owners an untapped resource for those coming up behind]

I’m still a doctoral student working on my Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology, which investigates ways to improve workers’ well-being, productivity and efficiency. It’s a good fit, since I truly enjoy helping the fellow haulers coming up behind me live a happier, more fulfilled life as they provide for their families.

Plus, I love the investigative aspects and discovery process of improving lives. In November, I will be on the road again, traveling to Arizona to fulfill my residency requirement for my degree. That includes getting approval from the ethics committee to conduct my research in trucking. Once approved, I will begin that process and hope to have many of you helping me. Given the need to remain unbiased in that process, I cannot share just yet what the research involves, but it’s exciting. I say that because, if my research proves to be something that will help both companies and drivers, it could change the face of trucking for future generations. If not, hey – I’ve learned something, companies will learn something, and it may just help the right people think outside the box in the future when attempting to address some of the issues in trucking.

[Related: PSA -- driver issues education need for the general public]

Do I sound excited? I hope so, because I am – I’ve shared my research design and ideas with some chosen leaders in trucking who are likewise excited to see where it may go. I’ve talked about it with friends like Jerry Fritts and Pat Hockaday, and their encouragement has fanned the flames.

In the meantime, you will still find me here on Overdrive, bringing awareness to the issues truckers face, offering strategies toward better mental and physical health. You will still hear me occasionally on trucking radio, either by my handle “Chappy” or my given name, depending on the show. And I will still offer my services as a chaplain as well as a life and nutrition coach for truckers who need a little more help. In the interim, keep those comments on my stories coming, leave your ideas and thoughts, or you can reach out and we can meet on Facebook and Instagram, or Twitter.

While I have made the call in the past, I will make it again here. Trucking needs leaders in change, we need voices who are willing to be heard. So step up and be a leader. It doesn’t take much – a willingness to be heard, to put others ahead of yourself and to set an example for those you are fighting for. You, like so many in our business, can stand back and complain about the conditions truckers face, or you can step up and be the change. The battle is not over, even after retirement.

After all, retired does not mean you are capital-D Dead, and until we see the change, the battle remains.

[Related: Mirah Lesa 'YoYo' Worley runs with the wind, long after retirement from the road]

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