Speakout: The Voive of the American Trucker

Owner-operator JOHNNY SHERRILL, of Jacksonville, Fla., says parachuting in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division prepared him for the unexpected when, at age 19, he made his first long haul in 1977, delivering Kosher veal from Tampa, Fla., to New York City. “I had only 72 hours to get there for the load to be re-blessed,” he says. He met his deadline, but mayhem was all around when he arrived in Brooklyn: “The garbage workers were striking, and garbage was piled everywhere.”

One week before Christmas 25 years ago, ROGER NESTER needed help to thaw his truck in minus-30 temperatures on a mountain near Prineville, Ore. “This lady stopped by my truck and she got a wrecker to come out,” recalls Nester, 60. After the truck was towed, mechanics worked on it for two hours until it started. Nester, now a company driver for Hazmat Environmental Group, says he didn’t make it home to Ford, Va., for the holiday, but he witnessed the spirit of the season through the good people in Oregon: “All that time and effort and they only charged me $20 and two cups of coffee. There are some neat people out there.”

Tennessee native DON DARDEN was impressed with the Sunshine State’s terrain when he delivered electric ranges to Tampa, Fla., on his first long haul in an International Emeryville cabover in 1972: “I’d never seen a palm tree before and it was so flat. Back then, they had wild groves of palm trees and huge farms.” Darden, then 18, remembers shifting gears over Monteagle in Chattanooga, Tenn., on that trip. “I was scared to death,” he says. Now an owner-operator for 10 years, Darden lives in Orange City, Fla.

How will President Obama’s bailout work for roads and highways?

“If it goes to the roads, that’s fine, but I don’t trust the government to spend the money the way it needs to be spent.”
MICHAEL JOHN RABYE Weatherford, Texas | P.A.M. Trucking

“It’s going to help the economy a whole lot. He knows that if the trucking industry stops, America stops also.”
ARDELL LONGACRE Birmingham, Ala. | Celadon Trucking

“It won’t. It’s illegal according to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Socialism will never work, not under a democracy.”
MICHAEL PIGG Jacksonville, Fla.Owner-operator leased to Packard Co.

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“I think it’s too early to tell. We’ll have to wait and see.”
ISAC KLASSEN Leamington, Ontario

“Tax corporate America and corporate America taxes the working man. It will be inflationary in fuel tax and end up being government waste.”
JEFF GREGG Huntington, W.V. Owner-operator leased to Ace Doran