Last week was Trucker Appreciation Week here in America. I sometimes wonder if ‘appreciation’ is the right word, because more often than not, I am downright grateful for our drivers.
It’s always interesting and eye opening to read stories about these men and women who brave and endure everything from horrendous weather, spending long periods of time away from home, dealing with illness on the road, angry/clueless motorists, rude loading and receiving crews, oh, I could go on and on.
But personally, for 20 years, it’s not really been these types of problems that have endeared me to our drivers, but rather it’s been more of the day to day regular people stuff.
Last year my mom suffered a stroke that eventually took her life, but while we were ‘waiting’ there were a few days that turned out to be very special. According to the doctors, she couldn’t hear, but I talked to her anyway. One night I decided we would talk about all the things that she and I shared that made me realize how incredibly grateful I was to have her part of my life.
And made a list. What I noticed as the list grew was that I did not have events, or unique tangible gifts, such as trips to Europe or babysitting my children at the last moment, but rather it was her ‘ways’ that she manifested as she lived out her life with me.
As Trucker Appreciation Week began, I started thinking about the various drivers that stick out in my mind, and why I care about them, and my list, as with mom, once again became more of a way they shared life with me.
Of course I am always thrilled when they pull a rabbit out of the hat and get a pick up late at night or make a harrowing delivery appointment within the last moments before the gate shuts. I always prefer a check call or text over a GPS location. And yes, when a driver tells me exactly which pallet his or her temp recorder is on, or what their pulp thermometer is reading BEFORE they load the product, or when a case count is wrong, all these things very much matter and are important to me. Many drivers are not willing to do this for their broker.
But my list has things on it like patiently enduring my wrong driving instructions, being willing to manage difficult conversations with cooler or DC personnel, sharing a parking lot story, understanding the need and not arguing about an additional check call because one of my customers is nervous after another driver made a mistake, and telling me about their families. It’s all these other things that are beyond the scope of driving a big rig.
I have learned to put on tough skin in this business, so I just haven’t let myself get emotional about things. I have shed tears two times in my twenty years running my business. Once when my brother decided to quit working as a broker, and the second time was a late Saturday night when I found out that Larry, one of my all time favorite drivers, had a heart attack and died while riding his chopper through the forest in South Carolina.
Twenty years of collecting memories with great people who happen to be truck drivers. I appreciate many of them in many ways, but as I have said, through conversations, laughter, some disagreements, just normal day to day exchanges in life, these people have become very special and I am grateful that they are part of my personal and business life.
Two of my long time favorites are Kelly and Homer. They are interested in my family, they call me out of the blue to talk about random things, tease me mercilessly, but they have always incredibly kind to me. I would trust them with any load on any day. I am sure, if it made my life easier, they have ‘adjusted’ the truth about a few things out on the road, but they have never done anything to embarrass or disappoint me when I totally trusted them.
Maybe I have just been the ‘one in a million’ brokers who have lucked out and been blessed with great drivers. I don’t know, and I don’t even need to spend time thinking about it. I’ll just keep my grateful heart happy that I have been blessed with some great people to work with in this crazy business!
Thank you Kelly and Homer, take care! And come see us!