Hollywood has a way of making ordinary things scary. Swimming in the ocean, stopping late at night at a motel…you never know when a Jaws or Psycho will show up. Unfortunately, the scene from “Terminator” with Arnold Schwarzeneggar behind the wheel of a big rig has occasionally caused quickened heartbeats when an 18-wheeler suddenly appears in the rear-view mirror.
You may remember the scene. The human-looking cyborg from the future is lying on the highway when he’s hit full force by a truck that was unable to evade him at the last minute. The Terminator holds on underneath, getting a bit roughed up, but he’s indestructible, so he’s O.K. The conscientious driver stops the rig because he thinks he just ran over a man. When he goes to find the accident victim, he doesn’t come back. Instead Arnold, the Terminator, gets in and the driver’s partner’s eyes go wide. “Get out,” the Terminator says and the shocked man welcomes the opportunity to escape.
The chase scene with a big rig must have struck a nerve, so they decided to reprise a variation of this chase in the sequel, this time with a T-1000 Series cyborg chasing John Connor (the boy who would grow up to save the world) on a motorbike. Yes, it’s scary.
The truth is, however, real-life truck drivers are not Terminators; they’re hard-working professionals. As Andy Arendt pointed out recently, American truckers deserve your appreciation. Truckers play a critical role in our economy as they carry cargo from coast to coast, and all points north, south, east and west. It’s remarkable how much revenue they generate. Kudos to President Dwight Eisenhower for championing the Interstate Highway System that makes the transfer of goods so efficient in America. High fives all around to the truckers who carry all this cargo seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
This being National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, it feels like a good time to underscore our appreciation for our unsung heroes of the open road by drawing attention to their legacy of good deeds. The industry is overflowing with stories of ways in which truckers and people in the industry helped one another and others in need. I’d like to cite a few of these here.
1. After floods in Louisiana claimed at least 10 lives and damaged tens of thousands of homes, Love’s Travel Stops, a national chain of truck stops, offered their assistance by donating $25,000 to the Salvation Army for relief efforts.
2. Peterbilt PacLease of Las Vegas made an unusual donation to the local chapter of Goodwill Industries: a brand-new 2010 model-year tractor, worth $100,000, on a six-year “free and clear” lease – meaning all Goodwill must do is fuel the truck and provide a driver, as even the maintenance is all taken care of gratis. You’ll find this story at Fleetowner.com.
3. The same article by Sean Kilcarr states that Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), Daimler Financial Services and Johnson Refrigerated Truck Bodies joined forces to do something similar as well this year: they donated a hybrid-powered Class 7 Freightliner truck with a 20-foot fiberglass refrigerated body to Forgotten Harvest to serve its Detroit facility, giving the food bank the capacity to rescue 850,000 additional pounds of fresh food each year.
4. You can find lots of good deeds shared on trucker forums. Here’s a forum appropriately titled, “Have you done a good deed today?”
5. Members of the O.O.I.D.A. and anyone else who reads their publication, Land Line magazine (I’ve been a reader for close to two decades), is quite familiar with a monthly column called Roses and Razzberries. I’m sure it’s a favorite for many truckers. Essentially the mag gives shout outs to those who are doing good deeds and also cites behavior that is unfavorable to truck drivers. Here’s an example from June:
ROSES to our friends at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems for donating $10,000 to sponsor a week-long camp designed to get young people interested in coding. Called the High School Coding Camp, it is part of a program for high school students in northeast Ohio. There are seven camps in all throughout the northeast part of the state and this year they’ve introduced a girls-only camp aimed at encouraging more girls to get into the field.
6. I was driving home from work one evening when I arrived at the scene of a head-on accident between a biker and a car. The police had not arrived yet and a trucker who had stopped was directing traffic as I comforted the mother who was driving the car. The biker had crashed into a guardrail and was lying still. There was a fear of moving him in case he had a broken neck. Kudos to the trucker for immediately taking charge of the traffic. Much gratefulness that the biker only had broken limbs and survived with no permanent damage.
7. The title of this post says seven ways, but if you read back issues of Land Line you’ll find hundreds of stories of good deeds performed by people in the trucking industry. Overdrive and the fleet mags all carry stories as well because most truckers are good men and women who do good deeds just because it’s the right thing to do. They’re not seeking celebrity and fame; they’re just doing their part to make the world a better place.
Have you done a good deed today? You don’t have to save the world to make a difference.