Trucker Tenacity

August-September 2020

Jami Jones

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Covering trucking for more than two decades, I have always marveled at the spirit of truckers. You are some of the most kind and giving people on the planet. You’re also some of the fiercest and versatile individuals on the planet.

We routinely get to cover stories where truckers are the heroes – rescuing people in crashes, coming to the aid of law enforcement and that sort of thing. Cue 2020 and you all were hailed as heroes, running into hot spots to deliver essential goods when panic buying took the country by storm.

Then the economy stumbled – hard. This is where the resilience of truckers that, at times, almost baffles me. It also gives me hope.

Starting on Page 18 we bring you team coverage of some inspiring stories of truckers who have found ways to adjust their sails and to keep trucking through trying times.

Senior Editor Mark Schremmer, Digital Content Editor Greg Grisolano and Staff Writer Wendy Parker bring you the stories of three very different trucking operations. We posed the question: What are you doing to survive and set yourself up for success in these unprecedented times? Their answers speak to the tenacity of truckers.

If this issue of Land Line was a word-of-the-day calendar, the new term for many to learn is “microbusiness.” We can all thank OOIDA Board Member Rodney Morine for that one. He was on CBS “Sunday Morning” back in June. The focus of the piece by veteran journalist Ted Koppel was how the pandemic was affecting all sorts of small businesses.

Rodney embodies the spirit of truckers who find a way to survive even when things are bleak.

And, when Koppel posed a question to Rodney about the effects of the pandemic on his small-business trucking operation, Rodney delivered a solid gold response. Check it out on page 48.

Essential employees were celebrated at a Fourth of July event at the White House and OOIDA members were there representing front-line truckers. The opportunity to be hailed as heroes in grand fashion on the South Lawn on July 4 was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who attended. Staff Writer Tyson Fisher tagged along and brings their experience to Pages 46 and 47.

Jesse James Dupree, best known as the lead singer of Jackyl, has a new song out celebrating truckers. While quarantining in April, Jesse and Dixie Incorporated released the trucker-friendly country song. Read about the inspiration behind “It Didn’t Fall From the Sky” on Page 58.

I would love to keep talking about the good news and inspiring stories, but there’s one piece of news that was not good. I consider it a sucker punch to truckers. Rep. Chuy Garcia, D-Ill., introduced an insulting amendment seeking to increase the minimum insurance for trucking companies. And it was voted into the highway bill.

In these perilous times, lawmakers are seeking to heap on a crippling financial burden to an essential industry full of front-line workers. Tone deaf doesn’t even begin to describe it. I won’t keep ranting. Instead, I’ll send you over to Page 12 and read Senior Editor Mark Schremmer’s rant on it. You’ll then want to read about the fate of the highway bill on Page 26.

While we’re on the subject of wonky legislation, the Paycheck Protection Program was certainly a neat idea. But boy howdy is that program having trouble. Designed to help small businesses through the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, let’s suffice it to say that small business (and microbusiness) trucking operations overall aren’t seeing that relief. Check it out on Page 23.

Because I refuse to end on a down note, do not put down this copy of Land Line until you find out if you can be ticketed for farting in public. Inquiring minds want to know. So, we put Staff Writer Wendy Parker on the case. She tackles the age-long (kidding) question in Strange Things and Filthy Lies on Page 86 while Art Director Debbie Johnson adds her special touches. Together it makes for a good chuckle. LL

Jami Jones

Jami Jones has been in journalism since 1991 – focused on the trucking industry since 2000. Whether judging Shell SuperRigs or writing hard-hitting analyses, she covers trucking from lug nuts to legislation – always with the trucker in mind.