Roses & Razzberries – May 2020
A lot has changed since the last time you read a ROSES and RAZZBERRIES column in this magazine. The outbreak of COVID-19 has thrown the world into uncharted territory. So with that in mind, this will be a very different edition.
As we work together to navigate these new waters, there is one thing that hasn’t changed, one thing we hope will never change. People are stepping up to help out. As this thing exploded into the U.S. in March, the stories were at first overwhelming and terrifying. Then things got a little bizarre and infuriating – panic-buying toilet paper, anyone?
But little by little, things began to change. Little by little, we started to see stories of a different nature come in. People were scared. They were terrified. They were overwhelmed, but that didn’t stop many of them from doing the right thing.
Stories like the 13-year-old son of a trucker who used his own allowance money to by lunches for truck drivers on the road who were having a difficult time finding a place to eat as restaurants shut down and went to drive-thru only.
Or the Quail Creek Fire Department in Little Rock, Ark., which began providing hot meals for truckers on Saturdays in March.
Before long, companies were getting into the act – places like Texas Roadhouse started offering curbside service for truckers. Even local joints like the Lucky Steer Restaurant in Wapakoneta, Ohio, got on board. In addition to truck parking and curb services, they gave truckers 40% off their check total to show their appreciation.
On social media, too, truckers became the heroes they hadn’t been in the public’s eye since the days of CB radios and “Smokey and the Bandit.” Post after post of people encouraging others to pay for their meals, bring them food or just simply say thanks. Everyone – from regular folks to police departments all the way up to the president himself – suddenly recognized something that we’ve known all along: truckers are vital to the survival of this country.
We wanted to give them all ROSES and, for a time, considered doing just that. But in the end, we decided a lone page at the back of a magazine wasn’t enough to contain the outpouring of love and respect that came to the trucking industry in this darkest hour. There just wasn’t enough room here to single them all out, so we decided a blanket shout-out to everyone was the next best thing.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a ROSES and RAZZBERRIES column without a few RAZZBERRIES and there’s been no shortage of those. From the aforementioned toilet paper hoarders to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s oh-so-brilliant plan to shut down its rest areas in the midst of a national emergency. As if the truck parking crisis wasn’t bad enough already. And as long as we’re on that subject, ROSES to each and every one of you who spoke out and helped get Pennsylvania to reopen most of its rest areas.
Look, we get it, these are scary times. But imagine how much scarier they’d be if the trucks stopped rolling.
Back on Sept. 11, 2001, I was in Las Vegas. Yeah, I know, there were worse places to be that day, but all I wanted at that moment was to get home to my family. After several days with the airports still shut down, I managed to get a rental car and drive from Las Vegas to Kansas City.
And do you know what I saw on that drive? There were no planes in the sky, and much of the nation had come to a halt, but not the trucks. The trucks kept rolling. When we were all sitting at home, huddled in front of our TVs, wondering how we’d ever move forward after such unspeakable acts, the truckers already knew. They were already doing it.
And so it is during this crisis. We’ve never seen anything like this before in our lifetimes. I don’t even know how bad it will be by the time you read these words. But I do know this: the trucks will never stop. They will keep rolling and they will keep America rolling right along with them.
So, yes, ROSES are due to all of the people and places who have stepped up to help keep those trucks moving. But the biggest bouquet – the biggest bunch of ROSES of all – is for the truckers themselves who are still out there, still moving, and still bringing everything we need to survive this.
Thank you. LL