Conversations while tucked between the Dayton Bomb Squad and the Batmobile

October 7, 2019

Wendy Parker

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Grassroots movements rely on their members recognizing and using teaching moments when the opportunities present themselves. Participation isn’t limited to writing letters to your representatives and being members of a professional association.

Often, just having a conversation with people unfamiliar to the cause is the best kind of support you can provide to any grassroots movement. Talking – and more importantly – listening opportunities pop up in unexpected places.

The first rule of grassroots trucking advocacy is: It’s not about politics.

It’s about having a face-to-face conversation with real human beings, regardless of politics or preconceptions about trucking. It’s about meeting your neighbors and showing them you’re not a three-headed demon barreling down the highway to hell. It’s about listening to the concerned young mother who really wants to understand how safety is regulated on our highways.

It’s about sharing good information so people can task their representatives, regardless of party, to look into real issues real truck drivers who live in their own communities are concerned with.

We had the pleasure of taking our truck to a Try-A-Truck event in Beavercreek, Ohio, this weekend. Each year, Beavercreek Parks and Recreation partner with Beavercreek Township Fire Department to kick off Fire Prevention Week with an open house, chili cook-off and Try-A-Truck family fun day.

We’ve done several similar kid-themed events in which first responder, commercial trucks and specialty equipment is put on display for the kids to ramble over, across and around.

They love it. And we love it. It’s kind of an extended version of the immense joy a horn pull elicits. It also affirms to me the fact that a 5-year-old can strength-test any button known to mankind better than a factory-qualified technician.

(Side note: it took about 5 minutes of our very first kiddie-romp before Mr. Parker had every lever, button and thing-a-ma-jig zip tied into submission. I’m here to tell you one of ’em finds a way to break the zip tie on the train horn every single time and inevitably scares the doo-doo clean out of themselves when they throw it.)

Try-A-Truck event in Ohio
Wendy Parker helps a potential driver get the feel of being behind the wheel.

We expect and welcome the kid’s questions about the truck. They’re delighted to see the bunk – if I had a nickel for every kid who screamed, “There’s a bed in here!” I’d probably have at least $12 from Saturday alone.

This particular event was extremely well-organized and attended. It was unique in that there were as many parents interested in seeing the inside of the truck as there were kids. We were both asked a lot of really thoughtful questions about the industry and lifestyle.

Because I’m a shameless promoter of Land Line Magazine, I just happened to have a case of the October run in the truck I was able to give folks, along with short-version answers to their questions.

And I listened.

I can’t stress the listening part. I found that asking them what they thought about the issues was a much better starting point than dropping a whole bunch of information on them and hoping some of it stuck.

One thing I was pleasantly surprised with during conversations is how much they appreciated nonpartisan, commonsense, from-the-horses-mouth information.

People really do crave good, solidly vetted information. They’re tired of reading about bloodbaths and click-bait fiery crash headlines. The folks I talked to want solutions and commonsense safety just as much as we do.

It was refreshing.

So there you go. You don’t have to mass-communicate to make an impact. Have conversations. Give good information. And most important – listen as much as you talk.

Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker has covered the trucking industry since 2012 after she says she “lost my mind and decided to climb inside my husband’s big truck to travel with him as an over-the road, long-haul trucker.” Her unique writing style that ranges from biting satire to investigative journalism coupled with her unbridled passion for fighting round out a wildly talented stable of writers.