A salute to truckers

Father David Epps's picture

Here’s to the truckers of America! I have to admit that I haven’t always thought about truckers, those men and women who drive the “big rigs” all over the country, bringing all types of goods to every kind of market.

Like most drivers, I am aware of truckers, of course. I tend to not want to be run over by them, and I respect them for their long hours and sometimes weeks on the road away from family.

Some months ago, my brother became a trucker. After going to school in Arkansas, he began driving a big rig all over the eastern part of the United States. A few weeks ago, he passed near my home, so we met at a truck stop (where else?) for dinner. Afterwards, I got introduced to his truck.

I knew trucks were big, but until I stood right next to his and got into the cab, I didn’t realize how big. I had a military driver’s license and occasionally drove a troop transport truck (those National Guard-type trucks that you see every summer in caravan) and I thought that was big. I was wrong. A big rig is a BIG rig!

Inside his cab, there was a bed (two beds, actually), a fridge, a microwave oven, a GPS, a cassette/CD player, storage space for all the clothes, and all the necessities of life packed into a space smaller than a bathroom stall. There is no shower or toilet, however, which is a disadvantage of being on the road.

I was amazed at all the restrictions, rules, and regulations that truckers operate under. I was also amazed at how expensive fuel is for truckers — much more expensive than I have to pay.

Truckers, of course, get paid by the mile so it’s important that they stay on the road and out of slow traffic as much as possible. One of these days, I hope to travel with my brother Wayne on one of those lengthy trips. I have to be prepared, I am told, to bathe in a bucket (with water heated by the truck’s microwave) if there are no showers available, and to wear the same clothes for several days.

What really strikes me, though, is how our economy would be totally crippled if the trucks ceased to run. Nearly everything we eat, wear, drive, and touch comes by truck.

My brother once delivered 7,000 pounds of potato chips, and that was only a half-load, to a Wal-Mart in Alabama. Even the snacks come by truck. Oh, they may make part of the journey by air or rail but, nearly all consumer goods arrive at their destinations by truck.

Lumber, steel, gasoline, bottled water, groceries, bricks, diapers, medical supplies — all arrive in the hands of those who need them, thanks to the truckers of the land.

In all sorts of weather and conditions — in snow, storms, ice, and heat, over mountains, deserts, forests, and into the inner cities, the trucks roll continually.

When a Hurricane Katrina or a 9/11 occurs, emergency supplies and rescue equipment all arrive by truck. In war time, truckers deliver the goods to the troops and risk their lives.

As I write this, I am using a laptop computer, sitting in a chair, at a desk, drinking coffee from a paper cup, sitting in a building built from various materials in a shopping center filled with dozens of businesses of all kinds — all brought and made possible courtesy of the truckers and their magnificent machines.

So, here’s my salute and my thanks to truckers, that tough, independent, breed of men and women who make life in the civilized world possible and enjoyable.

May God give you an open road and a profitable journey and bring you safely home to those who share in your sacrifice.

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