It seems that for years, we the truckers who move the nation, were underappreciated. 

The current crisis has opened eyes for those who never gave a thought to the supply chain. People just assumed that goods would always be on the shelves and that lineups at stores were only found in communist countries, or in places after wars.

We, the truckers, logistic geniuses, mechanics, dispatchers, and the myriad of people involved in the supply chain, have done our job so well that no one knew what we did and continue to do.

Terry Shaw from the Manitoba Trucking Association says “truckers are like trees. They’re just there, unnoticed, until they’re gone. Then they’re noticed.” He and others in the industry know how valuable truckers are and he’s very glad that those good feelings are becoming more public.

Shaw says that just prior to the Covid-19 crisis they were getting ready to do a PR campaign to highlight the good work drivers do but that got postponed. Then the Thank A Trucker grassroots program grew as people realized how critical truckers are to the economy. He’s looking forward to building on that momentum and is thankful that they’re not starting from scratch.

Greg Mackling from The Start on CJOB 680 in Winnipeg MB had a lot of understanding about trucking but didn’t realize how much of a challenge it was to get normal things done like having a shower, using restrooms and getting a decent meal. Covid-19 has made it even more difficult so he and his cohosts, Lauren McNabb and Brent Megarry have used their platform to raise public awareness and advocating for better amenities for truckers. Mackling encourages us as truckers to make sure we continue to use great spokespeople who are well spoken and knowledgeable in the use of social media. “Don’t let people forget what you do” Mackling says.

I’ve never felt the need for an unknown person to come and say thanks for doing my job but I also have never turned it down. Kids, young or old, do the arm pump and I more than willingly blow my air horn for them. A highlight of my trucking year is the Annual World Largest Convoy for Special Olympics where we drive around on closed roads and blow our horns and flash our lights for people lining the roads. I love doing that. The athletes have been able to compete all over because of this international convoy and they definitely love us.

I know I’m essential. I know how the supply chain works. Where I have a problem with the Thank A Trucker is people that affect my job, such as shippers, receivers, fuel services, say they love us, and then their actions say differently. It’s frustrating to haul goods to or from someone only to be treated like a leper. Fuel companies have told us they are taking extra measures to help keep us safe, only for us to show up to closed restrooms and showers. These issues get rectified pretty quickly but they should never happen in the first place. Restaurant chains tell us how many places they’re keeping restrooms available for us. You guessed it. The local franchisee doesn’t care.

We need to keep the pressure on when we come across this ignorance. It’s easier to just walk away, but make the phone call to a person in authority who can facilitate the change. Do what you can to give business to those that are appreciative. Buy local as much as possible. Some places hand out free coffee or food so I take that opportunity to leave a generous tip for the server who’s hours may have been cut, or who’s partner is now unemployed.

It’s more important than ever to give back.

I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done. Moving freight and trying to make a difference in those I meet.

Terry Shaw left me with one final thought. “Don’t let one negative person ruin what goodwill many are doing in thanking us.”

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David Henry
David Henry is a long haul trucker with over 30 years of experience. As a brain injury survivor he is always on a mission to help others deal with mental health wellness and to promote the trucking industry in a positive light. You can find him at @survivetodrive on Instagram and @crazycanuckdave on twitter.