East bound & down, loaded up and truckin’ / by Annette Tait

By Katy “Kate” Kassian, Tait & Kate

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Pig pen, this here’s the rubber duck…

The name of my rig is Phantom 309…

On the road again -- like a band of gypsies we go down the highway …

Any one of those song lyrics immediately conjures up visons of big rigs in our mind’s eyes.  Cool cabovers , reefers, Petes, Cats, Kenworths, Mac, Western Star, and so on.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the Hammer Down Big Rig Show and Shine in Mandan, N.D. -- a salute to truckers everywhere, and a chance for local drivers/owners to show off their rigs. It was organized by a group of local drivers just for fun -- simply for the joy of sharing what they have and maybe inspiring someone else.

The Hammer Down Big Rig Show and Shine in Mandan, N.D., offered something for everyone -- trucks of all shapes and sizes, from ‘plain Janes’ to totally tricked out rigs.

The Hammer Down Big Rig Show and Shine in Mandan, N.D., offered something for everyone -- trucks of all shapes and sizes, from ‘plain Janes’ to totally tricked out rigs.

Old, new, fancy paint jobs, plain- Janes, all were represented. The variety was astounding. Last year was a blow out -- more than 125 trucks signed up. Even without Mother Nature’s cooperation, turn-out this year was still fantastic. I’ll bet eventually it grows into a large upper-Midwest truck show. 

Did you know:

  • There are currently about 15.5 million trucks operating on US highways? That’s a whole lot of people moving goods!  Women make up nearly 6 percent of that number.
  • Of every dollar a small business spends on shipping, 82 cents goes to shipping by truck.
  • 90 percent of trucking companies are small businesses that own 10 or fewer trucks. That’s an incredible number!

We would be lost without truck drivers.  These folks bring us everything we need.

Quite frankly, many small towns would cease to exist if truck drivers didn’t make deliveries to remote places.  These men and women brave the elements, scary traffic -- have you ever tried to maneuver something 70-plus feet long in San Francisco or Manhattan?, don’t see their families for days and sometimes weeks on end, and are princes of the highways. We’ve never met one who wouldn’t stop and help someone in need or give the shirt off his back.

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Without truckers, it would be pretty hard for us to live the lives we have today. Nearly 80 percent of all communities in the U.S. are totally dependent on truckers to bring them food and goods. Truckers -- and the trucking industry that keeps them loaded and on the road -- are involved in every aspect of the American family’s way of life.

When trucks stop, America stops.

Think about it… If all the trucks were pulled off the roads right now, there would be a perishable food shortage within a matter of days. ATMs would run out of money in days. Drinking water would disappear within a couple weeks. Hospitals wouldn’t be able to get medicines and supplies, service stations would run out of fuel in just a day or two.

There would be incredible losses with far-reaching effects. Not having trucks on the road would significantly impact every single aspect of our lives.

I have personally benefitted from truckers over the years. Roadside rescues in snow storms and on lonely roads, and for many, many years as a truck stop waitress, the generosity of these men and women made it possible for me to raise my kids, continue my education, buy a home, and so much more.  In turn I have hosted drivers in my home and helped them get back home in emergencies.

Truckers, we thank you.