By: Rickey Gooch
When Truckers Cry
The message on my cell phone recorded a cry for help. The lady was a trucker and she was all alone. Three months had passed since she had been stopped on an interstate in Florida. According to the officer she had done some things wrong but that was not enough for the officer she said, he had to make additional charges against her of his own.
It was a long story and I sat and listened for an hour or so because she needed to tell somebody who acted like they cared. She really didn’t know very much about CSA. You see her life is spent inside a truck. She works in an industry where men don’t share much with a woman. Her now ex employer, he doesn’t understand much about CSA either. Not only did he fire her for her fines but he refused to pay her last check. Like some small carriers this guy just watches his SMS point totals and tries to ride under the CSA radar. This particular company has been able to dodge the FMCSA and other agencies like it for the past 35 years or so. So CSA change means very little to them and so does drivers.
This lady driver had ran into an officer who worked by the book, “his book.” Rough, tough and arrogant to the core. This officer was there to protect and serve the laws. His nature was to be the toughest cop he could be. He would accuse this lady and her ex-husband of breaking laws that he knew he didn’t have evidence for but did know the charges would end the career of this lady driver and he was right.
She explained that for the past three months her life had been hell. With no job and no money she lost her car and then her home. Now homeless because of charges on her MVR and PSP report that were not heard in court. With no job and no last paycheck she could not afford to defend herself. She reached out to the FMCSA and to the court for help. She asked that the charges be dismissed at DataQ.
Now homeless, penniless and on her last leg the official at DataQ referred her to me. Maybe this guy can help he told this lady. Here is his name and his number. I thought to myself, wow, the only thing I can do is DataQ her charges, just like she did. Did he really care or was I his scape goat?
This is a case of an officer overstepping his authority. I called and talked to the officer hoping he could see the damage that had been done. Instead he said and I quote, “if you don’t like it sue me, oh wait you can’t sue me and laughed.”
The lady had really not broken any rules in the first place to be stopped. But she was and the officer did find that her log books were a couple hours behind. But that wasn’t enough for this officer, he also found a piece of glass in the vehicle that he said he could not identify and wrote it up as drug paraphernalia. This is a very big and damaging word. He accused the driver of that even though the driver told him where the piece of glass came from, a glass rose from a truck stop and she had the rest of the piece but the officer had other ideas.
There was no ticket issued for the supposed charge but it still showed up on her PSP report. The female driver had also urinated in a Tupperware container and had it sealed and put away in accordance with Florida law. But the officer wrote her a citation anyway. The driver was written up for urinating in an open container, which it was not. She was also told she was a disgusting human being for having to use a container. Florida says that the use of a sealed container is legal in Florida. If the container is not sealed it is against the law.
Today this lady driver does not have a job and has lost everything she has because the officer took charges to far and her company made no effort to help her. They just made her situation worse by not paying her.
This woman would later fall and break her ankle and foot while sleeping under a bridge. She called me from a nearby ladies home and I called her ex company and advised them that they could not legally hold her last paycheck. They delivered the check they owed to her and she hired an attorney and had the charges removed from her MVR. But the drug charges remain on her PSP report and no one will touch her as a driver now.
Today this lady driver will cry and she will go hungry. This lady trucker will live without a roof over her head and worst of all this lady trucker will die an early death because she has no job and no money. The police officer has not thought another thought about this truck driver and never will again. The little trucking company in Georgia she worked for has black balled her using DAC. The FMCSA has black balled her because of the PSP report.
The only industry in the world that she knows she can no longer count on. There are many more drivers out there just like her! At the end of their rope, no money for an attorney and no knowledge about who out there can help them with issues like this. This is the life of trucking for most of the drivers today. They are one pay check away from being homeless, one paycheck away from poverty or one accident away from ending their driving career. We wonder why there are no young people coming into trucking today and why the majority of drivers are looking for a way out of trucking?
The drivers can’t fix trucking it is all up to the trucking companies to make their drivers important. It is up to the trucking companies to stop their clients from abusing drivers by making them wait hours upon hours to deliver the goods that need to be removed from their trucks. It is time for trucking to take a step forward and protect their greatest asset, their drivers!
Justice for Truckers