Where has the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Gone?
By: Heidi O.
It’s 1984; you walk into a truckstop and enter the restaurant. The man at the far end of the counter waves, the man on your left tips his hat as he walks out, the lady seated in the booth you pass smiles and says “Howdy.” You take a seat in an available booth, and the waitress comes over asking what you would like to drink. You order and sit back with the newspaper to wait for your meal.
That’s when the talking begins. The man who was at the far end of the counter speaks up and asks, “Where ya headed, brother?” You look around and realize he is talking to you. So, you politely answer and you start into a conversation about where yall going and where yall been. The lady in the booth just pleasantly listens and smiles. These men don’t know, but she comes to the truckstop because she is missing her husband who is out on the road.
Yes, this is what “truck stops” were back in the day. They were pleasant stops for Truckers where toy could carry on a conversation with a brother without all the mundane lies that are so prevalent nowadays. They were pretty many stops for Truckers and their families only.
There were no cell phones to check up on or call from. There was no “Life 360” app to tell you where your other half was at. There was no text messaging to let anybody know where or what you are doing at any given moment. There was no Facebook.
Again, back in 1984, you are driving your big rig down the highway and “White Shadow” is talking to “Dirty White Boy” and in chimes “Little Bo” with a gut full of laughter and to warn the others that a bear is waiting for them around the bend and he’s “shooting at ya.” You could also hear “Big Boy” asking, “Ranger” how the family was and if the wife were feeling better. It was the real conversation and maybe you didn’t know them all, but nobody cared who joined in, and nobody was better than anyone else. You pulled into a truckstop to get a spot for the night and the guy in the spot next to where you were backing was on his radio “guiding” you in.
It’s 30 years later, and you go into a truck stop restaurant, well let me correct myself here, they are now called “Travel Centers.” You walk in and instead of anyone making eye contact, and most people are sitting with their heads bent down, and noses are stuck into their phone or tablet or computer. Unless, you are sitting at the counter seats. A popular place for the “Super Truckerd” to hang out. I say this because I have sat near this bar MANY times, and MOST (not all but I will say at least 95% of what I have heard) has been pure lies. Billy has driven 7000 miles in one week going over his 70 hours, and he is on elogs. Joe has had lot lizards knocking on his door at just about every truck stop he has been too (and this story was told at a truckstop I have been too SEVERAL times and have NEVER seen a lady working the lot!). Ken has just bought every fun toy imaginable under the sun (and works for a company making less than .40 cents a mile) and the best one of all is good old Bob has to top them all and exceeds EVERYTHING all the rest have done.
So, you quietly eat your meal not interacting with any other human, and you go pay your bill and head back to your truck. On the way back to the truck, you come across several people and nod and say hi to those who don’t immediately drop their heads to look at the ground for fear of human contact. You start up your truck to get ready to head out and your CB is on and all you hear is one guy telling the next guy to “pull over at the next exit so I can kick your ass” or another one calling someone else some derogatory names that shouldn’t even be thrown around anywhere, but the CB has become filled with meanness and hatred.
Gone are the days when you knew you could rely on a “Brother” to tell you that a strap had broke or a chain was loose or you missed putting your gas cap on or your tires were low. Gone are the days when everyone on the road watched out for everyone else. Gone are the days when a brother would pass you and give you the “3 finger trucker salute.” Gone on the days when another driver saw you struggling with a tarp and would rush over to help. Unfortunately, there are few drivers left like this.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have come across them from time to time, seasoned drivers and newbies alike, and when I do, I make sure to acknowledge them wherever we see them because these are the good guys (and ladies too!)! These drivers let you know if something looks wrong with your load or securement or at least they try (some don’t even have a CB in their truck, which is most unfortunate!!). These are the drivers who will rush to your aid if they see you struggle with a tarp or have a problem. These are the “Brotherhood (and Sisterhood) Drivers!!
So, tell me, where has our “Brotherhood” gone over 30 years? Why did everyone become so cruel and heartless and travel the roads where every driver is out for himself? There is plenty of freight and plenty of areas to cover that we all can do the same job without being so cruel to one another.
Isn’t it about time we bring the “Brotherhood and Sisterhood” back? Isn’t it about time we stop arguing over the CB radio, or, heck, even now on Facebook? Isn’t it time we all smile and say ‘hi’ when we pass in the parking lot or the fuel island? One person at a time and we can bring the Nation back together.