Feeds:
Posts
Comments

                                                                                                                                                        The last ride of Covenant Transport Truck 11438 was as eventful as it was in the beginning of my story when I began writing in 2008 on “Ask the Trucker”.

Generally, my dedicated account kept me east of Texas but as you know I am from California.  One of the reasons I wanted to enter trucking was so that I could run all 48 states because I have friends and family everywhere.  In late May, I got a load assignment from Ohio to Porterville, California and I was thrilled because my oldest Grandson Mason lives with his Dad in Porterville. I have been unable to my family for 4 or 5 years.

I was able to visit Mason at his school for lunchtime and go to his little league practice. You should have seen the smile on his face when I showed him the truck. He was so excited and he saw I had his picture in my bunk. 

A load to central California generally means heading south to get a load back east again. This was perfect so I could see my Mother, Step-Father and Niece. They did not know of the events in my student trucker story until after it was publicized.

I was only able to visit long enough to have dinner because I got a load out of Torrance, California that went all the way to Delaware. It sure was nice to see them again.

My load had a stopover in Chattanooga, Tennessee and I was told Truck 11438 had been sold; I had to come in to our home terminal to move into another truck.  It was time and I knew it was coming because many others on our dedicated fleet had to do the same. My truck had about 550,000 miles on it and it ran like a champ. I had minimal problems with it but I knew it was time for it to be cycled out of service.

Truck 11438 was the headquarters of the world I shared through twitter, it is where I was interviewed by Dan Rather  , plus it was @TruckinDogKarmas first home.

It was bittersweet for me on that last run because there have been so many memories on twitter of people who have come to meet me & the projects launched from inside that truck.  All those provocative tweets that were lobbed from my bunk using only my Palm Treo PDA that reached worldwide to spread my story and conduct my social media experiment.

When I received the number of the truck I was supposed to move into I was puzzled, it was not but 300 numbers different than mine, which meant it was old also and should also be up for sale soon.

Switching trucks does not mean getting a new truck and many of the other drivers were complaining they were being assigned trucks that had multiple mechanical problems which was delaying them from leaving out to roll again.  We do not get paid to move our stuff from truck to truck and we do not get paid to sit and wait for repairs. Some drivers had been there already a week with no pay, yet our terminal had new trucks everywhere.

From what I understand, trucking carriers will bring new trucks to sit on the property to make it seem like they have no drivers and this makes students get excited that they might get one of those brand new trucks.  It is a gimmick and according to Allen Smith on “Ask the Trucker” they often do not have to make payments on them until they are in service. So they are actually just using them as lures.

I could barely find room to park my bobtail there were so many new trucks out on our property when I arrived.  When I checked out the truck I was assigned I saw it had 100,000 miles MORE than my truck.  That meant it would be sold probably in the next go-round and I would be moving once again with no pay.

The interior was brand spankin new, the passenger side was brand spankin new, the back of the cab, all new metal, and the driver’s side old. On the Qualcomm was a message from the former driver that had not been erased, this is what it said: “Steering really starting to pull right on this truck. Did not want to deal with this Sunday evening traffic through mountains with this truck in shape it’s in. Getting ready to head out”, the driver signed his name and the message was dated.

That was the last message on the Qualcomm and this truck had obviously been pulled from a ditch, no way to know what happened to the driver.  I pulled the hood open to see many of the parts I have taken my truck in for that were repeat offenders in other trucks had not been replaced. According to my dispatcher this truck had been inspected and was road ready but the tires had gouges, the horn did not work and there were a number of other items I wrote up to send this truck back to the shop.

There were no guarantees that whatever caused this truck to end up in a major accident was resolved. I adamantly refused to accept it.  Poor equipment ends lives and as company drivers we are held responsible for equipment yet we have little say in repairs we feel are necessary.

Take the case of Daren Baird a female trucker who had 40 years accident free yet in a Tennessee rainstorm her truck crashed, ending her life. The trailer which usually hauled U.S. Mail was empty at the time and she was on her way to the terminal to begin her day. Daren Baird who appeared on the Today Show with host Meredith Viera may have been the victim of faulty equipment according to others who worked at the same company.  I have included the clip here when the crash was reported.

Watch Today Show Report on Crash of Daren Baird with Meredith Viera

The Tennessee company that Daren Baird worked for had a history of operating unsafe equipment according to another former driver for the company. The Department of Transportation rating for this company was a very high 92 with 100 being the worst.  According to sources, this company now has new DOT numbers which would in effect give it a clean slate.  You can read more about this tragedy and comments from other drivers with news stories included about equipment failures from this company in the following link.

Veteran Truck Driver Dies on the Road

There are new regulations coming to the trucking industry called CSA 2010 but unfortunately they have not been perfectly thought out with regards to willful negligence on behalf of carriers. Most people think of truck drivers as being Owner-Operators but this is not true. Many truck drivers are employees who have to argue for repairs on their trucks even though most of our bosses never take the time nor even know how to inspect one themselves.

My dispatcher at least has been man enough to admit he has never inspected a trailer or truck and would not know where to start. He was not happy that I refused the truck assignment but he told me he would assign me another.  I didn’t want to make him unhappy but I did not feel comfortable gambling my life on a truck that made me feel very uncertain of its overall safety.

The second truck option I was assigned had also been in a serious accident and was not even on the property.  It had been assigned to my girlfriend Deborah who had taken it to Detroit Diesel for major repairs and it would not be fixed for several days.  She had already lost many days of work with this truck babysitting it.

I agreed to wait for the second truck because I knew my girlfriend had inspected it with a fine tooth comb and persistently oversaw the many repairs it was receiving. She had been going to check on its progress and was monitoring which parts were being replaced.

My dispatcher issued me an advance to get a room to wait for the truck. It was too hot for Karma & I to sit and we are not supposed to idle. My stuff was half packed and it was a disaster to move around.  The off property mechanics told me the truck would definitely not be ready for a couple days because they were awaiting a part to be delivered. I made the best of it and packed up our bags to go stay at a motel close by our terminal.

I f you have read my student trucker story you will remember a part where I had to get off of the truck from my first co-driver who was a supposed to be a temporary after he became violent and I was shaking so hard I could not shift. He had been badgering me about my sex life trying to find out why I was not interested in him. In his final tantrum he declared I must be a racist because I was not responding to his come on. He proceeded to try to persuade me that he would never force me to have sex with him.

I was fresh out of a very poor training experience and had very little skills to drive on my own. I had no money and no one to call for help.  This guy had flirted his way into the trainer’s program with “MS” just before we had left our terminal despite his admission that his own dispatcher told him he had an attitude problem and should not become a trainer.

Shortly after I was on the truck alone with him he confessed he was only becoming a trainer to “Git a Female on the truck” and proceeded to badger me relentlessly until it reached the breaking point.

I was stunned when I finally got off the truck and I did not know who to call. This was not covered in orientation and it was after hours. Thankfully, the terminal manager gave me a number to call that I was not made aware of previously that was for emergencies. It was called the “Incident Reponse Center” and they helped me over the phone to get a room so I could get off the truck and away from that guy.

Unfortunately, on Monday morning when it was time to pay for the room again no one at my company was answering my calls. I kept being told to call “MS” but she was not returning my messages. I ended up being asked to move out of the room and sit in the lobby with all my stuff.

The lady at the front desk was extremely rude to me and went on and on about my company’s reputation and how they did this all this time. I am formerly of the hospitality industry so I was not amused to see this front desk clerk rant and rave about the company I work for while I sat in the lobby with all of my belongings around me.

At that time, I was new to Covenant Transport and like most students I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt that this was an isolated incident.

I called and called that day trying to find someone to put money on my card so I could go back in my room. I will admit I was also traumatized from the incident with the other driver. I just wanted to be alone while I waited for another truck to come pick me up. 

Most times I could reach no one or got disconnected. If I was able to reach someone, they just transferred me to another dead end where I was disconnected or got the Voice mail of “MS”.

Sitting in that motel lobby listening to the lady go on and on about Covenant Transport while being on hold trying to reach someone to pay for the room as I was told to do was more than frustrating, then a guy with an accent answered the phone. I explained to him the situation and within minutes I had money on my card and was back in my room.

All the excuses and run around about what proper channels I had to follow to get my room paid for and BOOM! One dispatcher who decided to go the extra mile handled in a few seconds. He was not my dispatcher and I have never met him in person but I will always remember his name.

That was over two years ago and I have had few instances where I needed a motel room since then.  I won’t recap it all but my point is that we have issues on the road and we are without home & wheels and we rely on our in-house support.

In a low paying company like mine, it’s true we live check to check. Because I had two very long trips with good miles I had no trip packs in the system, they had not been dropped so I was not getting a paycheck the week I came in to swap trucks.

I was also not eligible for an advance because I was no longer under a load. They had taken my Delaware load because it needed to be delivered before the repairs would be completed for the truck.  This is trucking, fly by night trying to manage life and work in a manner most people could not tolerate.

At least I had a direct number now to my dispatcher and he usually answered the phone so I did not foresee a problem calling to get more money on my card to pay for the room another night, except I was wrong.

A communication breakdown on when the repairs would be complete and one person in a meeting was all it took to derail my day. For whatever reason, no one could give authorization to pay for my room so here I was again being asked to sit in the lobby and wait for my company to pay.

I began calling as soon as the 9-5 staff had come to work that day but here it was past check out time and no one was available to handle the transaction. In a company the size of mine this seems to be absolutely unimaginable!

Having drivers in motels across the country for various reasons in a fleet our size should be a daily occurrence so making sure everyone has money to pay for their rooms before checkout… Come on, … what’s the problem? I mean, checkout time is the same time all over the world so it’s not a big mystery that this should be a first thing in the morning priority for whoever is in charge of authorizing it.

On this occasion, the lady at the front desk was polite and even spoke to my dispatcher to let him know that my stuff had to stay in the room but I had to come and sit in the lobby with @TruckinDogKarma until someone from Covenant Transport paid for the room.

I set up my laptop at a breakfast table and sat with Karma waiting. It was already lunchtime so I had hoped they would call soon but you never know. I decided to get up and walk down the driveway of the motel. Maybe my dispatcher could find someone else to help issue the funds?

I walked down the steep driveway of the motel and slipped. There was runoff water on the driveway from a backed up drain and it had accumulated algae. My knee went straight down into the blacktop and I saw something sticking out, it was my kneecap.

In a few seconds my life had changed again. A man saw me fall and called 911, I screamed so loud Karma ran back to the office with her tail between her legs. I think she went to get help and it worked! She was returned to me by several people who brought me ice until the Ambulance arrived. I remember seeing Karma standing there perfectly still, she looked so scared and she never has her tail like that.

I called my dispatcher and told him I fell and I would be going in the ambulance to the hospital; I needed help with the dog. He said he would send someone but in just a few minutes he arrived himself and took Karma. 

My Kneecap Shattered

My kneecap broke in half and the bottom half broke into 9 pieces. I went to a trauma center and had surgery the next day.  By a stroke of luck my girlfriends were in town for truck repairs at the same time. In over 2 years at Covenant Transport we have never all been in at the same time and Thanks God for them!

Deborah paid for the motel room, got my laptop from the lobby and put Karma back in the room where she stayed until they moved her to our company motel across the street.

Deborah helped me home from the hospital and my other friend Darlene helped me gather my stuff from truck 11438 after my surgery with a few other friends who were so nice to come help me and in the rain too!

Some very nice people from twitter drove up from Georgia drove up to get Karma and kept her for two weeks after my surgery because I could barely move around on my own. (Thanks to The Johnsons from Twitter)

After I was out of the hospital I stayed in our company motel which is quite shabby but I had no choice. Now I am recuperating in Florida and I am on a new adventure with workman’s comp and trying to get to my physical therapy on the city bus in a leg brace.

In my next post I will talk about my experience with workman’s compensation. When truck drivers are injured far from home they are reliant on their companies to help them get home with their belongings, pets and they are generally in a great deal of pain.

I plan to share with you how the supply chain works when the freight is the driver.

R.E.A.L Women In Trucking

I wanted to take the time to introduce the web site R.E.A.L. Women in Trucking.  It was born as a result of what I saw lacking elsewhere and it has most certainly set the stage for what is to come.

In an effort to provide free self-help resources for fellow truckers & prospective student truckers the site is a place we can help ourselves to overcome obstacles in the trucking industry and network to others.

Social media has been amazing to get my story out and it has drawn other organizations concerned with workplace bullying to take an interest in the way truck drivers are treated and trained.

I have also been working on locating other useful links to use for research and employment law information.

Being “REAL” as opposed to unreal is about as plain as I can say it but I wanted to take it one step further by making the word “REAL” an acronym for what the mission is all about.

R. – Reaching Out

E. – Encouraging Others

A. – Achieving Personal Success

L. – Leadership

There is very little guidance by the trucking industry leaders or organizations to assist student truck drivers going from CDL School to their training carriers so that they can become successful, safe truck drivers.

The internet is full of misleading ads and the plethora of associations and organizations make it all the more confusing because they are not being clear on what their true income base relies upon.  Advocacy, insurance sales, recruiting?  It seems like everyone is trying to sell you the magic potion for a problem they have a hand in creating.  That is why this industry is so shady.

For experienced drivers and students alike, being sold your personal safety , your job security, your chance to sleep comfortable & safe, your ability to protest erroneous information placed on your DAC report.  It becomes a full time job in itself to keep up with it all.

As you become educated on this industry you begin to see that each obstacle has a smiling snake oil salesmen ready to sell you a remedy, it does not take long to see that problems created for drivers are another inner industry which are meant to get every nickel back from you that you worked so hard to make.

It takes a lot of effort to sort the good information from the heaps of garbage on the internet about becoming a truck driver and how to fight back.

As I have met other veteran women truck drivers I found that they are nothing like the few I encountered from other organizations who sought only to argue and stalk me around the internet.

I found instead that REAL Women Truckers who have huge hearts, they work hard, live quietly and mind their own business.  Many have kept their lips zipped about some terrible things they have seen out here but they are eager to be recognized and see this industry clean up its act.

In speaking to some of these women I found the same topics popping up.  Some of these gals have been driving since the seventies and started as teenagers learning from their Fathers.

One thing they would like to see changed is how women in the trucking industry treat them.

In my own story I encountered women who had the power to treat drivers fair but chose not to and what these veteran women drivers share is the same power issue.

Discussing various scenarios it seems to stem from a couple different things. We need to understand that a woman who works in-house is probably getting a good deal of male attention because this is male dominated industry.  After awhile, an immature woman might think she is superior to other women because she’s being told what a sweetheart she is all day.

There are a number of issues when in-house affairs with superiors or students begin to spill onto the driving population because these people start to become intoxicated with themselves and this can create a hostile atmosphere.  They have created an intimate atmosphere in the workplace and everyone else is having to suffer because of it. 

The self-confidence of a woman trucker is undenieable but when unintentionally caught in the crosshairs  of an in-house ego trip there is going to be a clash.  Women in support positions can and do retaliate to show superiority electronically or verbally.

There are women in the trucking industry who seem to want to treat women truckers as substandard and this needs to change.

These hostile work situations are  common with women as the try to compete with each other in male dominated industries.  What they should be doing is working together and leave their egos aside.  This idea was the inspiration for the post I made called “Wild West Women”.

Touching on our human nature to point fingers and pass judgment on everyone else who does not eat, pray and love like ourselves inspired me to write “Bring It On – Ethics in Sexual Harassment Training ” which by the way is almost non-existent in the trucking industry yet violence against women during their training period is ridiculously high.

When I say sexual harassment I do not mean someone saying you have a nice ass at a truck stop.  I mean being put on a truck to learn to drive with someone who tries to badger or force you to have sex with them in order to learn to drive the truck.  I am talking about trainers who say they will not let you pass if you do not have sex with them.  I am talking about dispatchers who call you for phone sex while you are driving all night and withhold miles if you don’t comply.  I am talking about companies who retaliate on women drivers when they report these acts and protect the predators.

Many of these trainers have had multiple complaints and the carriers do little if anything to protect other women from being victimized.  Having a trainer who is jacking off while watching you drive or jacking himself off while he drives, this is what I am talking about. I AM NOT talking about another driver calling you “Honey”!

When a female student returns to her trainers truck from a shower, she should not have to worry that her trainer will be lying on the bunk with a hard on telling her to suck his cock!  She should also not have to worry about being left in the desert which it seems everyone knows is common but no one does anything about it. WTF?  These things also happen to male students so it’s not only because women are in a male-dominated industry. It’s because there are sexual predators who have been thriving in mega-fleets that train students who are fresh meat. It is because students are off-guard because they believe their companies are run by professionals, they do not enter these carriers expecting this conduct but perhaps they should.

Co driving teams can be just as dangerous because probelms drivers are recylced back into the driving population when they too have had multiple complaints of violence or sexual misconduct against them. Students should be made clear that the truck IS NOT theirs and they may not throw one another off because one has a temper tantrum when they are getting nowhere trying to make a pass for sex. Screaming at or berating your co-driver is not acceptable and when it is time to get off the truck the carriers should not delay or they themselves are the guilty party should a trajedy occur.

This language is strong on purpose!   This is what goes on and when you are all alone 2000 miles from home in a truck, isolated with no one to call for help and someone does these things to you it is frightening and it is a violation of your human dignity but unfortunately the term sexual harassment brings out all the apologists who are afraid we might look weak if we say anything.

Ray LaHood and Oprah Winfrey have no idea what distracted driving is until they have ridden along to see what goes on at our government funded truck driving training carriers.

Another thing I found about real women truckers is that many have come from some sort of abuse in their past. Either as children or abusive spouses and they desire to work alone and be in charge of their own lives.  Truck driving is such a confidence booster for a woman.

If you have ever had your face kicked in by the steel toed boot of a man you thought loved you know what I mean.  Having someone brainwash you into believing that you could never amount to a hill of beans and then becoming a professional driver of an 18-Wheeler!  Well FUCK OFF! RIGHT?

This is not to say that women truckers hate men, most still hold the hope they will meet someone who can accept their independence and understand how hard they fought to have the courage to take the risk.

Once you have tasted this kind of freedom it is very hard to let someone control your life again and it’s very hard to find a man who can refrain from putting his two cents in where it is not needed.

That’s not man-hating, its self-confidence and some people DO NOT like that in a Woman.

Sherry Yielding Brown is one real women trucker I was lucky enough to meet when she drove to meet me in Hamilton, Alabama.  She was driving double wide manufactured homes as a teen on back country roads.

Sherry told me about her 20 year trucking career and her very short stint as a company driver for one of “The Big Nine” saying what a joke it was. She retired from the open road in 2005 now works in Safety & Operations for a small company who values their drivers. In her spare time she works on the Marion county domestic violence task force and she is a bead weaver.

I have met a number of women who are either formerly truckers or still driving who would like raise awareness about violence against women in the trucking industry in order to expose those who do it and those who cover it up.

 The Dan Rather Report Series into trucking stretched into a four part series is based on CLUES I intentionally put in my student trucker story as a civilian entering trucking.

The show titles are “Queen of the Road”, “Truck Talk”, “Mind Your Loan Business” & “Haul or High Water” they can be viewed by going to the iTunes Store and Searching up “Dan Rather Reports”, each episode is $1.99.

 The original unedited story is on the web site “Ask the Trucker” and it is called “A Day in the Life of a Lady Trucker”.   The back-story and commentary of the attempted cover-up is here on the “Trucker Desiree” site but portions are included in the 3 part Q & A of Ellen Voie on R.E.A.L. Women In Trucking.

That series was born of a 2rd generation trucker by the name of Heather Rose who wanted to hear more after viewing the “Raw Sound Bytes from a Trucking Convention” video clip that had unfortunate remarks about Women Truckers.

The first post had so many comments I had to shut them down.  By the time the second and third posts were up I was ready to become ill as I watched this organization dig themselves in deeper with uninformed and very hurtful remarks about women truckers.

Heather Rose was in a distressed living situation just as the series was launched.  She has had very limited access to computers to see the fallout but her only wish like mine has been  “will it help to make changes?” 

I believe so because at this point denying what has been happening to the female driving population and denying that student females are recruited at nearly 20% when retention remains stagnate at 5 to 6% with all the evidence presented in this past year through social media I feel strongly that those with consciences are doing soul searching.

How far that will get us I am not sure because souls and conscience are not synonymous with the trucking industry.

Trying to come together as drivers for unity I have been happy to see so many men are joining our Facebook fan page called REAL Women Truckers , we have had only three troll attacks which is pretty good considering we post some very controversial issues.

In this process we have begun to draw more clear lines of who is seeking to divide us BUT continuing to deceive by selling themselves as unifiers.

One important item for all to note is the appeal for the CRST Sex Harassment Case was filed on November 30, 2009, you can read more about it by clicking HERE , Should this appeal fail the taxpayers will be left to pay the enormous $4.5 Million in attorney fees.

 This should make every American very angry and I should hope take action to see these government funded trucking companies be held accountable for their poor training and personal safety standards.

As we begin to see that workplace bullying legislation may apply to workplace bullying organizations like trucking we can start examining other tools to fight back such the NEW  “Sexual Harassment Registry” from our Twitter friends @eBossWatch .

Educating ourselves on trucking employment law will also help drivers find resources to correct false DAC reporting, locate trucking whistleblower information, find information for refusal to drive in unsafe conditions and other issues.

 Partnership projects on “Ask the TruckerBlog Talk Radio like this recent show with Paul Taylor Esquire of Truckers Justice help to assist all drivers learn what their rights are when being forced to do things that will affect their CDL. Listen to the Replay of “FORCED DISPATCH

The Owner-Operators United (OOU) has endorsed R.E.A.L. Women in Trucking and asks for unity to be inclusive of truckers wives who seen their share of disrespect as they trying to keep the support system going for their guys. Trucking wives are a big component to the success of their spouses, they are very much part of the team even if they are not behind the wheel.

Hope Rivenburg , the young Widow of trucker Jason Rivenburg , she’s done more for truckers this past year than almost anyone despite losing her husband, giving birth to twins days later, working her butt off for the Safe Trucker Parking bill “Jason’s Law” having to endure a murder trial , going to Washington D.C. to speak on behalf of all drivers with very little recognition or REAL help from this industry.

Mike & Linda Rone of RMR Consultants have been wonderful by helping with DAC issues for a few women drivers who need to get back to work and rebut incorrect information that was reported on them. They go above & beyond to help drivers be D.O.T. Compliant. Their services are worth the expense to give you peace of mind that you have your work documents in order when you begin searching for an employer.

Jim Weldon of Driver Match is a Driver/Trainer who has also endorsed our site because he feels strongly about encouraging women to enter the industry but feels they should be trained safely are treated with respect.

Team driving can be an effective learning tool if done properly; it can also be a better way to make money if you can find a compatible person to drive team with.

Driver Match is not a dating site like other misleading team driving love match sites. It is a site where drivers can enter their own criteria to see if they can get along to team drive, he will be adding a background check feature in the near future.

These are innovations from people who care about highway safety, personal safety and being effective, not about ripping someone off who cannot afford to be ripped off.

Part of being a good driver is being a conscientious person, the big picture is trying to create some unity again among drivers.

Truckers Against Trafficking”  is a group that simply asks us to be the eyes and ears while we are on the road to watch for unusual behavior by utilizing their wallet cards and calling the national human trafficking hotline.  They will be making their debut at the ‘Great American Truck Show” in Dallas, please stop by their booth a grab some wallet cards to share with other drivers.

Stand up for positive change people, we do not have to tolerate the smoothed over version anymore, not with social media. I am living proof of this.

Better training for all drivers with check and balances will help to eliminate the abusive system both in-house and inside the industry.

The art work for the site was done by Alex Raffi, an Editorial Cartoonist & Artist who also did Artwork for “Jason’s Law“. The intent was to show diversity because one of the biggest obstacles Women face is trying to control things that only lead to division.

If you have personal blog site you would like to link to R.E.A.L. Women In Trucking please email me TruckerDesiree@gmail.com

This is your opportunity to help others with what you know.

Ray LaHood, Anne Ferro, Bill Graves

Name an industry that can get away with leaving a labor force stranded across the United States days before Christmas and hardly get any mainstream media giving it any coverage?

This is the power of controlling media and the trucking industry proved it during December 2009 when Arrow trucking turned off gas cards, bounced paychecks, closed its doors, and left truck drivers stranded.

I decided against a picture of an Arrow Truck for this post but instead I chose this nifty picture of Bill Graves the CEO of the “American Trucking Association” with Ray LaHood & Anne Ferro because they obviously all know each other.

On December 22, 2009 the Christian Science Monitor reported the Arrow closing and the story made its way to Twitter shortly afterwards.  In researching the timeline for this post I noted that the editor has made a comment about the original title. It makes me wonder if someone “contacted them” and a correction to the wording was made. Speaking out about human indignities by the trucking industry seems to be monitored very carefully.

Twitter became quickly a buzz on the 22nd with that initial article. Shortly thereafter a second report via Landline eNews article called “ Nightmare before Christmas ” by Clarissa Kell-Holland was also circulating.

Remarks by the truckers on twitter quickly became heated when it became clear that the twitter tags of @RayLaHood who is the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and frequently tweeted about job creation during that week & the ATA Twitter tag @TruckingMatters remained silent on the Arrow Issue.

Ellen Voie of @WomeninTrucking tweeted an announcement that Anne Ferro of the FMCSA would speak at the “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel” but said nothing about Arrow. In a private email I was advised she was very much aware of the situation but for whatever reason did not tweet any articles. I still have those dated emails but some of the remarks are not pleasing about Ellen Voie and they were made by one of her members so I will refrain for now.

Meanwhile others like @HDTrucking tweeted “Arrow Drivers get one heck of a lump of coal for Christmas” in between “Retweeting” things for Hubby Evan Lockridge @LockridgeReport who tweeted he would be doing a show on the 23rd about the Stranded Arrow Drivers.

Individual Truckers on Twitter were tweeting:  “Hope we never see management from Arrow trucking in management jobs in any other trucking company. #Fail 9:52 PM Dec 22nd, 2009” which was just one of the popular “ReTweets” that went on for days. (This was a retweet I copy & pasted from Jami Jones @Shewhoknowstruck )

On Facebook remarks of disgust that no one knew about the drivers went like this: “…I was talking to some at church, they have no clue what just happened! Sad! Some said they would have just brought the truck home. I ask how? Most of these guys had no money. How you going to buy fuel, pay tolls, cross border without cash? Plus they lost all contact with their company!” were made on the newly created Fan Page called “Stranded Arrow Trucking Drivers-Coordinate Efforts Here” which was made by the Landline Staff on Twitter. (The title has since been changed as well as the mission)

In prior projects on twitter such as @JasonsLaw & the Virginia Rest Area Issue , there had been interference by the Landline Staff on Twitter so I would be lying if I said everyone believed that OOIDA was creating the page for anything more than a membership drive. I have included a link above from my previous post on Jason’s Law but at this time I cannot elaborate further.

That afternoon in fact a well known Canadian Trucker had some mixed signals from comments made by Jami Jones the Senior Editor of Landline and challenged her to call into Daniel Audet’sTruck Star Radio” to discuss the Fan Page.

At first she declined but when pressed to show that she truly cared to get the word out through ALL mediums, she agreed and convinced the listeners that the OOIDA Fan Page was an effort to help the stranded drivers and not a membership ploy as we had seen in the past.

I was aware that OOIDA Media had also been calling around. I was on home time, I was very sick with a high fever and my truck starter had died so I had to drive to Denton, Texas to go into the shop. I was actually parked in the mechanics bay for the night on the 22nd and was hesitant to become a fan of the page until I was convinced by Daniel Audet that Jami Jones was sincere. At about 9pm CST I became a fan of the page and forwarded it to MANY people.

Dan Little President of the “Owner Operators United@DDLittle on Twitter had already begun Tweeting & making phone calls on behalf of the Stranded Arrow Drivers.

Dan Little was in close contact through Twitter, Facebook and nightly on “Truck Star Radio” and reported that OOU members were going above the call to assist the Arrow Drivers in getting them home, fed, & get them motels.  The OOU board of Directors also offered a 1 year 100% free membership to all Arrow Drivers.

Within a hour of the Qualcomm message that was received  by the Arrow Drivers telling them that the company had folded the OOU was contacted and that information  was passed on to Bob McCarty and several other national media contacts.  According to Dan Little it was Mr. McCarty who contacted CNN who broke the story worldwide.

On the morning of December 23, 2009 I was received an early morning call from @Longhawl a trusted friend from twitter who has dispelled many misinformation campaigns by  “The Trolls of Trucking on Twitter”.

My friend “Longhawl” was deeply disturbed by the news of the Arrow closing and more so that the ATA had the nerve to sit quietly and saying nothing and doing nothing.  I agreed that the ATA was a despicable example how to represent an industry but the truth about trucking is that this is how truckers are treated and most people could care less.  Longhawl told me he was just plain tired of seeing the arrogance that the ATA displayed toward the hardworking American Trucker and he wanted to help. He asked me why no one was attacking the ATA on Twitter outright and I said that retaliation in trucking is very real so most individuals are intimidated, also much of the trucking media sources are controlled.

In fact as I recal the day the ATA came on Twitter they only followed national media contacts and the publishing partners for the major trucking periodicals are very much “connected”.

Longhawl said “Well I don’t work for the Trucking Industry and I am going to say a few things” I said “Okay, I will ReTweet what you say.” I also introduced Longhawl to Mike Rone of “RMR Consultants” who was working on cleaning up a DAC for a woman trucker named @NJKatwoman .

Mike was disturbed that no one had assisted the drivers by notifying truck stops properly, making sure the drivers who were cut off from the outside world suddenly could make their way home with their belongings for the holidays. I spent a few hours on the phone with both Mike & Longhawl that morning while I awaited the repair on my truck. During that time I saw an Arrow driver try to turn in his keys to the Service Desk and the girl had no idea what he was talking about. Then he went to the fuel desk and she had no idea either.

Mike Rone had called Dallas Radio Station KRLD to get them to cover the story and I spoke to the girl at the fuel desk and told her what was going on. While I was speaking to her another girl walked up and said that the day before an Arrow driver was able to fuel up but the card did not go through so they had to pump out the fuel. Still they did not know that the company had gone belly up nor were they aware that the drivers were stranded. How humiliating is this for a driver who is on his way home for the holidays? They had already received one bounced paycheck and via qualcomm the company told them they were unemployed without notice. A message that said in essence “See Ya wouldn’t want to be Ya”.

The OOIDA Fan Page had numerous offers to help the drivers but there was no rhyme or reason to it. There were carriers offering jobs and rides but in practice that meant nothing more than a free link ad. There were no drivers on Facebook because they were out-of- touch. When companies like Swift & Schneider came forth to offer rides home it sounded grand but in practice how would the Arrow drivers know this? Were Schneider’s drivers advised to go track them down? What if they did see an Arrow driver who was stranded and they needed to go to Florida but the Schneider truck was under a load going to Washington?  Then what? I mean it looked great on the surface but in reality there was not any sort of practical rescue operation being conducted.

Together, Longhawl & Mike Rone created a forum that went live the morning of December 24, 2009 which aimed to sort out offers for assistance from all over the internet to make it easy for the drivers once they were located but not many people ever found that forum. It was submerged before it took off but it was made to help the drivers and that was all.

We had twitter going crazy despite the lack of mainstream media attention. The ruckus of the Stranded Arrow drivers and our constant circulating of the OOIDA fan page link was everywhere you looked. Within hours if you googled “Arrow Drivers” the 2 lone articles were complimented by thousands of additional items which were actual tweets that were going into Google.

Not many people realize that what you post on Facebook it remains in Facebook but on Twitter it escapes the “Twitoshepre” and into the “World Wide Web” which makes it searchable in Google!

The chatter could not be ignored, this was not just truckers on twitter who had jumped onboard, and the news of the Stranded Arrow Drivers was being circulated by concerned citizens from around the world on Twitter who were OUTRAGED!!!!

On the morning of December 23, 2009 “Fleet Owner” magazine put out an article called “Social Media Comes to the aid of Stranded Arrow Truck Drivers” but here’s the thing, these are all ATA skewed publications and it was sort of a slap in the face with some feeble acknowledgement that said: “Yes, we see you are making an impact but we are still not going to do anything about it.”

I personally monitored those tweets in Google regularly and forwarded the increasing stats to interested parties. There were many familiar faces in those tweets who were not only my followers but even my DOG’s followers!

My Damn Dog was doing more for Arrow Drivers than the FMCSA, Women in Trucking or the American Trucking Association! Merry Effing Christmas Truckers!

Okay, so I’m getting a little pissed… Breathe Breathe…

The tweets were very targeted by utilizing “Hashtags”, we had seen success in several projects by doing this method for the Virginia Rest Areas, Pickens Plan and Dog Rescue.

In the future I will detail this but I did go on “Truck Star Radio” and give a tutorial to people who wanted to help.

This was an enormous success and by the 24th I had been introduced to a group of former Arrow drivers and volunteers on Twitter and Facebook who I invited to join “Truck Star Radio” as much as they wanted to tell their true story.

It was not long until reports began coming back that pledges to give help were being ignored and that the OOIDA page was not being managed properly. Still it was an amazing outpouring of people wanting to help. Still today it is inspiring to see all the people wanting to help truckers and it stands as a testament to the power of social media.

In those beginning hours there was truly more offers for help than there was drivers. That was the problem, how would a stranded driver know that they needed to get on the internet?

As I said in the recent “Blog Talk Radio” broadcast I was deeply moved when I observed former Arrow Driver Brandon White organize efforts while enroute to his new job on the greyhound bus.

I was included in a circulating email of volunteers but I did not post publically because I did not want to alert “The Trolls” about my involvement which would derail the cooperation that we thought was taking place.

I have included the radio broadcast link and I don’t want to recap everything here but basically at this time I did not know about Donna Creekmore but learned of her shortly afterwards and her list of drivers.

This list was crucial to weed out the scammers who emerged. The other disturbing thing was that people who were disgusted trying to pledge assistance on the OOIDA board. Some people were reporting they went ahead and gave to some of the designated charities but then some drivers were reporting those same charities either ran out of funds or the told the drivers that they did not meet the criteria to get assistance.

One Arrow driver called the number and was told to go to a homeless shelter!

This was a problem for me and others who felt if Donna Creekmore had verified them as drivers and there were people willing to help assist them they should be matched up, end of story.

Again, I won’t get into all the backroom shenanigans FOR NOW but I did receive the exchanges between OOIDA & the Volunteers and it was not surprising to me who the characters were but still it was disappointing that this crisis was turning into a media power struggle.

Another page on Facebook surfaced on the 24th called the “Ex-Arrow Employee’s Page” and it seemed odd that OOIDA had not been in direct contact with these folks and Donna Creekmore as soon as they appeared on the scene to collaborate.

Donna Creekmore was assisted by a woman named Dana to organize help directly to drivers. I personally called both of them to see who they were because it was true that scammers were coming out of the woodwork on the OOIDA page and it seemed like no one was managing it properly. My own followers on twitter were getting too personally involved and I did not want any of them getting ripped off.

Donna Creekmore was actually in the emergency room with her Husband when I spoke to her, she said she was concerned with getting “her drivers” home. To my knowledge no one from OOIDA had contacted her at this time nor were they aware that Dana, Donna, Brandon and other Volunteers had set up a base of operations to help the actual drivers on from the driver list and match with pledges for help from individuals.

On the Monday after Christmas however the emails were flying. Soon after, Dana set up a third page of Volunteer efforts on Facebook for the Arrow drivers.  Dana continued assisting drivers with volunteers while Donna Creekmore was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

It was an amazing weekend! A huge storm had hit Oklahoma & Texas and shut down I-40. Many truckers were stranded and some were attempting to help stranded Arrow drivers when the storm hit.

Despite my attempt to stay in the background I was compelled to post publically after an OOIDA member called me to dispel rumors about repo men being at truck stops. I also called Freightliner and posted on their Facebook page asking for a public announcement. I did not get a response but it sure brought the trolls out.

Private texts to me by other truckers on twitter asked for me to pass along offers of help and jobs to Donna & Dana because they too did not want to stir up the trolls.

It was already too late; in fact the King of Trolls had posted on the OOIDA page Jan 2nd to stay away from any of the “other groups” and wanted to know if anyone had a concrete list. He had been tweeting with Jami Jones who was ensuring that to him that,  “…/amazing/ isn’t the word for it. It seems like we spend as much time killing rumors as productive good some days. & we have debunked some requests from alleged Arrow drivers needing help. We didn’t just fall off the turnip truck here” but that was not the truth.

There were problems behind the scenes and Jami Jones blogged “Imagine All the People” where she implied there was social media backstabbing which was sort of crazy because all the people I knew of had been up 24/7 tweeting, donating every last nickel they had and making phone calls to help Arrow Drivers while they were in bad shape themselves.

One woman who is a big fan of @TruckinDogKarma was in the ICU tweeting from her phone and had to have it removed from her by her doctor!  She later made phone calls with a partial list and got deeply involved with the missing trucker story when the Mother of that guy poured her heart out to her.

If that were not enough to turn my stomach, on January 5, 2010 the ATA finally remarked on the Arrow driver situation. Like a synchronized swimming event Ellen Voie tweeted “Angels Among Us” which originally had comments on it that have been moderated off but I was sent the copies.

In this article Ellen states she was called by OOIDA to bring home the last Arrow drivers but according to Donna Creekmore there were many drivers who were still not home or had no home to go to.

On this same day OOIDA edited their Mission Statement and Title on the Facebook Fan Page and the ATA Twitter @TruckingMatters account tweets this dumbass remark “Thank you to all the trucking companies working from day 1 to help former Arrow drivers #SupportArrowDrivers #Win “

That was in addition to this tweet right next to it: “TweetsSchneider National encourages former Arrow drivers to apply http://www.schneiderjobs.com #SupportArrowDrivers #trucking”

OY VEY! So those are the Holy Grail of Hope to the American Trucker?  Seems to me every day is media day in trucking!

There was huge lesson to be learned in the Arrow Trucking mess and that is people do care about truckers but they are not getting the information they need to help them.

Many people came together who were formerly divided and eventually worked together.

Good can come out of what happened at Arrow in the sense that an awakening should begin to come about that ordinary people can make a difference. You can gather the rest on your own when your eyes begin to clear like mine have.

Listen to the Blog Talk Radio called “Truckers Home” with former Arrow Trucking Employee Donna Creekmore that aired May 6, 2010
Blog Talk Radio Truth About Trucking "Live"

There were so many individual people to thank it was not possible to remember everyone. If you would like to thank someone please post and let them be recognized.

Honest John & Gideon


The driver shortage is back so they say. But if you talk to a veteran trucker they will tell you there never was one. If you will recall the ATA said there was no longer a shortage but rather a glut of drivers when “Queen of the Road” was aired. That was the first of 3 so far investigative reports into trucking from Dan Rather Report on HDNet.

If you have kept up to date with my previous posts my feeling was that this was linked to selling loans & collecting commissions first by trucking recruiters with a disregard for your success as a student trucker. (Dan Rather Report “Mind Your Loan Business”)

Of those who can secure either a personal loan or receive government funding to go to truck driving school, most will not make it past the first year, but who cares if you are in the business to sell loans. Insurance is the reason, so they say that a new trucker must be funneled into the handful of student trucking fleets regardless if you grew up in a trucking family and can already drive. For the rest of the population who have somehow found themselves entertaining the idea of becoming a trucker this may not be such a big deal but don’t get to confident, many of you will not make it either.

Student trucking fleets exist on an enormous amount of government money and funding, it’s sorta funny that the jobs bill is coming up and POOF! The Driver shortage has reappeared.

Student Truckers work cheap, as they should in order to learn the job of trucking but you should understand that trucking cycles through cheap labor just as every other industry does & you are expendable from the second the government cheese stops on your head.

I have just passed my two year mark in trucking and in a good economy it would be wise to go to a fleet where I am paid better but the truth is that those companies I have aspired to apply to are not hiring, many trucking companies are still struggling to stay afloat. I got my experience now and even though I am on a cushy dedicated fleet I only make 27.5 cents per mile, I work about 55 plus hours per week but I don’t get paid by the hour, I get paid by the mile and they have not been the 2400 average lately.

New regulations like CSA 2010 will definitely force out many drivers making room for new recruits who will do things the new way. Teaching an old dog a new trick is not a priority it seems in trucking so with new regulations and the movement to paperless logs, many drivers will be unable to adapt.

For new students, I recommend you start becoming educated now because many recruiters, CDL Schools and Training companies will not be interested in your long-term success because there are incentives to see you get that loan, work cheap and then quit after 6 or 7 months.

This makes room for another student and leaves you with less than the amount of experience you need to go to another company, despite what they tell you when you are in the planning stages to enter this career.

Advertisements like “Jobs for Felons” and “Workforce Investment Act” Vouchers for “Displaced Homemakers” give you hope of a new life and are designed to make you think the trucking industry is the goodwill ambassador in a depressed economy.

The training environment is focused on moving freight cheap, not learning how to be succesfull in the long run, that is up to you alone. I still love my job but I don’t make enough money to have a home or a car. I cannot afford to take much time off so I have not seen my family or friends much in the past 2 years. I have a good dispatcher and that is really hard to leave after all the shit I have been through. A good dispatcher to me means, he does not tell me to do things that are illegal or unsafe. Check Out this recent case against Prime Inc and you will know what I mean. “Prime Inc pays $75,000 in punitive damages

My dispatcher does not hold miles over my head if I do not comply to “I need a Favor” which usually means break the law and risk my CDL. He does not push me in bad weather and I think he knows I have good judgement that I won’t puss out while at the same time I know when to shut it down. He answers the phone when I call him and he is polite. I am polite to him as well even if I am having a bad day out here. I know he has a huge fleet and gets yelled at all day long. I don’t take my shit out on him and he does not take his out on me. Now that I said that publically he might start being an asshole, who knows? But I will just have more time to write if I am not rolling …I adapt.

The trucking industry does not like the term “Starve Out”, they prefer “Squeezing Out”, same thing… that means miles are withheld and you are left to sit until you quit on your own. Therefore you have abandoned the truck and this can go on your record which makes it hard to get another job.

You probably won’t be able to collect unemployment because you voluntarily quit. The trucking industry rarely fires people, they provoke you to make a jackass out of yourself. You never hear about trucking layoffs because then they could not justify the “Driver Shortage” and 125% turnover rate. Most people leave so discouraged they do not fight back so that’s why this has been going on for over 20 years.

Remember in the 1940 Disney movie Pinocchio that the little wooden boy is led astray many times with offers that lead him to troubles? Honest John & Gideon act as recruiters who sell the idea Pleasure Island is a voluntary vacation where there is unlimited freedom and bad behavior is rewarded. (Please read the definition of Pleasure Island I have linked here for you)

Remember the quiet sinister Coachman who sat and waited in the background for the boys to make “jackasses” of themselves?

The Coachman only had to sit back and wait for the boys to morph into donkeys so he could sell them off to work in the salt mines. The final morphing process was when they stopped being able to talk and could only HEE HAW! HEE HAW!

What a great gig for the Coachman, Honest John & Gideon! The “know it all” Lampwick was there giving all his expert advice. Remember it was Lampwick who turned into a Jackass first but Pinocchio was able to escape.

But say, remember the Coal Mine Ponies? Wouldn’t that be like a Salt Mine Donkey? Ponies were used in coal mines to replace Child & Female labor did you know that? Despite the Ponies being considered an investment to be cared for they were sometimes overworked. Child Labor Laws & Animal Welfare Laws are designed to prevent explotation.

Labor Laws are a son of a bitch for the bottom line, & in America, we really like cheap stuff so that’s why most of the stuff we buy is made in places that don’t have labor laws, that’s called “Outsourcing” and you should keep that in mind when you shop.

Trucking is a little harder to outsource but these are smart cookies here in this industry. Did you know that Truckers are considered “Unskilled Labor” ? That helps justify the wages, but wait a second? Unskilled Truckers driving 18 wheelers down the highway next to some family doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, how about you?

If you are about to embark into a career into trucking, don’t believe one word about the “Driver Shortage” your recruiter tries to sell you. Make sure you call training companies and companies who require experience and ask them about their hiring area, you may find you can be hired as a student but not as experienced from the same area.

Criminal records and/or driving records are also a factor. You might be able to get a loan or funding but not a job and NO REFUND!

If you are a Woman you have extra worries seeing how the “No Sex, No Pass & Get Out” Climate still exists in trucking & retaliation is alive and well in many companies, including faith-based.

Make sure you check the “Rip-Off Report” for prospective companies and you can try “Driver Match” to interview Trainers. A good trainer word of mouth will hopefully get some of the companies to be more pro-active on conduct training.

Remember that recruiters talk a different story to experienced drivers because students are Ching Ching and the risk might be worth it to these big fleets who carry their own insurance. This is a math equation many qualified individuals are still trying to wrap their head around.

Also, you should know that it is harder to get hired with a record, driving issues & health issues and some companies have agility or lifting requirements your recruiter or CDL School will not disclose. Always remember as a student you are a cheap labor force so even if you get a foot in the door be prepared for “squeeze out” around 6 months with nowhere to go and a student loan to pay.

Even if you make it to the 2 year mark like I have, not many places are hiring. More pay doesn’t nessesarily mean anything if its irregular miles that are not a guaranteed average. If you have a corrupt dispatcher that is a big tradeoff because this is truly your support system while you are out on your own.

Realistically you can expect about $35,000 your first year. My second year we got 3 pay cuts so I made about the same. My insurance and benefits have also been cut. The cost to live on the road and maintain a residence is not possible on this income. If you have a family I do not recommend becoming a trucker. The divorce rate is high and so is the affair rate. These things are not worth it if you calculate that you will be expected to work 70 hours a week and not be paid by the hour.

If I run 2400 miles which I rarely get these days at 27.5 that is $660 gross but lately it’s been half of that on the average. Those are the keywords “On the Average” that makes planning hard. Takeout food, cell phone and insurance and that does not leave much to justify being out 3 months at a time.

These are things recruiters don’t want you to know because they “Don’t want to scare anyone off”. I believe there are plenty of people who are like me and can make a life wherever they are but why lie to people who cannot afford the risk of being treated like a jackass?

I recently saw an ad of two people giving a testimonial they made $55,000 last year, but understand that trucking ads are intentionally misleading. What you have to see below the surface is that they were a married team driving couple. That means they have one income, don’t need to go home and the truck rolls 24/7 when freight is good. They live in a box together, which is quite difficult for anyone.

If you can live on very little, you are willing to risk your life working all sorts of weird hours. Be on a tight schedule, have the ability to listen and learn and want a challenge I highly recommend trucking.

It will be up to you to research the obstacles of the enormous amount of recruiting ads promising “Pleasure Island” scenarios. Your cheap labor is wanted in trucking to squeeze out experienced drivers who have few options to survive in this industry.

This is how it works so when you meet Honest John, Gideon, or Lampwick when you enter this industry, make sure you understand the “Coachman” is lurking in the shadows waiting for you to morph into a HEE HAWING Jackass that won’t talk back.

If you are seeking information from people who care about your success visit “Ask the Trucker” & Become a FAN on Facebook of REAL Women Truckers where you can meet Real Truckers & ask questions to help you understand the obstacles before you get yourself involved in a loan.

If you are a Trucking Industry Professional and want to hear what drivers are saying you are also welcome to become a fan but remember this is my turf so I won’t be having any strong-arm bullshit corporate mumbo jumbo.

You are invited to listen and learn.
That is all…..

Additional Baloney:
Fleet Owner: Sizing up the Driver Shortage
Journal of Commerce: Trucking Companies FEAR Driver Shortage

John Cooper "Cujo"

“Talk Less , Listen More” that was the advice to all new trucking students from Mr. John Cooper , dubbed “Cujo”.

This gentleman was “Sam” from my student trucker story on “Ask the Trucker – A Day in the Life of a Lady Trucker“, he passed away unexpectedly Christmas weekend , it was a shock to everyone in our company.

“Cujo” was a dedicated company man, he was one of the first people a student trucker would meet and he was the first person many of us went looking for as our training experience unraveled. Often he could do little more than encourage us to remain optimistic, pick ourselves up and try again. “Cujo” motivated me to keep trying.

I learned to read between the lines with Cujo and because of that I overcame many obstacles which is my student trucker story. He was a man with a great deal of integrity but his hands were tied to make changes. His optimism and upbeat demeanor may have seemed to some that he did not understand but I know he truly cared about the students success. He was simply not in a position to be much more than a figure head, the Ambassador.

So dedicated was Cujo to the company, I never told him I wrote about him or about my story until the night of the first Dan Rather Broadcast. By that time he had seen me overcome many challenging situations. He played a key role in my success with just a few directives.

After my story became public knowledge, I was stopped by a female driver in my company at a North Carolina Fuel Stop who said “You called Cujo , “Sam” after Samuel L. Jackson in your story.” , I smiled and said “Yes, I did”.

I knew what she meant, many drivers looked to Cujo for a hand out “so to speak” rather than a “hand up”. While it was true this man probably heard more firsthand horror stories from the student trucking fleet, he could do little more than try to motivate them to dust themselves off and keep trying. Disregard the rumors, gossip and keep rolling.

It wasn’t any special treatment this man gave, it was what he didn’t say that clued me in that he carried a huge burden. I sensed this right away when I heard him speak at our orientation. I took the initiative to ask him to dispel rumors from day one about our bonuses, the team driving requirement and my reservations about teaming with “Tony”.

When my trainer brought me in short of segments to test out, it was Cujo who said “She got paid good money to teach you and she could not even complete your paperwork”! He saw that I wanted to learn the best way, I did not want to cut corners … it was me who asked to go with a second trainer to iron out the kinks of my poor training.

I waited several days for the second trainer but he never showed, it was Cujo who saw me roaming the halls a few days later and realized that trainer never came for me. It was Cujo who made sure I got a second trainer so I could pass.

When “Tony” had his meltdown, Cujo knew it would happen because he met him, he knew I had made a promise and would not break it. He tried to encourage me to be selfish and think about myself before teaming with “Tony” but I had to give it a shot, seeing how I did promise and we had gone to CDL School together.

When the company attempted to remove me from the truck and give it to “Tony”, it was Cujo who informed me what the correct wording was to utilize to prevent it from occurring again.

Unfortunately, we had one miscommunication that was very unfortunate. When I rode the bus back to re-team with “Mag” it was Easter Weekend. I arrived at 5pm on Friday, everyone had gone home or I would have stopped by to see Cujo.

Following the bleach incident I became aware that “MS” knew that “Mag” had recent problems and could be a potential threat to my safety. “MS” was inapproprately friendly and unfriendly to certain student truckers and this was common knowledge. She booked my tickets, she seated me on the truck with the people she knew were potentially violent or could hinder my success.

It was Cujo who told me “Mag is a crackhead” and “Do not tell “MS” Shit”. WOW!!!!

This was totally out of character for a man like him to use this language. He worked closely with “MS” who is the team coordinator. This was my only point of contact and he was telling me to avoid her at all costs!

He had regrets but with the weekly volume of students and the turnover how could he possibly keep up with it all? He shared just a few candid comments which helped me overcome obstacles, he gave me no special treatment. I sent others with simialr problems to him with this advice. “Cujo is not going to fix the problem, he can’t but he needs to know and then read between the lines of what he is saying to you. “Talk Less, Listen More”.

My last co-driver was a girl Cujo set me up with, after everything I had been through I tried one last time to team up but it was actually a test.

When I returned to the terminal after Hurricane Ike with “CC” I went to see Cujo who had recommended her to me the week before. I spoke with him and another fellow driver/trainer. I told him I was trying to let her take the bull by the horns but she was not stepping up. The trainer said “someone needs to be in charge, be the leader” Cujo interjected “She’s is a leader” meaning me. I was flattered but I admitted that if she does not want to be led it was only provoking her. I told him that her temperament was predisposed so I was trying to let her lead but she showed no initiative. I said “I’m not sure she really wants to drive”. Cujo said “That’s what I thought”.

It was a test! He set me up and he set her up.

I did not always get straight answers from Cujo and sometimes I took my questions elsewhere. I did not give up and he saw that.

I never told him about the story or the show because I did not want him to feel he was hiding something. I called him the evening of the the first Dan Rather Report and explained to him what the emails and qualcomm’s meant. Everyone was confused and many still have no idea there was a show.

He was calm as I told him and wanted to watch the show. Then toward the end of the conversation he said “Girl, you really got em goin around here…” he was absolutlely tickled that something was happening. He carried a very heavy burden.

With regards to the Million Mile Driver I mention in my story, he told me on many occasions “They are screwing her over” and from her when she heard of his passing, she said “He knew a lot of stuff and I know it ate him up”.

Cujo called me late one evening at out nowhere late on November 20th 2009, this was very much out of character for this gentleman who was very much “by the book”.

He wanted to see how I was and what my plans were for the future. He said things I have never heard him say and never imagined he would be the type to be that unguarded.

I didn’t know what to make of the conversation but when I received the news of his sudden passing on Christmas weekend the timing seems to coincide with a diagnosis he received.

Ever the optimist, I understand he was upbeat and downplayed his condition. He never said anything in our phone conversation about it but he spoke in a way that was out of the ordinary. He was clearly distressed. Of course I feel guilt that I did not press him, he obviously needed someone to talk to and I did not hear his wheel squeaking. He died from complications after a treatment for Cancer. It seems he had just been diagnosed with it around the time he called me.

He was a bright light of sunshine despite everything that was going on around him. I would not have been able to overcome the obstacles I faced as a student trucker without Mr. John Cooper, his optimism and few candid moments are key ingredients in my success.

Mr. Cooper passed away in his home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was 59. He was laid to rest in Montgomery Alabama. He was active with his church and community in numerous organizations including Big Brothers, Big Sisters Organization, the Boys and Girls Club.

Rest in Peace “Cujo” Thank You for touching my life.

Dan Rather

Dan Rather Investigates Trucking

The Dan Rather Report Investigative Series into the Student Trucker Industry is available on iTunes. Three shows so far have been produced based on the clues I touched on from my Student Trucker Horror Story called:

A Day in the Life of a Lady Trucker “.

The Dan Rather Report series into trucking began with Part 1 “Queen of the Road” , Part 2 “Truck Talk” and this FREE link is for Part 3 “Mind Your Loan Business“. It will only be good for 2 weeks.

The 2009 year end episode of Dan Rather Reports also includes “Queen of the Road” as one of the most controversial. Uh-Oh Spaghetti-O!

The other two shows had free links but those have expired. You can still buy these shows for $1.99 on iTunes. I have provided you a link HERE Once you download itunes to your computer you can shop online for Movies, Music and TV Shows. Just search the iTunes store for “Dan Rather Reports” and each title will appear. Scroll until you find the episodes you want.

It does take a bit of time to download them but they are saved on your computer to watch more than once.

This new episode called “Mind Your Loan Business” came out the same day as the unemployment numbers from Detroit were estimated at 50%, this makes me very sad to know that targeted recruitment is occurring in areas hit hardest by our economy.

I noticed this when I was in CDL training that there were targeted demographics in particularly high unemployment areas. I noticed that it was more about “Selling Loans” to go to CDL School not about making you a success a a trucker. Another thing that prospective students are not told is that even if you are recruited to train , you may not be able to stay employed after that period because freight does not frequently move from where you live. Many companies will not hire from areas like Michigan & South Florida but they will make you believe that when they sell the loan.

Truck Driver recruiting is a business, Student truckers are a business.

Please take the time to watch “Mind Your Loan Business” while this free link is available.

                                    The US Xpress Incident

Let your conscience be your guide

Recently I read this comment from Ellen Voie: “If you don’t respect the person, respect the position”. Here is my question :  How many times are you supposed to R-E-S-P-E-C-T a position when you realize the position is using others who they are supposed to be representing?

We are fortunate to live in America where we are permitted to voice our opinions. We are allowed to question authority, within reason.

Since I began writing my student trucker story I have received many emails from people thanking me for taking the time to speak out and educate newcomers about potential obstacles they were not getting from participating in other forums.

My desire to have a job like trucking was because I am at a place in my life where I want to be alone. I don’t want to be anyone’s Boss, Mother, Wife, or Girlfriend. I don’t want to be in charge of anything except me and my job. I want to work, be left alone and use my free time to do things I like to do.

This journey into the trucking industry corruption should have stopped with my student trucker story but the level of misconduct was so great, I had to continue exploring & revealing what I found.

Honestly, I found more than I can even stomach to print publicly because the conduct is so gross.  My conscience as usual obligates me. I share just enough information for those who want understand how misleading recruitment advertising is before they get themselves in too far. These “Dog and Pony” Organizations are contributors to a dangerous set of circumstances already set in motion.

The more revelations I have shared in this tale, those who had once Cyber-Stalked & attempted to Bully, even those who made Physical threats to my person are now blogging about how they are victims.

It’s funny how the tables turn. These same people who felt it was okay when they perceived me as a target small and weak justified their actions.  Now that same lynch mob seems to be crying “Victim” when faced with a Mouse that ROARED.

We elect people who make us promises to makes changes we hope will better our lives. We join organizations to support goals we believe in. What happens when we find those leaders are not doing the job they promised? What should we do when we find out they have lied, covered up and participated in misconduct that is egregious to the mission statement that we can no longer support them?

How many times do you catch someone in a flat out lie before you say enough!? How many promises before you go your own way?

What if those leaders are absent of ethics but the mission is so good and the level of confusion created so great that good intentions are being made fools?

It is only natural that as the topics I have unraveled are finally spoken about publicly that ethical companies will want to sign on to fix the problem and no longer sweep it under the rug.

But sign up for what? With who?  Do people in Supply Chain Logistics want to be associated with Trucking Companies who have no level of conduct to prevent Rape, Violence, Harassment and Retaliation in their training?

Is sponsoring a “Feel Good” organization like “Women in Trucking” enough to slap the logo on your site and move on?

Increased Recruitment of Women into Trucking and Transportation is admirable but the longtime problem is not gone. This needs to be publicly addressed, training needs to be implemented and enforced.

It is not my job to do this but unfortunately no one who is getting paid to do this job wants to take on the topic because it is unpopular.

This is a dilemma, if fitting into a primarily male dominated industry is more important than the mission statement for which your non-profit status indicates you exist. The result of compliant complacency: Rape, Violence, Retaliation. That’s sorta hard for me to walk away from. I don’t want to “fit in” if that is the trade off.

Truthfully, there are more Men who support the notion of better training and support for both Men and Women entering trucking. The problem is they are not getting the proper information so the entire mission is a lose-lose for everyone.

I was confused myself when I joined “Women in Trucking” and was stalked online. I was told quite frankly that they have seen “my kind” before and they chase “those kind” off.

“My kind” being people who think women should not be recruited into an industry where they are put in highly dangerous intimate situations to be raped or beat up. Which results in the added trauma of retaliation for reporting it to their HR Department.

There were so many conflicting messages I needed to understand to discover the truth. The primary voice on the WIT forum was never Ellen Voie but rather Sandy Long who was my main attacker.

Sandy has a good deal of trucking experience any newcomer would be fortunate to find but the professionalism was lacking.

It seemed from an outsider’s perspective that Sandy resented Ellen and she was taking it out on me. The evidence was in the posts Ellen made during that period and the responses from Sandy.

It was disheartening because Ellen’s disconnected nature to the seriousness of the issues and Sandy’s passion for trucking were both misdirected, until an issue came about with Canadian Trucking Magazine which depicted Women Truckers in a manner that most everyone agreed was in poor taste.

This was the first time I saw the small group of Women actually work effectively to make a difference in what image was being projected. It was a success for “Women in Trucking” despite the fact that the response from the magazine showed they did not “get it”.

That weekend I attended the Las Vegas Truck Show to meet with an international documentary filmmaker and this was the first time I met Ellen Voie of “Women in Trucking”.

I happen to sitting in the booth of an APU manufacturer located next to the US Xpress Recruitment Booth and noticed they not only were handing out WIT brochures but also had girls in their booth that were dressed in less than models from the Canadian Truck Magazine.

I thought it was odd that Ellen Voie who was one aisle away would not say anything being that she had just had this victory. When I went to introduce myself she right away stated she felt that the WIT member who wrote the original complaint had overreacted.

Is this my advocate? She is apologizing? She is embarrassed in some way?

The filmmaker came to me later and asked me what I thought and I said honestly, I don’t know what to make of her. She really does not seem to care about Women in Trucking to me.

The filmmaker, who had spent several days there filming truckers confided that the general consensus by Women Truckers she had filmed in Vegas was that Ellen Voie was doing nothing but promoting herself.

I was still unclear, I snapped pictures of the US Xpress booth but I said nothing to Ellen.

I was not aware that a woman from Twitter named Kathleen Wells had taken photos of the US Xpress Booth and had sent them to Jason Cox at @TruckDriverNews who at the time was working closely with a group of activist drivers.

Jason made a post with the photos in two places, his personal blog and on the Lexington Kentucky Examiner. I felt the posts were too hasty but they did reflect what actual Truckers were saying about Ellen Voie.

I’d felt some of Jason’s remarks in his blog and other forums where he posted should have included some additional research before he posted the articles. I told Jason I could not comment on what he said. I had also had an argument with another fellow who jumped to quickly on the bandwagon about Ellen Voie’s intentions. I was not clear what was going on yet and I didn’t want to endorse frenzy. This is a very serious matter to me; it is not an ego-driven mission.

After I left Vegas I received an email from Ellen about renewing my membership. I called Donna Smith from “Ask the Trucker” to ask her if she was going to renew and she said “No, she had seen and heard enough over there”. I was still optimistic and in order to post on the forum I had to remain a member. I also knew at some point Ellen would show who she was committed to, Women or Sponsors.

I had just received a copy of Logistics Quarterly that had an article by Ellen Voie on the very topic of Convention Exhibit Booths using females to recruit dressed in the manner as I had just seen in Las Vegas.  I decided to call her cell and take the opportunity to ask her point blank about CRST being her sponsor and why she was not confident enough to pull her brochures from the US Xpress Booth just days after she pulled her articles from the Canadian Truck Magazine for basically the same thing.

First she told me that there was more than one division to CRST. So I asked her which division was her sponsor. She seemed confused and as it turned out it was the division named in the sexual harassment lawsuit.

I then asked her if she saw the US Xpress booth and she said yes and they were also her sponsor. I did not know this. I said why not just say, “Hey, I’m really not wanting my brochures here because this marketing message is not what we want to portray under the current circumstances”.

She admitted she had board members who felt she should be more aggressive with US Xpress about their marketing package but she said she even went to have beers with the marketing director and he said that this is what works for them and they had no plans to change it.

Ellen Voie went on to say that she just had to do it her own way despite the admission that she was feeling pressure from her own board. I told her I didn’t think a marketing director would take her too seriously if she was out for beers with him and asking him to not use women in hot pants to recruit. I told her she probably had more power than she realizes but she has to use it or be used. Ellen stated again she just had to do things her way, I said “Well, I will do things my way and see what we can do.”

After that conversation I called Jason Cox and sent him the photo I had taken to add to the one Kathleen Wells had already sent of the “Camo Girls” which Jason mislabeled as “Cameo Girls” (another story) and the article was circulated on Twitter. The article was called: “Women in Trucking are Truck Drivers Too

Jason had told me that Ellen had subscribed to his blog after he had written his first post about her. He had received an email from a Canadian Job Recruiter in response to that post which was meant to defend her. Jason didn’t know what to make of it but it made sense later because I was suspecting she benefited from her recruitment strategies not from making changes to existing conditions. A job placement agency would perceive Ellen Voie very differently than actual Women Truckers experiencing a trauma. He also had a comment from a man but it was obvious to us it was not really a man. The IP address was from Kansas City Missouri. We both concluded who that was, one of my Cyber-Bullies from WIT.

Of the two articles written by Jason Cox about the US Xpress Booth the comments on his blog drew some interesting debate on the topic and he had a couple hundred hits to the post in a short time. The final message being, the spokes models did less recruiting and more entertaining of the marketing guys. The Female US Xpress representative looked uncomfortable and embarrassed to have to sit in the booth appearing like a 5th wheel on a double date.

US Xpress from my understanding has Sexual Harassment Training and I had spoken to a driver/former trainer who told me quite a bit about their policies. He was surprised really that his company was represented this way in a convention.

As it turned out, so was the upper management at US Xpress who received the Article that Jason Cox wrote using the photographs from Kathleen Wells.

I learned that Ellen Voie utilized the article from the Lexington Examiner by Jason Cox without the comments from Kathleen Wells but with her photographs a few days later on the WIT forum. This post like many others since I have been exposing this story has now been removed. In it she stated she forwarded the article to the US Xpress brass and they responded that it would not happen again. WOW! How easy was that? Right On… Right?

Seeing is believing though: In August 2009 at the Dallas Truck Show the US Xpress booth had Women in Khakis and Polo Shirts with a Wheel of Fortune game as a recruiting tool for giveaways. They had a line of people of all shapes sizes and genders at that booth.

What a testament! They were made aware, they adapted and they found success. Simple Courage to take action was all that was needed.

The Dallas Truck Show was also where the Dan Rather Producers met me for the first time and Beverly Petersen from the yet to be released “Bully in the Workplace” Documentary who interviewed me and Ellen Voie. WATCH ELLEN VOIE REMARKS HERE

Ellen was also filmed by the Dan Rather Producers but she did not know they knew about me.

We had our plates full in Dallas because the recently snubbed Widow Hope Rivenburg who arrived with 5 month old twins and a 2 year old in tow were also in Dallas to promote Jason’s Law – The Safe Trucker Parking Bill with very little help from the Big Guns of the trucking industry.

In fact, she was actually told NOT to come to Dallas by “leaders” in the industry meant to silence her passion to see that the truck parking shortage should be addressed so no other family would have to endure the senseless murder as she and her children have to live with.

The efforts to recreate a single female trucker with a dog was also apparent as I mention in my @TruckinDogKarma post by the trucking Industry prior to the Dallas convention.

This is why “Karma” was crowned the “iPhone Trucker App Mascot”, not for money, not for fame … only because all sides of the industry were trying to recreate me in media and make an more complacent, accommodating @TruckerDesiree. The reason is that each layer I have explored has exposed a good deal of unethical behavior and I have been opening a can of worms for a lot of people in trucking.

Anyone who has been following me on Twitter knows I have a little marketing magic up my sleeve which squashed those attempts.  The next strategy was to attack my credibility and/or take credit for whatever I was able to achieve from my “Bleating” as @DiamondsMama40 refers to it. (Gloria Torbich My first online stalker from WIT aka “Greenpete”)

By the time of the Dallas Truck Show, I had a falling out with Jason Cox who from what I understand received some “persuasion”.

The once #1 advocate & Champion for “Jason’s Law” was now against it. Shortly thereafter he emerged promoting a membership to an organization he could not afford, for an industry he cannot participate in any longer and was now a “Women in Trucking” Supporter. Add that up yourself.

I had been invited to the “Women in Trucking” hospitality room but I didn’t want to attend unless we could crash with Hope Rivenburg and press Ellen Voie on why she did not support safe trucker parking or this young Widow when she herself was once a trucker’s wife.

The events were so tightly scheduled that Donna Smith and I opted to go to the Midnight Trucking offerings instead but ran into Ellen Voie in the hallway who had a small group of people with her.

She seemed nervous to see me and was quick to say her hospitality room shindig was already over, I had no intentions of going but for some reason she said wanted to let me know that info. Then she became very excited and said “Desiree, did you see the US Xpress Booth?” I replied “Yes, I did” then Ellen threw up her arms and said before her hallway audience “That’s another Success for Women in Trucking”. The same incident and company’s actions that she defended were now HER victory for their change of “recruiting tactics!

I was stunned and looked at Donna Smith of “Ask the Trucker” Our collective thoughts were “No She Didn’t!” but the eyes of the bystanders where what really got me. These were people who truly believe Ellen Voie is an advocate for change in the trucking industry. These are people who want to believe they have signed up for a courageous leader and she flat out lied.

This is the Trucking Woman’s Advocate? Having beers with “the boys” and agreeing with their scantily dressed women recruiting tactics in Las Vegas! Using her convention time to solicit reality shows rather than discuss better training, violence awareness and other compliance tools available NOW to help Women entering Trucking become successful? I paid a membership for this?

Not only that, she disappeared very quickly after she said it and it wasn’t until the next day I learned the Dan Rather Producers were in the Hospitality room filming her speech.

Ellen Voie was eager to be filmed by Beverly Petersen for the “Bully in the Workplace” Documentary; I was there when she accepted without missing a beat. I think she felt very confident about her statements at the time not knowing Dan Rather knew about me.

Ellen Voie has a gift to repackage something and claim it as her success but the integrity is missing. The performance I saw her give in the hallway that night for those sponsors and finding out that the “Jason’s Law” brochures we asked her display were put under her table were as much about her personal character as I ever wanted to know.

I never posted on the WIT site again. I was truly disgusted that this person was the representative for members and sponsors who truly believe she gives a damn. I am unclear if there are WIT board members who have a true vision to enforce change or if the entire organization has been created simply to cover up and ease the impact AFTER the EEOC makes charges on trucking companies.

Unfortunately unethical behavior in the corporate world is acceptable, that is why I choose to drive a truck despite my many talents beyond driving.

Street smarts only gets you so far in trucking, you have to know a little corporate Genghis Khan action also, that’s what I‘ve learned about the trucking industry. “Industry” is a KEYWORD, that is a big difference from “Driver”.

The precursor to “Women in Trucking” appears to be “The National and International Women’s Trucking Association, or WTA” and their Mission seems to address the issue for Women Truckers facing Violence.

The named President: Sandy Long with the following Mission:

“We are the first National & International Women’s Trucking Association dedicated to the betterment of Women in the Trucking Industry in North America.

The WTA was formed to provide women truck drivers a safe and secure site in order that they can find knowledge to help them become professional drivers, instill in them the professionalism needed to promote the positive aspects of the industry and to give them aid as they need it to combat sexual harassment and/or problems inherent to their jobs and personal lives.

Furthermore, we will promote the trucking industry
by providing accurate data, statistics, and
information to the industry and the general public in
regards to women in the trucking industry by internet, personal contact, appearances at seminars, and in contacting industry and governmental leaders.”

So what happened?

This organization never seemed to take off . Did someone come in and encourage complacency to get these ladies to quiet down? Is “Women in Trucking” just a “Feel Good” Organization to ease the blow after the fact? Is this a cover up organization?

Now that Anne Ferro is in office at the FMCSA and Ellen Voie got a “Hook Up” can “Women in Trucking” members trust their spokeswoman to speak up? Is this just a Photo Op? A chance to give away free T-Shirts, take a picture for the Guinness World Record Books at the Salute to Women behind the Wheel” for the Mid-America Trucking Show?

This is a very serious matter when someone who you elect to represent you is not addressing the major concern which is Rape, Violence & Retaliation UNTIL I made it a potential marketing opportunity. There are no guarantees that any “Best Practices” being phished out will be enforced.  Even greater issue is when pressed on this topic Ellen Voie is uncomfortable, uninformed and dismissive just as she was with the “Trucker Buddy” Pedophile incident. She is not equipped nor does she want to be for these matters, but that will not make them go away.

Ellen Voie revoked my membership when she learned I would be on the Dan Rather Report investigative series. The very revealing Bully in the Workplace Video truly exposes the truth about what Ellen Voie believes which is that there really isn’t that much of a problem.

A woman who is this uncomfortable with the truth should not be an advocate. There is no reason women truckers should be buying memberships to be represented in this manner. Support and Enforcement should not vary depending on marketability unless you have ZERO Conscience.

I keep hoping a true leader will emerge who has the balls for this mission. I do not wish to spend my every waking moment providing a conscience for people who don’t seem to have one. I will continue to expose this outside of the trucking industry to human rights groups, logistics and supply chain professionals until I find true leaders who care to make a difference.

Too many people are being intentionally misled.

A number of  Women are coming forward to write their stories and make you tube accounts of their experiences.

This will be continued ….

                                           Support from Women in Trucking

 

Ellen Voie of Women in Trucking Revokes My Membership

As I mentioned before I had been in a brouhaha for months while I was a Member of “Women in Trucking“. ( that link will direct you my my other “out of  line” posts on WIT)  As many may have read in “The Trucker” my membership was revoked by Ellen Voie. The letter to the right was dated October 20, 2009 and reads as follows: “Enclosed please find a check in the amount of $25. This is a refund of your membership dues. Our Organization is dependent upon our members who support our mission so your membership privileges have been revoked due to you actions that contradict our goals. Sincerely, Ellen Voie President/CEO Women in Trucking, Inc.”

I was a member for about a year and a half and in that time I was privileged only to be berated on a regular basis with Ellen’s seeming approval. Although privately she admitted she had to often moderate Sandy Long aka “Lady Godiva” (read link)  for her conduct on WIT , she did not seem to want to be involved with any of the actual Women Truckers.

It seemed like anyone who joined was promptly made to feel unwelcome and then disappeared from the forum. On most forums there is always that one person who has to put their two cents into every single comment, usually adding some snarky remark, but based on the Mission Statement I kept expecting Ellen Voie to pop in and sort of take control of what was going on. That did not happen.

In my thread ‘My New Experience Might Help You” which has now been deleted from WIT but had over 3000 reads , some poorly planned remarks about the Dan Rather Report and the US Express Incident which I will write about shortly, I came to see that there was a pattern, perhaps even an intent to chase women away from WIT who asked real questions about violence during the training period.
In addition to entire threads being removed I had also noticed that individual posts were disappearing but the number of posts made was staying the same. That indicated someone was removing items, things were being moderated away but it was leaving a trail. Another item was that when a topic such as harassment toward Women was mentioned there was a flurry of new posts made immediately afterwards which pushed the harassment posts down and out of sight.

Because I had been labeled a troublemaker by the HR Lady at my company and been called a “Radical Feminist” at WIT, I decided to conduct an experiment of sorts by reviving these “Forbidden Topics” regularly to observe the usual suspects come unglued. It seems silly I know but this entire thing has been sort of a Human Study while I was in my training and with Social Media.
When the antics on the WIT Forum had gone so completely out of control as I mentioned before, I did call Char Pingel and then emailed Ellen Voie.  I had also been listening to a driver CD from my company that kept using voice tracks of Ellen’s that seemed to be some sort of endorsement from WIT. I wanted to know why she would let her trademarked name be used when the sort of conduct that was happening to me was also happening frequently to many others. The portion of the recording that bothered me was that the industry statistic of Women Truckers stood at 5%-6% BUT at Covenant Transport it was more like 15%, which meant they were actively recruiting Women with NO clear Policy to keep them safe. I was seeing it with my own eyes.

So many times I asked “Is there any Women I can team with?” There was no network in place for me to meet other Women for the team phase of my training BUT I knew Women were getting off trucks at all of our terminals for the same reasons. The question was WHY don’t they let us network and team up? I met a few Women who were at their “WITS END” (No Pun Intended but if the shoe fits). These competent Women Trucking Students just walked away, they quit because our company had pushed them too far and placed them in too many situations that affected their learning and safety.

I told Ellen that the CD seemed to “Imply” she endorsed my company and given the situation I wrote that she should be concerned that they were using her trade marked name without a clear policy to protect the Women from the unsafe “team business model”.  Ellen returned my email with this response:  “Since our interviews go on every company’s audio magazine, it’s not an endorsement at all.  Do the drivers also think that the entertainers and performers are endorsing the company?  The CD is for entertainment purposes, but the carrier specific content is to inform drivers.  I think that the exposure is beneficial for Women In Trucking. ”

I thought that response was a little crass and she seemed to miss the point. That being, Women are facing many Obstacles getting through their training at my company. To hear a CD provided by our management with her as the Women in Trucking Cheerleader was sort of a slap in the face.

I began posting other topics in the WIT forum like “The best CEO’s” and other items hoping she would come back down to earth and read her own Mission Statement.  I am very proud of the postings I made on WIT and I received a great deal of positive feedback by Women who sought to find me off of the forum where they would not be attacked and berated. I have copied those posts but I expect Ellen is desperate to eliminate my contributions to her forum but utilize the information for her own purposes to promote herself.

I have mixed feelings about this because I offered to help Ellen on many occasions promote HER agenda which was definitely not sexual harassment but I was clear that I would not use my gift to drive traffic to her unless she dealt aggressively with the epidemic I was watching in trucking. I would get this “We are quietly working behind the scenes” which is a total BLOW OFF and really means, “Maybe if we be quiet and be nice polite girls people treat us better out of the goodness in their hearts“. Just like my HR Lady telling me that “Maybe if I got along better with my Co-Drivers…” which translated to me as:  “I should have Fucked Him so I’d have Job Security” is that the answer?  If I let my Co-Driver take advantage of my person and Human Dignity it makes me a better Truck Driver?

At that time I had also been observing Ellen on Twitter, she never followed anyone back even though people were following her. On Twitter, that shows arrogance. Twitter is interactive, it is not all about YOU, it is about sharing and exchanging and spreading the word or “Paying it Forward” so to speak. If all you do is talk about yourself and you don’t interact or show your personality, people lose interest in you. You are irrelevant.

The other thing that was odd was that what Ellen was tweeting on Twitter, she never mentioned on her WIT forum and it was very telling, especially when her only friend was the ATA @TruckingMatters  which to Truck Drivers is not your ally. I also observed actual Women Truckers trying to communicate to Ellen through Twitter and she ignored them. At first I assumed she didn’t know how to use it and I offered to help but she ignored me. Now I know she does know how to use it and “Borrow” her inspirations.

Back on the forum, Sandy Long aka Lady Godiva who as it turns out is a lifelong OOIDA Member (supposedly the anti-ATA) seemed to dominate everyone and everything that was WIT, more so than Ellen who simply popped in once in awhile to ask for advice on topics and products. It seemed to me that what Ellen was doing was using the Forum only as her own personal marketing focus group, she would throw out a question, gather data and utilize it for her purposes to market items and write articles. It was almost like she didn’t care about any of the heated exchanges that were going on. She only cared about whatever it was she was trying to market at that particular time, but it was never clear if those items that were developed with the ideas from the women on the forum benefited WIT. Does WIT only provide salaries or is there was some sort of program to help Women overcome obstacles in the trucking industry?

As I mentioned before, my first online stalker originated from the WIT forum, under the Twitter tag of @FreightLady1966 a “Gloria Torbich”, I recognized the name right away when I received an email on my Twitter account that said “Gloria Torbich is now following you on Twitter @Freightlady1966”. I had privately emailed Gloria also when it seemed like Sandy Long was becoming overly agitated by my participation on the WIT forum. Ellen was well aware of it and read posts made by Gloria from Twitter and from two other sites.  In an email, Ellen Voie indicated she knew some people had more than one online identity and despite the fact that again her trade marked name was being used, she seemed unconcerned.

One thing I have mentioned in my story time and again is that it was actually other “Women” who were the biggest obstacles for me in becoming a truck driver. My Trainer, The Team Coordinator, The HR Lady, and Drivers like “Lily” in my story that make new Women Truckers “Guilty until proven Innocent”.  My next obstacles were the Women at “Women in Trucking” and that was because they really didn’t seem to like other Women. Ellen seemed to be more interested in promoting WIT but she was completely disinterested in helping Women in the Trucking Industry overcome existing obstacles.

I watched several new Women begin to post and right away the snarky snide comments would begin to basically run most off. These were ladies who were asking simple questions on how they can best prepare themselves to be successful as truckers.  My perception was that with returning veterans coming home soon, many would come to trucking, more Women also who had gone into combat would look to a job that gave them independence like trucking. I proposed on my very popular thread called “My NEW experience might help you” that maybe WE could lay the groundwork now to make better policies, clear strategies to help these young ladies have a smooth transition if they did so choose the Trucking Industry. Especially NOW while the economy was crumbling it was the perfect time to effect change.
What I got was a TIRADE that goes as follows:  (Note:  What I wrote was taken apart and is in normal print, I have bolded the response to see how Sandy Long reacts to my post)
Subject: Women In Trucking: Reply posted to topic: My new experience in trucking might help you.
New message has been posted to forum Advice to New Truck Drivers, topic: My new experience in trucking might help you. by Lady Godiva on 11/28/2008 at 12:04 PM
.
Message: Desiree…I am sorry, I have to disagree with some of what you said…respectfully of course…my comments will be in caps…I am not shouting tho.
Quote: Actually, the current economical crisis has presented us a golden opportunity to seize control as companies are going to be in reorganization.
SIEZE CONTROL??? THIS DOESN’T SOUND TOO GOOD DOES IT…AND HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SIEZE CONTROL OF ANY SITUATION IN A COMPANY REORGANIZATION? ARE WOMEN GOING TO WORK CHEAPER THAN THE MEN? ARE WOMEN BETTER DRIVERS THAN MEN OVERALL? DO YOU THINK THAT A COMPANY SHOULD ONLY LAY OFF THE MALE DRIVERS AND OFFICE PERSONNEL?

(** note that nowhere have I mentioned Women taking Men’s Jobs from them or anything of the sort that implies Women are better than Men)

Women are growing in this industry at a significant pace. It is to the benefit of the company to recruit them and therefore it is up to us to demand now we expect to not be isolated purposely to intimidate us, badgered for sex by our teammate/trainers, purposely misinformed by other females who have a personal axe to grind, humiliated, violated or physically abused.
THE PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN AS DRIVERS IN THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY HAS REMAINED FAIRLY STAGNENT FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS RUNNING BETWEEN 5-7%, THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE IN WOMEN IN EXECUTIVE AND SUPERVISORY POSITIONS IN COMPANIES THOUGH DUE TO MORE WOMEN GETTING DEGREES IN AREAS CONCERNING TRANSPORTATION AND WORKING THEIR WAY UP THE CORPORATE LADDER. AGAIN, WHY IS IT BENEFITIAL FOR A COMPANY TO HIRE WOMEN OVER MALES?
IT IS NOT RIGHT THAT ANYONE BE HARASSED OR INTIMIDATED (THOUGH PERSONALLY I THINK THAT IF SOMEONE IS INTIMIDATED THAT IT IS MORE OF A PERSONAL PROBLEM), BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DEMAND THAT NOT HAPPEN? SHOULD COMPANIES PUT VIDEO CAMERAS AND VOICE RECORDERS IN THE CAB OF THE TRUCKS? HOW ABOUT INSTEAD OF DEMANDING, WE WORK WITH OUR BROTHER DRIVERS TO EDUCATE THEM ABOUT HOW TO INTERACT WITH US AND WORK WITH THEM TO GET BETTER TRAINING/TRAINER REGULATIONS PUT IN PLACE.
I HAVE NEVER MET A FEMALE DRIVER THAT MISINFORMS ANYONE ON PURPOSE…THO THEY MAY DO SO DUE TO LACK OF THEIR OWN KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE.
INTIMIDATION AND HUMILIATION ACT ON INDIVIDUALS IN DIFFERENT WAYS, HOW IS THIS REGULATED? WHILE I MAY FEEL A LITTLE HUMILIATED BECAUSE I CANNOT BACK INTO A SPOT, IT IS BECAUSE OF MY PERSONAL FEELINGS, NOT BECAUSE OF WHAT SOMEONE HAS DONE TO ME. I WOULD ASSUME THAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT HOW A TRAINER MIGHT HUMILIATE SOMEONE OR INTIMIDATE THEM…OR HOW A DISPATCHER MIGHT INTIMIDATE SOMEONE INTO DOING SOMETHING UNSAFE OR ILLEGAL. THESE THINGS HAPPEN TO OUR BROTHER DRIVERS ALSO BY THE SAME PEOPLE…IT IS NOT ONLY A FEMALE THING.
OF COURSE I TOTALLY AGREE THAT NO ONE SHOULD BE ABUSED AND/OR VIOLATED. BUT, THERE AGAIN THAT IS A LOT OF THE TIME IN ONES PERSPECTIVE OF WHAT IS GOING ON. i THINK THAT ANY TRAINER OR PERSON IN A SUPERVISORY CAPACITY THAT FORCES ANYONE TO HAVE SEX WITH THEM SHOULD BE PROSECUTED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW…BUT THEN AGAIN, I THINK THAT ANYONE THAT ALLOWS THEMSELVES TO BE FORCED INTO HAVING SEX TO KEEP A JOB OR TO ADVANCE OUGHT TO HAVE ENFORCED COUNCELLING TOO…WE DO HAVE CHOICES TO MAKE IN LIFE AND OPTIONS.

Students and CDL mills may not be able to pour into industry for a period because loans for school are harder to get. Less students, less government subsidies and tax credits makes companies look to their current structure to turn a profit.
THOUGH I AGREE THAT THERE WILL BE FEWER LOANS PERHAPS FOR STUDENTS TO ENTER THE INDUSTRY, I DO NOT THINK THAT THIS WILL BE THE CASE FOR VERY LONG AND THOUGH SOME OF THE TRAINING COMPANIES HAVE PUT A FREEZE ON HIRING ANY DRIVERS, THERE ARE STILL SOME THAT WILL HIRE A STUDENT OVER AN EXPERIENCED DRIVER DUE TO COST OF WAGE DIFFERENCIAL. HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT WOMEN DRIVERS? AS I SAID ABOVE, DO WOMEN DRIVERS WORK CHEAPER OR DO A BETTER JOB THAN MALES?

We can do that by reaching out and communicating and networking with companies WHO WANT to benefit from the growing demographic of QUALIFIED women.
I THINK THAT COMPANIES SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO BECOME FEMALE FRIENDLY AND GIVE WOMEN A CHANCE TO WORK FOR THEM AND ADVANCE SAME AS THE MALES. I THINK THAT FACILITIES SHOULD BE PROVIDED FOR THE FEMALES IN TERMINALS AND WAREHOUSES. I IN NO WAY THINK THAT IT IS OF GREATER BENEFIT FOR A COMPANY TO HIRE A QUALIFIED WOMAN THAN A QUALIFIED MALE, I PERSONALLY DO NOT THINK THAT GENDER SHOULD ENTER INTO HIRING DECISIONS IN ANY WAY…THAT MY SISTERS IS EQUALITY AND WHAT MYSELF AND MY SISTER OLD HAND LADY DRIVERS HAVE FOUGHT SO HARD FOR.
The only stupid question is the one you do not ask…
  (this is the real tagline, I kid you not)

WOW!  Talk about communication breakdown, the first thing I thought when I saw this was how do you conclude that I’m proposing that Women are out to take all the Men’s jobs by asking for clear polices? One of the problems I have seen is that nothing is defined. You have people from a variety of backgrounds and education levels with very little support or guidance whose lives are being managed by a 20 something who is not trained to understand or recognize that a “Situation” is occurring and action must be taken NOW!

This sort of conduct went on for months on the WIT forum until I went for broke and tried to introduce a girl I had come in contact with who was allegedly raped by another driver. WOO HOO, FIREWORKS!!! Even Ellen posted that time, that was the day she made posting rules that no company names could be mentioned. When I met her in Las Vegas she said, “We can’t say company names, they might be our Sponsors” … My thought? “UH-Okay….Certainly don’t want to mention Rape when money is involved.”  That comment was not an isolated either, Ellen did not seem to really understand what she was implying with that remark and it she repeated it to me on other occasions.

This is bringing me up to the “U.S. Express Incident”, which will be my next post. These are very importent items to understand how it is that my participation in the Dan Rather Report has inspired Ellen Voie to suddenly have a new priority. that’s right…. She’s got her “EYE” on Harassment.

Interestingly she felt a female member “Overreacted” to a Canadian Trucking Magazine Incident and did not see the validity of the U.S. Express Booth in Vegas passing out her brochures until photos appeared with an article more provocative than the attire.

To have your “EYE” on Harassment, you must understand it and Ellen Voie does not seem to understand that working around lots of Men in a management capacity brings lots of flattery. Perhaps even a false sense of the real world for Women who may be hyper-sensitive from traumas they have endured in the past.

To say a Women Trucker “overreacted” when you do not know about her 20 year history in trucking, or have ever bothered to inquire why she may have reacted so strongly is in poor form. This is not a polite topic, it’s not for the weak at heart. But the time is NOW to FIX it and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

The upcoming Solutions Show on “Ask the Trucker” with myself, Tom Hansen and Tracey Hamm formerly of CRST are meant to help Solve the Issues with people who truly care to make a BETTER Trucking Industry by raising the Standards. This will help all Drivers overcome obstacles.

Make sure you check out the Co-Driver Nightmare Video and Comments from @NJKatwoman I have posted on this site to get and Idea of how complex these issues are. This is not something that should be thrown together.

We need to see that perhaps some organizations are not really in it for the GOOD of others, and this is a very serious issue.

                                       The Truck Stop of the Future

 

Technology is often born of crisis, not because it is the correct thing to do.  Take for instance the knowledge of Alternative Fuel has been around for years yet the general public is just now becoming aware of it.

Recently, I watched some old news reel footage of Henry Ford and George Washington Carver from the 1940’s where Henry Ford took a bat to a prototype vehicle that ran on ethanol and was made from soybean plastics.

Clearly there has always been an awareness that the facet of oil would run dry but back then it was simply more cost effective to shelve the idea of alternative fuels, but for how long and at what long term price?

We are now facing that dilemma as big automakers have had to dust off the hidden technology which they should have done without being forced. Instead they waited until the walls tumbled down upon them and all of America.

Now these same issues are coming to bear on the trucking industry where a number of neglected issues are about to challenge the desire to conduct “business as usual” mentalities.

We all watched the automotive industry that had to be “persuaded” to understand that the right thing and crisis are upon us now.

America is suffering in a way many of us have never before experienced. The heyday of hand over fist profit is over for the time being, we need to work on solutions.

We shipped our jobs away, we buy goods from other countries who don’t like us and we think we can still have our cake and eat it too.

The truth is new technologies bring forth new industries which this country desperately needs. Any businessman who has built an empire from the ground up will tell you to create something new requires risk, investment, determination.

None of the above comes in a pretty package with a cherry on top. This means hard work and anyone who resists the change that is upon us right now to save this country from the mess we have put ourselves in is not doing their patriotic duty.

The trucking industry is one of America’s last Industries on our soil, or is it?

The future for trucking is exciting with many new opportunities depending on how you view things. Is the glass half empty, or half full? Will work be involved? Effort? Money?

Natural Gas provides a way we can move into the future of alternative fuels NOW not when the clock runs out. Hybrid Engines, Solar Auxiliary Power Units (APU)that will put an end to idle emissions are just some of the innovations that will be the future of trucking like it or not.

We have passed the point of keeping things on the shelf because we are at the crossroads of necessity so we have a choice to make new industries for ourselves or let some other countries do it for us who are eager while we stand around and bicker with each other.

About the only argument anyone can offer about why they don’t support Natural Gas is because it will cost money. Just like labor costs money so we shipped our jobs to people who do our jobs for us. Just like American products that everyone wants really cheap so we stopped making stuff here. What we got for those decisions was a $5 4th of July T-Shirt made in Pakistan, Ecuador and India. We got poison lead on children’s toys made in places that make powdered milk for their own people that harm their own babies. But we got it cheap.

It’s not that we don’t have solutions right now, it’s because we tolerate feet draggers who stall inevitable progress by hemming and hawing and whining while capitalists in other countries seize upon our growing ineffectiveness, our petty arguing trying to make our bottom line look better.  Now we come to find out those inflated bottom lines were lies also.

Once upon a time in America we created new jobs, others disappeared such as the man whose job it was to light to street lamps at night. What was that man to do when that darn electric bulb was invented?

You cannot undo innovations, inventions and new technology. Progress is coming to solve our energy woes, but you can miss the boat of opportunity. Who among us is wasting precious time to act upon the numerous new avenues of industry that can now be explored?

I am no scientist, I’m just a truck driver but it’s plain to me that we are our own worst enemies when it comes to adapting to change.

Do you recall the “Monsanto House of the Future”? It was an attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California from 1957 to 1967, remember that? I don’t, I wasn’t even born yet but I read about this “House of the Future” set in the year 1986 that had such crazy contraptions like a box that cooked your dinner in 60 seconds!

Microwaves, another technology that sat around since the 1940’s but did not experience rapid growth until the 70’s when Japan figured out how to make the American Innovation profitable.

I think you get the picture.

The question is: Who is for American Innovation and profit?  and Who is just out to make profits for themselves forsaking America’s longevity in this time of crisis?

As I have traveled around this past year in various truck stops and visited truck shows I see the trending theme is “GREEN”.

Jump on the “Green Trucking” bandwagon, lets us all sing, hold hands and be partners.

But who is really onboard?

I am and I see ton’s of opportunity for many not just the few who have had the oligopoly up to now.

Perhaps that is the problem, some don’t want to share the new pie that is coming out of the oven?

I don’t see socialism, I see avenues for new entrepreneurs and forward thinking minds to make money from a crisis that is not tapping our shoulder anymore, it is thumping us on our heads.

One common objection I hear about natural gas in 18-wheelers is: “There aren’t enough fueling sites”.  DING DANG!  Opportunity! Hello Naysayers remember when they sold Ethel and Supreme at the filling station?

Perhaps NATSO, the National Association of Truck Stop Owners should add Natural gas to their product line like they did when “ULSD” came out?

What about drivers? I am a company driver; I drive what my company gives me to drive. That is a freightliner with no APU so I have to idle in extreme weather conditions so I can sleep.

I don’t like to Idle, I don’t want to send emissions into the air but I don’t want to suffocate or freeze to death either.

What’s the solution? I can’t force my company to but me an APU, why wouldn’t they want to invest in an entire fleet of Natural Gas Semi’s with Solar APU’s like “Kool Rig APU

I am left to be responsible to pay to idle even though I am an employee. I am left to pay the citation if I idle in a city like Dallas or in California where new idle laws affect drivers not the companies.

My company can charge me to idle or I can pay to go to Idle Aire which is a truck parking area that you pay for outside temperature control and power while you are parked.

The problem is that I shouldn’t have to pay because I am an employee.

Idle Aire is also outdated and needs a facelift; it needs to be reenergized into the 21st century in the same manner our infrastructure and Truck manufacturers need to move into the future,

In my “Green Idea” I talk about parking that has been specially designed for bobtail tractors to plug into a unit to warm the engine block in winter.
Block Heater Post for Engine but not Driver?

I ask questions like: Why are Recreational Vehicles provided with “Shore Power” units in specially designed parking areas so they do not have to idle but not for commercial vehicles?

Truck manufacturers who are addressing the growing demand to create hybrid engines and natural gas trucks should be exploring built in temperature control units that simply need to be plugged into the existing Idle Aire scaffolding.

The existing structure could be retrofitted for Solar and Wind power with a pull down cord that plugs directly into the tractor just as an RV would. This would do away with the cumbersome outdated forced air system.

Just as the “House of the Future” became outdated by 1967 at Disneyland, the Idle Aire concept needs fresh ideas. Today’s drivers have cell phones, laptops, and WIFI or air cards. Most only need temperature control and some electricity.

Also, in extreme weather the engine block is not protected from freezing by using the Idle Aire system. Power Units for Recreational Vehicles but not Commercial?

Truck Parking is an issue; Safety and security of cargo as well as the driver’s life are at risk. Especially during the economic downturn we are experiencing now. This fact has become more evident with the murder of Trucker Jason Rivenburg who parked in an abandoned gas station awaiting his delivery appointment in South Carolina and was shot for $7 that was on his dashboard.

The resulting legislation that has been introduced called “Jason’s Law” HR 2156 & S 971 again offers more opportunities, depending on where you stand.

Safety and Security should be in the forefront of our minds right now, not our personal individual pocketbooks. If you stand to lose a little then use your brain to figure out how to make more in another way because now is the time.

Who is not for Safety and Security? Who is against getting us off foreign oil? Why? Greed? Let’s expose them because if money is the only thing that motivates them they are not seeing the big picture of other opportunities that will spring forth from these changes.

Work will be required, thought and effort.

Whoever is not on this bandwagon is not thinking about the long-term future of this country as a whole, they are only thinking about themselves.

The American people deserve to know who the problem is and who wants to be part of the solution.

Let’s stop forming committees and partnerships to fool each other. This is really just waste of time and money because we are talking about saving our country.

Trucks move everything we use in our daily lives, even when it was made overseas. We know the rail system is being rehabbed in some areas and that eventually long haul trucking will shrink and have to adapt into a regional system.

We know we have energy issues, we have emissions regulations, and we have cheap labor issues.

Regardless of whether the long haul trucker wants to adapt to these changes they should understand there are still opportunities for them also.

If big trucking want to drag their feet to buy natural gas fleets then Owner –Operators should see it as an opportunity to receive special incentives to adapt first. Perhaps even regain some of the strength they once had.

It’s much easier to afford to buy one truck than an entire fleet that’s for sure but wouldn’t the shippers and receivers be in support of the Natural Gas Act and Support those Truckers who invest in America’s long-term future?

What about the truck stops?  What can they offer besides Natural Gas?  How about parking spaces designed by truckers that are actually suitable to park, not just lines on pavement. Poor planning and design makes a number of wasted spaces which are not accessible because the adjacent spot interferes with it, yet these spaces are counted on paper.

We have to admit that industrial planning is lacking, the unsupervised criminal activities and lack of attention to premises is why truck stops have a bad image. Despite the vain attempts rebrand themselves as “Travel Plazas” to appeal to all travelers. This is a good first step but more effort is needed.

Instead of spending money to hinder the passage of a safe trucker parking bill, perhaps thinking of ways to lure people into truck stops besides “up selling” 2 for 1 milk duds to every customer? How about clean toilets, no solicitors banging on the doors at night?  After all, a well rested driver is a safe driver.

How about a fenced dog run area for trucking companions who need a stretch, parking spaces appropriate for flatbeds, car haulers, oversize and Bobtails. I’ve recently seen Starbucks hang up a shingle inside some truck stops as they close some free standing stores to cut costs, I’ve noticed chiropractor, massage therapists and sometimes a barber shop springing up as a rented space. With the growing number of women truckers and female companions who ride along I’m surprised no one has seen the many opportunities to market items to this new demographic. Spending time in a truck stop could mean days but little is offered except unhealthy food, crime and disturbances.

Smartphones save truckers an enormous amount of trip planning time. Applications like google maps and the new iPhone trucker application make life on the road easier by making it easy to locate scales, services and places to go in-between loads. I use a Smartphone myself to locate parking in a shopping plaza in-between loads where I can find a nail salon, a Starbucks and a decent restaurant.

Sound stupid?  Believe it or Not!

What about all the topless joints along the highway that provide trucker parking and a place for a lonely trucker to relax and spend money?

The same little lady who rents space to do a massage at a truck stop may find just as much additional business with a shiatsu massaging chair and a pedicure for the ladies or men for that matter.

Last summer while getting a pedicure by an Asian man he said to me “Do you live around here?” and I said “No, I’m just visiting” and he said “Oh, then you must be a truck driver?” he already knew because he sees the opportunities as more female truckers come in from some downtime.

The times have changed, we can only go forward now and develop new industries.  We need to pinpoint who is preventing our success from moving into the future because this is not just a whim or a fad.

We need to save our country, we need to do our own work and invest in our future. Who is for America and who is not? That’s what I want to know, don’t you?

** I wrote this post originally on “Pickens Plan” in August 2009 where a Trucking Discussion Group has been set up and ALL are invited to learn more about Natural Gas and Big Trucks … It is our Future (PS: it was promptly “Borrowed”” also so if you have heard some of these ideas elsewhere …. Um , I am an Inventor, Creator … I don’t have to borrow and steal. I have a good brain.)

                               Dan Rather Report Part 2 “Truck Talk”

 

Dan Rather "Truck Talk" Follow Up SegmentThe Dan Rather Report Part 2 “Truck Talk” is now “In the Can” as they say in Show Biz!

Dan Rather Report Part 2 “Truck Talk

The Showdown was held at “Willie’s Place” for Part 2 “Truck Talk” , the Dan Rather investigative report into trucking. It was not near as much fun as I thought it would be but still I was glad to attend. It was purely coincidence that I had scheduled my home time to go to NASCAR.

After all, I’ve been out on the road since August when I came to Texas for the “Great American Truck Show” where I met up with Hope Rivenburg, the young Widow of slain trucker Jason Rivenburg who had 5 month twins and a 2 year old in tow to promote the federal bill for Safe Trucker Parking called “Jason’s Law”.

That was a busy week where not only was I helping at the GATS Show, I was being interviewed by more than one production. One of which called Bully in the Workplace  had to be coordinated with the Dan Rather Producers to facilitate the time schedule. This production is yet to air but Ellen Voie President of “Women in Trucking” does appear and you can see a Sneak Peak here.

Initially, I believe the Dan Rather Group might have ended up at the ATA sponsored truck show that was scheduled that same weekend in Pennsylvania but I suggested that GATS might give them a better opportunity to see a greater variety of folks involved in trucking. You see, the ATA, OOIDA and “Women in Trucking” all knew Dan Rather was doing a piece on Trucking for a good deal of time. I believe all were very excited at the prospect of meeting the Mr. Rather and having the chance to express what was important in the trucking industry from their organizations perspective.

In the beginning, I believe the content of the show topics filmed may have been so vast that a more narrow focus had to be made. In many of my post interviews after and in between filming I was also providing other links, contacts and information to the producers for both of these reports. This includes directing them to Mr. Tom Hansen who appeared in Part 1 “Queen of the Road” who posted here on this site to Tracy Hamm of the CRST Sex Harassment case. Also, a former Million Mile Driver from my company who was terminated in a snowstorm and others. I also sent them links to post show comments from various forums including negative comments from my First Trainers “Friend” here on this site and other sites where the vast majority was positive and in agreement. There were a few critics but those were mostly my familiar online stalkers.

I also provided links to “Women in Trucking” regarding both Dan Rather Broadcasts but they have since been deleted. I was also alerted that posts by members of another WIT member forum were not moderated to prevent information about the Dan Rather Report getting out in that arena in an attempt to keep this story under wraps.

Since the first broadcast, I received a letter from Ellen Voie revoking my membership to “Women in Trucking” stating that I do not Support their Mission, which is to help Women overcome obstacles they face in the Trucking Industry. The single most popular thread on the WIT site I started with over 3000 reads was deleted but I anticipated her doing that when she realized Dan Rather interviewed me in Dallas so I took screen shots of the entire thread which is some of the basis of the “Bully in the Workplace” issue.

My first online stalker originated from the WIT forum and it is because of the treatment I received at this organization that led me to twitter.  That is how @TruckerDesiree was born.

Truth be known, I joined WIT in spring 2008 and had been reaching out for assistance from Ellen and on behalf of other Women I met during this journey who did not join due to the climate they observed where I was attacked verbally for seeking guidance AFTER I had been through my HR department.

I then joined OOIDA , not for assistance with the Women’s Issues in Trucking but because I was being asked to comment on many things trucking from my popularity on twitter and I was not educated in these matters enough to do so. I spent a good amount of time trying to gain knowledge or redirect people from twitter to the people at Landline Magazine who are also on Twitter to assist in some of these questions but they were not as interactive as I am.

Many times I called on the phone and spoke to a guy at OOIDA who emailed me articles and I would pass them along. Sometimes when I provided these articles I was attacked as with the case of the Dear VDOT Story in Appomattox News regarding the closure of Rest Areas.

There is a lot of unknown yet to be told history to this tale and I advised the Dan Rather Producers to “Please make the investigative reports LESS about ME and more about what is happening to people who have no voice or ability to speak to the outside world about what is going on in the trucking industry”.  My position has always been that it is futile to discuss the issues that need correction in a way only truckers understand because they already know the problem. The answers lie in making the story interesting enough for non-truckers to care about what is happening.

The ATA, WIT and OOIDA have known about me and my Student Trucker Story for awhile now. They also knew Dan Rather was doing an  Investigative Report. I believe ATA knew I was in the story but I think it caught WIT and OOIDA by surprise. This is an OLD story but it is a NEW twist to the story to a very interested NEW audience. There are many people being affected because Americans are desperate for work and the trucking industry is all too happy to take advantage of this crisis. These folks are searching for help.

Many Owner-Operators do not see the relevance to this story but they should because the mega companies with their confused disenfranchised cheap labor force of desperate people are seeking a chance at HOPE , they are hungry. Cheaper Labor will be the demise of Owner-Operators unless they pay attention. The Mexican Truckers that were mentioned in the broadcast making .13 cent a mile? That is what Student Truckers make and they are a dime a dozen but some of them figure out what is going on, like me.

OOIDA VP Todd Spencer was not aware I had joined OOIDA when he came over to shake my hand at the taping of Part 2 “Truck Talk” by Dan Rather. He did congratulate me on a “Good Job” but there is much more to the Student Trucker Industry than just my story and that is why I will persist to help get other Student Trucker Stories and Women Trucker Stories OUT to the public.

The public is interested in Truckers right now like they have not been before because they can understand this topic whereas other issues they do not. That is why the message has been lost despite the fact that these things have been said before for many years.

While it was not planned that I attend this forum initially, the coincidence that I was in Texas at the same time prompted an invitation for me to be present. At the time I was told about the show schedule, I was sitting in Bentonville, Arkansas awaiting a load home to Texas. I waited much longer than I have ever had to wait for a load home with no word whatsoever. I did not understand the silence but when I found out about the behind the scenes wrangling it made sense to me.

I was happy that Allen Smith from “Ask the Trucker” was invited to attend and that the Dan Rather Producers facilitated him to participate, after all, it was Allen Smith of “Ask the Trucker” who reached out to help me. He and his Wife Donna provided me a place to tell my story and not be moderated away. It was my story “A Day in the Life of a Lady Trucker” that captured the interest of producers during their research of other blogs and organizations in the trucking industry.

My story is based on events and people I met as a student trucker. It has adventure, humor and triumph as I overcame obstacles set before me from the system seemingly set up for failure which is the Student Trucker Industry that I encountered. It is based on actual events from documented complaints I submitted to my company that were dismissed in some cases. Other situations I was told were being investigated but were in fact not being investigated. Because I kept meeting students with similar stories I began to write even though many of my obstacles were behind me. On Dec 16 2009, I will have 2 years of accident free driving with no citations despite everything I have endured. That is from sheer persistence and determination that I did not take “NO” for an answer. For every roadblock set before me I found an alternate route around those obstacles.

Michael H. Belzer who appeared in “Truck Talk” himself wrote a book about the Student Trucker Industry named appropriately “Sweatshops on Wheels” his book was written way before I came along. Indeed this is an old problem that has been long covered up.

I have to commend “Werner” Chief Operating Officer Derek Leathers for appearing and being open to a discussion. I wish that more companies had the courage to discuss suitable solutions for more effective training system for student truckers and personal safety for Women entering the industry which keeps being shoved to the side.

I was surprised by the opening statements by Mr. Rather about the ATA backing out. The evidence suggests they knew I was in Texas and were told I would be present. Even though I would not be on the forum, I did promise to be sorta kind of nice and sit in the audience with my hands folded on my lap. The ATA remarks about me not being credible and so forth are in my opinion a “catch all” statement. No one has contacted me from either my company or the ATA to request evidence or comment after the broadcast. The documents provided to Dan Rather Producers are copies my company has had for sometime, how honest they are being with the ATA and the fact that I have been reaching out for assistance at WIT during the past year and a half might be more of a reason they would like my story to go away.

OOIDA Life Member Miles Verhoef was on-hand, he also did not know I was an OOIDA Member prior to this taping, nor seem to care.

I sat with veteran Women Truckers off to the side and they were quite happy with these issues coming to light, after the ending of the show I was rather touched by an older Woman and her Husband, both OOIDA members who you can see sitting in the front row, she came up and grabbed both my hands and said “Thank You so much for speaking up”. She was thrilled someone was listening to what is going on out here. THAT my friends …. (And enemies) is what makes me do the things I do and say the things I say.

I am not motivated by money or sponsors or of fame. I am motivated by the ATA not showing up and answering questions about me to my face. I am motivated by my company who is willing to put more effort into a media packaged letter about their “Commitment to CARE” and hide me from other drivers with the same complaints as mine rather than address the obstacles student truckers and experienced drivers face from their system. I am motivated by Ellen Voie who persistently misleads about her intentions and priorities. I am motivated by the drivers I meet everyday who wish someone would not only listen to them but understand the complex array of issues occurring out here which indeed affect highway safety, national security and human dignity.

The day following the show I returned from my home time, I had 2 preloads waiting for me and got a third shortly afterwards. I also had a bad headlight that keeps blowing. My company policy is to go into a terminal for repairs to save money which is understandable with this economy. Being the “Team Player” that I am, I picked up my load in Texas “ON time” and advised through my QUALCOMM I would stop by our Hutchins terminal which was very close to me to have the issue fixed.

The response was: “Can’t we go to a truck stop and get a bulb?” My suspicion as I had written earlier in my Qualcomm was that this was a deeper issue because the bulb kept blowing and this particular terminal did the prior work last month so my intent was to get our mechanics to investigate their work to save our company money.

In trucking though you have to “read between the lines” on the Qualcomm which I have come to refer to as “Hot Potato”. They say something trying to you in order to provoke a response. You can only get rid of the “Hot Potato” by using special “Codewords” to get them to either go silent or move on to another subject.

I rarely interact with my current dispatcher. I am aware someone else has perhaps advised some of his word choices to me and I have a pretty good idea who it is. My dispatcher has never been privy to my student trucker story nor to the previous drama I endured in my other fleet, I feel sorta bad for him because he does not know what is going on and he is a good dude.

Anyways, three days later, Two $16.00 bulbs, a stop at a TA for a temp fix which delayed my schedule resulting in being un-dispatched from a load and a trip to Freightliner for a repair because TA could not complete the work. Here I am still dealing with that headlight issue that I should have stopped by the terminal to have repaired. What does this all mean?

Well, first go round a fleet Qualcomm was sent out prior to the Dan Rather broadcast telling our drivers not to speak to any media following the show if they were approached and for them to contact …. Get this… The HR Lady from my Student Trucker Story if they had questions. AS IF!  Here is a resource about HR Departments so educate yourself about that so you understand better. “How Organizations Empower Bully Bosses

So I suspect they didn’t really want me around other drivers so that they would not know that there is a second broadcast. See the way issues disappear in trucking is to ignore them, deny they exist and say the source is not credible. That’s the way it is done INSTEAD OF coming out and FIXING the problem.

I have never asked for special treatment, I only wanted to pay $5500.00 to learn to operate a truck safely. I am not the only one in the world who feels the same, to the contrary. I am not the only Woman who has been badgered for sex, left in the desert and lied to that some investigation was occurring when it was not.

I am not the only driver who is upset about idle policies that charge drivers when the Smart Way EPA award is being accepted for reducing emissions when in fact driver’s don’t have APU’s or proper bunk heaters.  The truth is driver’s are afraid to be charged by our employer to stay warm in winter that’s why the emissions are down! I am not the only driver upset about forced Per Diem and the DAC reporting system hanging over your head which has so many allegations of False Reports to keep drivers quiet.

I did live to tell the tale and I had a few talents that ole HR Lady never anticipated … I can write and communicate to the entire world from a PDA one letter at a time. And Guess What? THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO CARE ABOUT RAISING THE STANDARDS FOR TRUCKERS EVEN IF THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY DOES NOT!

It seems I am also an Inspiration for Ellen Voie, she is beginning to address the hard questions , albeit with my research. On November 11, 2009 at 4am I posted an intriguing article about another industry experiencing similar challenges for Women on a new Twitter account called @WomenTruckers I followed Ellen who blocked it and me but not before she lifted one of the articles for her forum which she posted November 11, 2009 at 9:43 am  on “Women in Trucking

This is not the first time this has happened where what I wrote was “borrowed” by Ellen Voie.

I Support “Women in Trucking” but I do not believe in “Selling” personal safety, this should be free information. Especially when the ones you need to protect yourself from are in your own company and if one of those companies is a “Women in Trucking” Sponsor, that’s sort of a conflict of interest now isn’t it?

Let’s spell that out a little. If the ATA and WIT are working together and Violence is occurring to Women who are entering trucking in their student phase and ATA says I am not credible and WIT says I don’t support their mission yet they are trying to make a “Best Practices Guide” with the EEOC, to what? Sell to companies in a way in the form of sponsorships?  That sorta sounds like “Vinny” coming by some “Mom & Pop” shop saying if you pay me , I will make sure Guido my cousin won’t break into your store”. Preventing Violence toward Women & Men as they enter the Trucking Industry, keeping people SAFE should be FREE. The trucking industry should do it willingly not spend money to cover it up and fight it. What is wrong with you people?

All of the links on this WordPress are to provide free resources to anyone who wants to learn more. I have always been good at collecting information, research, networking and managing difficult people …. I just want to drive a truck right now.

I have learned from the non profit , women in trucking it means nothing except someone is getting a paycheck and they aren’t doing anything to help the people they are collecting membership fees from.  WIT does not represent REAL Women Truck Drivers who are the kind I have met that have huge hearts and vast knowledge.

See Y’all at MATS for the Salute to Women behind the Wheel!