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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 9 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 80 posts. There were 34 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 7th with 408 views. The most popular post that day was Why did I do it?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, askthetrucker.com, truckerhub.com, and realwomenintrucking.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for arrow trucking, trucker desiree, truck driver shortage, truckerdesiree, and truck driver shortage 2010.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Why did I do it? April 2009
50 comments

2

Truck Driver Shortage April 2010
27 comments

3

Hi,This is me March 2009
53 comments

4

My Arrow Trucking Story May 2010
32 comments

5

Serial Killers and Trucking October 2010
20 comments

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I just returned from Memphis where I gave a seminar called “Social Media and Women Truckers’ at the 1st Annual Memphis Truck Expo.

Two rather broad topics but I decided to include them in one presentation to illustrate the following:

  1. How powerful social media has been for social justice issues.
  2. To demonstrate how influential individuals can be in social media.
  3. To emphasize that persistently covering up issues related to women truckers and to those women entering the industry will eventually come back to haunt carriers who are permitting it to occur.

In the past few months I have been contacted by a number of Social Media Experts & “Guru’s” who have been consulting with various trucking industry entities who are looking to launch social media campaigns.

For someone outside of the trucking industry who is doing research , odds are they will find one of the outspoken social media truckers.

Here is the problem for the trucking industry:

Social Media cannot be “Controlled” the way mainstream media and advertising has been in the past. The trucking industry has been very slow to understand this.

When I spoke to contacts in supply chain / logistics to let them know about my presentation the response was: “Good, someone needs to tell them because they do not get it.

What this person meant was “Transparency” is what the trucking industry does not get. Saying you are being transparent can just as easily mean you are being a transparent liar but for someone who has never had to do business with all cards on the table this concept is difficult to grasp.

The power of social media is enormous. The first thing the trucking industry needs to recognize is that size does not matter. If your organization does not participate in listening and problem solving you are irrelevant.

Isn’t that logistics?

Unless you have a commitment to positive transparency you will fail in social media. Until the trucking industry can digest that transparency can be positive or negative, I do not recommend wasting any money launching a campaign that will fall flat.

If carriers cannot take the heat in a public forum to have their money source (Shippers) see how they treat employees (Drivers) or how they permit drivers to conduct themselves in public they will have a big problem in social media.

Currently, there are a number of mainstream media projects in development that will feature women truckers. This will inevitably create a recruiting boom for the unethical.

By creating the presentation called “Social Media & Women Truckers”, my hope is to help others in the trucking industry understand that corporate responsibility begins with each and every individual.

What I have referred to as my “Social Media Experiment” to see if one person could have a voice and make an impact is now complete.  I achieved my goal BUT I will continue to create a path for others who are searching for accurate information to enter this industry, at least until I see others stepping up to do the right thing.

Unfortunately, Women are still frequently being harmed during their training period, and violence against women in many areas of the trucking industry remains an issue. I will continue to use my social media presence to raise awareness of this fixable problem.

Ironically, Women Truckers to those outside and away from the trucking industry are admired. The image of a woman trucker is held in high esteem as a symbol of resiliency and strength. I have received emails from parents telling me that they hope their Daughters would grow up to be strong like I am, from old ladies telling me to keep talking and heard from Fathers of Daughters who are eager to see who will step up and make the necessary changes to create a more professional environment in the trucking industry.

I’d like to walk away now but it would be irresponsible to do that when few others are stepping forward. Women truckers carry a silent secret, they know others are being harmed in this industry and the truth is it’s best to not get involved for fear of retaliation. Other drivers, both Men and Women have been told “stay out of it” and targeted for retaliation for trying to stick up for someone who has been harmed, this is wrong. This mob mentality, prison inmate mentality, street gang mentality, religion based fanatic mentality must stop. The people being hurt,  retaliated against, shunned are the children of someone.

To me, being silent is not okay when someone is being harmed.

Looking the other way is NOT okay!

One person can have an impact and individual drivers participating in social media have seen this is true.

I will be sharing my presentation called “Social Media & Women Truckers” as a series of posts in the coming weeks on the self help website “Real Women In Trucking

I have included a preview here called:

What are you Sponsoring?”

Sponsoring Diversity is great, but do your homework. Are you sponsoring a cover up, an advocate or simply looking for a smoke screen to ease the impact of impending litigation? Violence against women is an issue worldwide. Silence equals an endorsement of violence in some male dominated industries.
 
 

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On October 5th 2010, the front page of USA Today featured a story about potential serial killers dumping bodies along highways near rest areas and truck stops.

The article begins with the story of a severed head found of a teenage girl a few hundred yards from a truck stop in Barstow, California.  Alarming? Your’e Darn Tootin!

The disturbing map included in this article showed how many bodies have been dumped in each state, a body count for each contiguous state including Alaska with the exception of North Dakota. ( USA Today Article Link: Along highways, signs of serial killings by Blake Morrison )

Familiar names were included in this article like Frank Silio who works for Covenant Transport (my employer), Lisa Mullings, President of the National Association of Truck Stop Owners  (NATSO) and Norita Taylor from OOIDA who I met when OOIDA inserted themselves in the Dan Rather Series based on my student truck driver training story.

The article was stunning, not only due to the topic but the evasive answers given by these three “spokespeople” for the trucking industry who could have acted more responsibly with their answers.

I contacted the writer of the article, Blake Morrison, to let him know that his article seemed to twist the dangers to be parking at rest areas yet safe trucker parking is a major issue as well as violent crimes against truckers and violence against women within the trucking industry.

I wanted Mr. Morrison to understand that drivers are experiencing increasing crime in specific areas and the lack of security and lack of accountability within the industry is part of the problem.

I particularly had a problem with the side bar to the article called “Avoid being a Victim” with tips from AAA but nothing about trucking industry specific challenges.

I posted the following comments to his article in various places and I emailed it to him directly, it has also been posted on the Facebook fan page called “Real Women Truckers”.

I am a female truck driver who has been blogging about violence against women within the trucking industry for almost three years. Frank Silio actually works at the same carrier as I do, but he could have pointed out that our fleet is forbidden to stop at some NATSO represented “Travel Plazas” as CEO Lisa Mulling refers to them. Our employer does this due to high crime and freight pilferage that occurs at these locations, but because Frank is an ATA “YES” man, he did not.

NATSO CEO Lisa Mullings tries to make it seem as if the “Travel Plazas”, as they have tried to rebrand the truck stops, are family friendly safe havens, but this is untrue. I find safer and quieter parking at welcome centers and rest areas, unfortunately, many of these rest areas are closing. NATSO has not cleaned up their “Travel Center” act which permits activity like truckers see at TA locations in Nashville, Barstow, Ontario, Jessup, Maryland, Gary, Indiana, West Memphis and Little Rock Arkansas, to name just a few.

A group called “Truckers Against Trafficking” aims to raise awareness of Human trafficking which exists at truck stop chains like the ones Lisa Mullings represents, yet they have NOT yet been embraced to display posters and other informational materials about potential signs of human trafficking or other violence against women literature.

“Jason’s Law” S971 & HR2156 a safe trucker parking bill lay in the environmental & public works committee ( Senate) and the transportation and infrastructure committee(house) ignored, and again it is NATSO who does not want the truckers parking elsewhere despite the fact that they do not want to clean up the crime or create enough suitable parking for commercial drivers.

Norita Taylor, media woman for OOIDA may have used her opportunity to note that trucker safety is as much an issue as safe parking to highlight the failure that is occurring within this industry. She should have noted that safe parking is an issue for truckers and travelers alike, yet, the article is permitted to imply that rest areas are less safe than travel plazas which I disagree whole heartedly.

The topic of violence against women is taboo in trucking. It is ignored by the ATA, NATSO, OOIDA, WIT so it is no wonder there is a less than serious proactive approach to a small population of alleged serial killers in this industry.

This in effect harms the majority of hardworking honest truck drivers who are out here doing their jobs. It is totally irresponsible of trucking leaders to ignore it.

A major problem is the denial, indifference and apathy within this industry, which protects a few predators and retaliates against the people who speak out. Violence occurs regularly to females entering truck driver training, domestic violence occurs regularly at truck stops and women are often thrown off of trucks at “travel plazas”.

There is no way to know who these women are and often law enforcement treats all women at or near truck stops as if they were expendable lot lizards. The entire industry is responsible for looking the other way at this issue.

I can go into a TA Travel Center and buy studded condoms and sani wipes to kill herpes in the ladies room but it is considered soliciting if I ask to leave information to help a woman in distress so she can get help to escape from a situation or if she is being held against her will.

The ladies bathroom and shower might be the only place these people have a chance to ask for help yet NATSO does not want the literature because it might scare off families!

I guess the studded condom machines are okay though.

When I spoke to Mr. Morrison he told me he was trying to define what areas truckers see as high crime not to indict the entire industry but to offer help for travelers who are not as educated on the places WE truckers avoid due to high crime.

Well this is definitely something Frank Silio could have told him because our company sends us a message when they detect we are anywhere close to one of the “Off-Limits” travel plazas across the U.S.A..

In an effort to help Mr. Morrison I posed the question to drivers on three different Facebook pages ( Allen Smith of “Ask the Trucker” , Drivers Alike and Real Women Truckers” ) the response was overwhelming in a short period of time. The question was:

“What Truck Stops do you find to be high crime to be avoided? Please tell me name of chain, city and state. Thanks!”

Winner of the “Don’t Stop because even Truckers are scared of the Place” non scientific poll was hands down.

1.   West Memphis, Arkansas Pilot & Petro

Frank Silio should have pointed out that we are not permitted to stop there and must plan our fuel accordingly to skip this location.

2.   Ontario, California (West)

Travel Centers of America Notorious drug & prostitution trafficking activity

3.   Atlanta, Georgia  Petro, Pilot

*our company is not allowed within 25 miles of outer loop I-285 due to high crime in Atlanta Area

4.   Dallas, Texas

Travel Centers of America, Pilot, Loves, Flying J

5.   Jessup Maryland Travel Centers of America

6.   New York everywhere considered unsafe

7.   New Jersey everywhere considered unsafe

8.   Indianapolis, Indiana Flying J

9.   Barstow California Flying J & Travel Centers of America

10. Spartanburg, South Carolina  Travel Centers of America

11.  Carlisle, Pennsylvania Petro

12.  Birmingham, Alabama  Flying J & Pilot

13.  Gary, Indiana ALL

Pilot, Flying J, Travel Centers of America, Steel City

14.  East St. Louis Pilot, Gateway Truck Plaza

15.  Salt Lake City, Utah Travel Centers of America (Tooele)

16.  Stoney Ridge, Ohio (ALL)

Travel Centers of America, Pilot, Fuel Mart

17.  Lake Station, Indiana

 Travel Centers of America, Flying J, Road Runner

18.   Knoxville, Tennessee Flying J

19.  Nogales, Arizona  Pilot

20. El Paso, Texas Petro

21. Brownsville, Texas  Gordon’s

22. Hialeah Gardens, Miami ALL

23.Hunts Point, New York Zippy’s

24.Laredo, Texas Travel Centers of America & Gateway

25.Youngstown, Ohio Travel Centers of America & Pilot

26.Phoenix, Arizona Circle K

27. Nashville, Tennessee

Travel Centers of America & Pilot

28. Albuquerque , New Mexico Chevron

29. Amarillo, Texas Pilot

30. Fontana, California Three Sisters & all on Cherry Ave.

31. Memphis , Tennessee Pilot on Lamar

32. Olive Branch, Mississippi Loves, Pilot

33. Houston, Texas Key Truck Stop & Truckers Paradise

34. Little Rock, Arkansas Petro

Clearly a six year old can see some of the same name brand chains popping up. Here are some of the other remarks made by truck drivers “St. Robert, Missouri, safe for driver but not for loads.” , “Stolen fuel while I slept”, “Just about any Petro of TA (Travel Centers of America) is bad”, “Activity was not as bad as harassment from officials not letting you sleep”, “Never been stole from at rest areas”, “I no longer park in back row or walk between trailers after having someone hit me on the back of the head to rob me.”

Understand that truck drivers are not allowed to carry weapons. Some drivers mentioned carrying pepper spray and we have to give a “Woof Out” to Trucking Dogs who have warned off many potential attacks. My own little Truckin Dog Karma has kept me secure by warning someone off on several occasions. Still, many carriers have suspended pet policies due to increased idle laws. (Don’t even get me started on that one)

As an industry we can clean this mess up by communicating better. NATSO should educate their staff of signs of trafficking and provide them with wallet cards from “Truckers Against Trafficking”.

I have seen violence awareness information in the ladies rooms at Starbucks in rural Texas towns so there is no excuse not to provide it in “Travel Plazas”.

It was hard not to notice that the front page story of potential serial killers did not make the nightly news, which is a pretty powerful failure on behalf of the trucking industry who should accept responsibility for the climate they have created. Decades of neglect and trying to vilify hard working truckers in order to conceal how they manage their workforce. It is not a reflection on the drivers; it is a reflection on the executives who have not displayed the courage to take responsibility for the environment they have created for the drivers and the motoring public.

This is a chance for us all to move forward by being more cooperative to address the parking situation, the crime and climate in this industry that women are disposable.

If you have not yet watched the video trailer from “Truckers against Trafficking” about how Truckers are actually HEROES for reporting crime at truck stops I have included the link.

I have said before, I believe the crime at certain locations is a failure by individual management structures. If a low paid staff if being offered a couple hundred dollars to look the other way you will have this sort of activity.

Many drivers have the “No Lot Lizard” stickers on their windows and we hear plenty of jokes but no one deserves to be killed, mutilated and thrown on a roadside.

These are human beings, they may be runaways, they may be kidnapped teens who have been trafficked and sold. As truck drivers, we see things that would keep the executives up all night shaking in their flannel pajamas.

The climate in trucking is to keep your mouth shut, this a prison inmate mentality, this is a street gang mentality. If you see someone killed or hurt keep your mouth shut or you are next. That is “Street Smarts”, is that what the message is of the ATA?

NATSO can change that entire message, please listen to the mainstay of your your business, your patrons, the American Truck Drivers. These stories affect them by tarnishing their image

The irony behind it all is that the USA Today article implies that many serial killers are truckers, avoiding the real issue that truckers are actually targets and victims of violent crimes themselves, mainly due to the inadequately patrolled truck plazas that are havens for criminals. The fact is that there are criminals who are opportunists, and they see a trucking career as means of hiding their criminal activity through the cover up of a legitimate job.

The article does not accurately portray the character of the REAL OTR truck driver who is hard working, and sacrifices life luxuries to deliver them to everyone else. Truck drivers risk their lives in order to make a meager living. Many do live in their trucks and stay on the road for several months at a time.

The article actually creates more hostility and apathy towards drivers rather than the empathy that they deserve as they are targeted victims. This is what NATSO, OOIDA, Frank Silio, and the ATA should be displaying.

The truth is, NATSO and the ATA would rather just allow the misled public to believe the negative stereotype image about truckers so it will divert attention from the real issues:  Lack of safe truck parking and the human trafficking crisis occurring at truck stops. In doing so it ensures that their bottom lines will not be affected, namely maintaining trusting customers to travel areas, deterring people from going to rest areas, preventing the encouragement to pass Jason’s law to create more safe parking areas, and keeping the “lowly image” driver pay down.

 The ATA and NATSO are a tightly knit group and they continue to support each others goals and ambitions, denying and disregarding the true problems of the trucking industry for their own personal gain.

Additional Reading:

Is there a link between human trafficking, CDL training and Jason’s Law?  

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                                                                                                                                                        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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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