Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Imagine all the people

The journey for truckers through 2009 was a bumpy one to say the least. Just as the year wound down and Arrow Transportation slammed its doors shut and stranded 1,400 some odd drivers around the country – it felt like we were careening down the mountain.

That was until a small effort started on Facebook to coordinate offers for help with the Arrow drivers needing the help. Sure, we launched it here from OOIDA and babied it through its infancy, but that’s just a minute piece of the miracle that unfolded.

Volunteers first came by the hundreds. Overnight, more than 1,000 had signed on. A week later more than 6,500 people were rooting for these Arrow drivers.

A well-organized group of volunteers emerged – some former Arrow employees, truckers, affiliates to the industry and simply good Samaritans who had no direct connect to trucking –who labored over the calls for need and matched them with offers to help.

Social media, which seems to be riddled with more infighting and backstabbing than outright good, gave a wonderful group of people the avenue they needed to meet the needs of hundreds of stranded Arrow drivers.

The success stories of drivers making it home, the tearful calls of thanks received here at OOIDA made it worth the exhaustion and frustration that many felt in accomplishing what Arrow chose not to do – take care of the truckers.

We knew the goodwill of the trucking industry would rise to the need and were not proven wrong. It makes us proud to work for the men and women of the highways.

As the number of Arrow drivers in need becomes smaller and smaller, many of the good Samaritans will return to their former walks of life. They will go back to their families and their jobs as computer programmers, real estate agents, waitresses, etc.

But, we have to remember, they too were part of a miracle that unfolded and that gave the trucking industry a softer place to land here at the end of 2009. As the days go on, and they drive down the highways and see a truck along the way, they will have a better understanding of the men and women they share the road with and who provide them with the essentials for their everyday life.

The end of 2009 gave the trucking industry a gift that was completely unexpected – a lot of support and a new understanding and compassion for those behind the wheel.

Here’s to 2010 – and a wish that the understanding will only grow.

2 comments:

  1. One positive aspect, if there are any at all, in regard to the demise of Arrow Trucking may be the possibility that the timing and circumstances of their story will finally call a massive amount of attention to the fact that thousands of trucking companies have been forced to close in the past year or two, while many more are hanging by a thread.

    Whether intentional or not, maybe it was exactly the kind of publicity the trucking industry needed to create enough drama to make national headlines?

    Maybe, just maybe, our Congress and the general public will finally realize how much the trucking industry has been struggling right along with other businesses, including their bailed-out banks and auto makers.

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  2. Right on Jami. Truckers are a group of people who signal each other to change lanes safely, who grab the CB mic to help someone back into a spot at a dock or truckstop, and root for one another in a number of other ways. I can't help but think that if an American business left a factory full of workers stranded in the middle of nowhere, the gov't would have shown up with buses and airplanes to help get them home. For these Arrow drivers, though, it is business as usual from the gov't: "you're on your own."

    So I'm not surprised at the resourcefulness, selflessness and sacrifice. Truckers routinely leave their familites and stay up all night to deliver freight; how much more the inclination to help fellow truckers, especially those done wrong by the very company previously profiting from their labors.

    There's a line from the Ray Carlisle song, ("My Radio"), that says "I will help you slide your tandems or hang a mudflap..." This is how trucking works; this is how loads move.

    The spirit of the trucker is part of what made America great!

    Danny Schnautz
    Pasadena, TX

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