Truckers stand up!

April 8th, 2008

But at least we have one shining example of defiance of the face of economic assault. There comes a point, sooner or later, when you stop scrambling around on all fours and, like JB and his fellow drivers all over the country, you finally stand up.

Yes, it’s true, I spent a lot of years in a truck.   That’s one, above, my “Kelly truck” when I worked for a bunch of yahoo brothers who would get into fistfights in the office and where I spent way too much time at the bank trying to wring some money out of the checks they wrote… it was 12 years, off and on, probably a million miles, and much of it on pretty gravy runs hauling meat to CA and produce back, 5-7 days of hard work for decent money.  It’s how I got a B.A., driving one or two weeks a month, faxing in assignments, parking in the school parking lot, and falling asleep during the LSAT because I’d blasted in from Phoenix to take it, oh yes, those were the days, and I sure am paying for it now.  My back and neck are shot, left rotor cuff and hip jammed from falling off the “back porch” while jumping the reefer, and personality wise, I’m not fit to work for anyone after all those years of having the boss a couple thousand miles away, doing what I want when I want (as long as what I wanted to do was drive all the time), and it’s a severe jones that no 12 step program can handle.  Any Friday watching the sun set, I want to head west, no matter where I am, and all these years later, I’ve got to go… like Bonnie Raitt says, the road is my LAST name.

Anyway, trucks and truckers are in the news.  People really don’t get how dependent we are in this society on trucks.  With fuel going up, and truckers going down, we’re gonna learn real fast.

Truthout is passing on this piece from Barbara Ehrenreich, excerpts below:

Truckers Protest, the Resistance Begins
By Barbara Ehrenreich

Monday 07 April 2008


More importantly, the activist truckers understand their protest to be part of a larger effort to “take back America,” as one put it to me. “We continue to maintain this is not just about us,” “JB” – which is his CB handle and stands for the “Jake Brake” on large rigs – told me from a rest stop in Virginia on his way to Florida. “It’s about everybody – the homeowners, the construction workers, the elderly people who can’t afford their heating bills … This is not the action of the truck drivers, but of the people.” Hayden mentions his parents, ages and 81 and 76, who’ve fought the Maine winter on a fixed income. Missouri-based driver Dan Little sees stores shutting down in his little town of Carrollton. “We’re Americans,” he tells me, “We built this country, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to lie down and take this.”

At least one of the truckers’ tactics may be translatable to the foreclosure crisis. On March 29, Hayden surrendered three rigs to be repossessed by Daimler-Chrysler – only he did it publicly, with flair, right in front of the statehouse in Augusta. “Repossession is something people don’t usually see,” he says, and he wanted the state legislature to take notice. As he took the keys, the representative of Daimler-Chrysler said, according to Hayden, “I don’t see why you couldn’t make the payments.” To which Hayden responded, “See, I have to pay for fuel and food, and I’ve eaten too many meals in my life to give that up.”

Suppose homeowners were to start making their foreclosures into public events- inviting the neighbors and the press, at least getting someone to camcord the children sitting disconsolately on the steps and the furniture spread out on the lawn. Maybe, for a nice dramatic touch, have the neighbors shower the bankers, when they arrive, with dollar bills and loose change, since those bankers never can seem to get enough.

But the larger message of the truckers’ protest is about pride or, more humbly put, self-respect, which these men channel from their roots. Dan Little tells me, “My granddad said, and he was the smartest man I ever knew, ‘If you don’t stand up for yourself ain’t nobody gonna stand up for you.'” Go to, run by JB and his brother in Texas, where you’re greeted by a giant American flag, and you’ll find – among the driving tips, weather info, and drivers’ favorite photos -the entire Constitution and Declaration of Independence. “The last time we faced something as impacting on us,” JB tells me, “There was a revolution.”

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