“Ah, breaker one-nine, this here’s the Rubber Duck.
You gotta copy on me, Pig Pen, c’mon?
Ah, yeah, 10-4, Pig Pen, fer shure, fer shure.
By golly, it’s clean clear to Flag Town, c’mon.
Yeah, that’s a big 10-4 there, Pig Pen.
Yeah, we definitely got the front door, good buddy.
Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy.”
—“Convoy,” by C.W. McCall, 1978
If you are under, say, 45, you’ve likely never heard this song. Looking back, I’d say be grateful! I sometimes recall the music and TV shows of my youth and think “Good grief, we are a long way from that stuff!” (... except for classic rock, which lives forever.)
Still, corny as this song was in the era of CBs and eight-track tapes, I’ve always loved semis. As many of you know, two of my brothers hauled for Tri-State trucking out of Joplin, Missouri. Many of my uncles were drivers and my brother Bryce, who gave up trucking while he and Sheila were raising their kiddos so he could be home more, took it up again after retiring from Whirlpool. In fact, he still teaches new drivers. When I was a toddler, my parents often could get me to sleep only after driving me by the “big krucks” on Range Line in Joplin where the terminals were.
I’ve been honored to represent a fair number of drivers over my career. I think the diesel fumes and the long, open road just “gets in your blood” for many folks, just like sawdust and floodlights do for circus performers.
Women are about 10% of semi-drivers, according to some estimates, and several of our driver clients are women. Stacia is one. She grew up in a family of truckers, even more so than I did. Her grandfather was a trucker. Her brother’s a trucker. Her mom and dad were truckers, and she’d ride along with them when she was a kid.
She’s been driving for 22 years. She loves the freedom of the open road, nobody telling her what to do and not being stuck behind a desk (but, as she says, “Now I’m stuck behind a steering wheel”). She delights in the scenery and how it changes as she drives — and the money is good!
In the “you’re never too old to learn something new” category, Stacia came to us after a young driver pulled out in front and ran into her semi. Stacy got thrown around, injuring her neck, left hand, and wrist. She also got her bell rung.
Like many of us, perhaps especially folks who work where they frequently get bumps and bruises, we hate running to the doctor for things we think will just go away in a few days. Within hours of the accident, she developed headaches and dizziness. No biggie, she told herself, but they persisted. Thinking they’d go away soon, and not wanting to appear a weenie, she didn’t go to the doctor. Three weeks later, after she started routinely falling out of bed and bouncing off walls, a friend drove her to the ER where she was diagnosed with a concussion and post-concussion syndrome.
This is where Stacia’s “what I learned from my mistakes” lesson comes in. By not going to the doctor sooner for her vertigo and headaches, Stacia’s employer fought against having the concussion recognized as part of the claim. We appealed the disallowances into court and negotiated a settlement for her, but this prevented payment for treatment that would’ve helped get her back in the driver’s seat sooner.
As proof that our experience can benefit others, when a fellow driver got in an accident and developed symptoms similar to what Stacia had but also didn’t want to go to the doctor, Stacia drove him there herself that very night. His concussion was allowed and he got treatment.
After several months, Stacia’s condition improved to where she could return to driving. Back on the open road, our good buddy once again may find herself on the way to Flag Town with Pig Pen and Rubber Ducky! Ten-four, good buddy! (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!)