Thursday, December 22, 2016

Kids love and miss their trucking parents

This is an equally wonderful and tough time of the year for truck drivers. The distinction between the two for many depends on whether they are going to be able to spend the holidays with friends or loved ones.

After all these years of covering the trucking industry, I know how devout to family many of you are. For parents, it’s particularly hard to miss so much of your children’s lives while you’re supporting your family and out on the road doing a job that borders on thankless.

Some may wonder just how much of an effect a truck-driving parent can have on kids. A lot is the answer. We hear it every year when we read applications to the OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship Fund.

This year, I had the pleasure of meeting a driven young man who was looking to complete his senior project to finish high school graduation requirements. Kiernan loves trucking, and he has an interest in journalism. He submitted a piece to Land Line that really speaks to the connection that trucking parents have with their children, even when they are out on the road.

It’s my honor to share Kiernan’s piece and hope that it reminds you how special you are to your kids at home.

Moving ahead to the next stage of my life, building on a foundation delivered by trucking
By Kiernan Huggins

“Quick! Spot me,” my dad directed. I hopped out of our 2001 W900 Kenworth with Diyo, our Jack Russell. The air brakes hiss and the generators hum around me. I put a “stop” fist into the air, acknowledged my growling stomach, and sprinted to beat him to the door of a truck stop boasting “home cooked meals.”

“The final exam on Friday ...” My history teacher’s voice snapped me back to the present in the classroom. I could almost taste that juicy burger …

I’ve traveled for years with my dad, a “bedbugger,” moving people across country. At first I missed my trucking dad, watching other kids with theirs taking them fishing, attending their fourth grade band concerts, or helping with the Boy Scouts’ Pinewood Derby.

As a teenager, trucking became miles of talk and beautiful scenery, conversations with people from all walks of life, and innovative “beds” made of straps and furniture pads to sleep in the “Kentucky motel” (the trailer).

We rumbled up to a residence. “Good morning!” my dad announces to the sleepy man approaching. Soon we were quickly wrapping furniture, stacking boxes on dollies, and loading the truck.

An arthritic dog with sad eyes and an underbite whined at the door.

Eager to help, I ruffle its hair and let it out. I glanced at the man’s wife in her wheelchair. “Part of the job,” I told her. “Grab this,” yells the experienced crewmember, motioning me to the end of a unique sculpture, the next piece my dad needs to perfect his jigsaw puzzle-like load so nothing shifts in transit.

When the crew sits down for a break, one of the guys shares a story about his dad’s farm and another pulls out a picture of his new baby. We build trust on every moving job and work well together. With a click of the lock after securing the massive back doors on the trailer, we are off.

Pulling into the busy truck stop for the night, a basketball court caught my eye. I ran over to pick up a ball. At first it was just me. Little by little, truckers, travelers and other kids wandered over. Soon we numbered 15, sprinting back and forth across the court, laughing and acting like teams.

I realized that the basketball game we played perfectly exemplified what made trucking so important to me. Our basketball game was full of people with different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, skills and interests, as is the industry itself.

Back on campus, as I exit the math building, I hear the unique rumble of a Jake brake as a truck heads through campus. I smile. In a week another adventure will begin.

About the writer:

My name is Kiernan Huggins, a high school senior living in coastal Maine. My father, Joe Huggins, is an owner-operator working with Brooks Transfer and Storage, a United Van Lines agent out of Virginia Beach, Va., moving families from coast to coast. I have two older siblings, one a recent college graduate and another, an owner-operator for Brooks also. When I'm not trucking with my dad, I enjoy competitive sports such as soccer, basketball and lacrosse. I've also had the opportunity to travel at a young age, going to seven different countries on four different continents. In school, I'm finding I really like to write and how that might lead me to a career in journalism.