September 25, 2007


I don't know why, but lately my uncles have been on my mind a lot.

My mom had five brothers. They were all so different in personality, and character, too, but I loved them all. Only one of them became a success as the world defines that. He owned a service station, and little cafe there in that Georgia town where they all were born, and grew to adulthood. He, also, raised hogs, and owned a poultry farm, at one time supplying chickens to all of the area grocery chains, and other states as well. He made his first million sometime in the mid-to-late 1960s, I think. He and his wife had no children, and most of their wealth went to charity. They owned a lot of property, and that was left to the Baptist Children's Home there. Two of my uncles were roofers, and two were truckdrivers. Three of those uncles had an abundance of children, but Uncle Amos -- a truck driver had none.

I don't know what it is about truck drivers, but it seems to be in their blood, so to speak. No matter what other kind of work my two truck driving uncles tried, they always went back to that. Especially Uncle Amos. He hauled missles back and forth between California and Florida for a long time. He was always so careful to follow all the rules and regulations, taking great pride in what he did. He used to entertain me with all the stories of his close calls, and the closeness, and comaraderie of his fellow drivers. He drove a truck, in some capacity, right up to only a few weeks before he died, stopping only when he became so weak from his chemo that he felt it was no longer safe for him, or for others on the road.

That's it, I think. The reason that he's been on my mind lately --the fact that he loved his job, took so much pride in it, and followed all the rules, and at the very end, was concerned about the welfare of others.

I received an email from a friend, who also has a truck-driving-relative. Here's what she said: "My brother-in-law is a trucker by trade. He works for a local grocery chain, but he also takes some long haul runs across country for a friend of his. A couple of weeks ago he told us that the government opened up the borders to let Mexican trucks start coming into the U.S.

U.S. truckers are under all kinds of rules and regulations and restrictions and are always having to stop at weigh stations (when they're open). A friend of his pulled into a station the other day and they had a Mexican truck pulled over for being overweight. However, the guy just kept saying he didn't speak English. Finally, in frustration, the officials LET HIM GO... then fined the guy behind him for some minor infraction in his log book.

This is the problem. You have to be 21 in the U.S. to drive a semi between states, but a Mexican can get a license at 15. They don't have to keep their trucks maintained and inspected, like we do... they don't have the rules we do. Can you imagine a 15-year-old Mexican trucker in a poorly maintained truck driving through the mountain snows in winter? Yeah... I know I'm scared!

Lastly, like my BIL says, if there is an accident they'll never say it was a Mexican driver... just that it was a truck driver at fault. Giving truckers a bad name."

I guess I was thinking about what my uncle would think about that -- giving truckers a bad name. There is just something really wrong with this picture.