66-(1).jpgHopefully everything involving the pandemic is pretty much behind us at the time of you reading this blog.

The month of April is typically a month I look forward to every year as it is usually the time of winter ending and spring beginning with all its fresh new life blooming everywhere. The trees are budding and blooming, the grass is greening, and flowers begin to put on a magnificent show this time of year. The Spring season of this year 2020, when viewed out of my windshield, started this April much like it does any other year. April 15th, the tax deadline date, came and went along with all of the Easter holiday celebrations. 

This month and year will go down in history as we battled an enemy we could not see...Covid-19. As this crisis unfolded across our nation, there were many mistakes made during the opening days as officials rushed to take action to prevent the spread of this virus. In most cases mistakes were quickly rectified after they were identified. Traffic started to thin out on the highways as stay at home orders were issued in most areas, not just our country but, our whole continent, along with the majority of our planet. Many factories began to shudder their production lines as cases of this invisible enemy were detected.    

The view out my windshield began to change as rush hour traffic problems began to fade as more and more people were at home, and not going to work until finally in most cities rush hour simply did not exist. Freight remained strong as distribution lines for food shifted away from restaurants back into our home kitchens. The news outlets started noticing the important role trucking plays in keeping our nation rolling. 

Jobs started to be categorized as either being essential or non-essential followed by businesses determined unessential being closed down. Driving a truck for a living got easier without traffic congestion. I began to notice it was possible to cover 30 to 50 more miles before my 11 hour driving shift ended on a daily basis. 

Restaurants began to close unless they had the option of serving their patrons thru a drive thru window. Call in orders, home deliveries, along with curbside pick up became the only way for people who needed to travel to find a meal. Professional truck drivers cannot fit a semi-truck through a drive-thru, so many other solutions began to sprout up like daffodils poking through a late spring snowstorm. 

I began to hear of motorists picking up food for truck drivers because many places will not serve to walk-up customers at a drive-thru window. There were also accounts of police departments offering to take truck drivers through drive-thru locations in order to secure a meal. 

Truck drivers with our modern sleeper cabs have a big advantage over our four-wheeled brethren of the highway. It is easy too, at the very least, to have an iced cooler along with many other food items, up to having cooking accommodations and refrigeration capabilities. This made me remember another era back when it was not uncommon for a driver to have meals cooking on the exhaust manifold of their truck.

After hearing the plight of truck drivers not being allowed to walk thru the drive thru, many restaurants began to post a number to call in an order, or opening the lobby for truckers to be served. 

I started to hear the word hero being used in the same sentence as the job title of truck driver. It sounded strange, yet at the same time, refreshing to hear these words. I personally felt uncomfortable when strangers would thank me simply for doing my job. In fact I almost felt guilty and felt as though there were others in professions more deserving of the title “HERO”! 

Currently, freight volume has begun to contract from the reduced output of our nation's industries which has caused a disruption in the delicate truck-to-available-freight ratio. Of course, as expected, spot market freight rates began to tumble. This is a natural reaction where price is simply the result of market conditions in regards to supply and demand. There started to be rumblings of small protests by truck drivers who were upset by tumbling spot market freight rates soon after the high demand for their services dried up. 

I also saw way too much of this crisis being used as a political football where political parties started to point fingers as to lay blame for this crisis at each other's doorsteps. This also led to divisions of opinions amongst friends and family members. 

I do not like the division part of what this crisis has done and have made it my goal to use this crisis as a time of coming together as the human race. Let's help each other through this difficult time and pull together to defeat this invisible enemy. 

In closing one thing I can proudly say about the trucking industry during these trying times was we kept on trucking. Let's use this time where we were spoken of as hero's to cast our industry we are all so passionate about in a positive light.

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/T™, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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