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Jon Osburn and OOIDA’s tour truck, the Spirit of the American Trucker, are at the Petro truck stop in Rochelle, Ill. That’s located at Exit 99 off Interstate 39. Stop in, say hi to Jon, and join OOIDA for a $20 discount through July. See the full Spirit Schedule. Air date: July 17, 2018.

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Calling off the dogs

Watching someone get in over their head can be either entertaining or sad, depending on the circumstances. If it’s DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx getting grilled by congressmen for three hours and repeatedly saying he’d have to get back to them in writing whenever a trucking question was brought up, well, that’s just entertaining. Because let’s face it he’s a public figure and there are a lot of questions that man needs to answer.

But on the other hand, if it’s a mother from Arkansas who is only concerned about the safety of her baby, well, then it’s more on the sad side. You may have seen the story recently from a local TV station down there reporting on truckers who are using a Walmart parking lot as a place to stop and rest for the night. We all understand why this happens from a trucker’s point of view. This woman – and the station that aired the story – clearly did not.

Comments she made at the end of the story were particularly alarming. She said walking through the parking lot with all of those trucks around she was concerned for the safety of her family. She said she didn’t like knowing if she was going to get hurt or if going to Walmart was going to be the last time she ever saw her family.

You can imagine the backlash that followed when that video hit the web and the story went viral. It was suggested to me to give the story, the station and the woman a RAZZBERRY. But because of what followed, I chose not to.

And what followed was this: the woman posted a video to her own Facebook page apologizing for her remarks. She went the usual route of blaming the local station for the story, saying they had edited her comments and didn’t reflect what she really had said. It’s a standard defense tactic used by everyone from the president on down.

But truckers know better than anyone that it’s also true that it wouldn’t be the first time a local media outlet got the story wrong.  And while they did attempt to talk to a trucker for the story, they also featured a number of close-ups of the woman’s baby that were clearly designed to tug at the heartstrings and play up the fear factor. Hardly an objective piece of reporting.

The woman went on to say that there had been threats made against herself and her family. Threats. Over some stupid comments she made out of concern for her family. And it was easy to tell by the tone in her voice – which was shaking to the point of cracking the whole time – that this poor woman was in way over her head and was very, very scared.

Her comments were ill-informed. Nobody is arguing that. But threatening her and her family over them is flat out wrong and won’t accomplish anything other than to reinforce the stereotypes that were portrayed in the story in the first place. That’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy. She was scared of truckers. Now she and her family are getting threats, which she probably assumes are from truckers. It’s just plain dumb all around.

That’s also why I declined to give the Razzberry. Razzys, by their very nature, are often snarky, sarcastic bombs tossed at much-deserving targets. In this case, I think maybe the reporter who did the story and the station that aired it might be deserving of one. But doing that would only further fan the flames and inadvertently put this poor woman back in the crosshairs – a place she so very desperately wants out of.

When I write Razzberries they’re often designed to get everybody worked up – whether it’s over a ridiculous regulation from the FMCSA or yet another trucker-hating ad from a money-hungry law firm. Those are worthy targets which, although not deserving of threats, are certainly deserving of – and


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