On Sept. 23 I experienced my first truck convoy.
I am sure your first reaction is to chuckle, I know mine was, visions of Smokey and The Bandit filled my head when I was first asked to buckle in for the journey. This wasn’t just any convoy; it was The World’s Largest Truck Convoy 2017 for Special Olympics with 200 trucks! Trucking companies from all over the Atlantic Provinces gathered at the Department of National Defense (DND) in Shearwater before proceeding through Dartmouth, Cole Harbour, and Eastern Passage, and then once again returning to Shearwater.
By 5:30 a.m., I was sitting alongside Danny Smith in a Home Hardware truck ready to hit the highway, with two other drivers from Home Hardware, Brandon McCulloch and Byron Tuttle. The camaraderie between the three was entertaining to listen to as they chatted over the CB radio.
As we approached the DND to register, it finally hit me how large this event was going to be. Besides the hundreds of truckers and their passengers, there were so many volunteers, sponsors, athletes, media, and family and friends of all those participating.
Awaiting the start of the convoy, many drivers took the opportunity to detail their trucks one last time. Smith, McCulloch and Tuttle were no exception. I have never seen so much detailing product in all of my life. Did I mention that the day before the three spent hours washing and waxing their trucks and trailers? But in all of the cleaning frenzy they chatted to athletes about their sport, let people tour their trucks, take pictures and hand out swag. Thank goodness for the mini vacuum cleaner Smith has in the truck, it would be shameful to be in a convoy with a pebble on the floor mat.
Finally, engines were starting and the convoy was beginning. Thousands of people lined the route to show their support for both the drivers and Special Olympics. Seeing children lift their arms up and down for drivers to honk their air horns didn’t get old, their reactions to the loud noise was pure joy and laughter. Smith said this is one of the best parts of his job. The route took about two-and-half hours to complete. Drivers chatted on the CB radio to make sure everyone was still together in a line and no one was having mechanical issues. They really do look out for one another.
As we made our way back to the DND, organizers of the convoy arranged for lunch for everyone, prizes, activities for kids, awards, and I can’t help but mention the dunk tank with Vehicle Compliance officers as the target, it was very popular!
Anyone who knows me knows I can’t sit still for too long, I am not a morning person and I drink a lot of water (a little troublesome when in a truck all day). I am so glad I didn’t let these things stop me from experiencing such a great day. This day was full of surprises and realizations.
- These three guys along with all of the drivers in attendance work long days and are often away from their home and family. Yet, on a day off they chose to be a part of something to help others and to show their support for Special Olympics. I couldn’t be more proud to stand by someone who was a part of raising over $130,000 for 2018 Team Nova Scotia Athletes.
- Everything that we all use each day has been hauled by a truck at some point. Seeing that many companies together in one place really put this into perspective. From fuel, food, clothing, to the vehicle we drive in, all are delivered by truck drivers.
- Truckers drive through every weather imaginable, often sleep in their truck more than at home, shower in truck stops, all to make sure you and your family have goods and services you require. I couldn’t help but notice how cars zoomed in and out around the three trucks on the way to and from the convoy, made sudden stops and pulled out in front of them. Please drive smarter and kinder so people just like Smith, MCculloch and Tuttle, can make it home safely to their families.
If you ever do get the chance to participate, definitely take the opportunity. I am already looking forward to next year! For more information, visit truckconvoyns.ca.