It’s that time of year again when Truckmen is doing our heavy “recruiting”. Our new recruits consisted of three classes of first graders from North Kingsville Elementary and two classes of fifth graders from Perry Middle School. Our founder, Jeff Jenks, took one of our big rigs out to show to the students. Everyone got to go up into the truck and see the sleeper and learn a little bit about the truck and what it’s like to be a truck driver.
The Perry fifth graders were learning about careers and parents were invited to come and talk about their jobs. I volunteered to come and talk about my job (which got a lot of blank stares), but as soon as I announced that we had a special guest and they realized that they got to go outside and see the truck with my father, the enthusiasm increased greatly! Good thing Bapa is a lot more exciting than Mom! I’m not sure if we convinced any of them to make trucking a career or not, but they asked some great questions and seemed happy to have the experience.
The first graders never lack enthusiasm when Mr. Jenks comes with the big truck, especially Mrs. Jenks’ class! Besides having a visit with Mr. Jenks and seeing the truck, the first graders always do a coloring contest and we judge the winners in three categories for each class- most colorful, most creative and most realistic. The winners receive certificates and prizes. They also write thank you notes to Mr. Jenks for coming to visit with the truck. The thank you notes are always a treat to read. In case you are wondering how I could ever consider class room visits to be “recruiting”, here are some snippets from the notes he received.
Dear Mr. Jenks, Thank you for letting us in the truck… I want to be a truck driver and I will sleep in the back. Soon when I’m an adult and I will do lots of things. I will do my best at being a truck driver.
Dear Mr. Jenks, Thank you for letting us look and go inside the truck. I like you a lot, Mr. Jenks. I like your job. I might be a semi-trucker when I grow up. My papa was going to be a semi-trucker. I do not really remember because I think I was 4 or 5 years old.
Dear Mr. Jenks, thank you for coming to our school. Thank you for letting us in to your semi. I like when you honked the air horn. Also, I like learning about the fifth wheel….I think it’s so cool that you started your own trucking company. I want to own my own trucking company when I grow up.
So, there you go! Three additions to the trucking industry in oh, about 12-15 years.
Big trucks really capture kids’ imaginations sometimes. One of our drivers, Darren Sharkey, shared a story with us that he had wanted to be a truck driver since he was about eight years old and saw a semi at the local showing of the circus. He even has a picture of that day (shown here). And now, less than 20 years later, he made that wish come true by spending some time gaining experience on the road with Werner Enterprises and then joining us two years ago. He now is on a dedicated local run so that he gets to be home every night with his wife.
Spending some time with kids at the schools is always a heartwarming experience and a great way to connect with community. On a much different note, but no less heartwarming, I wanted to share a picture of a beautiful memorial quilt that Michelle Sardella had made in memory of her mother, Shirley Wheeler. Shirley had been part of the Truckmen family for 14 years until she lost her battle with cancer almost two years ago. We love the quilt that Michelle had made from some of Shirley’s Truckmen t-shirts. We are glad that Truckmen was as much of a big part of Shirley’s life as she was ours. Not a day goes by that I don’t see about ten things with Shirley’s name or handwriting on it. She has quite a legacy here.
There are no happy endings. Endings are the saddest part, So just give me a happy middle And a very happy start.
-“Everything on it” by Shel Silverstein
Best wishes for a future “happy start and middle” for the children we visited and many fond memories of a past “happy start and middle” for those we’ve lost. Have a wonderful summer.