I am sitting in my office writing this blog on St. Patrick’s Day. Interesting and unexpected things happen on social media. It is more powerful than one would think at first blush. The first time I posted a question on Linked In, I received several hundred comments. I became a blogger on BigTruckTV as a result of a Linked In connection. One trucking industry group I joined now has over 15,000 members. Think about that. One question or comment is instantly broadcasted to over 15,000 shippers, brokers and truckers at all levels in the instant click of a button. I often have people I don’t know come up to me at industry events to talk about something I posted. Talk about networking! This is networking on steroids!
Facebook also leads one to unexpected places. A couple years ago, my company, American Central Transport, ventured into Facebook with our own page. The original purpose was for recruiting. We hired an expert to monitor the page and add interesting content on a daily basis. We advertised our new page to our drivers and staff and encouraged them to “like” the page. I became active on the page and learned that it can also be used to teach, have funny trivia contests, post trucker songs, and put out fleet messages. The drivers had a contest on Facebook to pick a CB handle for me, and as a result, I now am “Rooster.” I have a contest currently going where I have promised all drivers who average over 8 mpg in the second quarter a Kansas City barbeque lunch on me. They are constantly goading me about how much this is going to cost me.
It didn’t take long for the project to head off in interesting directions. It wasn’t long before some drivers not only “liked” our company page, but asked to “friend” me on my personal page as well. I took a deep breath and clicked, “confirm.” It wasn’t long before spouses joined up. One night, I was playing scrabble on my Ipad, and up popped a message from one of my drivers, “Rocky” challenging me to a game. I didn’t know that many of the game apps for Ipad, can connect you with people through Facebook. So I took him up on his challenge. I learned a couple of things…all drivers may not have laptops but they all have smart phones, and that they are pretty dang good at scrabble.
As drivers and their spouses kept increasing my “friends” list, I started seeing things they post on a regular basis. You learn about the struggles of a trucker’s wife at home. You read about her raising the kids, working the garden and the longing for her husband. You read about the heartbreak of a mother whose son died. Her husband took her out on the road for a few weeks to console her. You see the comments of lonely drivers on the road. You see pictures that are frightening, such as tornados or wrecks, and the damage they cause. You hear the pride of accomplishment and the frustration that is part of a trucker’s life. You get some negativity but, remember this is real. Facebook opens an entirely new world that an executive would never be acquainted with simply by trying to spend time talking with these folks. Many, who have “friended” you, forget that the President is watching as they post trivia about their daily lives. You get a glimpse into the lives of ordinary truckers and their families which you couldn’t get anywhere else. You see their families, their hobbies, their pets and their sport teams.
One driver stands out in particular…an independent contractor by the name of Danny Kilgore. He is a relatively young man from Tennessee, who went to a community college and has been in the Army Reserves. He signed on as an independent contractor and leased a fairly new KW T-660. I can tell from his posts that he is a hard worker, and will be successful. He takes pride in his business, his truck, service to customer, and his fuel mileage. He has always been positive even through the slow season when others inevitably start complaining. I have since learned why he is so positive.
Danny is single and has one interest….a beautiful, red haired, green eyed girl. Her name is McKenzie. You can tell he thinks about her constantly and loves her very much. You can also tell that she loves him equally as much. How do I know? Pictures paint a thousand words. You can see it in their faces when they hug, and you can see certain sadness in Danny’s face when he is alone on the road.
On March 5th, I saw this post from Danny:
“Well as many of you know, I am having to leave my family and turn in the truck to do another tour overseas….I just wanted to thank everyone for making this my home….I have met great people and can’t think of a better trucking company out there….I’ll be turning in the truck bout the end of next week and getting ready to go. Gotta run by the shop and get the PM done for so the next driver goes into a great truck….if you see truck number 4278 make sure he’s taking care of her for me…Gonna spend a few days with the princess, but I’ll be seeing everybody I can before I leave…Tom, Mike Pat, Marsha, Mindy, Dave and everyone else I didn’t get a chance to meet, you all are great and I’m going to wear my ACT hat in a couple countries for ya….Just sayin….”
I went to his Facebook page and looked at his photos. Most of them were pictures of McKenzie or the two of them hugging, but one caught my attention. It showed Danny in his helmet and army uniform in the desert on the turret with a 50 caliber machine gun..
This morning Danny posted this:
“Getting a service done on the truck and probably a tire or two... wanting the next owner to come outta the box with zero problems but I gotta admit, realizing that I only own her for less than a week is really getting to me now....”
Danny always refers to McKenzie as “Princess.” She calls him “Daddy.” McKenzie is missing her two front teeth. She looks to be about 7. Keep Danny and his Princess in your prayers.
Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
'Tis I'll be there in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.