Opinion: Why do we overlook National Trucking Week?

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There is cause for celebration in the first week of September, but unlike Labor Day it will likely be absent from most calendars.

It is a week in which we officially honor the cherry popover, blueberry popsicle, Welsh rarebit, macadamia nut, cheese pizza, coffee ice cream, acorn squash, and salami. Each has a designated national day. And let’s not forget beer lovers. Their big moment is Sept. 7. With a greater level of gravitas we observe Labor Day on Sept. 2, and remember the role of the merchant navy on Sept. 3. The International Day of Charity is Sept. 5.

Then there’s National Trucking Week, which officially runs from Sept. 1 to 7. Those south of the border recognize National Truck Driver Appreciation Week in the seven days to follow.

Most operations traditionally overlook it, of course. The first week of September represents just a few more days on the calendar. Loads need to be moved, wheels turned, kilometers covered.

Maybe it’s understandable. We don’t bake cakes for National Dentist’s Day (March 6), or roll out classic cars for parades on National Automotive Service Professionals Day (June 12). Such days are recognized by members of the industries themselves. They’re meant to serve as a gentle reminder to offer thanks and a special “attaboy” for those who keep things rolling in a literal or figurative sense.

Yet two decades into the tradition, the trucking industry largely fails to do much to celebrate its designated moment in the spotlight.

Some employers have scheduled events like barbecues and giveaways to offer extra thanks to their personnel. Challenger Motor Freight, Canada Cartage, and Pride Group are among them. And the Manitoba Trucking Association will get a head start with an event in Winnipeg’s Shaw Park on Aug. 28. Each effort like this should be applauded for taking a moment to deliver a little, well, applause.

We need to learn something from these examples.

There is still time to do something special for those around us, to find a way to show some appreciation for those who are counted among the 400,000-plus who work in the trucking industry.

Cynics will scoff at such efforts, of course. They’ll complain that real appreciation involves cooking more than a hotdog, offering a free coffee, or handing out a few gifts.

They’re right in that sense. We need to do more when it comes to showing every trucking industry employee that they’re truly appreciated. Such appreciation is demonstrated through things like working conditions, human resources practices, fair pay, and responsive leadership. Those are the types of factors that will make a measurable difference in recruiting and retention efforts.

But a simple “thank you” should be a welcome thing, especially when it comes to honoring everyone who literally keeps our country and its economy moving forward.

So let me thank you all.

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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