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Clear Shot: Making Lemonade

I was going to write about engine cooling technologies this month - the whole SCR versus EGR debate going on between engine manufacturers and the Environmental Protection Agency run by our neighbours ...



I was going to write about engine cooling technologies this month – the whole SCR versus EGR debate going on between engine manufacturers and the Environmental Protection Agency run by our neighbours to the south, but real life got in the way.

Real life in the form of two truckers who recently made a profound and lasting impression on me, much more so than the latest on who gets to use what technology, when and where. Not that this isn’t important- manufacturers will certainly be making their decisions on future specs based on what the EPA approves or doesn’t approve over the next few months.

But EPA officials will always be coming out with new emissions rules, and manufacturers will always be called upon to make difficult decisions about new product lines.

And owner/operators will go on trying to squeeze a buck out of whatever it is they end up having to drive, trying to make lemonade no matter how many lemons they get dealt.

George Blackburn, named Owner/Operator of the Year at October’s Expocam, is no exception.

I had the privilege of meeting George and his lovely wife Ellen at Expocam, where I was honoured to present George with the Owner/Operator of the Year Award.

After 46 years of driving, and plenty of education in the school of hard knocks, both personally and professionally, he still has a positive outlook. Every story he tells, be it of a kid he caught stealing or a woman he rescued along the side of the road, ends with a happy twist and George saying “…and you see how it all comes around in the end.”

Of course, George is too humble to admit it, but often it’s his own kindness and generosity of spirit that played an instrumental role in the happy ending. In other words, George is a master of making a good situation out of a bad one, of making lemonade out of lemons. In fact, George has made so much lemonade he could have long ago opened his own stand.

And I strongly suspect the same could be said of Edwin Kary, a finalist in this year’s Owner/Operator of the Year Award, who died, with his wife Penny, during a tragic accident that occurred while they were hauling a load to Edmonton.

It happened the Friday before Expocam. They were on their way to Edmonton to visit their daughter, who had just had a baby.

But a car rounded a corner, crossed into their lane and plowed head-on into their truck, sending them into a ditch, where they both died.

Reading back through Edwin’s nomination file – the letters of recommendation, the numerous awards and certificates, the photo of Edwin with his wife, two daughters and grandchild, and the letter Truck News sent out to let Edwin know he was chosen as a finalist – it’s hard not to think of George. I’m fairly new to the industry, so most of my encounters with truckers have been at shows and on the road. I’ve never really had the opportunity to sit down with them for a few hours the way I did with George and really get to know them.

But if Edwin and his wife Penny were anything like George and his wife Ellen, and I’m absolutely 100 per cent sure they were, the loss of them for our entire community is huge. It’s pretty damned hard to make lemonade out of this one. So here’s hoping they get a special batch made just for them in heaven.

– Ingrid Phaneuf can be reached at 416-442-2091 or at iphaneuf@trucknews.com.


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