Each November, families all across the United States gather around dining room tables to feast on comfort food and recite all the reasons they’re thankful. Typically, these annual gratitude lists include classics like family, friends and good food. Truck drivers rarely receive shoutouts, but what would the holiday be like without them?
Americans consume about 46 million turkeys — 1.4 billion pounds of poultry — on Thanksgiving alone, according to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. Unlike the first Thanksgiving, most folks are not out hunting wild turkeys; their tables are adorned with birds purchased from local supermarkets. All of those turkeys — along with everyone’s favorite canned cranberry sauce and boxed stuffing mix — were, of course, transported to those supermarkets via truck.
Without truck drivers working tirelessly in the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, stores shelves would be barren and holiday meals would consist of dishes that rely only on what people can source without modern comforts like grocery stores.
“We have told people for years that everything we have got to you via truck at some point in its lifecycle. Our drivers deserve a lot of gratitude for what they do,” Choptank Transport President and CEO Geoff Turner said.
As silly as it sounds, a Thanksgiving without truck drivers could lead to the same chaotic hoarding and profiteering the country faced earlier this year in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of hand sanitizer and toilet paper, people could start selling green beans and cream of mushroom soup out of their garages at 1,000% markups.
“We got a little glimpse of the importance of truck drivers when COVID first started thanks to binge buying,” Turner said. “The shelves get emptied really quickly. If there were no trucks to resupply those shelves, it would only take about a day for stuff to get wiped out. There would be a large change in people’s attitudes then.”
While most Thanksgiving essentials make their way to the stores well before the big day, plenty of truck drivers remain on the road during the holidays. For these drivers, finding ways to connect with family and enjoy a hot meal can make all the difference.
While phone conversations and video calls can help bridge the distance between drivers and their families, finding a festive meal may prove more difficult this year. Coronavirus policies vary from city to city, but it is not uncommon for indoor dining to be banned or restricted in an effort to curtail the virus.
Trucker Tools is highlighting a feature on its mobile app to help drivers pinpoint restaurants offering hot meals this holiday season. While this feature has been available in the past, Trucker Tools CEO Prasad Gollapalli recognizes that it is more important than ever this year as drivers search for a sense of normalcy in an upside-down world.
“In a year like this, we have even more reason to thank our heroes on the road,” Gollapalli said. “Drivers are at the very top of my gratitude list, and they should be at the top of everyone else’s too.”
Turner echoed that sentiment, pointing out that drivers are currently navigating the familiar stressors that accompany the holiday season while continuing to navigate pandemic-fueled problems, including policies that are always in flux.
“This year in particular, I think a lot of gratitude is owed to drivers out there working hard to get through the holiday capacity crunch and COVID,” Turner said. “They are truly first responders, and we all owe the transportation community a big thank you.”