The Spirit of the American Trucker – July 2017

Finding drivers that take care of the equipment is tough, these days. Thankfully, Tracey Rieks of Hubbard, Iowa, does not have that problem. His driver, Cooper Roberts, is one of the rare exceptions, and for that, Tracey awarded him with a fantastic rig to drive. The dark green truck is a 2009 Kenworth W900 with a 331-inch wheelbase hooked to a looooong matching refer with a fixed spread. This trailer is not only long and beautiful, but it is also state-of-the-art. All told, the combination is about 82 feet long, and Cooper has to navigate it through the cramped streets and into the tight docks of New York City (including Hunt’s Point) and New Jersey every week. Cooper is so good, the whole setup doesn’t show a single scratch after eight years, so I asked Cooper how he has achieved this, and he smiled and said, “I don’t know, I’m just a driver!” So, I had to make some observations on my own, and here is what I gathered: he says “he doesn’t know” but he actually remembers exactly how many times each trailer tire went over a curb in the last eight months (it was five times), saying, “You wanna go OVER a curb and never ever scratch the sidewall.” Hanging out with them in their yard, Taten (Tracey’s son), who is only ten years old but has seen the East Coast 46 times driving with his dad, jumps in the seat to show me how the lift axles work. Cooper is watching the boy’s every move, but he, like Cooper, has obviously been taught to take care of and respect the equipment. Never let a mundane routine catch you off guard – always be diligent, and always be paying attention, because when you get lazy, bad stuff can happen. As the saying goes, take care of your equipment, and it will take care of you. And, if you are driver, take care of your equipment, and its owner (your boss) will take care of you!

About Art Czajkowski