By Sandi Soendker
One of my old English teachers used to kick off the school year with this quiz: Who can tell us the “plural nominative case of the pronoun of the first person?” Every student froze like deer in the headlights, but the answer was simple. It’s the word “we.”
It’s one of the most important words in our language, and at OOIDA it ranks number one. It’s what a girl named “Jazzy,” an Ice Road Trucker, a country music legend, a NASCAR simulator driver, a couple from South Africa, and a trucker from North Carolina and one from Sweden all have in common.
Sidelined for now. Jasmine Jordan, 16-year-old daughter of OOIDA Members Lee and Paulette Jordan, is home resting a stress fracture, but plans to be back on her cross-country run soon.
If you follow Jasmine, also known as Jazzy, on her runwithjazzy.com Web site, or follow her on the Facebook or Twitter social networking sites, you probably already knew that.
Jazzy is running coast to coast to raise money for the St. Christopher Fund and to bring awareness to rising health care costs. The St. Christopher Fund helps truck drivers obtain medical procedures or equipment they couldn’t otherwise afford.
Among those who came out to run with Jazzy was Jason Wright from the New Mexico State Police. She was midway through the state when the pain required her to take time off and visit a doctor.
The stress fracture wasn’t good news, but it does allow Jasmine to see her family, rest her exhausted body, and sleep in her own bed for a few weeks, said Lee Jordan, Jasmine’s dad and a truck driver.
Who’s that guy in the OOIDA jacket? He looks so familiar. If you said Ice Road Trucker, you would be right. Life Member Alex Debogorski is one of OOIDA’s more famous members. Alex is one of the most popular characters on the History Channel’s hit show. Not just a well-known face, Alex is the real deal. He’s been driving ice roads for more than 26 years. He lives in Yellowknife, up north in the Northwest Territory with his sizeable family. Alex is the father of 11 children and the proud grandfather of seven.
It’s clear he stands for something. Kudos to OOIDA Life Member Aaron Tippin for the $20,000 he raised at the Tennessee Truck Show concert for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for kids. We could tell he’s a guy who really likes kids when he came by OOIDA headquarters to visit about a year ago. It was Halloween, and there was a photo of Senior Editor Jami Jones’ kid on the wall. Sam is only 9, but she did her Sarah Palin impersonation every bit as well as Tina Fey. Aaron loved it.
Happy birthday, Mr. Freeland. Douglas & Sons Trucking tipped me off that OOIDA Life Member Jim Freeland, Statesville, NC, turned 80 years old in October. Jim has been a member of OOIDA since 1982 and still drives a tractor-trailer from time to time. I’ve known Jim for years, and the guy has got some stories. He began driving a truck in 1948 when he was 17 years old. In his lifetime, Jim has seen the price of fuel as low as 25 cents a gallon and as high as nearly five bucks. He began his trucking career before there were any interstate highways, and he witnessed the opening of the West Virginia turnpike and the completion of Interstate 40 connecting California with his home state of North Carolina. Historical fact: Jim drove his big rig in a blockade during the national fuel price protests in 1973 (the event that launched the founding of OOIDA).
The ageless Jim is still riding his BMW motorcycle and flying his 1965 Mooney airplane. His motto is: “Don’t take life too seriously; you’ll never get out of this world alive – unless you’re an astronaut!”
Ron gets around. OOIDA’s Ron Mermis – aka NASCAR simulator guy – met a great couple the other day from Olive Branch, MS, who are both new members of OOIDA. The husband and wife truckers are originally from South Africa. Christo and Wendy Vandermerwe were brought over by a big motor carrier on a visa program. After the six weeks were up, that company dropped them. They are with another carrier now and loving America and the trucking way of life. However, Ron says Christo and Wendy were surprised at the “antiquated technology,” specifically regarding braking.
Pronounced MAHTS. Another new OOIDA member who recently moved to the U.S., Mats Landen hails from Sweden. Until last year, he lived there with his wife, Susanne, making a living as a trucker. His dream was to truck in the U.S., however, and last year he won the green card lottery to come to America. I met Mats and Susanne recently at the Truck Show Latino. I was introduced by a mutual friend, Sven-Erik Lindstrand, trucking journalist from Sweden.
Later, as I was cruising the show, I stopped at a truck and trailer that displayed a huge sideloader made by Hammar of Sweden. I visited a bit with Lars Frantzich, vice president of the company, and eventually mentioned our new member from Sweden. “Mats Landen? Oh yes, I know him. I actually hired him to bring this equipment here.” He said Mats was well known in Europe as a top professional truck driver.
No matter how big the industry gets, we who live and work in trucking find it to be one incredibly small world. LL