When it’s Sept. 11 and you are one of the people who lost a family member when the twin towers were hit, what kind of day is it? Do you take the family to Ground Zero? Do you celebrate your loved one’s life? Do you spend a peaceful day in thought? For Luis Espinoza, it’s just another day in the trucking business.
Photo by Rene Tankersley
A year after the Sept. 11 attack, Luis Espinoza (center) and his two children Chris and Stephanie visited the World Trade Center site.
And not a good one at that. On Friday, the owner-operator and OOIDA member from Windemere, Fla., was paying bills, negotiating with the bank over his mortgage, and trying to get his reefer out of the shop in Orlando. He’s had to turn down loads as that’s the only truck he has now. Memories of his then wife, Fannie, an employee of Cantor-Fitzgerald, and her last phone call are painfully pushed to the back burner. “Something just hit the building, there’s smoke everywhere. Don’t worry, honey. I am coming home.” That was the last time he heard her voice.
But he needs to put business first.
“The bills have to get paid, you know?” he says.
Years ago, after the devastation of 9/11 and loss of Fannie, Luis and children Stephanie and Chris left New Jersey and moved to Florida. He continued to try to grow his trucking business – New Jersey Freight Systems. After the economy tanked in 2008 and there were problems employing responsible drivers, he cut back the business to a one-man, one-truck operation.
Stephanie is all grown up now, Chris, too. They’re doing fine. Chris helps his dad out a lot with the trucking business. Luis has remarried and has a new year-old baby. He is back driving.
Operations like his don’t have deep pockets, and a reefer that won’t keep the trailer cool is a disaster. Having it in the shop for a week is a double punch. Today, he worries that Sunbelt Transicold’s shop in Orlando, won’t be fixing his reefer today: We’ll get to it in the morning. Maybe we will be able to get to it this afternoon. We need to put a senior tech on it, but he’s on the road.
They’ve said that every day for four days, he says. OOIDA’s Business Services’ Dale Watkins makes a call on Luis’s behalf. Watkins gets the same explanation about the senior tech.
A call from Land Line to the Orlando shop’s branch manager Sal is a dead end. Sal is on vacation.
Meanwhile, Friday afternoon is ticking away.
The shock and images of the World Trade Center are far behind him. He waits on a phone call from the shop. Maybe some good news about the reefer.
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