Chicken Dinner News
All in a day’s work

By Kerry Evans-Spillman
Land Line staff

Is there any segment of workers on this planet that can claim as much diversity as truck drivers? If you work at OOIDA headquarters, you meet people every day whose background, stories and job tasks are extraordinary.

Bob Baldauf: hauling tigers
Life Member Bob Baldauf’s daughter Hollie Matthews recently asked a favor of him. She wanted to know if he would pick up a load in Ardmore, OK, and bring it to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, IN, where she is a volunteer.

Bob, who lives in Pittsboro, IN, agreed. In the past, Bob has hauled telephone poles that served as big cat furniture for the Center. But that wasn’t quite what Hollie had in mind.

She wanted him to pick up 11 tigers. Since Bob began trucking in 1976, this would be his first time hauling big cats. By the way, Bob’s been an OOIDA member since 1987.

Normally the center uses its own straight truck to pick up cats, but they’ve never taken on this many animals at one time. They needed a bigger truck – Bob’s truck. Two caretakers escorted Bob in a separate vehicle, and they made about five stops between Oklahoma and Indiana to check on the cats and make sure Bob stayed off the menu.

This is one trip where Bob was really hoping someone would have to inspect his load. Unfortunately, all he saw were green lights at the weigh stations for the entire journey.

Kim Allen, under load with Under Armour
Member Kim Allen of Graford, TX, recalls being about 12 years old and riding around Dallas with her younger sister in the backseat of her parent’s car. A pink Mary Kay 18-wheeler caught their attention. When they got close enough to the truck to see the driver, Kim and her sister were surprised he was male. The girls decided the trucking industry obviously needed more women.

Fast forward to their adulthood. Kim had been a full time mom for 18 years. Her sister, Christian Thang, had been trucking for quite a while with over a million miles to her name.

Kim’s three sons and daughter were grown and no longer needed her to stay home with them full time. Wanting to enter the work force and recalling that childhood encounter with the Mary Kay trucker, Kim decided to get her CDL. She went to a school in Weatherford, TX. She also got some additional training from her little sister, to whom Kim is grateful for sharing the good, bad and ugly sides of trucking from her own experience.

Following a job lead she got from Christian, Kim is now driving an eye-catching International LoneStar and pulling an Under Armour (athletic gear) trailer. Kim’s truck can be seen at sporting events and athletic conventions. The trailer serves as a staging area for Under Armour to showcase products to buyers as well as a backdrop for some of their other marketing activities.

Meet the Grabers
Before year’s end, we had the pleasure of meeting another OOIDA member and Twitter friend in person. Lester Graber, aka “amishtrucker,” stopped by with his wife, Rebecca, and son Joseph.

Lester grew up traditionally Amish in Indiana. No electricity, no machines, nothing beyond an eighth-grade education. As a little boy he was fascinated with big trucks. Sixteen years ago, he decided he had to pursue his dream. He left the Amish community and became a professional driver.

Currently, he’s delivering smaller loads across Texas in a Sprinter van. It has him home in Yoakum, TX, almost every night, which is why he took the job.

He said he can’t imagine ever working in an office or being in one place all the time and some day, he’d like to go back to driving the really big miles. Not only is he drawn to the trucks themselves, but part of the trucking appeal to him is meeting new people and seeing the country. He enjoys talking with other truckers on Twitter and Facebook and thinks social networking has made a lot of positive change in the trucking community. He thinks the Internet is amazing and if he did have to get a desk job, he would work as a computer programmer or network tech.

He really enjoys being a part of OOIDA and feels that truckers standing together in the industry do make a positive difference. Lester thinks younger truckers would give themselves a great advantage if they sought out mentors in the industry who would give them advice and guidance if they were willing to listen and learn. LL