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Highway Angels Are Influencing the Public’s Perceptions About Trucking – One Incident at a Time
Even small acts of kindness can generate a giant positive impression
When the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) receives driver nominations for its Highway Angels program, the stories frequently involve heroic deeds, such as pulling people from flaming vehicles or keeping critically injured crash victims alive or minimizing their pain until paramedics can take over. But sometimes even a mundane act of kindness, such as fixing a flat tire, can leave the person who was helped with a permanent, positive impression about truck drivers. Here’s an example. On February 4, 2009, two sisters driving along I-64 in Kentucky felt their tire blow out. It was snowing heavily, and their car slid off the road. With a sinking feeling, they realized that the spare tire in their trunk was equally flat.
Larry Goessens, a driver for Anderson Trucking Service of St. Cloud, Minnesota, stopped to help the sisters. First, he pulled the car out of the ditch; then, he drove to the next town, had the spare tire repaired, returned to the scene, and replaced the flat tire with the spare.
Rhonda Davis, one of the women Goessens helped, was extremely impressed by the random act of kindness. She even took the time to write a complimentary letter to Anderson Trucking Service, stating: “This may not be a big deal to some people, but you would not believe how many people just drove right by me, standing on the side of the road… it was snowing to beat the dickens, and I am an old lady! … It was as if God himself sent this man to help me.”
Davis went on to say: “It seems like today’s truck drivers get such a raw deal that I felt it was important for me to write this letter and let you know just how important the good ones really are. … [Goessens] froze his rear-end off changing that tire for us … and he wouldn’t let me pay him for his time and trouble. … Truckers are so under-appreciated that even I have a newfound respect for them and the vital services they provide for our great country.”
Deborah Sparks, a spokeswoman for Highway Angels, said that Davis’ letter only reinforces what TCA’s Communications & Image Policy Committee (which oversees the Highway Angels program) has believed since it first initiated the program: that truck drivers’ random acts of kindness on the highways—no matter how minor—provide the best possible publicity for the trucking industry. “Now that Ms. Davis’ life has been positively touched by a professional truck driver, she will probably tell her friends and family, who will in turn come away with a positive impression of drivers and trucking. They will tell someone, who will tell someone… It is exactly this type of grass-roots goodwill that Highway Angels hopes to foster, and we do our part to keep the momentum going by releasing positive driver stories to local hometown newspapers and other media outlets. Highway Angels stories are simply the best possible P.R. that our industry can have,” she said.
Now that Goessens has been accepted as a TCA Highway Angel, he will receive a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate, and patch for his kindness in helping Davis and her sister. Anderson Trucking Service will also receive a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a Highway Angel.