The words “Keep the supply chain moving” have rarely carried more weight than they do right now. While many of us hunker down in the safety of our own homes with our loved ones, truckers are moving through the country, making sure critical medical supplies, food and much more gets where it needs to be.
We’ve been thinking about these unsung heroes of the COVID-19 era recently, and when we wanted to learn more about what life is like for them right now, we knew exactly who to ask: Kevin Rutherford.
Kevin is the founder of Let’s Truck — an online resource for truckers that educates on healthy and successful trucking — a business trainer, author of national articles on trucking and finance, small fleet owner, tax preparer, and radio host of Trucking Business & Beyond. His insight into the lives of truckers during the pandemic was exactly what we expected it to be: insightful and eye-opening.
Truckers have a critical role to play right now, ensuring shelves remain stocked and emergency medical supplies get where they need to be. How does it feel for them to be in this position of responsibility?
I think most drivers realize they play a critical role in our supply chain. In the past, I’ve commented that many of them have an over-inflated view of their importance, but it’s now become clear now that we are a critical cog in the supply chain. We see shortages and we’ve seen where truckers have been able to come to the rescue. The role of truckers is being talked about in the media for the first time in a very positive way, so I think we have a lot of drivers now who appreciate the fact that the general population sees how critically important they are in times like these. Most drivers right now get that this is their responsibility — that this is what they signed up for. They are out on the front lines, risking their own health, and getting freight delivered.
We hear that some places across the country have closed rest stops and that some truck stop chains have closed their seating areas. How is this affecting truckers?
This was probably one of the biggest negative impacts we’ve seen on drivers. Think about when you travel on the Interstate yourself, and just how important those rest areas are. There are parts of the country where they are very far apart. Most of these drivers know where they are and plan on stopping there. When they find out they are shut down, with no warning, well that has a big impact on their ability to do their job. Hopefully that’s starting to be fixed, because many drivers rely solely on those restaurants for their source of food.
However, one of the things we’ve always encouraged drivers to do, is not to be completely dependent on those restaurants. We encourage them to carry their own food and find other options.
What do you wish the general public understood about trucking and the role truckers play during this pandemic?
The overall lifestyle itself. Right now, we are seeing lots of people at home together. They are able to go through this pandemic together. For a lot of people, that’s a really positive thing. They’re home with their kids and they are not alone. Now think about what a driver has to do. They’re not with their families and they have to be worried about what’s going on with their family at home. They may have supply issues at home they are trying to help with. And they’re trying to find food and find a place to go to the bathroom on the road. What’s more, they’re in hotspots — they know they’re being exposed to this virus and it’s almost impossible for them not to be.
We hear a lot about the frontline medical workers putting their lives on the line… The drivers are doing the exact same thing. They’re in the path of this virus everyday, and they’re dealing with a job that changed overnight. Their freight has shifted to different places, their truck stops have been shut down (so food is going away), and most people don’t understand what living in a truck is like in terms of food and sanitation, even when they hear, “Oh yeah, that guy went to bed for three weeks in his truck.” But these truck drivers are experiencing all this and still delivering freight. The media has done a fair job about getting some positive press out there about trucking, but I think we can do even more.
What do you recommend truckers do to stay healthy and keep their immune systems strong in times like these?
The good news here is that we are recommending the exact same things we’ve been recommending for the last six years. Nothing really changes. If a driver’s going to be healthy and keep their immune system strong, they should be eating real food. We always talk about our diets being based on paleo principles — real hunter/gatherer food — and eating plenty of good fats and organ meat and bone broth. We’ve been talking about all these things on a regular basis to help drivers lose weight, stay healthy, and reverse disease. I’m not making a single different recommendation other than, “Double down on what we say!” We’re also encouraging drivers to stock up on the foods they can keep in their trucks that don’t need refrigeration and are shelf-stable such as beef sticks and LonoLife bone broth.
What is the single biggest piece of advice you have for truckers right now?
Breathe. We all need to breathe a little bit and take a step back and look at what’s happening. Information is coming at us like a firehose and it’s not always good information. Sometimes, what we thought we knew yesterday has changed today.
Once you’ve taken a breath and you clear out the noise that’s happening around you, focus on what you can control. We are being forced to do things we didn’t choose and being told to do things we’ve never done before. So first, you’ve got to quiet the chaos. Practice meditation — it’s an awesome way to calm down the mind. Once we are calm, we can focus on what we can control. That’s going to be a little different for everybody… Is it health you need to focus on or personal finances? Those are the things you can control and the decisions you can make. Everything else feels like it’s happening to us. We need to relax and take control of our minds before all else.
LonoLife would like to say a big thanks to all the truckers out on the roads keeping supply chains going. Stay safe and stay healthy.