The Spirit of the American Trucker – April 2021

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Staci Entze of North Dakota was hauling commodities from Bakersfield to Portland when her CAT non-emission engine (that dealers won’t work on) shut down in the middle of California’s Central Valley on Highway 99 late on a Saturday evening.  This girl is a real trucker.  While parked on a ramp, she popped the hood open and did all the troubleshooting she knew – fuel was there, fuses intact, sensors and plugs all right.  Staci called me for some help, so I reached out to my friend Ed Wade who, over the phone, diagnosed the problem as a faulty engine computer (ECM).  So, I made a post on Facebook, asking for someone to bring her an ECM Ed had (in Utah) or if anyone locally might be able to help.  Now, Staci is a shy person who stays off social media, so she doubted much would come of it, but within a few minutes there were 100 comments!  Random truckers began tagging local mechanics, shops, and friends living near where she was broken down.  Sure enough, a nearby trucker answered the call – Brian Sousa.  He never met Staci and did not know her, but he just grabbed an ECM out of one of his trucks and, instead of minding his own family business on a Sunday evening, headed out to help Staci.  After replacing the ECM the rig fired right up!  She was happy, trucking again by midnight, before the dealers even opened in the morning.  On top of that, two other truckers stopped on the ramp to make sure Staci had food.  I asked Brian, an immigrant from Portugal, why he did it, and here is what he said: “I just know the feeling of being broken down.  And being loaded with cows takes fast thinking and getting it fixed quick.”  Sometimes it’s an easy fix, but it takes a village!  I have been there, too, and got help from a stranger, and when it happens, your life changes forever!  When I asked Staci about everything that happened, this was her reply: “When Brian showed up, it was a breath of fresh air.  He wasted no time and had no hesitation about helping, which took me by surprise.  To think a complete stranger would take parts off of his own truck and drive two hours to help me at night, I was like, who is this guy?  When he showed up, he was super humble and friendly, and just jumped right in, explaining to me what he was doing and why, so I could learn.  When the truck fired up, it was a big relief.  When I tried to pay him something – anything – he wouldn’t take it.  That’s when I knew he was a genuine person who wasn’t out to get noticed for doing something kind.  Helping was just something he felt he needed to do for a fellow trucker.  I just wanted to hug him!  And the outreach of everyone that was willing to go out of their way to help just blew me away!  It made me realize that no matter what we haul or what we drive, we are all in this together and need to help and encourage wherever we can.  This man did not have to take time out of his busy life to help.  There was no gain to him by doing it.  I hope one day I can do the same and pay it forward.  My feelings are the same for the two gentleman that stopped to make sure I was okay.  People get so consumed with the routine and the hustle, but it’s the most humbling feeling to know some still really care – with no expectations of anything in return.  I’m not gonna lie, it made me cry!  It’s an experience I will never forget.”  Paying it forward is the old school way of doing things, and it is nice to know that some truckers still live by this code.  Thank you, Brian, for proving that the Spirit of the American Trucker is still alive and kicking!

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