It didn’t take long for the panic buying to begin.
Oh, I had heard the stories about people hoarding toilet paper as news of the Covid-19 outbreak emerged. I simply laughed off such buying sprees. There was already a new package of rolls tucked into a closet at home.
The reality of the situation didn’t really set in until I ventured out for a regularly scheduled grocery run.
The shelves that would usually hold toilet paper and paper towels were bare. The dairy case was also devoid of milk. There was plenty of produce and meat to be had, but many other family staples – pasta, pasta sauce, ketchup, frozen vegetables, and frozen pizzas — were long gone.
There was no need to load up the cart any more than usual. I have enough faith in the supply chain to know that the shelves will be restocked. It won’t be long until people who stocked their pantries with toilet paper will realize that they don’t need to buy anymore, for a long while.
When plans emerged to tighten the Canada-U.S. border, I remained confident that the trucks would continue to roll, and that truck drivers who cross the line on a map would be exempted from voluntary 14-day isolation periods.
It’s because those who work in the trucking industry recognize that truck drivers provide an essential service – one of the lifelines that holds society together. If you got it, as we all like to say, a truck brought it. The temporary gaps in store shelves might help to remind members of the general public.
Still, I worry about anyone on the front lines of this fight.
The business of trucking continues despite so many changes and challenges. Truck drivers have informed us about shippers that won’t accept paperwork or create new barriers to facilities. There are new cleaning measures to consider for the trucks themselves. As governments discuss plans to shutter offices, trucking associations want to know what that will means if permits and licences expire. Tighter border procedures mean new questions to answer. And what services will be available for drivers when they pull into a truck stop?
As the Today’s Trucking and trucknews.com team chases down answers to questions like these, I know there are other questions that we can’t address, though.
Those who climb behind the wheel have their own families to worry about, their own pantries to stock, their own concerns about the state of the economy, their own questions about public health, their own need to stay healthy.
But when it’s time to roll, they drive. Because that’s what truckers do.
They deserve our thanks and recognition for that.
John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media’s trucking and supply chain publications — including Today’s Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Canadian Shipper, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.