Support the truckers, "Oh Canada..."
When I finished filming, Empty America, in 2020, I dedicated it to the American Truck Driver. I didn't know then that the trucking community would be so impactful and make such big headlines. Now I am doubling down and sharing my support with everyone I know. Here is why.
In my 7000+ mile drive from one coast of the USA to the other coast of the USA, and back, there was one thing I noticed. I noticed that among all the fear, and obedience, to the lockdown orders there was still one group of people still out on the road, truck drivers. Working long hours away from home and being paid just above minimum wage for many or most. These people were going about the business of keeping the country moving forward and doing so unrecognized. As part of our 'frontline' workers during the early days of the pandemic, they were, in fact, keeping the most important supply going. The food supply and I could not help but take note. Nearing the end of my journey filming, while observing empty cities, parks, and roads, I entered Washington D.C. At that time, a group of working-class truck drivers was striking for higher wages (watch here 20m:15s). Watching as they honked their horns in the Washington Mall I could not help but think that collectively semi-trucks across the country were saving society from collapse (when referring to the collapse of the food chain). There were no signs or salutes to the risk and value these people were offering, as there was in Hoboken, New Jersey daily to medical workers (see Hoboken scene here). By and large, this community was risking their lives for us and doing so without recognition. Thinking back, as a kid, I wanted to be a truck driver. I used to watch, B.J. McCay and his best friend Bear on TV and talk about driving-truck obsessively, around the house. On my 5th birthday, my Uncle Russel made me a semi-truck puzzle that I still have today (see photo below). And now, as an adult, my brother will still joke that I wanted to be a trucker and have a chuckle over it. However, it made sense to me then and now. I love the road. I love to travel and see new places. And as a job, it would have been a great way to do all of that and get paid. But it is hard work, it's not glamorous, and society places no significance on this job, but should we pay more?
Today these truckers are fighting back. They are blocking bridges and roadways. They are making life hard for some people and creating headlines in doing so. They are now being called out with all the typical negative slurs from the ruling class, that we've all heard too often. 'These men and women, who make just above minimum wage, are saying, no more to lost freedoms. These lost freedoms play out in real-time as issues of public safety and what we're all doing for the public good. And it's easy to look at their choices and get angry. However, while, I think it's important to be safe and respect those who have suffered loss from the pandemic. It's also important to respect people's freedoms and doing this comes with both risk and responsibility. The risk is that people might do something you don't like and that puts you at risk. The responsibility is that in exchange for fast laws and impulsive mandates, you have to educate the vast majority of people and that takes time and trust. It is far easier to just shut down, mandate, and make laws. Far harder to change hearts and minds. For that reason, the trucking community had my support then and they have it now.
Empty America has been the winner of 15 'Best Documentary Short' awards at festivals throughout the world.