Friday, July 03, 2015

The Weirdest Reunion Ever

Wednesday night's dinner was a Hawaiian Luau with hula girls and fire dancers.  Hundreds of Landstar BCOs (Business Capacity Owner - that's what Landstar calls their leased drivers) donned floral garb while making their way through the open bars and buffet lines.  The drinks flowed freely, the food was plentiful, and the energy in the room was high.  Ed even got onstage and did the hula with one of the coconut-bikini clad girls.  I have video, but I'm pretty sure he won't allow me to release it.  

This morning the festivities continued.  At breakfast (hello delicious yogurt parfait!), we were entertained by two guest speakers:

The first speaker was Ed Hochuli, a well-known NFL Official who regaled us with stories and video clips of games he refereed, players he's known, and how a good attitude makes up for not having skill when it comes to success in your field.  I was kind of lost after the first football reference and my eyes glazed over during much of the sports-related pep talk, but he was an energetic speaker for sure.

When I first heard the name I said, "Hochuli?  I know that name."  The reason I knew the name is because Ed Hochuli's brother Pete, a lawyer, was a friend of my step-father's from years ago. He's now a Pima County Juvenile Court commissioner in Tucson.  And I also learned that Ed Hochuli went to the same high school I did!  Small world.  Ed Hochuli is a lawyer by trade and has a firm in Phoenix, where he currently lives.  The NFL thing is his side gig.

The second speaker was Commander Kirk S. Lippold, USN (Ret.), who was the Commanding Officer of the USS Cole at the time it was attacked while in the Yemen port of Aden.  He recounted the events of that day, when 17 U.S. sailors were killed.  His speech was about "Leadership and Accountability When It Matters".  Something that comes in handy for small business owners when your goal is to run to a successful operation.

After the breakfast meeting, we were on our own for the afternoon.  Some crazy people went to the theme parks, Ed went to the pool, and I decided it was too hot to leave the room so I stayed in, enjoyed the silence, and read a book.  Then I took a nap.  All that activity was exhausting and I needed to be well-rested for the evening's dinner event.

Here's the pre-dinner cocktail hour.  This is probably the first time you'll see this many truckers in one place not wearing a leather biker wallet attached to their pants with a chain.  Although one guy was wearing a Peterbilt baseball cap.  What the hell??

There were over 550 BCOs and their guests in attendance.  It was a big crowd.

When you see all of these drivers being honored for millions of safe driving miles and realize they're just regular people, it's pretty impressive.  Most men credit their wives for their success (smart), and others tell how their families are the reason they get out there every day and do what they do (sweet), others talk about how they got to a million miles or more (safely), and yet others talk of their love of the road and the dreams they are able to realize from behind the wheel of a big rig.

Most of the drivers honored seemed to be from the South and Midwest based on the states I saw represented on the screen as each driver accepted their award.  Not too many from the western states and just a few from the Northeast. There were 138 One Million Mile Safe Drivers, 16 Two Million Mile Safe Drivers, 10 Roadstars, and one BCO Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.  There were three (I think?) women in attendance accepting their awards, and we even had a Million Miler who was an Elvis impersonator that sings to nursing home residents in his hometown of Clear Lake, Iowa. The crowd loved him.

Then at the end of the evening, the 
pièce de résistance - and probably one of the biggest reasons people even come to the event - the truck giveaway.  Last year Ed's name was called from the people in attendance, and even though he wasn't chosen, it's a heady experience thinking you can possibly walk away with a brand new truck.  Every BCO in attendance has a chance to be part of the drawing.  On this last night of the event they draw three final names, which meant Ed could have been called again, and put them in the pot with the other two names picked at the first function.

Ed didn't get called this year, but sitting there waiting to see who wins keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Once chosen, they give each lucky driver a mock truck to stand behind with a key to turn.  If they turn the key and their truck lights up, they're a winner.  This year's winner had the greatest reaction.  Surprise, shock, then complete joy! His wife joined him on stage, they hugged, and you could feel how genuine his response was by his facial expression and body language.  When he gave his little acceptance speech he told of how his father was a truck driver and his wife's father was a truck driver and then choked up as he dedicated the winning of the truck to both of them.  It was actually quite touching.

As Ed said when we got back to the room, "You know, these events - BCO Days and this Million Miler thing - it's like the weirdest family reunion ever.  You don't really know anyone, yet you get together every year and mingle and have drinks and eat food and laugh."

It is kinda like that.  There are hundreds of people so there's always going to be folks we don't know and probably will never talk to, but we have met several drivers over the years and were even approached by people we met at last year's Million Miler event on the day we arrived.  It was nice to be remembered.  The first night we sat with the same people we met the night Ed was inducted, and tonight we sat with another driver couple and several Landstar employees and their spouses.

We had a great few days and I look forward to next year's weird family reunion.

Tomorrow, back to work.  I need to start accumulating my miles.  I've only got about 500,000 more to go for my award. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: River Alarm

2013: A Face Only A Mother Sniffer Can Love
2012: Rolling In The Deep
2011: A Castle On A Bluff
2010: The Skies Really Are Friendly, No Matter Who Is Flying In Them
2009: Eddie Beach Feet Friday
2008: Panoramic
2007: My New Motto
2006: Fake It Till You Make It
2005: Feria Colour Strands

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