Why It’s Not Funny Anymore

By Wendy Parker

I’m still relatively new to the trucking industry. My experience is limited to what I see from the shotgun position; George is the only driver in our family. I have no desire to drive a big truck … never have … so I’ll never be a “true trucker,” but I’ve lived the lifestyle part time for the past three years, and I’ve learned a heck of a lot along the fifty-odd thousand miles of road we’ve traveled together.

When I was brand new on the road, I had a fascination with “lot lizards.” I wrote a couple of blog posts about the elusive “lot lizard” – I thought it was funny. I had an image in my mind of the happy hookers of trucking — women who did the same job women have done at predominantly male work sites since the building of the pyramids — a necessary evil and victimless crime. What I learned is that nothing could be further from the truth.

It took a long time for me to actually spot a working girl, and I’ll never forget the first time. We were in Florida, and two young girls were working the lot with an older guy trying to hustle wheel shines. He was sending them over to the trucks to ask drivers if they cared for a polish. One approached us but didn’t say anything when she saw me. She had purple hair and looked like she should have been at a high school somewhere. She was way too young to be hustling a truck stop parking lot, but her eyes and flat stare were old as the profession she was living, and she broke my heart. She was clearly not a happy hooker, and the silly illusions of a victimless crime quickly evaporated from my train of thought.

We left the lot pretty quick; it was too seedy for George’s taste, and I always felt like I should have done something for the purple-haired girl. I really regret not following my instinct to go grab her and take her away from whatever monster or monkey was on her back making her do what she did. It’s a regret I’ll always carry.

Human trafficking is a very real and very unpleasant thing people don’t want to think about. It happens on every economic level in the very bedroom communities America prides itself on for being safe and secure. Slavery didn’t begin in America, and it didn’t end with the Civil War; it’s still a very real and profitable business. And it’s not funny. There’s nothing about it even remotely amusing.

We make a point to display TAT stickers in the wing windows of our truck, and I always have a card ready to give to someone who looks like they may need help. I can’t bear another purple-haired, high-school girl on my conscience. I’ve been tempted to have George take me back to the seedy lot, in hopes of seeing her again. I don’t know what would be worse, seeing that flat, hopeless stare, or not seeing her at all, and having her disappear nameless, like so many others have before her.

It’s not funny at all.

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