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Driving A Long-Haul Truck During The Coronavirus Epidemic


Here's one essential job we may not think much about but that we are all counting on - the long haul trucker. To fill store shelves and replenish medical supplies, someone has to drive them from the factory or warehouse to your town. This week we have checked with one 27-year-old driver over the course of several days as she made her way across the Southeast. It was a typical week in some ways, quite atypical in others.

CHANTEL PABLO: My name is Chantel Pablo (ph). I've been driving trucks altogether for three years. I have solutions to taking this to a health care in Houston. Out on the road, there's all this been going on. It been real, real difficult even, you know, finding something to eat or the hand sanitizer, even Clorox wipes and stuff like that. I mean, it seems like as soon us truckers restock the shelves, they go right back empty. The traffic - I'm not going to lie. I love not having no traffic. But at the same time, that's - you know, it's not normal. You know, that's when you know something's wrong. But the flow has been great. Every trucker - I can speak for all the truck drivers. We have been enjoying this. We have.


PABLO: I just stopped at this little, small convenience store. I'm doing a 30-minute break. I'm still looking forward to not having any traffic, but I have been running into construction. That kind of slowed me down, set me back a couple of minutes. Today I plan on getting as close to Mobile, Ala., as possible.


PABLO: It's 6:31. I started my shift at 12 a.m. I got my rest in Creola, Ala., and right now I'm passing through Sulphur, La. And I'm going to make it to my destination 9:00 a.m., and after I get there, I'm not sure where I'm going to go next. And when I'm driving, sometimes I don't really think about nothing. It's just like, when you on the road, especially when you driving a long drive, it's like it clears your mind. Without us, you know, keeping it in the stores and without the workers in the grocery stores, you know, restocking for the customers - like, we are very, you know, essential.

I'ma (ph) make it to Houston about 9 a.m. You know, from here to the house, I'll be thinking about just what's going on, you know, in the country today and hoping and praying that, you know, it's all over soon so that everyone's life can go back to normal, especially for the people, you know, that can't work at all.


KELLY: On the road with long haul trucker Chantel Pablo in the age of the coronavirus. She lives in Metairie, La.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE PHARCYDE SONG, "PASSIN' ME BY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.