My recent opportunity to hire a contractor who uses parolees reminded me of two summers during college. I worked for a small trucking firm in northern Idaho, which specialized in hauling wheat. The owner hired parolees, down and outers, and me his nephew, who he saw as a naive kid raised overseas.
We drove Mack and Peterbilt trucks, followed the harvest, carrying wheat from Wolf Point, Mont. to Walla Walla, Wash. We lived in small motels on their last legs, rarely noticing the conditions, since we fought exhaustion from driving long hours. Log books were just being initiated, but rarely checked. We smoked cigars, slapped our legs, used NoDoz caplets trying to stay awake. Finishing my shift one evening, I asked our mechanic, who was just crawling out of bed, where they wanted me to sleep? He pointed to his bed saying, “this one’s yours.” His handle “grease monkey” was indisputable.
The adventures of my past are history, but many refugees, parolees, and the unprepared are stuck for years working long hours, with little pay for those who recognize they have few options.
Thankfully, there are concerned citizens and the great “I am” whose justice prevails.
Gerald Helling, Boise