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Submitted by Sofia Tkachenko on 03/05/2020

“I thought you were an American!”, “You don't even seem like you have an accent, so i thought you were just from here” and “Why would you move here?” are some of the most frequent questions I receive after telling people that I moved only seven years ago.  

On a cold night of January 26, 2013, my mom and I moved to the United States with only three suitcases. She would often fret about the negative sides of moving so fast and not being able to bring any of our belongings with us. We left one of the most sacred things to us in search of a better life with more opportunities: the green jeep. The green jeep had a spare wheel attached to the back and had the most comfortable seats I knew of. I remember years after years when my mom would drive me to copious dance and music school practices. We were devastated that at that point there was no way for us to afford to move that car to another country and were forced to leave it behind. That was the moment when I realized that my mom made sure that I would receive the best education possible, especially when she decided to switch our lives by moving to the United States. We left our family, her career and friends in hope for a better and brighter future.

I decided to go to a school taught in a language I did not understand and live in a community whose culture I did not know about. I was completely lost…

I realized that I did not want to live in that way and began asking questions about learning the language. I even bonded with the new teacher and made a friend from the Dominican Republic. I was different, but was never ashamed of it. I read out loud every night to practice speaking skills and to develop my vocabulary. Watched YouTube videos about random topics like science experiments and informative shows to create a system of learning.

In a few months, my grades began to rapidly rise and the people who surround me began to see changes. I could still read and write in Russian, but now was able to easily communicate in a new language. Life was becoming better and it was easier to go to school.

In March of 2013, my mother and stepdad got married. He has been in the trucking  industry for years before my mom even met him. We became a happy family, where we relied on each other and helped each other. We traveled to states like Florida because my stepdad was extremely successful at his job as a driver and even won a regional competition! We were able to visit Disney World and watch him compete. The year after that we were also able to travel to see him compete again.

 At that moment, I grew enormous respect for the people who wake up in the middle of the night and go to work hours before sunrise. They drink coffee during breaks and then set off to work again. They build trust with their customers and are an essential part of any company, especially one that centers around transporting goods. As a second hand source, I saw that they rarely get enough credit for the hard work they provide for the community. They come back home late at night and have to wake up early again the next morning. Some companies do not even see their trucker relative for days if they travel longer distances. Drivers come home often tired, beat up, and in need of sleep. They can park cars in busy streets in hopes of not making the cops mad and learn to fix their cars during emergencies. When they have to go, they have to get to their destination with the hopes of safe transportation. 

Driving early in the morning can also cause lots of accidents since many of the workers are sleep deprived, which is equal to probability of a crash of a drunk driver. There are many rules on how many hours a driver is allowed to work in a few consecutive days to decrease that exact possibility. Therefore, they are protected in a way. My step dad works at a great company and is able to get enough hours of sleep every night. I have read about many of them being neglected and extremely sleep deprived because they become very overworked throughout the years. Even though transportation itself is not strenuous exercise, it can still take out a lot of a person and removing the goods from the trucks and loading them back on can be extremely stressful and tiring. 

I believe we should display more appreciation to truck drivers because of their important work. Watching my step dad grow over the years and even get hurt at his job a few times highlighted how difficult the job was. Then, I researched some more about the types of injuries they receive, and they are mostly back problems. There is no way to prevent any type of problem cause at a work site, but just being able to have the truck drivers work in a better and even more positive environment could reduce some of the stress they go through. 

Large companies can enforce more of the rules on working too many hours and perhaps train their staff more about eliminating some of the causes of injury. More bonding experiences with their leaders can also reduce some of the stress on the job. The truck drivers are one of the most important members of many companies, which can either improve the company or completely ruin it. 

My step dad has supported me for over seven years now, and if there is any way for me to support him, I will. He was the one who sat with me through all of the nights of reading books out loud and drove me to school so I was able to be accepted into the university of my dreams. Without his and my mother’s support, I truly do not know where I would be today and definitely would not be the same person. Hopefully, one day I will be able to buy my mother another green jeep and thank my step dad for all of the strenuous work he has done for us.

Submitted by Sofia Tkachenko on 03/05/2020

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