39 Years of Truck Driving and Helping Hurricane Harvey Survivors
From the Army, to a trying out different careers, truck driving kept calling her name. Now after truck driving for 39 years, Gail believes in doing something to help those in need. Read below about her latest mission: Helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Gail Daugherty has been a Transport America driver for 12 years but her journey in truck driving began when she was 26 years old and joined the Army with a desire to become a military police officer (MP). She originally wanted to join when she was 18 (back in 1972), but they wouldn’t allow women to join the military back then without her parent’s permission.
“It was on my bucket list,” she says. “But wouldn’t you know it, they said I was too short (by a quarter-inch) to be an MP, so I had to choose another job.”
So Daugherty chose driving trucks for the Army. Over the course of her six-year stint, she drove nearly every type of vehicle, from jeeps to tractor trailers to tow trucks that were specially designed to pull tanks that had become stuck in the mud.
After her tour, she tried out a number of different jobs, including being a lineman for a cable TV company. But at the time, in 1986, nothing paid quite as well as being a truck driver. She started out driving for a few different trucking companies until she finally found her way to Transport America.
During this time, one of her two brothers also became a truck driver, as well as her younger sister, Lois. Lois has been driving for 19 years, of which the last seven have been with Transport America. Gail and Lois have been team driving at Transport America since February.
“What can I say,” Gail says, “It’s been interesting driving with my sister. We’ve gotten into our rhythm. We stay out for three to four weeks at a time. She always starts the drive, when we head out from home.”
Helping Hurricane Harvey Victims
When Hurricane Harvey hit the greater Houston area dumping more than 50 inches of rain in some parts of the city, many Americans watched in disbelief. And of those, many chose to donate money for relief efforts, or bring some food and other supplies to their local church.
Not Gail. She called into Transport America and said she was ta
king the week off from work and she rented a 26-foot Budget rent-a-truck with the intent to fill it up with supplies and haul them to those in need.
“Several years ago, I almost died from a burst appendix,” Gail says. “Maybe this comes from my military training, I don’t know, but I believe in doing. When I saw what was happening, I just knew I had to do something. That’s what I think about when I’m driving, how to help people. I don’t know if I’ll go to heaven, but while I’m here, I’m going to make the lives of people better.”
When Gail told her plans to Lois, she said, “I’m in, too.”
The members of Mt. Olive United Methodist Church in Newnan, Georgia, where Lois calls home, gathered supplies from neighboring faith communities. In addition, Gail put out a call to all of her friends on Facebook asking for their help, which she promptly received in the form of cash donations.
Then Gail connected with a high school friend, Vickie Montemayor-Stanton, that she hadn’t seen in 40 years who lived in the Houston area. Vickie connected Gail with two faith communities – Community Christian Fellowship Church in Oak Island, Texas, and River Oaks Baptist Church in Houston.
On the way, they stopped in Canton, Tex. (about 60 miles east of Dallas)
to pick up additional supplies from a Sarah Palin Earthquake group to completely fill the truck with supplies.
“When we arrived, we saw just how bad things really were,” says Gail. “Two weeks after the hurricane had gone through you could see how all of the flooding damaged the area. It was shocking, to say the least.”
Community Christian Fellowship Church had been designated as a central location in the Oak Island community as a place where local residents could come and get food, water and other supplies. Gail, Lois and Gail’s friend, Vickie, met at the church where they dropped off boxes and boxes full of supplies (e.g., food, diapers, water, etc.) for the local community.
Then, with several hundred dollars donated by friends through Gail’s Facebook page, Gail, Lois and Vickie went and bought food from a local grocery store that was open and donated it to River Oaks Baptist Church to feed soldiers from several National Guard units who were assigned to hurricane relief efforts.
While she and Lois were in Houston, they were graciously taken care of by Vickie’s mom, Phyllis, and Vickie’s sister, Vanessa, which let them bunk at their house.
“I hadn’t seen Vickie since 1972,” says Gail. “But it felt just like yesterday. What a wonderful reunion.”
Sharing this story was hard for Gail. That’s because she’s the type that doesn’t like to call attention to her good deeds.
“If I see someone who needs help, I just do it,” says Gail, who keeps care kits in her truck that she gives out to homeless people that she encounters in her travels.
It’s About Attitude
To Gail, success as a truck driver boils down to attitude. Especially for women drivers.
“It takes grit to make a lifestyle out here. For men and women!” she says. “You need the right attitude if you want to make money at this. You need to be sure of yourself. Self-sufficient. Confident. And, you need to keep these wheels moving if you want to make money.”
Another important factor is safety. You need to take it seriously she says.
That’s what separates Transport America from everyone else,” Gail adds. “This company and our drivers really do take safety seriously. If you don’t feel safe driving, you can park it. That’s a mindset that few other trucking companies have. And that’s what has kept me here for the last 12 years.”