Jerry Davich: Gary woman appears on new reality TV show ‘Loaded’
Jerry Davich firstname.lastname@example.org March 24, 2013 6:02PM
Jerry Davich. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 26, 2013 6:14AM
Brenda Banks is the ideal over-the-road truck driver for the new reality TV show “Loaded.”
The Gary woman is funny, colorful, and a little sassy, in an endearing way.
“It was a once in the lifetime chance for me. I had a blast shooting it,” said Banks, who I tracked down via phone while she was hauling goods from Dixon, Ill. to Iowa.
“Loaded,” which premieres Monday at 8 p.m., “follows the cut-throat, high stakes world of trucking, and the road warriors who put it all on the line to make a profit,” according to marketing information from The Weather Channel (TWC).
From battling the elements, road hazards, and each other to get the job, their daily mission is the same: Deliver on time and under budget. It doesn’t matter what gets in the way — crashes, breakdowns, or bone-headed motorists.
“I have my pet peeves, that’s for sure, like people who follow too closely behind me,” explained Banks, a 1977 Gary Lew Wallace High School graduate.
Banks drives for Sharkey Transportation, Inc. and she’s been a trucker for 26 years, traveling mostly throughout the Midwest and southern states.
“I’ve been driving for too long, but I still love it,” she told me while hooking up her rig last week. “It’s still profitable and there’s a shortage of drivers nationwide.”
If Banks’ name sounds familiar, she was noted in a Post-Tribune story a few years ago regarding rising gas prices. Thieves stole gas from her tractor-trailer, siphoning some 180 gallons while it was parked at Steel City Truck and Auto Plaza on Grant Street in Gary.
“Since that story, it’s happened to me again five times,” she said disgustedly, noting each loss is between $500 and $800. “And they do it while I’m sleeping inside. I couldn’t believe it. Plus, most truck stops sell siphoning equipment... mmmm, hmmm.”
This is just another occupational obstacle for truckers, who can’t be late for their delivery or they face losing money, their contract, or having to pay the value of the cargo.
“Loaded” follows three truckers across the country, including Banks, to see who emerges with the most money at the end of each episode. The show is produced by Cineflix (“American Pickers” and “Property Virgins”), with six 30-minute episodes planned to air through April.
Banks said she had a TV crew of three people inside her rig over a six-week period, from October through December last year. Plus, she wore a microphone throughout the shoot, which ended in New Orleans. (For more info on the show, visit www.weather.com/tv/tvshows/loaded/main.)
Banks was paid by the show every two weeks — “the money was excellent,” she happily noted — and she is under contract for a year, depending on the show’s ratings. I plan on watching Monday’s show and then talking with Banks on my Casual Fridays radio show this week.
TV producers found Banks through her many YouTube videos through the years, where she updates viewers on life as a trucker, and a female trucker at that. To view an episode of “Trucking Adventures with Trucker Brenda” visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT6bG1fuw0Y.
The best part of trucking is meeting new people across the country and seeing picturesque sites, landscapes, and destinations, which she regularly video records. The worst part is having to deal with amateur drivers who don’t follow the laws or proper road etiquette.
“Sometimes I cuss and fuss, but that’s OK. I’m a super trucker,” she told me with a boisterous laugh.
As she tells viewers in one of her humorous videos, “Watch out world, here I come!”
Liquor store stop
I rarely visit liquor stores, but last week I couldn’t resist stopping at C&M Liquors on Broadway in Gary. It wasn’t for a pint of this or a bottle of that, but to meet a new friend and long-time reader, Gayle Wright.
The 71-year-old Merrill-ville woman works there and she would be a perfect candidate for an upcoming column on seniors who continue to work well after age 65, for whatever reason.
If you, too, are well over 65 and continue to work, let me know why. For the money? To stay active? To serve a purpose? To nurture a new identity? Retirement boredom? Let me know.
Help for new moms
Remember the fire on March 9 that destroyed several East Chicago businesses?
The loss included hundreds of car seats, cribs, and supplies, along with thousands of dollars in furnishings for a long-needed social service program for high-risk mothers-to-be.
HealthVisions Midwest, Inc., a faith-based community health organization sponsored by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, has been providing prenatal services and products for several years under the program “Promotores de Salud Maternal e Infantil.”
“Most of the pregnant women and mothers we work with in the community have limited resources and have nothing for their new babies,” said Sr. Annemarie Kampwerth, HealthVisions Midwest’s Director of Education and Partnerships. “They are calling us and we have nothing to give them. It is heartbreaking.”
The agency is accepting donations of diapers, wipes, baby wash, shampoo and lotion. Monetary donations can be made at any BMO Harris Bank branch, given online at www.hvusa.org, or sent to HealthVisions Midwest, 3700 179th St. in Hammond. For more info, call 844-2698.
Find more of Jerry’s writings on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and jerrydavich.wordpress.com.