Turning truckers into Swifties

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Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift gives a bigger bonus than expected to the truck drivers on her Eras Tour.
Beth Garrabrant

You may see a Knight-Swift, Schneider or J.B. Hunt tractor trailer rolling down the interstate on your daily commute to and from work, but it’s not every day you see one sporting Taylor Swift’s face. Even popstars need truck drivers, and Swift had around 50 hauling everything from her set to her merch across the U.S. for about six months on her Era’s Tour, which ended last week.

Swift was set to gross more than $1 billion from the tour, and as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, she shared the wealth with her employees from catering staff and dancers to sound technicians, truck drivers and more, giving them well beyond the typical bonus amount.

Swift, 33, is a Millennial. Baby Boomers and even GenX, which make up the largest portion of the truck driver population, have long cast millennials as “lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow,” as written in a 2013 Time column "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation.” A 2011 poll of 637 working Americans found that many people think millennials aren’t hard workers.

[RELATED: Understanding Millennial, Gen Z workers' motivations key to hiring, retention]

While I couldn’t afford one of her concert tickets, my sister flew out to see her in Phoenix and showed me videos of the show. Swift, for over three hours, sang her lungs out while showing off dance moves that would leave me heaving after a solid minute – all under the heat of spotlights and in heels no less. That woman works her butt off, and I believe she is representative of the vast majority of millennials who do the same.

Not only has she proven she isn’t lazy, she has also proven she isn’t selfish. She gave her drivers what is being lauded as a “life-changing” $100,000 each. The standard bonus is between $5,000 and $10,000 each, Michael Scherkenbach, founder and CEO of Denver, Colorado-based Shomotion trucking company told CNN Business. His company hauled Swift’s stage and structure. She also took the time to send handwritten notes to each driver.

Nevertheless, I saw people my age – also millennials – post to Facebook “Taylor Swift could perform live from my bathroom, and I still wouldn’t go.” I even saw some truck drivers – friends of my mother, a former trucker – post the same. My mother herself will tell you, “You couldn’t pay me to go see Taylor Swift,” or “You couldn’t melt and pour me on a Taylor Swift concert.”

I haven’t asked her thoughts about Swift’s recent generosity. She’d probably say it was a publicity stunt. But of the multitude of musicians touring the country, each making more money than any group of 50 truck drivers would see in a lifetime, I’ve never heard of one paying such appreciation to their drivers – and just ahead of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

Keep in mind as that time approaches (Sept. 10-16) money in any amount is still a better show of appreciation than yet another company logo T-shirt or tumbler. Take the money you would spend on that and hand out some cash or some gift cards. While you can’t beat Swift’s six-figure bonus per driver, you can do better.

I was a self-proclaimed Swiftie before she signed those checks, but her kindness to a group of people I have a heart for as someone who grew up riding shotgun across from her grandfather in his International has solidified that to say the least. If he were still alive and driving a truck, I’d like to think my Paw would share a Taylor Swift jam session with me in his truck.

Angel Coker Jones is a senior editor of Commercial Carrier Journal, covering the technology, safety and business segments. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and kayaking, horseback riding, foraging for medicinal plants and napping. She also enjoys traveling to new places to try local food, beer and wine. Reach her at AngelCoker@randallreilly.com.