A labor of love

PUHI – Nearly 120 million Americans worked a full-time job in July.

That’s according to the data tracking company statista.com, and accounts for a lot of man — and woman — hours in the workforce.

And while today is Labor Day, a national holiday dedicated to celebrate the labor movement and the social and economic achievements of the American worker, some folks still have to go to work today.

But that doesn’t have to be all bad.

“I’d rather do this than anything else,” said Linda Farias-Kaahanui, who recently celebrated her one-year anniversary driving for Aloha Isle Moving, the only female driver on the fleet.

Driving a total of eight years, Farias-Kaahanui said she’s undaunted by the stereotype driving big rigs is for the big guys. She finds the work reliable compared to when she worked in construction, which can be seen as another male-dominated profession.

“Just driving and the labor,” she said of the aspects she likes of her work. “I like the gutsy load where you really strap down and watch the curves.”

And she’ll be working Labor Day — the day of rest first celebrated in 1882 in New York City — and doesn’t mind a bit.

“It’s not hard because I love it,” Farias-Kaahanui said.

Approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers work in the United States, according to estimates by the American Trucking Association. Kauai has its fair share of truckers, too, who haul cargo from the North Shore to Kekaha. And, according to the state Department of Transportation Highway Division office, nearly 1,400 property-carrying commercial vehicles are licensed on Kauai with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or greater.

That’s a lot of big rigs, hauling massive loads around the island’s at-time-hairpin-cornered-roads.

Carl K. Hose Jr. of Puhi drives one of those big rigs for Aloha Isle Moving — a truck he’s nicknamed, “Bad Boy.”

But there isn’t anything bad about Hose’s driving record – he’s logged nearly 1 million miles on Kauai and the Big Island over the past 35 years, all accident free. If Labor Day is meant to celebrate work accomplished, there’s a million reasons right there.

“It’s all in a day’s work,” said Hose, who doesn’t brag about the spotless record but says consistent safety checks help.

He starts his day at the truck yard in Puhi at 7 a.m., and he enjoys his work, so it makes it easier to take satisfaction in a job well done.

“I’m going somewhere every day I work,” he said. “Every day’s a new day.”

Not that there aren’t gripes with what comes with work. After more than three decades of driving, you’re bound to get an unhappy customer or two.

“Sometimes when I’m trying to back in or out of the dock or at a store, if they gotta sit and wait, they get impatient,” Hose said. “I know they’re mad and I don’t wanna add salt to the wound so I just wave at ‘em.”

And then there’s the totally unexpected. For 28 of his 35 years, Hose hauled thousands of gallons of molasses and tons of sugar on double rigs, until the industry closed down. The adjustment was a tough one.

“It sucked,” Hose said. “It was like going back to first grade. I had to start all over again.”

For Farias-Kaahanui, she knew early on in her life that driving truck was in her future.

“I always used to play with trucks in the yard when I was a kid,” she said.

Now, she transports just about anything, including metal sheets, pipes, and heavy machines.

“I always gotta keep moving,” Farias-Kaahanui said, adding she works out regularly to stay in shape for her customers.

“People call and ask for me,” she said. “They like me because I don’t grumble. I just do it.

“And I try not to drive on the grass,” she added.

All in a day’s work.

•••

Lisa Ann Capozzi, a features and education reporter can be reached at lcapozzi@thegardenisland.com

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