WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

Bolingbrook Truck Stop Hosts Truck Driver Appreciation Days

September 19, 2018 - 1:45 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- During this National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, a Bolingbrook truck stop is trying to show a little more love than usual to truck drivers.

Robin Puthusseril owns the Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza on Route 53 and said truck drivers have a really tough life.

"The average American truck driver lives about 15 years less than the average American does and it’s because of their lifestyle. They have a very sedentary lifestyle. They don’t eat properly. Many of them smoke," she said.

So Puthusseril said her truck stop offers a 24-hour fitness room, a chaplain visit about once a week, a restaurant that serves meals mostly from scratch and, "we’re also the only truck stop in the country that doesn’t sell tobacco products to drivers."

Puthusseril said the truck stop went tobacco-free 17 years ago, figuring that, "if we wouldn’t give it to our own family member, why are we giving it to somebody else’s?"

Trucker William Reeley, 51, of Maryland admits he was a bit taken aback by the no tobacco sales.

"It’s one of my last vices I got left, so I had to exercise and cross the street and get a pack," he said.

Still, Reeley said he likes the fitness room the truck stop provides. He said he used it last night.

"I told myself when I started driving I’m not going to blow up to 350 pounds so, I like that workout facility up there, you know?" he said.

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

Puthusseril's father, John, said that, at the truck stop, "we treat the body and spirit."

His daughter adds: "we have a chaplain who comes out here about once a week and we have chapel service for the drivers, as well. The chaplain is here to be able to talk to the drivers. A lot of counseling that goes on here."

Meanwhile, truck driver William Reeley said truckers don’t get a lot of love on-the-road from motorists in cars and he said the worst thing he sees on the road is motorists texting.

Trucker Berry Harris of Bay City, Michigan agrees with Reeley on the texting motorists.

"You can see them through their back window, doing this number with their fingers and they just drift across in front of you," Harris said.

Harris said he's been coming to the Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza since 1976.  He said he likes it.

It's been owned by the Puthusseril family since 1995 and has been in business for 50 years, according to Robin Puthusseril.

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

Junior Diaz of Chicago drives a truck locally and likes coming to the truck stop. Of truck driving he said it's hard and easy. 

"It’s hard because you’re separated from your family. Sometimes you’re not able to take a shower," and it's easy because of "Money....make your life better."

Puthusseril said this is the ninth year the truck stop has had Appreciation Days for drivers. The event runs Wednesday and Thursday. The truck stop is offering raffles and prizes, food, and a chance to meet with vendors who are providing information about the products they sell.

"We just love our drivers. We love the American truck driver and we’re here to be a home away from home for them," Puthusseril said. 

Congressman Dan Lipinski showed up at the truck stop on Tuesday morning to offer his best. He said that as Americans continue to order more and more goods online, there's a greater need for truck drivers. He said there's a shortage.