As the pandemic has shown, real heroes do not have superpowers like flight or invisibility. They are ordinary people who, in doing their jobs, make sacrifices for the greater good of friends, families, and communities.
Serita Lockley is one such individual. Lockley, a Black lesbian from Middlesex County, Va., has owned a small trucking business for 10 years. During the crisis and economic downturn, Lady Lockley's Trucking has delivered essential items to health care facilities, nursing homes, and construction companies, while keeping a team of drivers employed in the process.
Lockley's story was featured on a recent episode of Regular Heroes, a new Amazon docuseries, in which celebrity guest Nick Jonas surprised Lockley with an appearance and a check to help her business survive a rough time in the economy.
Lockley feels “blessed” and “excited” to be showcased on Regular Heroes — although “never in a million years” did she anticipate it, she told The Advocate.
“When I was presented with an opportunity, I jumped on it. I feel like all the hard work that I've been doing over the years, it's coming to fruition,” Lockley said. For both the spotlight and donation, Lockley compared the experience of being on the show to “hitting the lottery.”
The timing of the show was also “destiny” for Lockley. Amazon contacted her with an interest in inclusion on Mother’s Day weekend and began filming one week later. Lockley’s mother died on Mother’s Day weekend in 2008. On Regular Heroes, she recounted the significance of that life event. Before dying, her mother had encouraged her to quit her drug addiction, a promise Lockley fulfilled upon that paved the way to buying her first truck and then starting a company.
Regular Heroes shows the impact of COVID-19 on Lockley and her business, which, despite being an essential service, has received lower rates for its work since the pandemic began.
While business is now “picking up” as some restrictions have eased, things are far from normal, Lockley said. The company is still taking precautions as it delivers to nursing facilities and doctors’ offices. Social distancing, wearing masks and gloves, using hand sanitizer, and wiping down equipment and the trucks are now standard. Many deliveries are contactless; the show depicts Lockley leaving supplies for customers in a secure location.
Trucking is an expensive business. While payments for her trucks were deferred for a time, they are now resuming. “I wouldn't really say I'm turning a profit, but I'm staying afloat,” Lockley said. “I'm grateful for being able to do that because some people aren't working. In some states, trucking isn't essential. But here in Virginia, it still is, thankfully, so I'm still being able to work.”
Lockley was “almost sinking” at the beginning of the shutdown in March. She was saved, however, by the combination of the surprise gift from Amazon and Jonas and the approval of a business loan, which she had successfully applied for through the CARES Act, the legislation that provided federal aid in response to the epidemic.
Lockley was not able to provide a figure for the sum she received from Amazon, but she equated it to “a month's worth of truck payments. And my truck payments aren’t cheap, we’ll just say that.”
By a twist of fate, Lockley met her fiancée, Tammy West, six years ago while applying for a vehicle loan at her workplace. “In the beginning, she didn't really give me a shot,” Lockley recounted. “I stayed consistent, and the consistency worked.” The pair have set a wedding date in November of this year.
Regular Heroes shines a spotlight on the couple — in their home life and praying at the dining table, for example. It was this chance for representation — and not any monetary reward, which Lockley initially did not know about — that made her want to participate. Lockley knew that by telling her story and showing how she has thrived in a nontraditional space, it would open doors for others.
“I'm a lesbian Black woman in the trucking industry, and that in itself is a challenge. So, hopefully, by people seeing me on that show, it inspires them. It motivates them. It encourages them to go after your dreams and have confidence in what you do. And know that regardless of … what type of odds you have against you, that anything is possible.”
Already, Lockley has received positive feedback. A female viewer contacted her and thanked her for doing the work she is doing as a woman in her field. “I've endured a lot of challenges during this time — during my life. For that to be nationally shown, it's just reiteration that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do,” Lockley said.
For Lockley, the recent protests in response to police brutality and the killing of George Floyd have also inspired her. “The torch is lit” for change for marginalized people, she said.
“I feel that this thing is long overdue," Lockley said. "I feel that we are all born equal. I've attended multiple peaceful protests. Just seeing people of all color, walking side by side with the African-American community, it just makes my heart smile.”
Regular Heroes, which showcases heroes in addition to celebrities like Jonas, Alicia Keys, Kevin Hart, and Kelly Rowland, is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. Watch a clip from Lockley’s episode below.