the silver fox
I don’t always run with the two-way like I used to, but I’ll turn it on from time to time hoping to hear a good yarn, hear something that might be helpful or just something to make me laugh. Sometimes the conversation just keeps me awake.
However, last night’s midnight monologue did none of the above.
We’ve all heard whiners and complainers over the years, but nothing quite like this guy. I didn’t take notes, and I can’t remember everything he said, but I distinctly remember he didn’t like his dispatch, his company and its owner, his broker, the dock boss, the warehouse manager and the guy who loaded his truck. He didn’t like the truck, his trailer, his tires, his engine or his cargo. He didn’t like this particular run, the dock guy at his destination, the roads, other trucks and four-wheelers, RVs and their owners, the last chicken coop, the guy who weighed him and the meal he ate at the last truck stop. For that matter, he didn’t like the truck stop either.
His wife and kids didn’t fare any better. I thought the topper was that he was ashamed to let people know what he did for a living — but it wasn’t. He finally got around to knocking the good old USA. That’s when I jumped in for a second or two. Couldn’t help myself.
For the record, we were traveling on I-40, coming out of “Malfunction Junction,” on the eastbound side when Mr. Mad-at-everybody keyed his mike and played anchorman for his midnight radio talk show. Hours after I had shut off my set, I thought about the things I would have like to have said, but didn’t.
I wanted to tell him about the kid next door who cuts my grass in the summer and used to work as a part-timer in the super market where My Girl Shirl shops when we’re not on the road. He quit both of those jobs, left his mom, his dog and his sweetheart to serve his country. Pvt. Beau Oakes currently lives somewhere in Iraq while looking for mortars and some bad people who don’t care about life or death.
I wanted to tell the midnight driver about Sgt. Chanss Carpenter and Maj. Robert Curran, both attached to the 181st Transportation Battalion in Iraq, where they run on an 800-mile route hauling supplies and food for almost a half a million meals a day. For them, the highway is the front line, where terrorists attack the convoys seemingly at will. It’s a terrible way to truck and travel, but these guys weren’t complaining. And they’re proud of their role as truck drivers. They haul the freight every day, just like most of you guys and gals, whatever, wherever and whenever it’s needed. Without truck drivers, here or there, we would be finished.
Beau’s mother, Deborah, is a beautiful, caring person and a real friend. She stays in touch with her son by phone and e-mail and takes super care of Beau’s dog. She constantly worries about Beau and prays for him every day. I am certain there were others, but she is the only person I know who dropped to her knees and thanked God the moment she heard Saddam Hussein had been captured.
Recently, when she became seriously ill, she told her son that as a single mom she could get him transferred back home. The kid next door with a lawnmower had changed. In a few months of living in a war zone, Beau had suddenly become a man and a soldier. He wasn’t complaining. He gently told his mother, “Mom, I couldn’t leave these guys.”
My dad told me many, many years ago, that little dash you see on a tombstone between the year of birth and death represents the person’s entire life. Then he added, “That little dash represents your time here with your fellow man. It is how you will be judged and how you will be remembered and what you did with the time you were allotted.”
So driver, wherever you are, when you’re going from point A to point B, think about that little dash. And while you’re at it, think about Sgt. Carpenter, Maj. Curran and Pvt. Oakes, the kid who left his mom, his dog, his sweetheart and his lawnmower back in Virginia, so this world will be a little safer for you and me. That really is something to think about. Have a safe one from the Silver Fox.