One of the Truckers

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Once Upon a Wish Book / Wish. Write. Inspire. / One of the Truckers

I entered another world last weekend – a truck driver’s world. Before that day, my knowledge of a truck driver’s life was limited to this: driving cross-country and blowing horns when prompted by children on highways.

Man, were my eyes …

Filed Under: Wish. Write. Inspire. by rachellesparks March 2, 2014, 7:51 pm

I entered another world last weekend – a truck driver’s world. Before that day, my knowledge of a truck driver’s life was limited to this: driving cross-country and blowing horns when prompted by children on highways.

Man, were my eyes opened.

My visit to the Centers of America truck stop in Ontario, CA, last Sunday made me realize that truck-driving is not just a career. It’s a way of life. And not an easy one. These guys (and gals!) are on the road for months at a time, away from their families, transporting our goods and supplies – still the dominant mode of freight transportation in the U.S.

big rig 6

When my uncle Mike described these truckies as “middle-America, good, honest, hard-working people,” he wasn’t kidding. Some of the drivers I met (both women and men), were passing through this particular truck stop for a night, while some had been there for a month, waiting for the weather in their hometowns to clear. Though these truck stops are like little cities – with restaurants, shops, arcades, laundry rooms, etc. – they are not “home.” But as one driver put it, these places are their homes away from home; fellow drivers, their extended family.

Last weekend, I felt part of that family. I must have talked to a dozen truck-drivers, all with different stories, who had all the time in the world to talk to me. Some bought my book (which is the reason I was there), some chatted about it, and most shared stories of their truck-driving years because I was all ears. I was in awe of their lives, where the open road did not provide a destination, but a journey.

One driver told me the story of how he swerved to miss a car (a mom and her five kids) that had drifted into his lane (the mom was texting). The driver and his truck rolled into a ditch on the side of the highway, ejecting him and his dog. They were Air Vaced to the nearest hospital, and his dog passed away in the air.

This driver, who has a love for his job and a passion for building race cars – his “after retirement” plan – asked if I’d like to see his truck. Of course! I had never been inside one, so the enormity of the cab was overwhelming as I stepped onto the stairs to climb inside.

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I hoisted myself up the vertical climb and, from the driver’s seat, looked back at the living quarter, which was no larger than an over-sized bathtub. He had spent 13 years – with more than a million miles under his belt – driving this rig. It was well-organized, clean-kept, and “home” to this generous truck driver who had to unhook his rig’s trailer and pull it through the massive truck stop to let me take a peek inside.

me by rig

He was very excited for me to see his rig, and the other drivers at this stop were equally as excited to share their life stories with me.

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There is a very special, very clear bond between the men and women who spend their lives on the road, and I have a new appreciation for their work. My aunt Susanne Spirit’s song, “I Love My Truck Drivin’ Man,” says it all with these lyrics:

“He works hard for me, he needs my respect and my trust
He sleeps very little, his only home cooked meals are at some truck stop
He never says a word, except he misses my kisses and the kids
There aren’t many men like him who work twenty four hours a day and never complain”

The men and women I met last weekend were all joyful people who were happy to kick up their feet and listen to a little music, and Susanne’s performance, a wonderful mix of country, rock, and classics, settled them right in. I tapped my feet to the beat (provided by drummer Rhyse Clark – who played with Billy Joel) and talked with people coming and going from the truck stop’s main building as they glanced at my book and stopped to take a look.

I hope the stories in my book will touch the hearts of those truck drivers who bought it.  One woman who bought it spent the rest of the day sitting in a chair reading it. What an unspoken compliment!

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When sharing some of the book’s details with other drivers, I can’t tell you how many of them had tears in their eyes. These big, burly, cigarette-smoking, truck-driving men with tears. So sweet. And just what my uncle predicted; tough on the outside, big hearts beneath.

Thank you to my aunt and uncle for giving me the special opportunity of stepping foot into this other world, where they spend two days a week performing and also adopting out dogs who they rescue from local kill shelters. Their program, Musical Truckin’ Dogs, says it all. Their hearts are big, and they are making a difference in this world. They are connecting truck drivers with their new best friends – loyal road companions.

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I will be going back to this truck stop again. I hope to touch as many hearts with my book as possible, and I am excited for my new venture of inspiring these truckers with my words. They sure have inspired me.

To learn more about Mike and Susanne’s truck-stop, music-making, dog-adoption endeavors, please visit http://www.musicaltruckindogs.com/ OR www.susannespirit.com/  OR https://www.facebook.com/susannespirit

Reader Comments

Barbara Anne Waite says March 4, 2014,2:55 pm

Great story Rachelle. Fun to think of you being there and selling your book to these guys and gals. There is nothing like a personal connection to interest folks in reading your story. Lets have coffee- maybe even at a truck stop!

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Once Upon A Wish is a celebration of hope, revealing how wishes come true can become ultimate motivators and cherished gifts that will last a lifetime.