We won’t attempt to tell you how driving over the road for a living can often change the pace and circumstances of life. You know it better than we do.
That’s never truer than at the holidays, especially Christmas. This is a time of family togetherness and long-standing traditions that often are part of life at home.
But, sometimes you’re not home for the holiday. As these five stories demonstrate, life on the road this time of year can take on special meaning even if the family is hundreds of miles away.
Five years ago on Christmas Eve, my wife and I decided to work over the holiday. Having already had Christmas with our grandkids a few days earlier we were sitting in our truck at the Pilot at exit 5 on I-95 in Maryland.
As we were watching TV a quiet knock on our door revealed a girl of about 10 standing there and a car with her parents sitting in front of our truck.
When I rolled down my window she handed me a Christmas card, said, “Merry Christmas”, smiled and got back into the car with her parents. They waved and drove off.
Those people have no idea how touched my wife and I were, and still are, by that simple gesture. Nineteen years of driving and that was the only Christmas we spent on the road.
My husband and I were team drivers for several years after my retirement and the loss of his job. We stayed out every holiday for the extra incentive money to pay off hospital bills, etc. It got to be a very depressing time.
We were homeless and lived in the truck and felt adrift and lost. We had a delivery in Memphis, Tenn. a day or so before Christmas and I was getting ready to take off early in the morning when I saw vans full of women pull up. I told my husband, even the hookers don’t get time off at the holidays.
Well, it was a church group. They gave presents to each truck driver. A Bible, paper and pen, gloves, Handiwipes and a candy cane. I cried all day. It was the best thing anyone has ever done for me and restored my faith in humanity.
On Christmas Eve in 2014 I was involved in an accident in Janesville, Wisc.
I know that Janesville is a very dangerous town with the way people get on and off of the interstate, so I always move over to the hammer lane as soon as I can.
Last Christmas Eve I was rolling through town trying to get to the Chicago area to get my load off to go home for Christmas, but out of nowhere comes a Dodge Ram pickup swerving as if the driver was texting as it’s getting on the highway. It hit the cement barrier on the right, lost control, and came over into the hammer lane.
Now we all know that two atoms can’t take up the same space, so I was hit on the passenger side drives, which I predicted before I got there. I saw that the ditch was deep and I didn’t slow down thinking about what could happen if I had. My thoughts were that this person’s life is more important than me getting home for Christmas.
After the accident, the father of the girl that was driving the Dodge Ram pickup thanked me for saving his daughter’s life and invited me to Christmas with them. I thanked him, but turned down the offer because I had called my wife and she was on her way to get me from a truckstop so we could have Christmas on the road together at a friend’s house. We talked about how valuable life is and how you never know when your time is up.
It’s special times like this that I thank God that I didn’t make it home for Christmas because His plan is better than mine.
A few years back I was at the TA in Ashland, Va. on Christmas morning. I had just had my shower and was on my way to the restaurant for a breakfast buffet.
I stopped at the claw machine and won a stuffed toy. I put it in my bag and proceeded to the restaurant to eat.
While there I saw a mother and a daughter — she had to have been around 4 or 5 years old — and I overheard the daughter saying she hopes he can find them, so I assume they were on their way someplace and maybe got laid up.
So I asked the waitress to give me their bill and as I went to pay for my meal and theirs I gave the little girl the stuffed toy that I won and told her, “Merry Christmas.”
Hopefully, I made her day a little bit better.
Christmas Day, 1993, I was running across I-8 in Arizona. Cold, miserable, threatening snow. I was eastbound, hoping to see my kids the next day (and they got a second Christmas!) in southeast New Mexico.
I saw a state patrol car sitting in the median, and I hollered out on the CB, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Bear …” He answered back, “Merry Christmas, driver. Take care out there.”
I got about 5 miles down the road, and a driver hollered at me, “You sure had guts, talking to a bear!” I answered, “He’s human just like we are. He has a family. And, he’s working on Christmas Day just like we are. Why not show him some kindness?”
About five minutes went by. The driver answered quietly, “You’re right. Merry Christmas.”
Over the years, due to “disagreements” with my ex-wife, I tried to see my kids a few days after a holiday, instead of fighting to see them on a holiday. My kids grew up having two Christmases, two Thanksgivings, two Easters, two birthdays a year. They liked it!
Guys, if you’re fighting to see the kids on holidays, this might be a compromise. No fighting, and the kids get two holidays!