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Archive for the ‘Writing From The Road’ Category

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We were stranded, as we had been so many times before.

Depressed describes my initial state of mind. Why again? Why can they not fix this truck once and for all? Such a lack of progress!

Within an hour I had every notebook and device that I carry with me balanced across the dash, the driver’s seat, my lap, with one stacked on top of another. Joy replaced discomfort. I had time to write!

The Texas breeze lacked the chill of the northern tundra. We were in the south! Roll down those windows! Fresh air, with a view to my right – cows, a pond, miles of rolling land.

Thank you, God. I needed your guiding hand.

And then, the greatest gift of the day, the sunset. Sheer beauty, a reminder that tomorrow will arrive with the splendor that my mind envisions it to be.

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goodbye www.hispasturepress.com

Who was she?

We were leaving the parking lot when I noticed a large white handbag laying on the grass next to the curb.

“Stop, stop, stop! There’s a ladies purse out there!,” I said to my husband as I pointed out the window.

He stopped the truck.

While I called the management at the front desk, my husband carefully peeked into the purse without picking it up.

The response I received over the phone from the employee, along with a metropolitan police officer standing in attendance by his side, “Yeah, we know. It’s been there for days. I suppose everyone’s afraid to open it (insert laughter here).”

I tried once again. I told the employee, “There are belongings in the purse, including a ring of keys.”

His response, “Oh yeah? Perhaps I should have someone take a look,” followed by another round of laughter.

I could not find the humor in it, and even though it has been weeks, I still struggle.

That day, a hundred miles away from the location of the purse, we stopped for a few minutes. I spotted a pair of on-duty police officers and asked them if they had a moment.

The police officers laughed after I told them my story, with one of them saying, “You must have found the purse in (…..) location, I am not surprised.” They obviously did not understand my concern, not that they could have done anything about it from that distance, but I wanted to hear someone say it should not have been brushed off. It did not happen. In fact, every person that I have mentioned this entire incident to has laughed. The humor in this eludes me.

Who was the women? Was she a victim of crime? Is she missing?

I cannot rid myself of the image I have of a woman shopping, or filling her car with gasoline, when her purse was grabbed from her side. All of a sudden her identity had been robbed. She could not go home and open the door to her home, nor could she start her car. Photographs of her children might have been tucked into her wallet. The simple things, like her hair brush and make up could easily be replaced, but worse images have crossed through my mind. The thoughts have to stop.

Today, I move on. I did my best. Whoever you are, the owner of the pocketbook and belongings, I tried. I pray that you have also moved on.

Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light. – Norman B. Rice

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products mary__humphrey.com

What an eye opener our new business has been!

I never realized how much of what we use daily, without a thought as to how it got into our hands – besides a trip to the grocery store, is hauled in a van (trailer) on our interstate systems by a truck driver.

In our short tenure we have hauled scrap aluminum, potato chips (leaving off all brand names – purposely), industrial-sized rolls of paper, paper products, fast food products, car parts, plastic and metals to make car parts, insulation, coffee creamer, cereal, paint, used furniture (from large motel chains), and ingredients for shampoo.

Besides the necessity to haul products to warehouses and stores, what I am really focused on today is the difficult lifestyles that truck drivers endure just to see that consumers have what they want at their fingertips.

Here are a few examples:

  • A thirteen hour (often greater) layover while the driver misses his/her five-year old child’s birthday party.
  • Long hours – not knowing when they will see their loved ones again.
  • A treacherous drive through city traffic – while small four-wheeled cars dart in and about – seemingly not remembering that a large tractor-trailer could crush them at any moment.
  • Long waits over the road while searching for safe spots to sleep.
  • Maintaining logs of safe driving and sleeping hours – with the added pressure of finding the spots that allow the driver to shut down and heed to the regulations.
  • Long waits and distances for bathroom facilities. You cannot park a tractor pulling a fifty-three foot trailer just anywhere.  If you drive at night – good luck, there are no parking spaces.
  • A lack of decent, reasonably-priced, food. I have to give credit to the truck stops for supplying items such as fruit, yogurt, and breakfast bars.  But, a cup of yogurt nearly doubles in cost when purchased at the “glorified convenience stores.”

The list could go on, much further.

The next time you reach for a new package of paper towels, or a box of cereal, you may want to thank a truck driver. They work hard to see that America stays up on it’s wheels (literally).

We’ll be thanking you back!

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oklahoma blizzard www.mary__humphrey.com

I see a scene from window of the truck – without much imagination – that looks like we could be home in Ohio or Indiana. It appears to be rather common winter weather with snow and wind. But here, it is a blizzard warning.

We were detained several days ago due to a short load. We waited through the twenty-four hours as paper towels were made. Finally set free, with thousands of pounds of fresh paper towels in tow, we gave notice to the receiver that we would arrive by two o’clock the next day, Christmas Eve.

At one forty-five p.m., Christmas Eve, we arrived at the empty receiver’s dock.  They had left at one o’clock for the holiday.  So, we parked for the night on an empty, not yet developed, industrial park road.

Today, as I write this, it is Christmas Day. It hasn’t been so bad. We purchased cold cuts and bread at the local Wal-Mart. Sam Walton would not like knowing, however, that the store wouldn’t allow semi parking at the end of their lot. We did it anyhow. We may not have a traditional Christmas dinner today, but we are warm, dry, fed and hydrated. Fed is the key thing.

Back to the weather…the truck is rocking from the wind. Being that I see Oklahoma ranches on three sides of the truck, and the wind has a fury to it, the famous jolly lyrics are stuck in my head, “Where the winds come sweepin’ down the plain.”

Ice pellets are bouncing off the hood of the truck now.

God had a plan for us to spend Christmas here, no doubt. It truly is what and where you make it. Snug as a bug – warmth, love, and happiness.

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truck dog www.mary__humphrey.com

When we say family business, we mean family.  Diesel makes three. He doesn’t really make a crowd, but I’ll tell you a bit about  his ride with us.

A few days ago, a driver in a UPS truck rolled down his window as I walked past. I was startled when he yelled out, “I love your dog!” The conversation began. A bull dog rode with the driver for ten years. He said, “He was the best dog in the world, but the nastiest kind to ride with in a truck.”

Oh, I so agree.

If you have a problem with gross descriptions, please skip this particular paragraph. I am going to be descriptive. I am not going to cut words. The boy farts. The boy snores. The boy drools after drinking water. The boy does other unmentionable things (not to me, but to my husband, whom we now have nick-named his right leg as Sea Biscuit – you figure it out!). He belches. He whines.

He never whined before he began riding with us. But, of course, he never got morsels of human food and he never quite had twenty-four hour, seven days a week constant contact. Now, he’s just plain bossy.

Is he fun to have around? Oh, you betcha’. He is a joy. A laugh a minute.

I totally enjoy walking with him. We exercise together. There’s a plus!

You know, I rather enjoy spoiling him. He’s all ours! What more can I say?

guard dog asleep www.mary__humphrey.com

P.S. There are other funny moments – which I plan to write about later. While checking out at a guard gate, the dog sitting in a driver’s lap on one side of the guard house noticed Diesel sitting in my husband’s lap. The barking began. Both driver’s (and I) laughed hysterically, so did the guards. The dogs were handed biscuits simultaneously from the guard windows for their entertaining moment. It’s a small world – life is short – enjoy every moment!

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h

I have always had an intense love for animals – especially dairy cows, and beautiful Holstein’s.

I am so grateful for the blessing that I had for a number of years – for the dairy goats, their kids, and the wonderful creamy goat milk soap that I was able to produce! It helped with my yearning for a sustainable dairy farm.

In our new family business, as team truck drivers, we’ve traveled across the New England states and some of the southern states. I am enjoying time away from the farm, seeing new places.

Several hundred years ago, ancestors from my maternal grandmother’s side of the family traveled across the ocean from Switzerland. They settled as Amish in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Recently, we delivered a load of fast-food items to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. God led us through the back roads. I say those words because when we left the county we realized we could have taken much easier roads in.

As we drove through the county I drank in the beautiful sites – thousands of Holstein dairy cows, gorgeous old stone farmhouses, Amish buggies by the hundreds sitting at various locations (church that Sunday morning).

And then we crossed under a bridge and saw the family name – the name of the road. Obviously, our family had grown at some point.

What a gift, what a treat, to see with my own eyes! God has his hand in it, no doubt.

Truck driving is not easy. I will definitely  be writing a lot on the topic. But, there are such wonders to see, and positive things to behold.

 

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shipping containers Baltimore www.mary__humphrey.com

After dropping a loaded trailer near Baltimore, we picked up an empty trailer in the lot. Low and behold, the trailer had bad brakes.

It was a sloppy cold rainy day combined with heavy morning traffic in the city.

We inched our way to a yard for repair only to be told it would take days to get us into a bay. We were sent to another location, on the edge of the Baltimore harbor.  The joys of trucking.

I lived in Baltimore in my young teen years, so it was fun for me to travel through. Yet, I wouldn’t want to do it in those very unsafe conditions, ever again! I do believe our arms and fingers ached from the tense drive.

The yard where the repair shop sat contained shipping containers and trailer parts (axles and frames),  literally hundreds of containers. The shipping containers were lifted from the boats and stacked using giant fork lifts. Some were stacked six high.  I was in awe. The photo I took doesn’t begin to depict the height!

Despite the rain, the grit (it was a very dirty yard), and the six-hour delay, it was an interesting day.

This is one part of trucking that I enjoy – seeing how things are done, where things are made.

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