Our family got together today. Some of us hadn’t seen each other since before this pandemic thing began. We discussed this for months, would we be able to do it? How could we do it safely? All the questions kept coming around on a loop, the closer we got to the time, the more often my mother asked them. She and dad not only wanted this gathering, they needed to be with family.
Today, they were with family. Today we each brought something to the table. We had the fixin’s that one would expect for the day. We had turkey and ham, dressing, coleslaw, potato salad, green beans, deviled eggs, and that was only part of the food. There was soft drinks and sweet tea. I was actually able to go without my coffee for the duration. We talked, we laughed, we shared and we planned. All done safely. No one got too close, the risk was great. Mom and dad are in the at risk group. There were several young children. We were careful.
The later it got,and after a few had left, we began to have interesting conversations on current events. We can do that, even if we don’t one hundred percent agree with each other, we respect each other enough to discuss our thoughts and learn from each other and move on still family, still friends.
Afterwards, we cleaned up the area, put everything away and carried the leftovers home. We had time with family and it was good.
uh oh, but?
We know, that there are members of the military who are stationed away from family. Some have not seen their family in extended periods. Sitting safely here, we don’t know if they are safe, what they are facing, if they are eating and resting as they should. They are doing it, to protect us and the country they love, by keeping everything off American soil. When I look at the flags in my yard, and I have two, I think of our military and I silently thank them for their sacrifice. I think of the veterans, and I thank them.
There are many who are first responders who won’t get to be with family today. They will be out there taking care of those who are in need. Who are out and about and run into problems, or those who are home and need assistance. Yes, they get to go home later, but today, I am thankful they are out there.
Now, here comes my rant of choice. Those who know me, know that it doesn’t take a lot to get me stirred up on this issue. Those who know me, know my late husband was an over the road, long haul truck driver. His usual time away from home was three weeks but he had stayed out as long as six weeks. That’s out on the road, away from home, living in a truck. His choice you say? Yes, partially. And partly because at the time, it was the only job he could find. What he was accustomed to doing had closed down, he had to take what he could find.
Because of this, I learned a lot about the trucking industry. I still have friends who drive and I hear them. I hear them. More of us need to listen a little better.
Go in to a store and look at the stuff on the shelves. A truck driver brought that. Look at the clothing and furniture and pet supplies and food and medical supplies and mail and the list just keeps going. Truck drivers brought that stuff from the shipper to the receiver so that when you walked in the store it would be there. It doesn’t just magically appear. The managers of those big box stores don’t have a genie in a bottle or a magic wand to wave and make supplies suddenly fill the shelves. Someone brought those things .
Someone who may or may not have seen their family for weeks. Someone who hugged a loved one good bye, who hugged their kids or waved at friends, got in that big truck and drove away. Every day they are dealing with people who have no clue how to drive around big trucks, who have no understanding of the danger of not driving safely around those trucks. Let one of those tires explode while you are driving beside them and you may be mortally wounded. It doesn’t matter how many mirrors are on those rigs, there are many blind spots where they can’t see you. Pass and go on, and if you must cross back over in front of a truck, make sure there is enough room before you do. Oh, and those brake checks- stupid move, don’t do it.
But back to acknowledging the drivers and what they go through for us.
You out and about and get hungry? A lot of sit down restaurants are limited in how many they can seat, but you have time to wait. They don’t, they can’t park those rigs just anywhere and their time schedule limits how long they have to wait for anything. A traffic back up for any reason may mean the difference of making it to somewhere to park safely for the night, to finding a wide spot on the side of the road. Oh, and if you want to just run through a quick drive through, no problem, obviously that big truck isn’t going to fit. And if all the sit down restaurants are closed and the only option is the drive through, they are out of luck because very, very few if any now, will allow you to walk up to the window to order.
So that leaves them to eating what they might have in the truck. Space in those things is limited, cooking is not easy, the fridge and freeze might hold a couple frozen items. Some resort to snacks, just to take the edge off the hunger.
Between Covid and construction and loss of tax dollars a lot of rest areas are closed. That takes away a lot of places to park for the night or simply use the restroom. In some of the ones open, water fountains have been shut off and snack machines turned off. Trucks stops have unreal restrictions placed on them. Many closed the restaurants and no longer offer showers.
And we sit here, complaining because of what wasn’t on the shelves in the store. Or we complain about having to drive around the big trucks. We go home at night. We see our family. We lock our doors, turn out our lights and sleep in our own beds. We shower when we feel like it. We cook in our own kitchen. And we ignore the ones who spend so much time out there on the road alone, away from anything resembling normalcy.
Its been almost four years since my husband died of a massive heart attack, hundreds of miles from home. I still remember the sound of that truck pulling in the drive. I still remember the feeling of watching him pull away, the weeks spent worrying about him while he was gone. Because I can remember, I can appreciate those who are out there now, doing what needs to be done, for us. Thank you, all who drive. Thank you, for what you do, giving up what you do, dealing with what you do, so people like me have our stuff.