She Brightened My Day

Gray skies pressed down on a long, wind-whipped line of motionless vehicles full of travelers trying to get home after Thanksgiving. Gloom descended as Joel and I watched the stalled traffic for signs of movement, avoided looking at the bad-news clock, and entertained mean-spirited thoughts about I-80.Then I noticed a female truck driver. She’d stopped her semi in the outside lane next to us when the traffic backup stalled us somewhere between Rock Springs and Rawlins, Wyoming. She smiled through clouds of cigarette smoke and motioned for me to roll down my window.female trucker“There’s a pileup five miles ahead involving several vehicles that lost control on black ice, so we’ll be here a while. Thought you’d want to know; I’ll keep you informed.”

I can stand almost anything — furnace failures, root canals, airplane delays — if I’m told the truth about the time or pain involved and then receive periodic updates. I hate it when I hear, “This won’t take a minute,” and then endure a lengthy medical procedure, uninformed, while a doctor and nurses chat over my tense body.

So I appreciated the friendly trucker and the updates she continued to provide until the line of misery began to move.

But it was something else she did that permanently installed her in my gallery of good folks. After two or three cars zipped around her rig on the shoulder of the road so they could squeeze back in farther up the line, she pulled her two-trailer truck over, blocked the shoulder, and put a stop to their nonsense.

When several horns in addition to ours applauded her maneuver, she laughed and waved her ball cap out the window.

She’ll never know how often I think about her with a smile on my face. Stuck in traffic on a bleak day in Wyoming, she brightened the day for several weary travelers, which is a fine way to do some good in the world.



25 thoughts on “She Brightened My Day

  1. How odd Janet, first comment person…I like to think that a lot of it comes with the wisdom of elder-hood, we have had things break, slept in the airport places like Taipei, had parents die, hearts attack, friends disapear.. And to not quit living, to have an adventure and a laugh, and the visual of your truckee, is so much better than being in a hurry. Great story, thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes, Sheila, the wisdom of elder hood. That’s exactly it: being able to sort the important from the unimportant and take pleasure in what the moment offers, like the lady trucker. I live by this wisdom on most days, but sometimes retreat to younger years to suck my thumb and feel sorry for myself.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We should all strive to do random kind deeds every day. Everyone is fighting their own battles that we know nothing about, and if we can ease their stress just a little bit, it’s worth the effort just to see the smile on their face. Thanks for the happy post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your comment is so accurate. One of my hobbies is studying people who cross my path and wondering about their lives. I often wonder what their battles are and how they are doing with them. As a result, I find myself overcoming my reserved nature to more often acknowledge others in a positive way. Then I feel happier as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • IMO, you describe yourself well, Janet. I’ve seen your slightly reserved (maybe a little shy?) self transform into a warm, accepting, compassionate person who is comfortable talking to just about anyone. What am I saying? you’ve always been that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m reminded of our mutual friend, Ernie, and one of my trips with him to Coloma, California to visit a museum about gold discovery at Sutter’s Creek. It was August, humid, hot, and the museum AC wasn’t working. After 2 hrs inside feeling like a sauna, we walked out with other sweat-drenched visitors. Fully dressed Ernie walked directly onto a lawn full of spraying sprinklers. Standing there soaking wet with arms outstretched, saying “aaahhh”, everyone was laughing and delighted and I’m sure wishing they lacked reserve and could join him.
    Some people, just by being their authentic self, can bring joy to the rest of us. Your friendly lady trucker made me think of him.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a delightful anecdote about our dear friend, Mary. I can see him in the sprinklers and hear “aaahhh” followed by his boisterous laugh. I can imagine how others reacted to him as well, because I saw it many times. You’re right about some people being their authentic self and brightening the world for others.


  6. Rock Springs. I went there every year for 10 years to overhaul the power plant–always in the winter. I assumed they had a high rate of suicide, because every time I went there I thought about killing myself. I’m writing a story about my friend who was killed at that plant.


  7. Most of the time, being stuck in traffic brings out the worst in people. How wonderful that this trucker knew how to make the best of a bad situation, and to brighten others’ day too.
    I would love to meet more people like her on my road trips!


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