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.