I kept reminding myself I moved to Texas to get away from winter weather. It still finds me ocassionally just the same.
I went to work Tuesday expecting to drive to Shreveport. I was informed that trip was cancelled when I tried to pick up the paperwork for it.
My dispatcher said there was a Baton Rogue or Little Rock I could take instead. I picked the more southern route.
Either way I had to make my way through east Texas, which is often hectic but scenic. This week ice was added to the roads to add to the adventure of driving an eighteen wheeler for a living.
My GPS said I’d save nineteen minutes by diverting off the interstate so I did. Yikes!
The side roads were just as icy though less traveled. I crept along keeping it between the ditches without pushing anyone off the roads at the same time.
I made my way back onto I-20 eventually. Too soon to make forward progress though.
When I crested one hill I found several rigs stranded on the next hill. Their winter driving skills didn’t prepare them for this mess. I pulled off to the side of the road and waited.
Since it was close to noon I ate the sandwich I brought with me.
After an hour some of the ice melted off the edges of the pavement. A few truckers got around the guys stuck ahead of me so I wove my way through the maze and continued to BRLA.
Two miles over the hill the road cleared off nicely. I thought I had it made for the remainder of my journey…not so fast there hot shot.
Wet snow began falling about two thirds of the way through Louisiana. Then the sun set, too.
I made it to the Mississippi River just after they shut the I-10 bridge down. They put the barricades up as I was fueling my truck up.
By backtracking four miles I found a bridge they missed and got to my destination before my legal time expired.
Yeah, my ten hour scheduled trip turned into a fourteen hour ordeal. The ice that accumulated under my rig added just enough extra weight to help keep me on the road apparently.
The cajun heater in the motel wasn’t built to heat things up at fifteen degrees. I took my heavy coat, boots and baseball cap off in my room.
By folding the blankets up I was just warm enough to sleep eight hours. Being exhausted can do that to a fella.
When I turned my room key in Wednesday morning the clerk told me I couldn’t go anywhere cuz they had the interstates shut down. I told her I was from Michigan and would find my way back another way.
First I had to wait for the brakes on my tractor to thaw out before I could move anywhere. I sat in the truck three hours before all four sets of brakes freed up. At least I had a good heater so my fingers didn’t scream at me anymore.
I finished my run at the legal fourteen hour mark again.
I knew I needed more lunchmeat so I decided to stop at Walmart on my way home. That’s when I had a divine encounter.
There was a guy standing just outside the entrance tapping his feet on the ground while he watched folks come inside the store. His sneakers were much too light for this freeze.
He got my attention as I approached. I noticed he was younger than me, which is getting easier for folks to do everyday.
He spoke softly, the way people do who have been beaten down by life and ridiculed by others.
He asked if I’d buy him a triple cheeseburger at McDonalds just inside the store, or anything less would be fine.
I figured since he couldn’t spend money I gave him on beer I could help him out that much, even though I only had a ten in my wallet and not much more in my bank account.
I told him he could order whatever he wanted. He stuck with the triple cheeseburger, but take the mustard off.
He also said he was hoping someone in the camp would have a sleeping bag he could use tonight. The forecast called for temps in the teens. My previous night in the cool motel room suddenly felt like a luxury suite.
I paid the three twenty five, wished him well and went about my shopping. I was too stressed out to do much more.
As I waited in line to check out I remembered I had a sleeping bag in my van. I keep it there for the times I have to sleep in the back of a rig for an assignment. There’s a second one at home I don’t even use.
I hoped my new friend would be sitting in the restaurant enjoying his meal. He was gone.
I’ve gone down to south Dallas with groups from my church to serve the homeless. We’re briefed on what to expect so I’m not caught off guard.
This time I was in one of those out of season events. The surprise of the encounter, along with my own stress, didn’t prepare me for being the best help I could have been.
I wish I could go back and give him my bag and maybe buy something for the folks in camp. but the moment passed, as did the opportunity.
My prayers have gone up for him and the others stuck in the cold.
I’ll likely never see him again since I don’t shop in Irving very often.
I hope he has fond recollections of our encounter.
I pray I’m more attuned to those in need around me in the future. Even though I don’t have much I had what he needed at that time.
I would have given it to him had I remembered it in time.
Let’s do what we can to help those in need.
That’s why God put us here.
I’ll see you later. Wade