A Truck Stop Birthday in the Snow
While I was thinking of what to write in this blog, it came to me that not all things in the trucking business are pleasant, no matter how much we love to roll. Being away from my family is probably the hardest especially during holidays or birthdays. One thing I have learned as a trucker is that no matter what holiday it is, or what special event comes up, if you’re on a delivery, those special times are often put aside for another day to celebrate with your family. Sometimes they are simply not celebrated at all, except by yourself.
This unorthodox type of celebration happened for me while I was on a delivery to Williston, North Dakota. It’s an oil field boom town, about as far northwest as you can get in that state before entering Canada. My birthday falls in the dead of winter, and there I was. It was snow-packed, and a new fall of snow was coming down as I was finishing my delivery of sand before heading back towards Texas.
Of course, I had hopes of getting as far south as possible before the darkness of the night sky and the large predicted snowfall made driving difficult. Driving in a big truck during the night is something I like to do, but not when I’m forced to navigate an eighty thousand pound killing machine in the snow down a highway that is so dark and unoccupied, that you feel like you’re in a box with glass on all sides of you. Your bright headlights are the only lights on the road, illuminating the wind-thrown snow that now surrounds you. The windshield wipers work as fast as they can, but the deep cold makes half of the snowflakes stay stuck to your windshield. You drive slow to avoid your truck slipping or sliding on the road, which makes the miles pass with a never-ending feeling of, “I just want to get to the nearest truck stop.”
On nights like that one in Williston, you start to realize just how alone you really are. “I have had many occasions to feel like this,” I thought as I rolled my truck down Highway 85 out of the city. It was my birthday, and I was determined to reach Belfield and a little truck stop lodge that I knew of there. I would take on the snow storm the day after my birthday, but not that night.
It didn’t take me long to reach the lodge at the intersection of Highway 85 and Interstate 94 because the snow wasn’t falling too hard yet. I parked my truck behind the lodge and returned several phone calls from family and friends with warm wishes for a happy day. The lodge housed a wonderful restaurant, and I looked forward to enjoying it as I pulled open the heavy wooden door.
After being seated and conversing with the waitress, I informed her that I wanted something delicious to celebrate the day since it was my birthday. After congratulating me she directed me to a nice choice steak with all the fixings. I ordered it. Sipping at my water, I was interrupted by two gentlemen sitting at a table not far from mine. “Happy birthday,” one of the men said. I responded with a “thank you,” and informed them that I wished I was at home celebrating it instead of in a snow storm.
Without provocation, both men moved from their table to mine. They talked with me, ate dinner with me, and even purchased my dinner and a piece of cake for me. I was so happy to be spending my birthday with those two strangers, finding out that we had one thing in common—we were all 18 wheel truck drivers stuck in the snow on my birthday.