One of the most common responses that I get after telling someone that I'm a semi truck driver is, "Wow, aren't you scared?!" At this, I always shake my head and give a reassuring smile. Although it is a demanding and rather dangerous job, life on the road now is quite different than what it used to be. Gone are the days when simply stopping overnight at a rest stop made you a target for crooks. You no longer hear of truckers being robbed or of nightly visitors being seen at popular truck stops. Though you're bound to run into some impatient and/or rude drivers on the road who might change lanes without signaling and cut off 80-ton trucks without a second thought, for the most part, the life of a trucker is peaceful and at times quite boring. Saying that, I never take my safety for granted. There is no substitute for being smart and thinking ahead. When you drop your guard and overlook things, problems can arise. Forgetting even the simple task of locking your doors can have unfortunate consequences.
This was made crystal-clear one night in northern California, not long ago. I had fallen into a sound sleep after a long day on the road. My truck was parked at a TA (Travel Center of America) and my doors were locked, my privacy curtain was pulled, and all was right with the world. Then, around 1 in the morning, I awoke to a loud pounding on my truck's door. Sitting up, I blinked in surprise at the red and blue flashing lights that were illuminating my truck. I peeked out of a window and saw several police officers. After pulling on my shoes, I lowered my window enough to hear one officer say, "Ma'am, please step out of the vehicle." After seeing his badge number, I obliged and was soon being questioned by him. "Where were you at 11:45 pm?" "What were you doing?" "Did you hear anything?" Come to find out, there had been a quarrel nearby between two drivers earlier in the day. One had come back during the night, found the door to the second driver's truck open, entered with a knife and attempted to stab him. Thankfully, the victim managed to fend off his attacker and call for help.
We know of course - sadly - that many people today don't treasure human life as they should. But our answer to that shouldn't be to go through life afraid of whatever might happen next. Should we be careful of who we trust? Certainly. But an over-abundance of caution can limit the awesome opportunity we have to enjoy and live life to the fullest!
Besides, for every individual with bad intentions, there are countless others ready and eager to help anyone in need. I've seen it firsthand. Whether it's someone simply buying lunch for a homeless man, or a driver volunteering to pull another's rig out of a ditch, kindness can be seen hard at work. Seeing this thoughtfulness not only warms the heart but reminds me to also be aware of the needs of others and lend a helping hand whenever an opportunity presents itself.