Lessons from Roads Less Traveled - The Van Guys
Written March 20, 2013
Comments At End of Article
Friends and Neighbors.
mentioned last time that a friend was worried about me getting "knocked
over the head" on my recent journey. Audrey seemed to have special
concern that the Mexicans might "do me in" even before she heard about
the following incident. My mother felt the same way when I went into
Matamoros on spring break from college many years ago.
even mentioned her concern on a visit with her grandson with his wife
in attendance when she told of my walking exploits. "Oops, I opened my
mouth too wide," she told me. It hit her big time that the wife's
family had Hispanic heritage. Oh, she must have blushed.
of the sweetest and swiftest moments of the trip occurred after a few
days of walking past beet and potato fields in Eastern Idaho. All day
long, trucks were hauling here and hauling there, hauling this and
hauling that. The crews worked hard, long hours and the trucks must
have burnt up huge supplies of gas.
I only spoke briefly with
one worker prior to my stop in Aberdeen, Idaho, one evening, after
which I returned to the road. Interestingly, there were few cafes in
the little town and it seemed that the only one open was the Hermanos
Mexican restaurant. I had a break and a meal. But, I left moaning to
myself that the enchiladas were "not so good." I did fill up on root
beer and carried some with me for the road.
But, you know,
things can change in a few heartbeats. The sun was fading in the west,
it was 15 long miles to American Falls, and I hadn't a clue where I was
going to park for the night.
I trundled along and noted in the
distance a van abruptly pull off on the side of the road. Then, it
quickly made a U-turn with traffic coming in both directions. I
thought, "This driver has some nerve."
Within a minute, the van pulled up next to me. The side door opened, and I heard, "Do you want a ride?"
had to make a quick decision. The question seemed to answer itself,
"Yes." I pulled off my gear and threw it, my flag and myself into the
vehicle. The van made another U-turn in the midst of more traffic.
proceeded to meet Rudy, Hugo, Jose and Ken. They were potato truck
drivers, at least for that present time period. They had been hauling
one sort of produce or another from field to depot 12 hours a day, 7
days a week, for 4 months.
They most generously took moments
from their short evening respite to give me a lift. Rudy was the
spirited and audacious driver and did the talking along with Ken, the
gringo. Hugo and Jose spoke little English. But, they apparently knew
how to work.
I learned just a little about their labors and
lives in the few minutes on the drive. I took their recommendation for
the evening's encampment and watched as Rudy cruised down to American
Falls Lake. He dropped me off for the night very close to the Lake's
As I jumped out of the van, I asked if I could take a quick photo. "Just one," said Ken.
We shook hands, waved and smiled. And, I added, "Gracias," a few times.
the darkness settled, I proceeded to find a spot next to a Russian
olive tree overlooking the lake. It was a warm and quite comfortable night
for a lone traveler.
I was thankful for a great rest stop and the kindness of my Hispanic truck driver friends.
will be sure Audrey reads this somewhat detailed version of the story.
I will let her and you decide what lessons might be learned from this
Incident in Idaho.
Muchas Gracias to Rudy, Hugo, Jose and Ken. And much the same to all of you.
Very nice ... the book and its cover, I suppose.
found it amusing to see you walking with the wind the other day ...
hands out, almost running ... perhaps you need to get some wheels and
hold up your flag as a sail?
Loved this! And what a gorgeous lake - really makes me miss Idaho. Gracias - Adios :)
story on how easily we can judge others, specially if they are
different in some way, shape or form. Glad that reality and first hand
experience often prove our preconceptions wrong.
feel sorry for the working conditions these guys have. Seem to be on
the illegal side of things. But I am no expert on the American
good to see how the world, the Universe, people (humanity) is capable
of random acts of kindness. Yes, blessing come in many ways, even in
wording such as: “Want a ride?”. At the end, we are all on the same
ride and we never travel alone. Better to travel acknowledging the
company that we have and that can make its presence felt at any time
and in any way.
on you for taking the time, making the effort and having the courage to
go out there and experience the world first hand. Nothing beats
personal experience. Then glad you shared it,even though it is not the
same as personal experience but the lessons are there for us readers to
find and enjoy.
It seems that very often it's the people at the bottom of society that give the most.