In the past, I’ve written about the old days of trucking when it was common place for drivers who didn’t know one another to sit and chat during a meal. Back then, drivers were starved for human interaction as they didn’t have much of the modern communication devices that we have today. The citizens band radio and an AM/FM radio station were the only connections to the outside world.
Lately, I’ve actually had a few drivers on separate occasions ask me to join them during their meal at the truck stop. I myself have decided this is a good practice and therefore I’ve also asked drivers who are complete strangers to join me at my table. This has been a very refreshing experience and has led to many interesting conversations regarding driving, family, hobbies and life experiences.
I had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago while on my way from Wisconsin to Texas at the Carl’s Corner, Texas Petro. After fighting with the wind all afternoon, I pulled in, fueled the truck and parked the truck. I went inside to grab a meal for dinner. I noticed an empty booth along the wall and attempted to sit down. Just as I was sitting down, the waitress said “you cannot sit there sir, that table is occupied by someone else.” There was a man sitting across from that table and he heard what she said to me. He then offered me a seat as his table. I agreed and thanked him as we chatted for some time. After a while something sad happened which really made me think…the driver had said to me “you may not be so happy here sitting and chatting with me if you knew what carrier I drive for.” This statement took me back a bit as I never judged him at all. I told him it doesn’t matter who he drive for and that I just enjoyed our conversation. Our talk continued however, I couldn’t stop thinking about his statement. I thought to myself… where are we as an industry if we ridiculed people from certain carriers to the point that a person thinks you wouldn’t even want to sit and talk with them over a meal.
I learned from this man that he served in the military long enough to retire. He drove for his current carrier for 12 years with an outstanding driving record. Most of all… he shared with me that he was happy with this carrier. I told him that If he is happy then that is all that matters to me. I wasn’t going to judge him in any way.
I enjoyed my meal and conversation that day and I’m sure glad the previous table was taken otherwise I may have not met this fine man. We paid our bills and walked out to our trucks together finishing our conversations along the way.
Don't let the tables sit unoccupied.