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.

Comments (5)

Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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I don't get why some truckers judge others depending on what company they drive for? I mean as long as you're not the one causing the trouble on the road, you're fine with me. By the way, he's a veteran and people not liking his company, it sounds like he may drive for C.R. England. Great article Henry!

December 02, 2014 21:54:43 PM

I may be naïve, but I completely fail to see the problem with visiting with another person and the company they work for, such as this guy was suggesting. Yes, I've heard some of the taunts from some drivers about certain companies or company drivers, but I don't put any weight on their comments. It's been said before, we are all in this industry together with the same basic goals and it doesn't matter who employees you, you are still a valuable individual in this profession and to your company.
Henry, it sounds to me like you might have helped make this guys day! Hopefully he came away from the time spent with you with a better feeling about this industry.

December 02, 2014 13:24:06 PM

It sounds like you made the very most of the situation! It makes me sad to see people sitting alone with their smartphones, when they could be enjoying a conversation with a real person, and making friends. I'm glad that you made a new friend that day!

December 02, 2014 12:04:55 PM

I remember using the phones at those booths many times over the years.

December 02, 2014 6:31:53 AM

Henry I am a little more leery than you about sitting with others when I go in for my morning coffee. Recently though I had a wonderful experience when a man asking me about my wireless phone ear buds I wear around my next. He sat down at my table and I learned that he had his own authority and hauled oversized loads. Luckily he had a lot of patience as I had a lot of questions and almost an hour was spent talking about what he does for a living. It was great and was I glad he asked my about a phone head set.

December 02, 2014 5:06:00 AM