Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee ... from my truck driving days ... out west somewhere.
I used to drive a truck ... a big truck. I was Skip's co-driver ... we drove team. It was the most amazing, unusual experience of my life. I got to see the good side of truck driving as well as the very bad side. I had worked in an office at the hospital dressing to the max every day ... makeup, being pretty. I went to wearing slacks, nice blouses ... and didn't worry about the make-up so much.
We drove in every state ... we stayed out 11-14 days at a time. We went to the wonderful places where the most beautiful vegetables, fruits were grown. Lots of them loaded straight onto the truck once processed, washed, packed and put on pallets. We would bring them to North Carolina to the many places that waited for them.
We were given all kinds of wonderful vegetables ... exotic fruits. Sweetest of oranges that were imported ... I've never had oranges like them in my life. The biggest of big of strawberries! Giant onions, seedless watermelons, cantaloupes, bok choy, fruits I'd never seen ... tangerines, apples, more than I can name. We would get the load back in 3 days. We would leave on Friday evening, be in Ontario, California on Sunday night to deliver tires the next morning.
It was fun when people would pass the big truck, look up to see me driving! The expressions were wonderful. Women loved it and would blow their horns, lean out to yell something to me. Men ... well, men will be men ... they would play with me on their big trucks passing, slowing down, passing again. They would talk on their CB radios ... Skip and I would have fun talking back to them.
Truthfully, if I said driving a truck was wonderful all the time ... I would be lying to you. That would be to make you think it all was perfect. It wasn't. We went into places in Los Angeles, California that you wouldn't believe until you actually saw with your own eyes. Dangerous places, dangerous people ... trucks have to park overnight to wait for a company to open the next morning in these bad places. You wouldn't believe what you saw as you drove slowly through ...
I had never seen as many homeless people as I did in Los Angeles pushing their meager belongings in a shopping cart. We sometimes saw things we couldn't do a thing about ... people beating each other up, doing things we don't see in our 'perfect' life. We usually go through life never realizing there are for-real homeless people. Their world is a whole different world, way of living. I was fascinated ... at the same time I cared so much. They made an impression on me ... I would see them laying on benches, newspaper covering their thin bodies ... laying up against the side of buildings ... sleeping in what looked like big mounds of cloth ... I saw things I couldn't identify and can only describe it as 'what it looked like' to me.
Prostitutes were everywhere in all their sexy garb. Some were doing the deed in an alley where one could see if they happened to look that way. Others were strutting their goods along the sidewalks as cars slowed down, drivers propositioned them ... they would hop in the car and go do the deed.
I was amazed at the prostitutes who would proposition me, too. They would come up anywhere in our travels ... proposition Skip and look at me ... saying 'I'll do her, too!' They jump on the sides of the trucks as they pass through areas having to drive slowly. Sometimes, there would be groups of men who would try to get into the trailer ... break open the doors so they could steal the goods inside.
There all kinds of sob stories used on truck drivers to make them feel sorry for the people telling them ... all they wanted was money. These people went from one driver to the other in the parking lots of truck stops, anywhere a truck would park. They told the saddest stories ... they would have several little pitiful-looking children with them to make the drivers feel sorry for them. We always gave a few dollars knowing a lot of the time it was a scam. The way Skip and I felt was .... if it was a scam that person had to live with cheating for money ... we walked away with a good feeling in our Hearts knowing we were kind, gave for the right reasons.
Oh, the truck-driving stories I could tell. I don't have the time to tell them all ... because living on a truck ... traveling to so many, many places day after day ... the memories go to a place in my mind that only are remembered if something triggers that memory.
The inside of our truck was absolutely beautiful ... I had a beautiful bedspread, pillows on the big bed that always looked inviting to lay one's tired head on. We had colored tv, our cell phones, refrigerator ... everything we needed to make our trips comfortable. We took our showers in the nice truck stops and even some not-so-nice truckstops all over the United States. There were some women truck drivers besides me ... a lot of them would play with the men truck drivers ... the things people do when they are away from home.
Traveling on the interstate ... truck drivers get all kind of entertaining shows. You wouldn't believe what people do as they pass ... repass in their cars, vehicles. I would drop my mouth wide-open at the nerve of people ... then later on ... it became funny to me. Women would pull their blouses off and shake their breasts at the drivers all the while laughing at them. They would play with themselves as they drove by a big truck ... men did the same things while they trolled the roads to find another man to meet at rest areas.
Don't get me started on the things that go in rest areas the average traveler isn't aware of. A trucker's world is different from a vacationer's world ... though both are hand-in-hand ... walking in both worlds knowing how each was ... I saw, recognized things just the average person wouldn't ever notice. Why would they? They knew nothing about a trucker's world. How can you see things if you aren't aware of them? I remember a particular rest area one had to be careful at when stopping at nights ... all kinds of unsavory characters hid in the bushes, shrubbery to slip out as they targeted their people for sex, money. At our company, one of our truck drivers was beaten almost to death, robbed there.
You can see I've touched only a fraction describing to you the trucker's world I got to live in for several years until I became deathly ill ... later to find out 'now, I know why I kept getting sick, not feeling well'. I was diagnosed with cancer ... non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The next 3 years I was in another whole new world, experience ... I was battling for my life ... I became a warrior ... after knowing I was going to die ... until one day laying in bed waiting for death ... my fighting spirit kicked in. The determination to live, get well became so strong until I could vision me living, doing things again I couldn't do anymore. Oh my ... the stories I could tell from this whole new world my illness threw me in.
I learned to accept people as they really are while living on the road, traveling ... being around every walk in life. I began to understand prostitutes ... yes, I began to see past the 'bad' things they were doing and why ... they did them. I got to talk to lots of people ... I was curious about everything so, I learned as every mile went by.
I learned to have compassion, empathy for the types of people I had grown up despising, thinking they were the scum of the earth. I began to see people standing in front of me instead of ... trash. This is not to say I agree with all they did but ... I got to understand the 'whys' of they chose to live like that. Some didn't choose to live that way ... life threw them into such situations while they survived instead of living like we do. Do you know you can get so deep into life ... that it's hard to find your way back to 'normal' life? Did you know you would do things you'd never dream YOU would do? That's right ... YOU would do them to survive ... or not do them and just ... die.
I have studied people since being little to gauge their moods to be ready to survive being beaten, treated badly. I've done this all my life to make sure I wasn't anywhere I wasn't wanted or shouldn't be ... to feel for others ... sense danger ... and all the things we depend on our senses for. I survived many physical things as well as ... mental things. That's for other stories, not now.
Driving a big truck took me into worlds I'd never gotten to visit otherwise ... took me to see, hear, smell, feel the things I only saw on tv ... wasn't sure such existed. They exist alright ... Hell is everywhere if you look for it ... sometimes, people don't get the opportunity to visit all the different Hells on this earth. I got to live, survive in a Hell as a child ... that doesn't even compare with what I saw on my travels on the big truck.
I can say 'back in those days' Skip and I cared about so many people. We were always giving money, buying food, even putting some people up in a motel for a night ... we always cared. I remember once we were going through a bad section in a city ... it was dark excepting for the night lights. There was an old, broken-down man struggling to walk, push his shopping cart down the sidewalk. We had stopped for fast food and were enjoying our sandwiches, and big drinks. I choked up when I saw the man, I noticed him before Skip did.
I pointed the man out to Skip ...and said let's turn around ... go back ... I wanted to give the man my food. Skip and I always think so much alike ... so, it wasn't any problem to convince Skip to turn around ... even on a big truck. You don't know the trouble a driver goes through to turn a big truck around ... I will tell you Skip Bates is the best driver I've ever known ... and if you had an emergency ... you'd want him on your side. I've seen him talk young truck drivers down the biggest of mountains while scared to death driving their big trucks ... talk to drivers to help keep them awake when he saw them swerving all over the road.
Getting back to the homeless man ... Skip turned the truck around, came back and pulled to the side of the street. I took the bag of food plus our sandwiches we'd just began to eat ... and our drinks ... carefully stepped down off the truck. I went to the man after calling to him ... and told him I wanted to give him food, would he take it? That man looked at me in my face ... his eyes lit up and he smiled, said thank you. I told him I would see him later ...ran back to the big truck.
My Heart felt so wonderful ... Skip and I smiled at each other ... we loved to do something kind, good for others. We always did ... we do now ... even in our way while living on a limited income. We aren't perfect people ... but, we are good people with good Hearts. We like to give ... don't want to take from others because they might need it.
These are only a very few stories from ... my trucking days :) I wish I could tell you all the happy feelings I had seeing the seeing a big, lighted truckstop knowing we'd soon get to sleep, rest ... such things one learns to appreciate out on the road. It was wonderful knowing we would get our showers, and get to relax, eat our meals in comfort. It was wonderful to see unusual things to buy in the gift shops/stores of the truck stops. Taste the foods that were common in that region. Everything was ... exciting ... even when we encountered the bad things.
Finding this photo (above) triggered my writing today ... I have several more photos from those days. They all, including this photo ... survived a house fire that claimed all our belongings. I'm lucky to have my photos ... sometimes, you'll see damaged photos from the firemen hoses, smoke. I sneaked up a stairway left standing to part of the second floor to find the big suitcase of photos I'd put up there. I was told not to go up those steps because they could come crashing down ... the photos stayed on my mind ... sometimes, I'm known for doing things ... I shouldn't. Later ... I'm glad I did.
From this Author: Photo/story is written by Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee. Photo/story are owned by me. I really wish I could tell all the stories from my trucking days ... it would be impossible to. No one would believe just as no one would believe all the stories inside me from my whole life. I don't worry about telling them ... I'll just tell them as I feel them.