A Chance Encounter

A few weeks ago, while I was walking to a river, I crossed paths with an older man.

His face beamed. “Hi!” he practically shouted.

I was a little taken aback and managed to say hello. He started to ask me questions about fly fishing.

He shared that he was a truck driver and that when he goes near this river, he stops and gets out to take a look. He said that he only has a 20-minute break.

“Each time,” he said. “I stop each time because it’s so calming to see this river.”

He said that he drives about 11-hour shifts.

“Wow, that’s a long day,” I said. “When I see truck drivers at an intersection, I try and remember to wave them through to go first. You folks work long days.”

“Eleven hours actually is pretty short for a trucker.”

We chatted some more. We talked about our favorite flies and that he is based in upstate New York, where he fishes a lot.

I’m thinking of him, as I just read a New York Times article called Alone on the Open Road: Truckers Feel Like ‘Throwaway People’. Yes, they really do work long hours for low pay. It’s a very lonely job.

So, I now understand why the older man was so chatty. Having human contact must have been important to him.

We parted ways. His 20 minutes were nearly up. I told him I wished him well. We turned our backs to each other and walked our separate ways.

I periodically still think of this person. I hope all is well with him.

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