My Uncle Bill used to be long-haul truck driver. In every American city I’ve ever lived – San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, Ames, Iowa, it didn’t matter where – I got phone calls from Bill when he was on the road. “Steve, this is your Uncle Bill. I’m at the truck stop out on the Interstate. You want come by and have a cup of coffee?”
Other than immediate family, I am not close to my relatives. Still my mom would tell Bill where I was living, and whenever he came within 10-20 miles of where I was at the time, he’d give me a call. My mom is one of sixteen kids; Bill has over 50 nieces and nephews (I don’t even know exactly how many cousins I have), and still he made a point of tracking me down. I appreciated the man’s kindness and commitment to extended family.
Last weekend I attended the family reunion for my mom’s side of the family, and Bill was there. I sat down next to him with a brat and a beer and asked whether he was still driving. “What else would I do?” He replied. “I only do local runs now, but I’m still driving.” I don’t know exactly how old Bill is. My mom is 83, and Bill’s older than she is.
I retired when I was 63. Two years later it remains an excellent decision. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I hadn’t retired. Still when Bill told me he was slowing down by only driving routes that allowed him to sleep in his own bed every night, I felt like a slacker. He has been driving truck for more than sixty years. How can I not admire and maybe even envy a man who knows exactly who he is?