Copyright 2000 By Alan Burkhart
Trucking tends to be hard on relationships, and I have three ex-wives to prove it. I don't harbor any ill will for any of them. They are good girls, each in her own way, and I wish them all the best. Perhaps the most chaotic marriage of the three was to Deedee. This is her nickname; I'll not use her real name here so as to protect her privacy. If you should happen to read this Deedee, I hope it gives you reason to smile.
Deedee went everywhere with me. We were both pretty young. I was in my mid-twenties and she was eighteen or nineteen. I had pulled into a truck stop in Tucson, Arizona late one night to make a trip to the men's room and to grab a cup of coffee. Deedee was sound asleep in the bunk. I had and still have a standing rule for all passengers. It is thus: If you're in the sleeper, and you wake up and find the truck is parked and I am not in it, leave me some way of knowing that you are not in the truck if you get out. In Deedee's case, she always left her shoes sitting in the floorboard in front of the passenger seat when she went to bed. If I stopped, got out, and then returned, I'd look to be sure those shoes were still there. If so, I'd know she's still in the bunk. If not, she's inside the truck stop, probably looking for me. It was a good system, or so I thought.
On this particular night, she awoke with a need to answer nature's call, but rather than bother with lacing up her sneakers, she slipped her tiny feet into her "flip flops" and groggily made her way into the truck stop. I couldn't have missed her by more than a minute when I returned. I glanced at the floor, saw her sneakers, and prepared to roll out of the parking lot. It was at that moment that a frantic-looking trucker came dashing up to me, wide-eyed and breathless. "Hey!" he said, "are you headed east?" I replied that I was, and he informed me that he'd been asleep in the bunk, and got out when he discovered that his wife had stopped. He'd visited the men's room as I had, but when he attempted to return to his truck, his wife had pulled out without him.
I told him to jump in and we'd try to catch her. I fairly well flew out of the parking lot, and got on the CB radio, telling other drivers to pass the word ahead in an attempt to catch up with the poor guy's wife. It went like clockwork; each driver giving his location and stating the message, then another driver up ahead would pass it on up the line. In a few minutes, we got word that she was headed back west, having discovered that her old hubby wasn't in the truck. We all laughed about it, and prepared to stop on the side of the road so he could rejoin his wife.
It was right about then that I heard another message on the radio. "Big Al? How about that Big Al in the red Peterbilt?"
"Go ahead," I replied.
"Hey pal, I've got your ol' lady here with me, and boy, are you in trouble."