Dessa Reed

Speaker * Author * Columnist





By Dessa Reed


Those who know me even slightly are aware that I am no cheerleader for Holidays ~ except maybe Christmas.  So every Thanksgiving, I try to come up with an off-the-wall celebration ~ and still be grateful to the Pilgrims.  One year when family and friends (where I am always welcome) asked what I was doing, I said (kidding) “I think I will go to a truck stop and hang out with the truckers.”
I’ve occasionally fantasized (along with being a ballet dancer) that driving one of those big rigs would be an exciting career.  The freedom of the open road, seeing life, haughty above an SUV leaves me envious of every truck driver on the highway.  So, though I had meant to be joking, I decided to see how truckers, especially females, spend Thanksgiving.
I had no idea where to find a truck stop so looking in the phone book I found one on Interstate 10 just east of Indio.  I circled the “wagons” to see what I was getting into since trucks were everywhere.  I wasn’t sure what to do when I entered the rather dreary, no frills restaurant so I sat at the counter.  That way I could talk to the waitresses as they moved about. It surprised me to see most of the diners were sitting alone with not a lot of trucker’s brotherhood.  Evidently they gas up, eat, some even take showers (free with 50 gallons of gas) and then are on their way.
Occasionally I am traditional enough to want a turkey dinner so a server directed me to the “Turkey Buffet” ~ all you could eat for $8.99.  I loaded my plate with turkey, ham, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, cranberries and cornbread until it was running over the sides and down my arm.  I ate every bite. 
When I told the restaurant manager I like to write and was interested in how women truck drivers spend holidays, I was treated like a celebrity.  He even handed me a hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie and directed me to the perfect person ~ Sharon, who had been trucking for four years.  She was reading a book (loves murder mysteries) when I stopped by her booth to talk.  She couldn’t have been more pleased that I was interested in her work. 
For the next hour I learned about trucks, trucking, and truckers.  I kid you not, it was fascinating.  I learned that Sharon drives semi-trucks with tractors which can cost over $100,000 and are highly regulated.  The truck stop provides a scale for drivers to check their loads before entering the state weigh stations.
I wondered how a woman could handle the heavy freight at the end of a run and she said that her company hires “lumpers” to load and unload.  (Maybe I can be a trucker!)  Sharon is on the road about 25 days at a time and then home only three.  She has no family so being gone so long is not a problem ~ but loneliness is.  At least for that special day, she had a “sister.”   
Actually that was only one Thanksgiving adventure I’ve had in several years of widowhood and looking for new traditions in all the right places.  I’ve spent Turkey Day on the balcony of an elegant restaurant on Newport Bay eating steak and watching yachts cruise by.  Once, I went to a fabulous movie and ate a huge bag of popcorn to take the place of turkey and dressing.  Another time, I stopped in a Casino to see who hangs out there on Thanksgiving.  The people around my machine loved showing me, the novice, how to use the card and told me some of their good (and bad) luck stories. 
This is typical of being on your own without fear or intimidation ~ I am never lonely because I find there are kind and generous people wherever I go who are eager to include anyone who is alone.
For me this is a truly blessed Thanksgiving tradition ~ having no traditions at all!

Dessa can be reached at
Dessa@DessaReed.com for information and fee schedule.


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