Prayers answered even on the road – Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


It was snowing so hard Michael Lanman, from Keosauqua, could hardly see beyond the hood of his Schneider truck. Semis were crammed into the parking lot of the truck stop in Clear Lake every which way. There was only one spot left—under the truck-stop road sign. From the tracks in the snow, Michael could see where at least two other semis had tried to make it into the spot and given up. It would be a “blind back” to the right. His right window was plastered with snow and wouldn’t roll down so that he could use his right mirror. The last thing his team leader had told him before he left Des Moines for his first solo run was, “Don’t be afraid to get out and look as many times as it takes to make sure you don’t hit something.” So, after about the 12th time of getting up-and-down out of the semi tractor, and walking back to see what he might or might not be about to hit, Michael, with sweat running down his face in freezing weather, decided that truck’n could be a hefty workout.
Finally, a grizzled old truck driver with a long beard sauntered over and asked Michael if he wanted some help backing up. “Well, yeah,” Michael huffed.
The old trucker eyed the spot Michael was trying to back into and yelled, “I don’t think she’ll fit.”
“She’ll fit!” Michael yelled back. “Just don’t let me hit anything!”
They managed to get the big orange rig into the tight spot, and Michael shut her down and crawled into the sleeper. “What a day,” he thought as he closed his eyes. All he could see behind his eye lids was swirling snow.
That was Michael Lanman’s first day truck’n. It was May 1, 2013—May Day.
When he woke up a couple hours later, there were five-or-six inches more of wet snow on his hood. He picked up a new load in Northern Iowa to take to Laredo, Texas. The roof of the trailer was covered with wet snow which added more weight to his already heavily-loaded trailer. His best bet was to head south into warmer weather and hope he didn’t run into any open weigh stations.
It was nighttime when Michael reached Kansas City and snow covered the road signs. He took a wrong left turn and found himself chugging up hill in first gear in lanes meant for Worlds of Fun traffic. He watched with trepidation as his clocks ran out of legal run-time.
He managed to get turned around, but had to get out of the semi to look at the road sign. “Yep,” he had found the company drop-lot. The last thing he wanted was a DOT fine on his second day truck’n. He parked the trailer on an incline so that the melted snow would run off. He climbed into his sleeper thinking it sure would be nice to see his Training Engineer, Neil Bruce.
Michael woke up thinking about Neil Bruce. He opened the blinds and there was Neil Bruce standing in front of his truck! Michael laid on the air horn, making Neil jump. Michael explained to Neil about all the trouble he’d been having on his first run, and his fear of a DOT fine. Neil put him at ease.
It was like serendipity or God’s hand sending an Angel. What are the chances of wanting to see Neil Bruce, and then looking out the window of a truck in a drop-lot in Kansas City, and seeing Neil Bruce? Neil could have been anywhere in the Midwest. But there he was with another student driver dropping a trailer catty-cornered to Michael.
The sun was shining, the trailer had melted off, and it was a beautiful spring day in Kansas City. Michael Lanman decided that he just might like truck’n after all.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook. Curt Stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

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