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Trucking Job Brings Me Face to Face With Vietnam Vet


     It’s amazing what an over the road truck driver can encounter on a daily basis. All of the sights and sounds they experience become so vast that they soon forget and accept them as simply a part of their daily lives. Experiences that few will ever know and even fewer can only dream about. I often stop and remember such things like slipping through the back roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains…….literally sliding my way down a snow covered Snowqualmie Pass……or slowing the rig down a few notches so I could enjoy the scenery of actual wild horses running across the plains of Wyoming…….and of course, that time I had no choice but to stop in the middle of the road and let that massive, huge moose cross in front of me in Caribou, Maine. All the sights, sounds and wonderment that now only live in my memories…..

     Though I no longer operate over the road, I am still “running” here in the State of Florida, averaging 420 miles per day. Not too long ago I was making a delivery in Gainesville, Florida at a small BP service station. As I pulled in, I noticed a haggard looking man huddled underneath the overhang of the building. Working nights, I often have to deal with some “rough” characters approaching me for money or food, so I kept my sight on him. It wasn’t long until I knew he was homeless as he walked up to me and the conversation began:

How you like driving that thing?” he asked.

It’s OK,” I replied, “Been doing it a long time.”

     He remained with me as I began my work and everything seemed to be going fine. Just a lonely guy, I thought, needing a little company. He walked back over to where he had been and sat back down beside a duffle bag containing all of his possessions. Suddenly, he placed his hand on the bag and started shaking it back and forth saying, “Get up! Get up!” I focused my attention back on him. Then, he began moving his head from side to side, his eyes darting here and there. I heard him mumble, “They’re dead……..they’re all dead.”

     A massive thunderstorm was moving into the area and I was working feverishly to complete my work before it hit. All of a sudden, an enormous clap of thunder and flash of lightening struck sending me running for cover. I immediately heard him yell, “INCOMING!” He was down on the ground with his hands over his head and it was then that I realized something…….I was in the presence of a hero.

     I knew I had to do something to bring him back to reality so I yelled, “HEY!…..HEY!… hungry?” He rose to his feet, his shaking subsided and a grin crossed his face, “I’m always hungry, dude” he laughed. I ran out to the truck and brought back a Gatorade and a ham and cheese sandwich. “Here,” I said, “This is my last drop so I’m heading home, I don’t need them.” As the rain poured down and the thunder rolled, I stayed by my new friend as he enjoyed the free meal. The political side of me kicked in and I wondered why is this man, why is this hero….left alone, forgotten by our Government, and made to live out on the streets?

     During the next thirty minutes, we talked about many things . . . from the Florida weather to alligators to truck driving . . . and with every teeth-jawing blast of thunder he would yell out, “KABOOM! ,” followed by a fit of laughter. As the storm passed and moved further to the Northwest, I said my goodbyes and told him to take care of himself. He shook my hand and thanked me for the drink and sandwich. Never once did he ask for money or help of any kind. He was his own man . . . he was a hero.

     As I began pulling out of the driveway, another loud burst of thunder occurred, followed by an enormous streak of lightening. I glanced over to see him staring up in the sky, his eyes flashing as bright as the lightening . . . his arms moving up and down . . . and I knew, once again, at that very moment he was no longer with me in Gainesville, Florida. I gave him a wave goodbye, but he failed to respond. He was no longer there . . . the hero had gone back to Vietnam.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

View all posts by Allen Smith →

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8 Responses to Trucking Job Brings Me Face to Face With Vietnam Vet. - Post a Comment

  1. Larry Stafford

    Hello, I’m not sure who wrote the article on the Vietnam vet but I enjoyed it throughly. I haul fuel in the Phx area and meet hundreds of different types. Some dangerous and some just emotionally disturded and mentally ill. I used to tell people that sometimes I would carry on conversations with these people and they would get wide eyed and say I don’t talk to those types!. You can learn alot by communicating with all the people you meet. Sometimes when I get in fear or depressed about things I realize that I am no different then these homeless types out here! I am just like them. I just manage myself alittle differently!

  2. admin

    Thanks Larry,

    Donna here. Allen wrote that article, are you surprised?
    He’s a a pretty caring person ( as you know) and he has a soft spot for many of the misfortunate. You’re right, we are really no different than these people, we’ve just had a different hand dealt to us. We should be grateful for our blessings, not criticize others.


  3. Robert Short

    Anybody can wind up homeless. Some do it out of choice. I knew some in California. One was an Engineer going to further his educayion. Another who I have lost touch with was also an Engineer who said he has been homeless for many years. He is a wandering martial arts master-very lucid. He said there are many thousands of homeless in LA. Many professional, cops even. They can’t afford rent. I see thwm everywhere here in Florida. I myself am seriousy facing this in not too many months unless I can become employed. On TV they showed that many people, women & families living in cars. I also did that in California. I’m just too old to do it now.

  4. edward rudd

    I just got to say one thing I went to a school (but wont say any names of the school) truck driving school and was told not to put my pass DUI’s down since they were 10 ten years old so I did what they said and I got my CDL and was out with my trainer and a week in to it they fired me because I did not put them down on the app. now I have to pay $3900.00 for school and no one will pick me up because of this now I did some problems about 10 years ago but I have changed my live I dont drink anymore and I have paid for my crime 10 years prison term I did 5 years of that alls I want is to be givin a chance to prove myself Im a safe driver and I proved that when I was out on the road with my trainer so if anyone will help me get my job back or a job truckin please let me know

  5. admin

    Hi Edward,
    When they told you not to list your prior DUI’s, that was against Federal Law. Even though it had been ten years, the law states you MUST list it down anyway. Continue to apply for driver jobs, but list everything down and when speaking to a recruiter, explain what you have explained here……..Good Luck

  6. admin

    Hi Robert,

    I believe we are all just one pay check away from being homeless!! Hope you find work…..let us know what happens. Good Luck………Allen

  7. Jim McClung

    Allen, thanks for the excellent education on the truth about trucking. I at least know what I am getting into before hand. I have waited too long to get in to do it smart. I don’t think I have enough tme to attend a vo-tech and spend 3 mos. You see, I’m maybe only 3 months away from homeless myself. I will now have to fall prey to a CDL mll and being taken to the cleaners doing OTR with a shabby company who will probably take full advantage of me. I wanted to look into a WIA, but the employment office will run me through 6 weeks of red tape to get one and I can’t even wait that long. ( the govt. does nothing well). I am self employed (no longer gainfully) and CREngland’s school is my neighbor. They appear to be the only route for me because they will suck me in for $50 admin fee and bill me for the rest. If I don’t bring in at least some money very soon, I wll lose my home of some 12 years, and that would be more than I thnk I could bear. My heart goes out to the homeless. Most are also mentally ill. I now understand that. If I lost my home & family, I would probably lose my mind as well.
    After doing A LOT of research on the net and making a lot of phone calls to recruiters it appears to me that the very cheapest and quickest way (upfront anway) to enter the trucking industry is through the companies with their own CDL mills and the very worst reputations for taking advantage of their new hires. I loathe the thought of working for CREngland beause of all the bad press they have gotten on the blogs and the rediculous low pay to start. I will need to stay there for a while and probably buy my way out unless they starve me out first so I can gain the experience to go to Heartland or Maverick. Unless I am missing something here, they may be the only choice left for me that is even do-able. I hope I’m wrong about that.
    I’m open for suggestions.

  8. admin


    I sent you an e-mail response.
    Thanks for the post..


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