18-wheeler.jpg

Faith on 18 Wheels

It must be very difficult for small minds to survive Iowa. From horizon to horizon, there’s virtually nothing to obstruct one’s view except corn stalks, and even those recede into the endless patchwork of soft, rolling countryside when observed from a hilltop. The mind roams while the truck rolls along, the rhythm of the pavement thumping under the wheels.

Sunday morning, at the truck stop where I stayed last night, means time for church, where the truckers’ television room is converted into a makeshift chapel. As luck would have it, this morning I was assigned a shower room right next to the proceedings. As I entered the code on the little electronic keypad to unlock the shower room, the elderly preacher was prevailing on Pharaoh to release the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. Having seen the movie, I knew the assembled drivers were in for a treat.

Well, the children of Israel evidently hit a snag someplace because in a little while I could hear the preacher’s voice rising over the rather hard water pressure in the shower. He sounded none too pleased either. By the time I emerged from under the water squeaky clean and happy, our messenger had worked himself into such a lather that he was raining hell, fire, damnation, perdition, general doom, ruination, and elimination of the home mortgage deduction, and was spitting red, white and blue BBs on the Israelites, the hapless truckers, and every functioning earlobe in the county. This, I reasoned, was the point at which Charlton Heston threw the stone tablets at them and made their golden calf explode.

“AND THE LORD SAID….” boomed the preacher and I almost reached over and flushed the commode for comic effect. But I thought better of it. Actually, I remembered getting in a bit of a jam years ago when I placed a whoopee cushion in the preacher’s chair, and decided that some lessons don’t need to be learned twice. But where was I? Oh yes, I was going through hygienic rituals while the preacher and Charlton Heston were giving what-for to everyone around.

For some reason, I expected that many in the assemblage would depart thou in great haste from that humble little truck stop chapel, desperate to find someplace free of the terrible tongue-lashing. But I was wrong. Emerging from the shower room, I saw truckers handing their cell phones to the preacher so he could see photos of their grandchildren. As for the preacher, he now seemed more like a pastor, smiling broadly with these hard working men and women, listening to their stories and commiserating with their experiences.  

It seemed, to this observer, that there are still a few people who prefer a plain message to being coddled, though to be sure that isn’t always the case. There is a pastor of a certain church down in Florida that has to be escorted to and from worship services due to very real threats on his life, which threats issue from those whose “tolerance” of opposing points of view cause them to threaten murder. For the truck drivers gathered in the little TV room today, however, the blunt talk of an old-time preacher was tonic for the soul. 

It’s a transient congregation by virtue of the venue, yet these people seemed genuinely happy to be with each other, bound as they are by faith, vocation, and an almost antiquated code of civility. Most of them say, “sir,” and “ma’am.” They hold the door open for others, respect their elders, and speak their mind with flair and wit. 

I told the story several years ago of the old trucker at the breakfast counter in Cordele, Georgia, but I’ll do it again. Breakfast being as good a time as any to solve the worlds’ problems, this gentleman, who sounded for all the world like Ross Perot, went to work explaining the root of terrorism:  

There’s three kinds of people in the world today. You see, you got yer Jews, and you got yer Moslems, and you got yer Genitals. The problem is that the Moslems hate the Genitals, and as long as you got people that hate the Genitals, they just gonna keep blowing they-selves up!

How to argue with that?  I did offer the observation that Bill Clinton was mighty fond of the Genitals, but he countered that President Clinton wasn’t a “Moslem,” so that didn’t count, prompting me to go back to eating breakfast. 

All of these reminiscences, all of these happy memories on that stretch of Iowa highway this morning were erased in an instant when another 18 wheeler cut me off in traffic, causing a harder brake event than usual. Then, for reasons known only to him, the truck driver began slowing down. Thinking that perhaps he was having some engine trouble, I waited for a safe break in traffic to my left, and then proceeded to pass him. Once again, however, he passed me and began slowing down again, making it obvious that he had no goal other than making life difficult for his colleagues.

“Just wonderful,” I thought to myself, “a country full of trucks and I have to get stuck behind John McCain.” Soon enough though, as we entered Cedar Rapids, the good senator exited the road, no doubt in search of someone else to frustrate, leaving me to a fairly happy drive for the remainder of the day.  

Scanning the news during dinner tonight, I see that Ted Cruz took to the airwaves to take down Obamacare, while Jeb Bush took to the airwaves to take down Ted Cruz. These days I must confess that I have more faith in the plainspoken trucker in Cordele, or that  gentle soul who preached fire and brimstone in a truck stop this morning, than all the silver-tongued prevaricators and spineless wonders the RNC can cough up.  

  1. cdor

    The Moslems, the Jews, and them Genitals…ya gotta love it! And for Jeb Bush, the great wise Governor and republican leader, I must have missed the last time he criticized a Democrat. I am sure of it. But he certainly doesn’t miss many chances to criticize conservatives. In another area, I used to enjoy The Five. Bob Beckel was an occasionally acceptable liberal. But his current hate fest on Ted Cruz and the Tea Party has gone overboard. Ad Hominem at its worst. The others are too civil. They ought to just say “Shut up you fat, sweaty slob. Ted Cruz has more brains in his little finger than you could muster in your entire obese body. Cruz has argued a half dozens cases before the Supreme Court. That puts him in the top 1/2 of one percent of all constitutional lawyers. Furthermore, just to add to the ad hominem style you, Mr Beckel, seem to prefer to substance, those suspenders you need to wear to keep your pants from falling down because you can’t get them over you huge gut are laughable. There, I said it” 

    Sorry Dave, fun read. I feel much better now.

  2. Dave Carter
    C

    No problem, cdor. Sounded cathartic, actually. I’ll send a bill.

  3. Vance Richards

    “no goal other than making life difficult for his colleagues . . . John McCain”

    Fine piece of writing. Not bad for a Genital.

  4. Barbara Kidder
    DocJay: I doubt there will be restraint Barbara. Jeb, McCain, and Christie will set themselves up as the work across the aisle compromisers in order to isolate Tea Party members. For the sake of their own gain and service to their fiscal masters they will betray the energy of the party in the hopes that Rove will get another billion to fight the progressives. Yet 40-50 million future fully entitled Hispanics with special rights at worst and hard working with some Catholic social justice twinges at best aren’t going to do anything other than vote progressive for the next century. Cheap labor for the cronies. · 9 hours ago

    No doubt, you heard/read Jeb Bush’s advice to Ted Cruz this weekend:  ”Show a little self-restraint…”

    Teenagers, spouses, politicians, we all do it;  when you can’t prevail on the substance of the argument, attack the ‘style’ of your opponent!

  5. Kay of MT

    I love you and your writing. Have a good day on Monday and the rest of the week.

  6. George Rapp

    Dave, I can totally relate about the highways of Iowa. Living in Ohio but hailing from northeast Nebraska, and hating the petty tyrannies of the TSA more than the 13-hour trip, I have traveled that route more times than I can count.  The soul-sucking desperation of the last 100 miles of Iowa hills (yes, there are such things), especially after sunset, is impossible to describe to anyone who hasn’t suffered it.

    And I have to concur that any 535 over-the-road truckers, long-trip drivers, and truck-stop employees would make better decisions about governing the real world than our current crop of Congresscritters.

  7. Matthew Hennessey
    C
    Dave Carter

    George Rapp: Dave, I can totally relate about the highways of Iowa. Living in Ohio but hailing from northeast Nebraska, and hating the petty tyrannies of the TSA more than the 13-hour trip, I have traveled that route more times than I can count.  The soul-sucking desperation of the last 100 miles of Iowa hills (yes, there are such things), especially after sunset, is impossible to describe to anyone who hasn’t suffered it. …

    Beats Jersey, though… · 11 hours ago

    Dave, because I absolutely love your sketches of life on the road — and what they tell us about life in general — I’ll give you a pass on the Jersey joke. 

  8. Dave Carter
    C
    George Rapp: Dave, I can totally relate about the highways of Iowa. Living in Ohio but hailing from northeast Nebraska, and hating the petty tyrannies of the TSA more than the 13-hour trip, I have traveled that route more times than I can count.  The soul-sucking desperation of the last 100 miles of Iowa hills (yes, there are such things), especially after sunset, is impossible to describe to anyone who hasn’t suffered it. …

    Beats Jersey, though…

  9. RushBabe49

    Dave, in 2010 on our way to Hillsdale, we crossed Iowa, and I just loved the rolling hills, green with growing corn.  Even the [CoC violation] wind turbines looked good at the tops of the hills.  We stayed one night in West Des Moines, and loved it.  However, on our way out the next day, we literally chased a huge thunder storm all the way to our next stop. See picture below.

    Storm-2010.jpg

  10. Barbara Kidder

    What a great way to end the day;  thanks, Mr. Carter!

  11. DocJay

    I’ll translate Jeb’s comments for you. “I am a crook bought and sold by the uber wealthy. I have no connection with hard working Americans, those who love America, those who love the constitution, or anything that doesn’t further my own pocket book.”. Paul/Cruz 2016. Nice as usual Dave, see you soon.

  12. Barbara Kidder
    DocJay: I’ll translate Jeb’s comments for you. “I am a crook bought and sold by the uber wealthy. I have no connection with hard working Americans, those who love America, those who love the constitution, or anything that doesn’t further my own pocket book.”. Paul/Cruz 2016. Nice as usual Dave, see you soon. · 7 minutes ago

    No doubt, we will be seeing and hearing more from Jeb as the President and the Democrats set about force-feeding their Immigration bill down our throats.

    I’m really hoping that he can restrain himself from attacking fellow Republicans in Congress.

  13. DocJay

    I doubt there will be restraint Barbara. Jeb, McCain, and Christie will set themselves up as the work across the aisle compromisers in order to isolate Tea Party members. For the sake of their own gain and service to their fiscal masters they will betray the energy of the party in the hopes that Rove will get another billion to fight the progressives. Yet 40-50 million future fully entitled Hispanics with special rights at worst and hard working with some Catholic social justice twinges at best aren’t going to do anything other than vote progressive for the next century. Cheap labor for the cronies.

  14. Nanda Panjandrum

    As ever, you get right to the heart of the matter, Dave…(I was imagining what reaction Alphonse might’ve had to the temptation to “flush for effect”.)  Travel safe and have a wonderful week.  Prayers!

  15. wilber forge

    Know that the last time one drove through those areas, or similar locales was in 1967. What has changed over those years, could not say.

    As for Jeb Bush, when the man promotes the Common Core teaching program, he leaned Left. Yes, it is bit off topic here. Should our goal not be to be in raising more educated offspring than what this offers ?

    My apologies, save nothing will set my hair on fire more than the acceptance of ideologies that seek to suppress excellence in our childrens futures.

  16. Trink

    Classic Dave Carter . . . taking the bitter lemon of current politics and making  a smile-inducing lemonade of it.

    A titch of frustration and pinch of ornery sweeten the refreshment as we settle back to enjoy a not-so-little mind’s Iowa survival strategy.

    Dave, you’re a gift to news-weary Americans.

  17. Foxfier
    Dave Carter

    Then, for reasons known only to him, the truck driver began slowing down.  Thinking that perhaps he was having some engine trouble, I waited for a safe break in traffic to my left, and then proceeded to pass him.  Once again, however, he passed me and began slowing down again, making it obvious that he had no goal other than making life difficult for his colleagues.

    It’s bad enough in minivan, I don’t even want to THINK about it in a truck.

    I know that one of the better sermons I’ve heard was from a priest I call Father Hippy– because, well, he is.  Thing is, the man also respects human life from step one, and he did a very good one on killing people being bad, even if they’re old, or you can’t see them well, or they freak you out in some way or make you uncomfortable.  He let all the passion he’s usually trying to hold in loose for that– amazing.

  18. barbara lydick

    Marvelous, just marvelous – as usual.

    Money quote:  “a country full of trucks and I have to get stuck behind John McCain.”

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