A friend of mine wrote an article for another trucking magazine recently that talked about the lack of interaction between drivers. She cited “days gone by” when you could walk into a truck stop and have a cup of coffee and converse with another human being face to face, without the aid of a headset or electronic device.
I shared the article on our Facebook page and asked if the readers we have make a point to engage with other drivers. The majority of people who answered said yes, which has been my personal experience the couple of years I’ve been out. People are generally friendly. This might have a lot to do with the fact that George is friendly and will strike up a conversation with anyone. It’s not unusual to walk into a truck stop with George and have the Cinnabon lady come from behind the counter to “give her big red beard friend a hug.” (Side note: mystery of the sticky hand prints on the back of his t-shirt — solved.)
I follow his lead, I’m friendly. I’m not opposed to having the Cinnabon lady as a friend. I nod, I wave, I occasionally ask, “How’s it goin’? How you doin’?” The regular, polite stuff. Sometimes I get a nod back, sometimes I get a soliloquy about life in general. I’ve only had one person be an outright ass to me, and he didn’t even have the guts to do it to my face, so whatever, Nancy.
We were waiting for a shower, milling around the aisles. A young guy walks by, makes eye contact. I nod and say, “How you doin, man?” He keeps walking, which is fine. I have days I don’t want to be social, too. But instead of just walking by and ignoring me, he proceeds to have a very loud conversation into his headset about how he’s “sick as hell of people who don’t know him asking him how he is.”
Well excuuuuuuse me. And I’m not gonna lie, I was discouraged from trying to strike up a conversation for the rest of the day, but then we met a guy who told us a fantastic story about being married and on the road for 36 years and still at it, and I forgot all about “how you doin’” guy.
I decided I would try to amass some conversation starters, and since George happened to be the only person around, I tried them out on him.
“My sister has a wooden leg.”
“What?! When did your sister get a wooden leg? What the hell??”
“No, not really, this is just a conversation starter. I was trying some out.”
“That’s not a good one.”“Really? Because you seemed pretty engaged, there.”
“I know your sister and she had two regular legs when I saw her last year, so yes, I was alarmed.”
“So if you didn’t know my sister, this would be a good one?”
Sometimes, making conversation on the road is hard.