Correspondence leads to love

| January 01, 2007

Trucker Bill Robles and teacher Chris Morris connected through letters, postcards and phone calls before they met in person and fell in love.

It was the end of another school year, and fifth-grade teacher Chris Morris was preparing her boisterous classroom for the long-awaited visit from its own Trucker Buddy, Bill Robles.

Robles, who had been corresponding with the fifth grade class for two years, had sent four or five post cards each week describing mountains, valleys and sunsets in all 50 states. The kids waited eagerly for the notes, clamoring to be the first one to see the back side scribbled with snowy peaks and valleys. In his first correspondence with the class, Robles wrote 26 individual letters to the students.

“When he wrote,” Morris says, “he could explain the geography of an area. Everyone had to read the postcards – it was addicting.”

Trucker Buddy, a program that pairs truck drivers with classrooms for a unique pen pal experience, gave Robles the option of choosing a classroom in either Las Vegas or Kentucky. On a whim, Bill decided to choose the Pendleton County, Kentucky, fifth grade classroom to experience a region of the country he didn’t know much about. He was living in Bullhead, Ariz., at the time, and Las Vegas seemed too close to home.

Morris signed up for the program after a fellow teacher coaxed her into it.

“Why not?” she said.

Robles’ correspondence with her classroom began in 2002, and he often called the classroom and talked to the kids through speakerphone.

“His voice was such a calm, nice voice,” Morris says. “I became attached to his voice.”

The fifth graders eagerly responded to Robles’ letters, describing their lives, what they liked to do and things that were going on at school. Some of the kids poured out their hearts in their letters to Robles about things that bothered them.

“Some students were dealing with a lot of personal issues,” he says. “I had a very personal link to them as students because, as a parent, I knew what they were going through.”

Robles sometimes called Morris to talk about the kids and the things they had included in their letters.

“She could see that I had a genuine concern,” he says.

During those two years, Morris drove for three companies: Marten Transport in Mondovi, Wis., Ladner Trucking in Fullerton, Calif., and McHaul Trucking in Pueblo, Colo.

At the end of the 2004 school year, Robles planned a trip to Morris’ classroom to finally meet his pen-pal students and their teacher. When he stepped out of his truck at the school, he could finally attach a face with the voice on the phone – and it left him breathless.

“I was humbled in her presence,” Robles says. “She was everything I had envisioned.”

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