Tinkers, Beans and Crow Wings

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We have an abundance of things to be thankful for. So many in fact, it’s hard to pinpoint a singular one that stands out the most. I’m personally very thankful to work with an editor like Todd Dills, who posed the question “What are you thankful for?” in his Channel 19 blog this week. Todd puts up with a lot from me, he pretty much lets me go feral out here, to write about whatever strikes my fancy for the day. I greatly appreciate his patience, and his refusal to yell at me for continuing to use curse words he has to edit out of final pieces. (You’re a good egg, TD, I count on you a lot and I appreciate you. [Thanks, and back at’cha! –ed.])

We go through life collecting things. We collect ideas, experiences, personality traits, and habits that form us into the final product we become. A great deal of the things collected are taken from examples and actions of other people. No one is born knowing how to do much other than breathe and suck a teat, humans must be instructed and cared for to become people. This requires other people, who not only have the ability to lead by example, but the desire to do so. I am very fortunate to have folks like this in my life.

Besides my family, who I am incredibly thankful for, there are three people who stand out in my mind as I write this piece.

I’ve written about Tinker Raasch’s Color and Chrome truck show, but I’ve haven’t been able to talk her into letting me write a story about her. Tinker has been in the business for 40 years, and I’m not gonna lie, she intimidated the poo out of me the first time I met her. I had no idea I’d come to respect and want to imitate her as much as I do, because I was too busy worrying about whether or not she was going to slap me. She’s definitely a no-nonsense little lady with a huge presence, but her heart is just as big.

I talk to Tinker through messenger about once a week. She never fails to check in on me. She’s genuinely interested in what’s new with us, and she was incredibly supportive through a pretty bad time this past year. Tinker taught me you can be tough as nails and still be kind, the two don’t have to automatically cancel one another out. There should be more people like Tinker, and I’d like to be one of them. I’m very thankful for her sage wisdom and strength. (I still don’t like handwriting thank-you cards, but dammit, she’s right, they’re a classy touch and the right thing to do.)

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I haven’t written much about our Bean, because she’s my best friend and knows things about me she can blackmail me with. She was the one who started “The George and Wendy Show,” George and I met in her and her husband’s shop 22 years ago, and it’s been on ever since. She calls us “The George and Wendy Show” and we call her “Robbybean,” which over the years has shortened to Bean, and she’s the only person I know of who has actually seen my guts, besides my physician and the operating room staff.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to look at her guts recently — more specifically, her lungs. Our buddy Bean is going through some tough times with a recent diagnosis of lung cancer and a pretty drastic surgery to remove a giant tumor we nicknamed “Mothra” from her left lung. I’m happy to say she not only survived the surgery, but has sent me some of the funniest texts I’ve ever read while under the influence of heavy-hitting pain meds.

alpha-1-awareness-fact-posterI not only want to say how thankful I am for her, I want to use this public forum to encourage everyone to become aware of Alpha 1, a genetic condition passed from parent to child which is often misdiagnosed as asthma or emphysema, and has been linked to increased chances for lung cancer. November happens to be Alpha 1 awareness month, so do me a favor, and pass this link along.

Early diagnosis and proper treatment is imperative for positive outcome. I’ve known Bean for 25 years, and she’s been told she had asthma or chronic bronchitis for most of those years, when in fact, she has Alpha 1.

We love you, Bean, and as excited as I am about your promise to leave me your boot collection, I’d rather have you with me, wearing out the soles of those boots before you pass them along.

Jim Vant is someone I’ve had the pleasure of writing about. We met Jim way back in the beginning, when I was brand-new on the road. One of his trucks from Crow Wing Trucking caught my eye in a Utah Pilot parking lot, and I figured we needed to meet a guy who owned a company his driver spoke so highly of. Jim turned out to be one of the finest people I have ever known, and someone we keep in contact with.

I send Jim emails about good news, he’s the person I really want to know when something positive has happened, or George has met a goal. It’s important to me that he know the example he sets for us is an integral part of our success. We are thankful for you, Jim, and you’re in our thoughts this holiday season.

I could go on for days with the awesome people we have in our lives. We’ve had some bad things happen this year, dealt with some pretty devastating stuff, but still, the good we experience in our lives far outweighs the bad. And believe it or not, I’m thankful for the bad parts too, they make me appreciate the good that much more.

We sincerely wish the truckers and their families, and everyone else, a very happy Thanksgiving. We appreciate what you do, and are thankful for you.

Let them truckers roll!