About the Author
George Ganssle is a 54-year-old owner-operator for McCollister’s Transportation Group originally from Brooklyn, N.Y. After driving 10 years, he decided to move to Dallas and take computer classes at Brookhaven College. A professor encouraged him to take a creative writing class, and his interest in writing began. Ganssle spent the first years of his career in construction and took up trucking at 34 years old. A friend was in the business and told him he thought he might like it. He’s been trucking ever since.
It was in December of 2004 that my mother gave me a book to read. With God in Russia was the story of Father Walter Ciszek, a Pennsylvanian of Polish extraction who was a wild young man well on his way to becoming a good-for-nothing adult. Destiny, combined with the circumstances of the times, set a different course for this budding reprobate.
He became a Jesuit priest and requested a posting to the Soviet Union. His wish came true in 1940 – on the eve of the 20th century’s greatest upheaval, which in six year’s time would send 60 million souls to their maker. He was arrested near Moscow, charged with espionage and spent more than 20 years imprisoned in Siberia. Upon release from the gulag he was placed on parole and was forbidden to leave northeastern Russia. He obtained a job driving a truck in that frozen hinterland and was finally released during the Kennedy administration.
The United States had recently apprehended a high-profile Russian spy, and Khrushchev wanted him back. The two super powers haggled in a game of international quid pro quo. The Communist spy was the quid and Ciszek was the quo.
Back in the States, Father Ciszek was urged by family members to write of his experiences in that land run by the Godless. He took their advice and the result was the book my mother gave me on that gray, winter afternoon.
It was a compelling book, and of special interest to me were his descriptive passages regarding his days driving trucks through the boundless woods, rolling over a barely discernible narrow track. No truckstops out that way.
On Dec. 23, 2006, I backed my 18-wheeler into an Air France loading dock in Queens, N.Y. The forklift was offloading eight huge crates, which I had packed up in Orlando, Fla., two days earlier. JFK airport is 29 miles from my house, and I could barely wait to get home. Autumn had been only four weeks old when I left. The lunch buzzer sounded and the forklift driver started heading for the break room.
“Come on, man, there are only two crates left,” I called to him. “I haven’t been home in two months; how about throwin’ me a bone?”
“Hey, mac, if I do it for you I gotta do it for everyone – it’ll never end.”
“Well, I got $25 in my pocket and it’s tellin’ me you’re having a late lunch today.”
“I guess I hafta do it,” he said as he returned to the machine with a big, non-union grin on his face, “’cause I never heard of $25 tellin’ a truck driver anything but the truth.”
He finished me off in 10 minutes. It was now “hammer down to the house” time. My birthday was two days behind me, and Christmas was two days ahead. Halfway across the Throgs Neck Bridge, my cell phone rang. Caller ID told me it was Mike, my dispatcher in Boston.
“Hello-o-o, you’ve reached George, the trucker who is off for the next eight days. If this call is urgent, then please