Nothing In My Hands, Chapter Fifteen
By Del Starr, a pseudonym, all rights reserved. Posted Aug. 26, 2015
Truckers are Helpful…Some of Them!
Dianne hoped that now life would be more solid for her but just as she was becoming comfortable, Joe made an announcement. He had purchased a pickup some time previously and had financed it through the Freightliner credit union. The pickup would be paid for in two more months and then he would resign from Freightliner and go to work driving truck. Dianne’s heart fell. That meant that he would be on the road more than he was at home and Dianne had spent long enough at home alone. But he was now her husband and she would not find fault with his decision.
All too quickly the two months passed and Joe did, indeed, quit working for Freightliner. During this time he had concentrated on paying bills that he had, so that his monies would be free. Dianne had continued to support the family. Her meager little job did not provide adequately but was enough so that the children could eat, with the help of food stamps.
Joe suggested that he would like to enter the truck driving field in his home state of Mississippi. His parents still lived there and he thought that it might be good for the entire family if they uprooted and made the move to the country near his parents. Dianne wasn’t thrilled but her vow was, “Whither thou goest, I will go.”
They decided that they would leave the children in Portland while the two of them traveled to Mississippi to determine what their options might be. Dianne wasn’t impressed with Mississippi. It was far too hot and humid. She had spent her entire life near the west coast, with the exception of the time that she had spent in Missouri, Arkansas, and Germany with Alex and Gary. She enjoyed Joe’s mother, though, a simple share-cropper’s wife.
They traveled to Victoria, Texas, where Joe’s brother was a tool pusher on an oil rig, thinking that Joe might wish to work with his brother rather than driving truck. One day was enough to convince Joe that oil rigs were not for him and they headed back to Mississippi.
They attended one of the local churches on Sunday and since there was no pianist, Dianne volunteered to play the piano for their song service. Joe was impressed. He had not known of Dianne’s capabilities in this field. Dianne had not told him that she had been church pianist for the Tabernacle church in Portland when she was only fourteen years of age.
Dianne felt that they should return home. She didn’t like to leave the children in the care of others for very long so, back they went to Oregon.
Dianne began to experience some medical problems and the doctor determined that she needed surgery. She was so thankful to have Joe at her side. He would be supportive of her in her hour of need.
Then Joe received a phone call from his sister in Mississippi saying that his father had suffered a slight heart attack, had been in the hospital, but was now doing well and recovering at home. Joe told Dianne that he must go to his father and he left for Mississippi.
When the day arrived that Dianne was to enter the hospital, she rode the city bus and left her car at home. Nobody came to visit her during her stay. Nobody called to ask how she was and when she was released a few days later, once again she caught a city bus and returned home, alone.
When he had visited with his family sufficiently, Joe returned home to Portland.
Dianne was no longer impressed by his tenderness. When the moment of need had come, Joe had not been there for her. He had not contributed to the household income and was not a safe harbor for her children. Once again she fought for her marriage as she had long ago when she was married to Alex but this time she had become a bit bitter and did not devote herself to it as she had in those long-ago years. But she still hoped.
Joe didn’t even look for a job while he was in Portland and after a few weeks, once again told Dianne that he was going to go to Mississippi to find work. Dianne really didn’t care.
A few weeks later, Joe was back in Portland. He had found a job in Mississippi and now wanted Dianne to accompany him to look things over and see where they wanted to go from there. Once again she planned for the care of her children and accompanied Joe to Mississippi.
Once there, Joe began talking to Dianne of giving up her children to foster homes. Dianne was appalled. How dare he? He knew how much she cared for those children! They were everything to her and she would not even entertain the thought. They argued. They determined that Dianne should return to Portland.
Dianne had called home and had spoken with Brad. Brad had told her that Janelle had gone to stay with Dianne’s aunt. Dianne called her aunt but was told that Janelle was sleeping and she would not disturb her. Dianne was not comfortable with this news.
Joe’s brother, Bud, came to Dianne and told her that Joe had said for him to take Dianne on the truck with him to Wisconsin as Joe had “places to go and things to do.” Dianne smiled through her tears and agreed. She had $5.00 to her name and she was going to Portland.
It was an enjoyable trip to Wisconsin. Bud was a real sweetheart and genuinely cared about Dianne and was embarrassed that his brother had treated her so cruelly. They laughed and joked with each other but they knew the time was coming when Dianne would have to figure out how to get back to Portland. It was strange to her that even Bud did not attempt to help her, other than to find her a ride to start her journey.
Dianne now crawled into a semi with a virtual stranger, headed west.
The trip was uneventful other than the fact that Dianne could not afford to eat. She was hungry but would not ask for help.
A parting of roads, another truck, another driver and Dianne was headed toward Salt Lake City. Out of hours, the driver pulled into a truck stop so he could sleep. Dianne either sat in the truck or walked around just outside. She would not leave the truck as her personal belongings were in it and she had heard horror stories about people being stranded by truckers, not to even mention the ones of people being killed by those drivers but she had no choice.
It was the 4th of July, but Dianne was not in a holiday mood.
Slowly the hours ticked away until the driver was ready to hit the road once more, Dianne seated in the passenger’s seat. It was nighttime as the truck hurtled through the Utah countryside. Ahead was a roadside rest area advertising free coffee and the driver pulled off the road and hopped out to get coffee. Dianne waited. When he returned, he asked Dianne to accompany him into the sleeper of the truck.
“Why?” he asked. “It’s not any big deal!”
“That’s why,” Dianne retorted, “Because it isn’t any big deal!”
The driver didn’t say another word to Dianne but she was apprehensive.
It was early morning and the signs read, “Green River, Utah, 1 mile.” The driver finally spoke to Dianne, “What would you do,” he asked, “if you lived here?” And laughing snidely he said, “I suppose you would sit on the bank and watch the trucks go by.”
Dianne realized that something was in the air but she was not to be daunted. “No,” she replied, “I would get a pair of prairie dogs and raise prairie dogs.”
The exit for Green River passed by and Dianne sighed with relief.
But up ahead was another exit for Green River and the driver swung into that exit pronouncing to Dianne, “I’m going in for a cup of coffee. When I get back, I expect you and your belongings to be out of the truck!”
Dianne gasped. As they had passed the first truck stop, Dianne had seen one lonely truck in the parking lot. Green River was not a popular stopping ground for trucks.
There were trucks going in both directions on the freeway and the driver picked up his mic to chatter with them. Dianne waited for the moment he would put the mic down so that she could use his CB. It seemed he would never stop talking. When he did, she put out her plaintive plea for help. A driver answered her and when they pulled into the truck stop and Dianne’s driver got out of the truck, another truck hauling coal to Salt Lake City pulled in beside them. Dianne moved her things from one truck to the other and crawled into the passenger’s seat. The new driver asked how she got where she was and why she was riding trucks. Dianne poured her heart out to him and told him that she had not eaten since she left Wisconsin. She shared that the previous driver had asked her for favors she was not willing to perform and so he had dumped her there in Green River. The new driver had a banana which he gave to Dianne. She ate it as if it were caviar.
It wasn’t that far to Salt Lake City and that was the end of the line for this new driver. He did, however, talk to other drivers to find Dianne a ride the rest of the way to Portland. One driver’s question was, “What does she look like?”
“What difference does it make?” the new driver asked. He set down the mic as he said to Dianne, “Not that one!”
She was becoming more frightened at every moment. Would she ever arrive safely in Portland once again?