by M. H. Niemann
It was too early and still dark at 5:30 a.m. as I drove through Houston, Texas on the way to my parents’ house for our 2008 Thanksgiving dinner.
As I drove south out of town on Highway 59, somewhere between Richmond and Rosenberg, I noted brake lights on the cars in front of me.
As I got closer I saw two 18-wheeler tractor-trailer rigs, one in each lane, slowing down until they were next to each other and blocking any traffic from getting around them. I thought maybe there was an accident, or perhaps one of the trucks was getting in position to pass the other one.
When the situation continued and the rigs even slowed down even further, I naturally got annoyed and started grumbling at the delay, cursing the rudeness of drivers with no consideration of others sharing the road with them. By this time, the rigs had slowed to almost 20 miles per hour and there was a long line of impatient cars behind them.
My whole mindset changed dramatically, however, when I was able to get a peek into the gap between the rigs at the road ahead. I saw a car weaving all over the road, slowing down and speeding up, slewing from one shoulder to the other.
The two rigs never faltered in their tandem blockade, ignoring the impatient honks of the cars behind them and moving over as necessary to keep cars from going around them on the highway shoulders. This situation continued for about another 15 minutes until three police cars, lights flashing, came racing up the access road and around the two 18-wheeler rigs.
I watched while the police cars herded the weaving car to the side of the highway and forced it to stop. The 18-wheeler rigs then sped up and moved over to let all the cars pass by.
I have no doubt those two 18-wheeler rigs saved many lives, not to mention the impaired driver of the weaving car, on that Thanksgiving morning. I only wish I had had the presence of mind to note which trucking companies those drivers worked for so I could have sent their companies a note.
I’ve always considered 18-wheeler truckers the unofficial “angels” of the highway — they are often in the right place at the right time and always, in my experience, help when they can with no expectations of reward or even thanks. What I observed that November only reinforced my opinion of these unsung Good Samaritans.
I gave those two truckers what thanks I could by honking and waving as I drove by… on my way to a truly thankful day with my family.