Tuesday:) Toni’s Talking to Strangers Again 

25 Oct

I love new places, new people, new ideas. I love cultural differences, and I’m fascinated by the truth – all the different versions of it. 

~Martin Henderson


This morning I was driving home from Stillwater Oklahoma. I was very proud of myself because I knew which way to go from Lake View Road, to Country Club Road, down to the gas station that’s past the new Catholic Church, and then onto I35 South. I’m a very visual driver. I shouldn’t say I’m directionally challenged because it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I was tooling down I35 and managed to stay in the left lane when it veered off by Oklahoma City. After about 2 1/2 hours of zooming at speeds up to 75/80, I decided to take a break at the Marietta exit. I remember stopping at the McDonald’s there last year. Now, don’t ask me if I was still in Oklahoma or in Texas, because I don’t know. (Just looked it up…Oklahoma.)  It was a break from the white knuckle driving experience, and a chance for lunch and a pit stop.

When I sat down with my signature chicken sandwich, fries, and Coke, I noticed the man across from me was wearing a Veteran of Gulf War cap.

I always like to shake hands with veterans and thank them for their service. He was sitting alone, checking his phone and eating. I was doing the same. Instead of just going and shaking his hand, I grabbed my tray of food and walked over. That’s when I shook his hand, thanked him for his service, and asked if I could join him. He gestured to sit down with a “Sure, come on and sit down.”

We sat and chatted a good half hour if not more. I told Tracy that I was driving to McKinney from Stillwater, and decided to take a break from the crazy drivers that were zipping past me or on my bumper while I was going 75 or 80 miles an hour. I told him that I try to stay behind a truck in the right lane because they tend to be a little slower and more cautious. 

Well, it turns out that Tracy was a truck driver on his way to Oklahoma City. He said, “You think these drivers are crazy. You should see how they drive in California. They’re nuts.” He lived in. California a number of years, so he knew from experience. Tracy explained that his truck couldn’t go more than 60 miles an hour by design, and that it was a mandatory built in safety feature and insurance liability factor for some companies. I had no idea such a rule existed. Hmm? Did you?  Our conversation stretched all over the map between states and countries where we lived, his military service, family, friends, then the big taboo topic of religion.

I had mentioned that I am Catholic and Tracy said he is a Mormon. I was fascinated and had a zillion questions. Even though you shouldn’t discuss politics or religion, we both agreed that both our churches were based on the same premise of “do unto others,” and the more you share your blessings, the more you are blessed. And, we both agreed that you don’t always have to follow the exact letter of every single rule and doctrine of your faith to be faithful. 

Anyway, we had a nice chat before he needed to get back on the road, as did I. My adventure continued after that, and that will be the continuing saga for tomorrow called…Toni gets lost going home.

This is my new friend Tracy, war veteran and all around nice man. Stay safe on the road, my friend.

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