The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
Published 9:03 am Thursday, January 27, 2022
By E. Bishop
As I’m writing this, we are all waiting on the big storm coming our way. Hope you have your milk, bread and other essentials by now; otherwise, you may lose out. Also, hoping you have a safe way to stay warm if your power does indeed go out. Let’s say a word of thanks (and a prayer) to all the linemen out there who will be trying their best to keep our electricity on and to all the truckers who will be on the roads to supply our needs. Did you know that if long-haul truckers were to stop working, grocery stores would run out of food in just three days? Think about that now.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States is highly dependent on the trucking industry; it accounts for nearly 6 percent of all full-time jobs in America employing approximately 3.5 million drivers. As one of the largest occupations in the US, it is dominated by men; approximately 7% are women. The 2021 annual base salary for a driver was $66,000 per year (medical insurance and bonuses included). An owner/operator can expect to make up to $100,000 per year but they will have all the expenses of operating their own truck and business. It is not the most lucrative line of work unless you want to be an ice road trucker, oversize hauler, hazmat or tanker driver. The industry is a vital lifeline between producers and consumers moving more than 70% of all goods in the US.
The Trucking Association estimates a shortage of 80,000 drivers now due in part by the pandemic. And, the truck driving school shut downs. The average age of new drivers is 35, the average age of all truckers is 46, but another factor of the shortage is that a lot of drivers are nearing retirement age which reminds me of my brother.
My brother has been a truck driver forever. Even after a few health setbacks, he has chosen to return to the road. We all ask him “why?” After all, days on the road can take a toll on a driver’s well- being, marriage, and health. Drivers become lonely, depressed, have chronic sleep problems and are at high risk for heart disease and stroke. It is a stress filled job, not only driving the roads with crazies out there, but with worrying about family while they are gone. It is one of the least happy careers. And, you have to take showers in those truck stops?
So, dear brother, why not retire? “Is it worth it?” Obviously, it is for him. Like quite a few truckers, I believe he loves being behind the wheel of that big ole truck even though it may be stressful at times. He has learned how to handle it and take it in stride. He finds every day a little different and gets to travel and meet new people. I think he and the rest take pride and find satisfaction in hauling goods people use on a day- to- day basis, and this is what makes it worthwhile.
Don’t you find it amazing how truckers can maneuver those huge vehicles? I always find it absolutely mystifying to see a trucker make that turn in our small town of Mocksville at the corner of 601 South/S. Main Street, even if they go over the curb sometimes. You still may need to back that car up a bit though. There is a reason for those lines on the road! Keep in mind too that there are some serious blind spots for truckers in which your vehicle can get lost. No Zones include directly in front, directly behind and along each side (especially the right).
Good ways to show our gratitude to truckers include: educate yourself and others, be a respectful driver and say thanks in person or with a sign. Remember, a trucker can see straight into your car as you are waiting for the light to change. So, keep in mind whatever oddity you think is safe from view, they can probably see it. Put a thank you sign there instead.
By Linda H. Barnette
My mother, Louise Smith Hartley, was one tough little lady. At age 60 in 1977 she fell in the yard at my grandmother’s house one evening and broke her leg. The ambulance took her to our Davie County Hospital, where a doctor on call set her leg. Later, when she went to an orthopedic specialist in Winston, the tests he did discovered that she had osteoporosis. After that fall, she was pretty much a shut-in. Four years later she had a major heart attack and was taken to Forsyth Hospital. The doctor told us that she would probably not make it home, but he did not know her well!
Daddy retired early from Ingersoll and devoted his last few years to taking care of Mother. In 1984 he was diagnosed with lung cancer and spent the last few months of his life at our little hospital where he was cared for so well by Dr. George Kimberly.
After Daddy died, Mother was alone for 13 years. I did what I could since I was teaching full-time and had a child. I went by daily after school, checked on her, got her groceries, and often cooked her supper at her house. There were other helpers too, such as my cousin Monica from Home Health and Meals on Wheels as well as visitors from her family. However, her favorite thing was our Sunday rides. We took her 1976 Pontiac out for long rides through the country in Davie County and beyond, sometimes ending up somewhere we had not been before!! Trips to Center Cemetery were also special to her, and we did that several times a week. She also loved to go to the K & W in Statesville, so John and I took her there fairly often after we got married.
At some point in the mid-1990’s there was a major snowstorm here. Knowing that she would not be safe alone, we took her to our house in Garden Valley. My son was at Western, so she had the whole downstairs to herself. Because of her health, she could not climb the steps to the upstairs area in the split-foyer house. She stayed with us for almost a week, and when the time came for her to go home, she was reluctant, and on the way out, she exclaimed,” This was just like a vacation!” I was happy that she enjoyed it.
Now I am the age she was when she passed away and am beginning to understand how life changes when one has health problems and cannot do all the things as in the past. Luckily, I am not alone, and John and I work as a team to keep going.
I often think of Mother and more and more understand how lonely she must have been and how proud and brave she was not to mention it or complain about her situation. My wish is that she knew how much I admired her.
Winter Sky: Taurus the Bull
By David R. Moore
On one of these cold winter nights, look straight up in the clear sky, and you will see a bright small cluster of stars. This constellation is called the Pleiades and is also known as the “Seven Sisters,” although most people can only see six stars with their naked eye, even on the darkest of nights. They were the daughters of Atlas and Pleione. The Japanese name for the Pleiades is Subaru. Subaru Automobile Corporation was formed in the 1950s from six smaller auto companies and named itself after the constellation. Of course, their logo looks like a star cluster.
Once you have spotted the Pleiades, look below to see a dim-but-distinct cluster of stars in the shape of a V. The central part of the V is the snout of Taurus the Bull. On the V’s lower side is a medium-bright reddish star that marks the bull’s eye. Each side of the V extends back, forming the beast’s horns.
Deception is behind the story of Taurus the Bull. Zeus, the king of the gods, was a playboy and used all his tools to lure and seduce the ladies. One of his targets was Europa, the daughter of a Phoenician king. Zeus first met her at a festival, but she was not interested in him. He had to get creative to win her over. Zeus learned she raised prized bulls as a hobby, and she would spend hours in the pasture with them. So, he turned himself into Taurus, a beautiful white bull with golden horns, and wandered into Europa’s field. She was delighted by Taurus’s beauty and tameness and soon spent hours grooming the beast. At some point, she felt so at ease with Taurus that, one day, she put a saddle on his back and climbed on. This was the opportunity Zeus had planned. After a few gentle rides around the pasture, he quickly kicked into high gear and carried her to the Island of Crete. There he revealed his true identity. Somehow Europa fell in love with him, and they were happy for a few years. However, Zeus, being Zeus, wasn’t into long-term relationships and was about the end it, but Europa beat him to it. Zeus came home after a long day of ruling the heavens to find the doors locked and his clothing in the front yard. Zeus never forgot the beautiful Europa and, years later, decided to honor her memory by placing the shape of the bull in the evening sky.