THE STORY SO FAR
Mark travels to New Mexico for a load back to Canada. While he’s there, another driver shows up for a load to Los Angeles. The driver looks Mexican and the shipper was expecting someone white and tells the driver there is no longer any load. Mark offers his load to the man, and the shipper ends up giving the man his original load…
Despite Mark’s intention not to travel deep into the U.S. for a while after he witnessed a shipper pull a load from a driver, he thought would be white but turned out to be of Mexican descent, Mark ended up delivering a load to a Texas border town that was ultimately headed to Mexico.
This time Mark was driving with both eyes wide open, ready to more easily recognize racism – however subtle – for what it was, which was wrong.
However, as he’d traveled south through the U.S., he hadn’t witnessed any signs of racism. But then again, he hadn’t really interacted with anyone either. So, maybe his experience had been a one-off, something that could be explained as the action of just a single person, or one of those in the minority who gave others a bad name. Mark hoped that was true, so much so that he was willing to put the theory to a test.
After making his delivery, Mark traveled to a warehouse in San Antonio to pick up a load of pet food destined for Toronto.
After his truck had been loaded, but before he could leave, Mark dug out a pair of rainbow pride flags from inside his cab and stuck them on the front fenders of Mother Load. The flags were new and bright and immensely colorful in the Texas midday sun. In fact, it didn’t take long for people to notice them.
When the shipper came to give Mark the paperwork he needed for his load, the man stopped at the end of Mark’s trailer and leaned back to get a better look at the multi-colored flag attached to his truck and flapping in the breeze.
“Whatcha got there?” the shipper said.
“Got where?” responded Mark.
“That flag, there.” He flicked his head slightly toward the front of Mark’s truck. “With all the colors on it.”
“Oh, that,” Mark said. “That’s a rainbow flag…you know a gay pride flag or an LGBT flag.”
“LGBT. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.”
“I know that!”
“But you asked.”
The man looked at Mark with narrowed eyes. “I guess what I meant to say was, why the hell do you have it on your truck?”
“Well, it’s a funny thing that,” Mark began. “I’m not gay myself, but I have a lot of friends who are and a couple of weeks ago I let them borrow my truck to decorate and drive in a parade. It was actually a lot of fun.”
The shipper just stared. Finally, he said, “Are you looking for trouble?”
Mark gave the man a puzzled expression. “Why would I be in trouble?”
“There are people around these parts who don’t appreciate that flag, or the people flying it.”
“Why would that be?”
“For what it represents.”
“You mean, equality, acceptance, freedom of expression…”
“No, that ain’t it.”
“Maybe I should be flying a couple of Confederate flags instead. Would that be a better symbol? You know, for what it represents?”
After a moment of silence, the shipper said, “You’re not from around here, are you?”
“No,” Mark said. “I’m Canadian.”
“That’s nice. I’m from Texas and around here companies reserve the right to not use any drivers who don’t believe in the same Christian values as we do.”
“Well, I believe in a lot of Christian values, like that all men and women are created equal and that everyone is equal in the eyes of God.”
The shipper smirked a little, then put out an arm to guide Mark out the door.
“Well, let’s just say that some people are more equal than others around here.”
When they got to Mother Load, the shipper went around the front of the truck and pulled the flags from the fenders. Then, holding the flags in his hands he said, “I know what you’re trying to do, but if you want to poke the bear around here you want to find yourself a partner to drive as a team…that, or carry a gun.”
Mark said nothing. Then the shipper opened the driver’s door and tossed the flags and the paperwork onto the driver’s seat. As he turned toward Mark, he smiled and said, “If you want my advice…stop tempting fate and just take this load back to wherever it is you came from before somebody gets hurt.”
The man stared directly at Mark as he said the last bit and it sent a bit of a shiver down his back. It was obvious he’d been warned and that it was probably best if he heeded that warning. “Thanks,” he said. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Several miles down the road Mark was pulled over by a Texas State Trooper.
“Licence and registration,” the trooper asked.
Moments later, Mark was asked to step out of the truck. The officer gave Mark a quick pat down search on the side of the road, then did his best to look into the cab of Mother Load through the open driver’s door.
“May I ask why I’ve been pulled over?”
“This truck fits the description of a truck that was recently stolen from a yard in San Antonio.”
“I’m driving a Peterbilt that’s pulling a Fruehauf trailer. That’s about as common as it gets in this part of the country.”
The trooper seemed unimpressed. Finally, he said, “Where are the flags?
“Wait here.” The trooper turned and walked back to his cruiser. A few moments later, after a brief conversation on his radio, he said, “You can go now.”
Mark was happy to put the miles behind him.
Mark Dalton returns next month in the third instalment of Greatness is in the eye of the beholder.
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