Spare a thought for lonely truckers during holidays

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A truck driver sees the holiday season through the windshield, inside the cab, isolated from the world. Holiday tunes fade in and out on radio stations as the big rig rolls to its next destination.

Parked at a truck stop for the night, each driver is in his or her little bubble – the truck. Christmas songs being played on tinny speakers amid tired tinsel when you go in for a shower, to pick up food or fuel up sometime darken your mood.

I remember spending an icy New Year’s Eve at a truck stop in Indiana. There were no fireworks or celebrations or cheery greetings. That evening, cellphone screens lit up cabins in parked trucks, beacons of hope and human interaction in isolated bubbles of existence.

Driver in his bunk using the phone
Even with video calls, life on the road can seem particularly isolating during the holidays. (Photo: iStock)

Some shipping and receiving offices are decorated and customers light up their premises for the season. For the driver, it is the same routine, though some string lights and decorations on their rigs – a welcome sight.

This time of the year is filled with excitement and expectation. Drivers mostly work away from home and loneliness creeps in.

The lights and decorations, increased traffic on routes near shopping hubs as people dash about from store to store, punctuate the fact that you are far from your loved ones.

Truckers get to see the grungier side of things, dingy docks and dark alleys, piles of pallets and soggy, snow-covered yards.

You drive through all the cheerful hordes in urban areas and roll along dark highways, always moving, always on the go.

You roll past homes in small towns and see families gathered at the kitchen table at dinner time. You have another three hours of driving time left, so you keep driving into the night. Your mind drifts to the dinner table at home, wondering what’s happening there. You are tempted to call, then push the thought away, not wanting to disturb them as they eat their supper.

On the road, your thoughts are your constant companion. As mile after mile of asphalt unfolds, there is only that much radio or podcasts or audio books you can listen to. And all that complaining on the CB also gets to you.

Sometimes you call your loved ones, or they call you. The conversations may be long or short. Then it’s back to the sound of the engine and the humming of 18 wheels on the road. The click-click of the indicator is the only distraction when you move over to change lanes.

This holiday season spare a thought for the drivers that have hauled the goods that you get to enjoy. A lonely trucker may be battling with his thoughts — on the road or lying on his or her bunk in the truck — away from loved ones.

By Leo Barros

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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at