I awoke to the sound of rain beating down on the roof of my truck. It was three in the morning mountain time and since I was in no hurry, I decided to wait until the sun rose to head out to Utah. The trek over the mountains would have to be gorgeous, even in the rain.
That turned out to be one of the wisest decisions I’d ever made. Within twenty minutes, the rain turned into snow and in less than an hour, six inches dumped on an unsuspecting Cheyenne, Wyoming. When I pulled into the truck stop the previous late afternoon, it was seventy degrees.
I watched as the eery dark parking lot-and the hood of my truck-piled up with snow. A couple of hours later I put on my waterproof boots and made a path in the newly fallen winter wonderland and into the truck stop. I grabbed coffee and began to tackle every person who looked like a seasoned truck driver. I picked their brains. I admitted I was a greenhorn rookie from the deep south and didn’t have any experience driving anything in the snow. I also told them I had to go over the Pass to Salt Lake City and asked one question, “Do I go or do I stay put?”
Each and every one of them said the exact same thing, “Go. Just take it slow and you’ll be fine. Don’t get in a hurry. Take your time, watch what you’re doing. The roads are open and they will be freshly plowed.”
I bought a CB radio to have on hand, just in case and called my fleet manager. “Steven, I’m in snow.” We’d already had the conversation about my inexperience in frozen precip, so he was very surprised when I said, “I’ve listened to the weather reports and talked to several drivers and I feel the best thing for me to do is to roll.”
“I understand. Oh wait! You’re going to ride?”
“The storm is supposed to blow through by eleven. The roads are open and this will probably be the closest I’ll come to snow driving in a controlled environment.”
He was stunned. And elated. And proud.
I was jittery.
I’d been driving Austin for a month. I’d pulled that particular trailer since Lousianna. I knew how it reacted. I’d be fine. Right?
I prayed and remembered all the conversations about winter driving I’d had with my trainer. Then I pulled into the slush and onto Interstate 80. I watched. I checked. I kept a football field between me and everything. But, I was moving forward toward the customer who was expecting the chickens I had in the back.
I climbed the pass between Cheyenne and Laramie. I was scared. And cold. My windshield froze and I had to stop to clean it off. I pulled into a truck stop in Laramie to regain my wits. Then I called my trainer. He asked me a series of questions and based on my answers, Dave said, “Set your four-wheel-drive and stop playin”– his way of saying I’d be fine to continue.
“You’ve already come through the highest point and you’re running through the storm. I honestly think you’ll be fine. Just keep going and you’ll drive out of it before long.”
I knew at that moment I was at a pivotal point in my truck driving career. My fleet manager had made it clear that the decision to roll or shut down was 100% my call. I could sit and wait it out. Or, based on the expert advice of those who’d been at the a lot longer than me, I could go.
The snow got worse before it got better but, just as Dave promised, within an hour the snow stopped. Two hours later the sun was out and there was no evidence that I’d ever been in a snow storm. I enjoyed a beautiful drive through western Wyoming and Utah.
Making the decision to drive in snow was one of the most frightening and difficult ones I’ve ever made. Had I thought I would truly be in danger, there would have been no decision. But, if I’m going to be a trucker in the US, I have to learn to drive in snow. If I decided to live in Kentucky or Missouri or Kansas, I’d be faced with the same thing. So I did it.
I can’t say I enjoyed the experience. Far from it but I learned so much. I learned about maneuvering an eighty-thousand pound missile through ice and snow. I learned about myself and what I’m made of. I learned how the psalmist felt when he wrote, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
I would love to say that I’m Mz. Supa Trucka but that would be a lie. God drove Austin yesterday through the ice and snow on Elk Mountain in Wyoming using my hands. I made it safely through to the other side and am a more confident driver for it.
Here are some things I learned that I want to pass on to you. Perhaps they will help you driving through your own snowstorm in life:
At some point, you’ll always face something that is bigger than you. Face it anyway.
Even if you don’t follow their advice, get input from those who’ve done what you need to do. Listen to them and gain wisdom.
The storm usually will get worse before it gets better. Keep moving forward anyway.
In the midst of the storm, somebody will tell you to “stop playin”, believing in you and your ability to master the task.
If you keep moving forward, you’ll ride out of the storm and what awaits is breathtakingly beautiful.
So no matter what snowstorm you’re facing in your life right now, keep on going. What’s on the other side is worth whatever you endure to get through the storm. I promise.