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INTER-STATE ARGONAUTS Princes of the Open Road

It’s seven hours to Pittsburgh And the rig is running rough. But the load is worth a bundle Soon will fix things, sure enough. I haven’t seen the sunshine In the last four drizzling days. And the wife has missed my phone calls. How she hopes the new boss pays. I’m thankful for the mileage And the triple-city link. Yes, the shut-down at the last place Brought us nearly to the brink. I miss her more each outbound And the boy just hit thirteen. But the getting’s good this season 1

C. 2012, Doug Blair


After months of living lean. Ahead, I see the flashers And the red flares through the haze. Buddy jack-knifed at a hairpin. He’ll be out for several days. I see him by the squad car. Sorting out the clean-up plan. Was it four months back-the diner? I had roast beef with that man! We traded favourite stories. Some of bright days on the ‘pike. Some of weariness and set-back. It’s the road, the road, we like. I’ll have to hit the shoulder Watching out for gravel drift. Offer up a drive, some cold-cuts For this Brother needs a lift.

Wave a Trucker On Through

Do something nice for a trucker, please. These guys put in so many days which would try the patience of the gentlest person you know. They take longer to stop; more space to turn; need more visibility than they are ever afforded to back up. They approach many a loading dock which was only designed for "straight trucks" (24 feet) over thirty years ago. These men and women are often told to hurry up as much as possible in the on-loading of a shipment and in the drive to a customer's shop or job site. Upon arrival they find no receiver present. In a phone call they are told, "Oh, Charlie is also overseeing another job about 20 miles distant. Give him a call 2


at *** and then probably in about 40 minutes you'll have your men and machinery". It is the classic "hurry up...and wait" scenario. They are constantly expected to make the quick stop or lane change in heavy traffic. Other motorists will only comment, "They are professionals. They should be up for this". I know of one driver who came into our plant all white-faced with the passenger side of his truck cab all smashed forward. An erratic change by a small car in front had required braking. His load consisted of bundles of banded hollow tubing, quite greasy. The middle items of one bundle had telescoped forward in the stopping. When he heard the noise he thought for an instant that he was a dead man. And incidentally, his company had not taken effort at that time to install "headache boards" at the front of flat-bed trailers to protect cab and driver. All that got changed of course, after the fact. Let us not forget the heated traffic jams, the accidents, the construction closures, the no truck street signs, the piled up weigh scale lines, the regulatory controls on weight, width and length or the picky MTO compliance officers in the green and white cars. In spite of all, it is often the trucker who has the compassion to stop at a roadside emergency to render assistance. Some corporate fleets have made this mandatory, with exceptional first-aid training thrown in as well. Perhaps some of the above will coax you to give a trucker a break. He deserves it.

Walk Into a Miracle

A casual decision to have a little discomfort in the chest checked out. An uncommon sick-call to the workplace. No truck hauling of steel this July day. A drive into St.Mary's Hospital from Elmira. A simple examination turned into a barrage of diagnostic tests under the heart specialist's supervision. And surprising, bracing news: "Barry, as I see it, you have three options. We have discovered massive 3


deterioration of vessels in and around the heart. You may go home and die within the next few days. You may accept multiple by-pass surgery and die on the table. You may survive the surgery, but suffer kidney failure." Within hours he was undergoing the surgery, under the supervision of both kidney and heart specialists. Surprisingly the procedure took half the allotted time. The kidneys were saved. The heart reconstructed. During his month of hospital stay, and much to his surprise, Barry was visited each day by the kidney doctor or by some appointed substitute. He didn't think that busy doctors had such time available. His wife and church friends from Elmira Pentecostal Assembly were a frequent encouragement. But one day, a jarring revelation from the heart surgeon: "Barry the real battle is fought now, and it is one almost all middle -aged men in your situation encounter. Depression. That sucker kills. I must say, and I am not a religious man, that your case has shown several signs of supernatural intervention. Now, do battle with this new threat in your mind." Shortly after the doctor left, my friend experienced some heaviness and tears. Some visiting nurses saw him in this state and could not avoid the tears themselves. He had appeared so upbeat. Sort of a cranky, persistent sense of humour. Not a man at first blush manifesting the meekness and moderation of the believer. All-weather trucker. Baseball coach. Family man. Shortly thereafter in the quiet of his room, Barry did business with God. Confessing that he simply would not yield to the depression, come what may. "Father it is now time for you to have your way and do what you want." He relates that a strange warmth started at the top of his head and went down through the entire body, completely relaxing him. Never before had Barry experienced anything like this. Not the emotional type. Undeniably he had been visited, and personally comforted. Last night, approximately six months later, Barry told me this story at Elmira Pentecostal Assembly at the fourteenth annual Sportsman's Dinner and Program. Discussing a miracle in the midst of a crowd of happy men tasting perch, moose, deer, bear, wild boar, rabbit, buffalo and other 4


uncommon culinary delights. There was Barry, front and centre in the team of hosting, cooking, serving men of God. I am certain that the life-changing, life-saving impact of this encounter is far from over. "That's my story," he says, "and I'm sticking to it."

Fond Remembrance

Veronica, You have much To be thankful for, As you boil your leftovers And wait for the Bathroom wax to dry. The boy is out Doing his deliveries, And Connie is late At school with her project. Ted will phone Tonight from Calgary. He has been so Tired these last few weeks. But the Company Has a new customer. Big one…out west. He’s the senior driver. Still you’re lonely, Veronica. And the bills are there. In various colours. Beckoning. From the top of the fridge.

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Hang in there, girl. Everyone will be home This weekend. And Saturday dinner Is planned with Kate And her fiancé. Remember how your Sister came to your Kitchen table. And cried that Frank Wanted to call it off, After eighteen months. Remember how the Two of you Had really prayed. For guidance, for healing. (She the seasoned Career girl.) Remember four summers Ago, Veronica. When you had had Your own doubts about Ted. The phone calls, late nights, And feeble explanations. Remember at the Last school, your boy’s Circle of tough friends. The merchandise hidden In the basement. The constable’s visits. How Ted had taken Him out of school To share a six- day run To Chicago, Kansas City And Saskatoon. 6


How they had really talked. Remember, Connie’s Trouble with the cysts. And she just getting Used to female issues. The scary first diagnosis. And the kind second doctor. Remember your Dad’s Last six months. Woeful widower. Deathly quiet apartment. Ted’s insistence on the many visits. Healing the old hurts. Remember your Dad’s Hospital stay. The glorious Saturday When you finally shared “That Jesus stuff” He had so long rejected. Yes, Veronica, Remember, would you? It hasn’t been easy, But it has been good. And it continues With God’s help. In strange ways Young woman, You have been the glue, Holding it all together. Now, for your own good, Rejoice and be thankful.

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On Any Road

AND YE SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME – With the incoming of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Guide, it was inevitable that believers would take Jesus and His message with them as they went about their ordinary affairs. They were constantly being witnesses. They were a people wondered at. A look, a word, a gesture would have the fragrance of Jesus, and would often open a way for more specific testimony. They were constantly encountering God-ordained opportunities to minister, just as the Good Samaritan had experienced “as he journeyed” on his way to Jericho. (Luke 10) Jesus promised such opportunities, then and now.

Those Big Fellas

In an earlier post I referred to our friend Geri. She and her husband Allan played a very large role in encouraging my wife and myself in early Christian experience. She was the wide-eyed, petite, feminine one with a tremendous sense of humour, hospitality and gentleness in her treatment of others. Allan, a long-trip trucker, had a remarkable way, out on the road, in meekly coming alongside a fellow trucker, hearing of his gains or losses, and turning the conversation toward Christ. I wish that I had retained the details better on this story, but here goes. Geri had a sister who was in missionary work in South America with her husband. The native communities contacted were very primitive and significantly uncomfortable with outsiders. This was over forty years ago. 8


The husband was called away by small aeroplane from their new and undeveloped mission camp. The woman busied herself with domestic improvements, singing and Bible reading to stave off loneliness. At night on the outskirts of the dark bush, she thought often that she was hearing the sounds of furtive native feet, or perhaps animals coming close to the shack. She made a point of keeping some lights on inside. In heated prayer, she met God on many of these occasions. Her husband returned after about a week with good news of a safe and successful trip. One morning shortly thereafter, he discovered a native elder with a small retinue outside the home. The old man seemed embarrassed and apologetic. He admitted that, unknown to him, some of the younger tribesmen had planned to harrass and perhaps kill Geri's sister. They had felt threatened by the presence of the misssionaries. But each night as they approached the shack, "those big fellas" were there again, guarding the front door. Tall. Muscular. White. Almost glowing. Repeatedly the interlopers lost heart in the venture. " Please, sir, who were these men that you left with your wife?" Psalm 34: 7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

Zoned Industrial

A steelyard By the railroad. A patch of trees between. A recent trend To asphalt. An eastern fringe of green. A creek down At the bottom, 9


Beyond the southern gate. A wood slope At the top end, Where once the grouse would mate. Mid-day the Trucks are hectic, As I-beams cut the air, On waiting tusks Of forklifts, With elephantine care. Or pipes rolled From the flat-beds Like ancient logs of Tyre. Predestined For some project Through blueprint, blade and fire. But on a Wintry morning, The snow might trace the tale Of moonlit Lapin lovers; Of foxes on their trail; Of field mice Plucked mid-scamper By silent aerial claws; Of Nature’s Non-conformance To our industrial cause.

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On the Guelph Line

Periodically I make pick-up truck deliveries to road/bridge construction sites of our Company's customers. The closer I get to Lake Ontario or the Niagara Peninsula, the more likely I am to tune in Gospel FM Radio WDCX from Buffalo. There is an uplifting blend of Bible teaching, praise and phone-in listener input. Often I will find myself on the Guelph Line, a secondary Ontario highway which stretches from the exquisite lakeside residences and parks of Burlington, through something akin to cottage country by the escarpment and the quaint village of Lowville, past the 401 Highway and Mohawk Racetrack, ending on Highway 7 east of Guelph at the town of Rockwood. There are a number of lush woodlots, horse farms, streams, golf courses and open stretches. On one morning in particular, I was traveling the opposite way, southward, and enjoying WDCX. At the last stretch before Burlington, one comes over a hill. The whole vista down the big slope to glistening Lake Ontario is breathtaking. I had changed to playing a CD, and had reached the hill-crest listening to the crescendo in Steve Curtis Chapman's song entitled "God is God". (And I Am Not). I had to shout! A long sparkling line of reflected light (auto glass and steel in the sun) welcomed me to the Lake, breathtakingly blue. Just then my cell phone rang. (No more may I answer it while driving, as the law is changing.) It was my daughter with some family news. She quickly sensed something out of the ordinary with me, and asked, "What's up with you?" God.

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INTER-STATE ARGONAUTS