Photo: “Feed and Water” Mike Murchison
Unable to sleep the other night, I found myself at 2am doing laundry in a truckstop in Fargo, North Dakota of all places.
Yes, Fargo. The setting for that movie starring Francis MacDormand, playing a pregnant North Dakota Highway Patrol officer who found herself up to her eyeballs in a grizzly ransom and killing spree set to the backdrop of the frozen North Dakota winter. It is cold out there in February. Trust me.
With the clothes all dried, folded and stowed into my bright orange duffle bag, I bound out the door of the truck stop wearing only my T-shirt, grey sweatpants and runners. I never gave a second look to what my hair and three day facial hair growth looked like. Hey. I’m a working man.
The sight of a big black Peterbilt caught my eye that had pulled up to the fuel island 50 feet away form me. So, always being one to keep my eyes open for a picture, I headed in the direction of the truck.
The Driver’s door was open which only allowed me to see a set of legs. Short legs that were clad in Lulu Lemons or something like that. I had no idea what the top half looked like. So, camera in hand I bounced up to the Driver’s side of the truck and then it happened.
“Excuse Me” I blurted out.
The door swung shut and a set of eyes wide as they could be glared at me. There was fear in those eyes.
The woman took three steps back, held her arms out in a resistive stance and shouted “NO, NO.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. There was fear in that voice. A lot of fear.
It quickly dawned on my Neanderthal brain that this woman saw me as a threat. ME? A threat. Holy Crap.
Did I get nervous…
“No, wait -” I stammered out. “I mean you no harm!”
“Just go,” the woman in a very shaky voice. She was probably about my age.
My mind was racing. I took about 5 good steps backwards and tried to process just what happened.
My desire to take a picture of her truck quickly vapourized into thin air. I couldn’t believe what had just happened.
“I’m so sorry,” I said as I headed back towards my own truck, feeling like I had just done someone a terrible injustice.
Imagine: ME scaring the wits out of a woman like that.
Perception can be a strange thing. It all depends on what side of the fence you are looking from. This female truck driver (the plate on the truck indicated Quebec) looked upon me as a very real threat at 2am in the morning in a truckstop very far away from home. Alone, vulnerable and no doubt tired, she just reacted to this impromptu greeting from a stranger out of the blue.
I made it back to my own truck. Laid down on the bunk and did my best to process the last 5 minutes. I felt terrible for scaring the woman. I felt a little sadness that someone could perceive me as a threat. I never looked at myself as such; nor have I ever tried to convey such a message in my body language or mannerisms.
Moral of the story: we may think that we come across a certain way, and believe that people will perceive us in that way. That night at the rest stop, I learned that there are instances where nothing could be farther from the truth.
To that woman, out there doing a hard job a long way from home: I am truly sorry.