Here’s something we hear a lot. “Reach out to someone. Let them know you care”. 

Truck - Freight transportation

That’s a basic need for mental health. People who have mental health concerns often feel alone and left out.

It’s not that easy though.

In years past the truckers network were the Truckstops. We would stumble out of our trucks, belly up to the “Truckers Only” area, accept a coffee and nod at the other drivers.

Fairly soon you would be included in the talk. “Where you going? How’s the roads? Much protection out there?” This last is the slang for police radar traps.

You would unwind a little. Comfortable in the conversation, enduring a little good natured jesting, pay the reasonable price for a decent meal, leave a good tip for the hardworking server and high step back to the truck. Refreshed and feeling energized, you knew you were part of a club who generally looked after each other. It was a lonely life with no cellphones or internet but the drivers on the CB were always willing to listen or help.

Today we are now more connected than ever. Cheap calling rates all over, Internet on cellphones, GPS tracking, easier border crossings, and much smoother riding trucks.

Yet, suicide rates are climbing for drivers, anxiety is high and crashes are far too high on the highway. Yes, crashes can be related to mental health. That’s for another article.

The societal reasons for this trend is also for another time.

Let’s say you take the advice given at the beginning of this article. You reach out. You text. You greet someone.

And you get no response. You try again. “Hey buddy. Just called to say hi”. No response. How many times do you try? When do you stop being caring and just look like a pest?

In the old truckstops some wouldn’t respond to the conversation. It was generally accepted that they needed their own space. Sometimes the others would continue to include the quiet driver without needing their input. I can tell you as one who has their quiet moments, that inclusion was beneficial. I still walked out energized, grateful that I wasn’t shunned. Maybe I hadn’t said a word, or maybe just a few, but inside I knew I wasn’t the only lonely driver making miles to provide for my family.

I’m not saying this happened all the time, but by and large my interactions in those days were positive.

You can’t fake caring for a person because you think that will make you look like a better person. A good friend will talk. A great friend will listen. A best friend will always be there.

No matter if you’re quiet, loud, on top of the world or struggling to find a foothold, the best people are always there.

I mention this specifically because as we deal with our mental health, we can be perceived as a lousy friend. There may be times of no response. Or a curt, snappy reply. Maybe even some anger. How do you react to this?

Far too many cut that person off. “Fine! If he /she wants to act like that, screw them”.

Do you know what caused that reply or anger? Do you know what’s going on in their head? How can you judge them? You have very little idea of what the issue is. Be kind.

Continue to let them know you’re thinking of them. Text a good memory you have with them. Like the old truckstops, keep them included.

Understand that any perceived slight you feel from them comes from a place you have no idea about. (If they have anger that you’ve caused, naturally that needs to be addressed in yourself and that anger is warranted).

What have you lost if they never respond again? Absolutely nothing. It might be years and then one day there’s contact again. I’ve had this experience. Years later, someone can tell you how that saved their life but they couldn’t talk about it until now.

You will never lose by being kind. You will never lose when you tell someone how much you love them.

Your next mile may be your last mile. Don’t waste it.