But, that’s not the beginning of the story. My story began in 1996 when Ford manufactured me and sold me to U-Haul. I worked for fourteen years hauling people’s belongings and treasured possessions around the country. I moved people across town and across the nation. What a life. For the most part, everyone was stressed out and worried their things were going to break or their checks would bounce or that the credit card wouldn’t work.
I did my best. I broke down very few times and quietly endured a lot of abuse from overstressed human clients and rental employees.
Finally, in 2012, I was retired. The mechanics refitted me with a new transmission, brakes, tires, etc., and put me on the lot in Kingston, New York, to sell. I sat out on the lot, dejected, rejected, and lonely over the winter.
Then, one day, some men from Woodstock, New York, showed up. What a crew. They stood around, looked me over from stem to stern, asked a lot of questions, and bought me.
But, not before lots of talk and some serious haggling. Three men and two of them named Richard! Can you imagine that? With ALL the names in the world, two of them were named Richard. Guy was the third one. They talked a lot and they touched everything and checked everything. I fell in love with them immediately. They got the price down and I was very excited for them. They were working for me. After months of loneliness on the lot at the rental store, I began to feel useful again…and wanted…and needed.
Sure enough, one day they returned. Richard Allen did most of the talking. They paid the price and off we went. Then, of course, the transmission started acting up and back we went. A lot of haggling continued and finally the Ford people fixed the problem and I was driven over to St. John’s Roman Catholic Church where a special parking place was made just for me. Imagine that!
Then, those three men really got to work. Rich and Rich and Guy did all the paperwork for the insurance, the registration papers, the permits, and everything else anyone could imagine.
And, finally, Rich Spool took me over to Upstate Signs and negotiated with Chester for my sign and now I’m the most beautiful truck in the whole world. Well, maybe not the most beautiful truck in the whole world but there’s a woman that they talk about sometimes and SHE thinks I’m the most beautiful truck in the whole world. Whenever Thurman looks at me, she gets all choked up.
Anyway, soon after we got the sign, a bunch of people came and got trained. Imagine that. Imagine getting trained to drive a U-Haul truck. For over ten years people drove me every day and nobody, absolutely nobody got trained to drive me at all. Now, they all have to have a drivers license, and special insurance, and a training class. Richard Allen does the training. He’s got a fancy title for all the things that he’s doing for me and for the things we do with me. He’s the Truck Master.
Guy Oddo is in charge of keeping track of everybody. He’s also got a title. He’s a Route Master. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’m so proud. I’m going out on the road almost every day. But, I’m not carrying furniture and stuff anymore. And the people who ride in my cab and come by to visit when we’re parked are definitely not stressed out.
Now, Rich Allen gets a couple of other people every day and off we go for food. We go to Albany every Wednesday and return to Woodstock completely loaded with food for our local food pantry. Occasionally, when we go to Albany, they get so much food I have to stretch my body to hold it all. Sometimes the truck crew notices and sometimes they don’t. When they notice, they whisper that it’s magic. Well, call it what you want. I’m doing everything I can to help keep the people fed.
Once a month we go over to Kingston to bring back food from the Food Bank monthly shipment. Rich Allen has a special crew and I really have to stretch my sides for this one trip. The Food Bank offloads over 10,000 pounds of food each month and there are several other cars and trucks joining in. I’m so proud to be a part of this pantry. And, of course, all the food gets packed up and goes to the pantry. And, when we get to Woodstock, Thurman is there waiting for the food and she gets all excited. It’s a beautiful day when the food comes over from the Food Bank.
Twice weekly we deliver food to area families and households. We park in each location about an hour. We offer a three-day supply of food to the people who come over to us. But…that’s not all we do.
What we really do is offer a community experience which is completely unavailable in a pantry housed in a building. When we drive up, there’s no shame or embarrassment, no need to hide. Instead, people gather for a few moments in communal conversation and connect with their neighbors. The feelings of isolation so prevalent in a pantry are completely absent.
We’re hoping to offer this experience at other locations in the area.
I’m the happiest truck in the whole wide world. I love my new name which comes from an Old Testament story. And, frankly, I’m hoping they start looking for another truck for us soon. I hope they name her Goddess.
Peace and food for all.T
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