This is the 60th a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
The Big Rig Charity, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 30th January 2012
Word count: 592
“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut!” little Henry had shouted in nursery when asked.
So obviously he’d become a truck driver. It was a good life though, he loved the open road, the checks and scorecards, miles per hour, per gallon and per tonne satisfied his OCD, and he wrote songs as he drove, kept himself entertained and alert.
Henry enjoyed his work. His personal life not so much, twice divorced, currently single, no kids. His brother looked down on him for some reason. His parents had both died while he and his brother were in their twenties, his brother was his only family, aside from two ex-wives, but he was only on speaking terms with one of them.
Still it wasn’t so bad, he spent the better part of fifty hours a week on the road, which was ample distraction from all these worries.
That’s a big part of the reason why he volunteered for the mission. That and he genuinely cared about the cause.
Henry was currently on a ferry from Dover to France. From there he would travel to the South, and then he would take his rig on another ferry to Africa. Once there it was a grueling fifteen hundred mile journey to his destination. He wasn’t alone though, there were two other trucks travelling convoy.
The mission was simple, they were to carry aid, three truck loads, from Lincoln, where it had come from public and commercial donors, to Ethiopia which was currently suffering with a drought.
The journey was long and hard, an aid convoy seemed to require more checks at each ports customs. The ferry costs seemed to be higher for charities too from France to the African continent.
But the hardest part of their journey was always going to be Africa itself. Aside from the condition of many roads, and often the lack of any real road at all, there were problems with would be hijackers, various county’s that tried to insist on a cut, and at the point of a gun got it.
There were places so poor, and hungry that the drivers were tempted to hand over their previous loads then and there. Yet the people accepted handfuls of coins like it was fortunes. These same people would even warn the drivers of what routes not to take.
At first like the others, Henry didn’t trust the advice, it could have been a trap to capture the wagons by a desperate people. However they soon learned that most genuinely were being helpful, and the routes by passed customs, army check points, and bandits quite often. Nothing beat local knowledge on these matters.
In all the journey took two weeks one way, but all three drivers made it, their loads more out less in tact. The people who came to the distribution centres they delivered to, seemed thankful. The aid workers treat them well. All three men got involved in distribution, it was nice to see the process through to the end.
Afterwards, they travelled on, filled their trucks with goods, and they set off back home. In Europe they sold their goods. Back in Lincoln three quarters of their profit went to the charity that any them, to fund an expedition the following year. A donation and offer that was graciously received.
It was a new measures of happiness for Henry, and he did the journey another five times in his life. To different places, during different times, but he got to know the same joy each time.