God Bless the Truckers
Five years ago Marine Petrova reviewed Jim Holt’s book, Why Does the World Exist in the Los Angeles Review of Books. She begins her piece thus: “Jim Holt is an expert at nothing.” That seems to be sort of an ice breaker in what is not a negative review. Petrova’s reflections on Holt’s work are really think-starters. The first line got me thinking.
I am an expert at nothing. Even though I have excelled in various endeavors along my journey, I’ve never considered myself a gold medalist in any one of them. There is, of course, the question of what qualifies one as an expert in any given area. But whatever that might be, whenever looking in the mirror I generally have seen, or see, a person somewhere between average to above average. I might even consent to owning some portion of expertise . . . but expert? . . . no.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been okay with that. Be it academics or athletics or husband/father or preacher, my efforts have always been strenuous. I’ve set the bar high and worked hard to reach it. Yet I have had to be content with doing the best that I can and always striving to improve. No Olympic podium. No Medal of Honor. No valedictorian. No Father of the Year. No sermons preached to a football stadium filled to capacity. And I am entirely okay with that.
Somebody, I suppose, has to be the best at everything. The problem is when people think of the second place finisher as the first place loser. What does that make the tenth place finisher? Or the one who had to drop out? To be sure, an individual does well to set the bar high and earnestly work toward it. But the critical attitude is acknowledging that doing one’s best is all one can do . . . and to give thanks that one even has the opportunity to try.
A.J. Foyt holds the USAC career wins record (159 victories) and the American championship racing career wins record (67). He is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500 (four times), the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A super-duper race car driver . . . and good for him. (Also, that he did all that without dying on the track; he’s 83 today). But I’ll tell you what: I appreciate every bit as much the people who drive the long-haul trucks so that I can buy groceries at Safeway or a TV at Best Buy. Those folks will never make the front pages of anything, but they perform a valuable service to all of us. And they should revel in that fact as they drift off in their sleeper cab at an interstate rest stop.