“What he managed to do with Ireland is nothing short of a miracle. He had such a formidable mission –a lone man trying to spread the message of hope.” – From commentary on the 2007 documentary film Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland.
A couple of years back in this space, I declared that if I could pick a patron saint for the trucking industry, it would be Saint Patrick – who of course, would have to do double duty, as he’s also the patron saint of Ireland.
However, my good friend and fellow trucking reporter William “Liam” Cassidy quickly chastised me for forgetting that truckers ALREADY have a patron saint: that would be Saint Christopher, one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and patron saint of lorry drivers, as the Irish would say.
St. Christopher is also the patron saint of all travelers and transportation workers, including mariners, bus drivers and taxi drivers, as well as bachelors, fruit dealers and epileptics -- a busy man, this guy!
[Here’s a quick video of what trucking in Ireland is like. This two-lane blacktop is what passes for a “highway” throughout most of Ireland, and yes, you suddenly come up on small towns like this one without even a stoplight to warn you. Note how close the trucks pass by each other in this film clip; there isn’t much room to maneuver on Irish roads!]
Still, I prefer my idea (and Liam, YOU are a Scotsman, anyway, so you get NO say in this – even if you DO speak Gaelic like a native!) largely because I think Saint Patrick’s life mirrors, in many ways, that of truckers – a single man, out trying to do his best to make the world a better place.
Like I said back in my 2008 post, the reason I feel trucking and Saint Patrick go together is that he’s a living representation of the power of one – how one person can make not just a difference in the world but actually orchestrate huge, mammoth change; the kind that eternally resonates down the pathways of human history.
[Here’s a clip from the 2007 documentary film Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland that explains some of the beliefs that carried him through his mission so long ago – in particular, his belief in giving thanks, no matter the circumstances.]
Saint Patrick’s belief in leading by example, by facing danger head on, is the same stuff exhibited by truckers every day – especially those honored by Goodyear’s “Highway Hero” award, the ones jumping out of their cabs to rescue fellow drivers and motorists, no matter the danger to their own life and limbs. For who knows what the lives saved by the selfless bravery of truckers will go on to accomplish?
I talked to Goodyear’s Jim Davis about this year’s crop of Highway Heroes and he related an interesting story to me. One of the nominees related that his wife, upon hearing her husband’s tale of bravery, got upset – because, if he’d gotten hurt or killed in his rescue efforts, that would have severely impacted the lives of their family.
His response was fairly blunt: “If I was the one trapped in a burning rig, wouldn’t you want someone to do what I did? To try and rescue me?”
That’s the kind of spirit embodied by Saint Patrick – a Roman youth enslaved by Irish pirates who later escaped, took holy orders, and returned to the very land and people who’d denied him his freedom. Takes a brave man to put his life at such risk; but it’s a characteristic that isn’t foreign to many of the truck drivers I meet in this industry.
That’s what Saint Patrick’s Day represents for me, anyways.