It was deep winter 1995 the night the truck broke down on a dark and lonely mountain pass. The temperature was low enough to freeze uncovered skin. In the back of our 1967 Ford one-ton were two Belted Galloway cows and four Shetland sheep.
We were driving without stop to transport these animals from their home in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, to ours near Williams Lake, British Columbia. All went well until we neared a pass on the Yellowhead Highway west of Jasper. It was 10 p.m. when two tires blew. We were an hour and a half from the nearest garage in Valemount, and the temperature was -20 C.We put on our emergency flashers and prepared to flag down help. The first vehicle to approach up the long, snowy hill was a Yanke truck, which pulled over immediately.
The driver took me into Valemont while my husband waited with the animals. He pulled into an all-night coffeeshop and began making calls.
The town’s only mechanic was out on a job. The young Yanke driver located him and asked him to come pick me up. I assured the driver I’d be fine until the mechanic came, but he refused to leave me until he was sure I was taken care of. That proved to be several hours.
We chatted amiably and drank coffee. I was warm and knew help was on the way but worried about my husband, waiting in the cold with a load of livestock.
The Yanke driver kept going out to his truck. I figured he was keeping a dispatcher updated on his long wait, but I was wrong. He was radioing trucks traveling the Yellowhead Highway, asking them to check on a 1967 Ford and its cold driver.My husband was mystified by the trucks that kept flashing their lights as they passed him by. Much later he learned they were just making sure he was OK and letting him know he wasn’t forgotten.
It was nearly 1:30 a.m. by the time the mechanic arrived at the restaurant, and the Yanke driver resumed his run. An hour later we had loaner tires. We drove into Valemont, fed and watered the animals, and found a motel still open. After a few hours of sleep, we bought new tires and headed home.
The animals came through the ordeal just fine. So did we, thanks to a young Yanke truck driver his kindness to strangers.I think about that young man whenever I see a truck with the big Yanke logo on its side. There are a lot of stereotypes about truck drivers and plenty of warnings about accepting rides from strangers. I would have missed a memorable experience and a good story had I paid attention to them instead of to that internal voice that said, “This is a good man.”