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Posted by: srichardbellrock ( )
Date: February 13, 2018 03:15PM

Some years ago, the kids and I were returning from a Def Leppard concert in a nearby city. It was late at night and the kids were fast asleep. I still had two hours of driving ahead of me when we were surprised by quite the snowstorm.

As the visibility on the road deteriorated, I was reminded of a story I had read years earlier. The story had appeared in an LDS publication, probably The Ensign. It might have been a transcription of a General Conference address, but these decades later, the name of the speaker or writer has long since escaped me.

The author of the piece related a story that likewise involved driving in a snowstorm, and was, if I recall correctly, intended to be taken as an actual event. As he drove, the intensity of the storm increased and visibility suffered, and the narrator started to be concerned for his safety. As luck would have it, he came upon a large truck travelling in the same direction, and decided to follow closely in its wake. The truck driver, the author reasoned, had a higher vantage point and consequently had a clearer view of the road ahead. The author further reasoned that as long as he could see the lights of the truck he would be safe. He didn’t need a clear view of the road, he needed only a clear view of the lights, because the superior vantage of the truck driver was sufficient to ensure the authors safety.

Although on the face of it, the event was rather prosaic, the narrator recognized that he could draw a faith promoting analogy from his experience. The truck, he suggested, was analogous to the Savior. No matter how the figurative storms swirl around us, the Lord can see the road ahead. So long as we keep our eyes fixed toward Him, we will pass safely through any storm. Simple. Clear. Faith promoting. It was a great analogy by any standard.

When I read this, it struck me for two reasons. I was a missionary at the time, and sincerely believed that the LDS church was the Lord’s one and only. The analogy impressed upon me the need to bring others to the gospel so they could keep their eyes towards the Church, and by extension, towards the Lord. But it also stuck with me as piece of solid practical advice. If ever I were to find myself on the highway in a snowstorm, I could remember to tuck in behind a big ol’ semi.

And now here I was driving my kids home in a snowstorm. As you might have guessed, we were shortly passed by a big truck. I saw the opportunity to put the advice from years earlier into practice.

I gathered enough speed to slip us into his wake. And none too soon as it happens. As I got close enough to guarantee that I could maintain a view of his lights, the snow swirled around me with ever greater intensity, and my visibility deteriorated significantly. How lucky I was to be close enough to the truck, I thought to myself, as the snow was now so thick that I could no longer see the road ahead at all.

After following the lights of the truck for a few minutes, it occurred to me that I didn’t really know if the truck driver had a clearer view of the road than I did. If the driver did not actually have a clearer view than I had, it was entirely possible that if the truck went off the road, it would draw me and my family into the ditch along with it. And because of the swirling snow, if the truck came to a fork in the road, I would follow the lights of the truck onto whichever path the driver took, whether it was the right path or not, and I wouldn’t even realize that I had veered from my course.

So I decided to pull back a little. As I did so, I realized that storm had not coincidentally become more severe at just the time I started to follow the truck. The swirling snow causing my inability to see the road ahead had been kicked up by the truck I had been following. The reason that I could not see the road ahead was because I was following the lights of the truck.

Having let the truck get away from me, I made an effort to follow fence posts, reflectors, road edges, and signs. It was difficult, but without the blinding cloud of snow from the truck, I was able to follow the road that brought my family safely home.

also published here:

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: February 13, 2018 03:30PM

Aw, geez, way to ruin a good "blindly follow!" made-up story with logic and actual experience.

Sheesh. :)

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: February 13, 2018 04:30PM

ificouldhietokolob Wrote:
> Aw, geez, way to ruin a good "blindly follow!"
> made-up story with logic and actual experience.
> Sheesh. :)


This is a really good lesson on all levels...and I know this from my own experience...

When I was in high school, there was a girl in my grade who I had grown up with (since elementary school) whose name was something like "Hortense Johnson" (in other words: a fairly old-fashioned, and VERY "diligent"-sounding, first name, followed by one of the most common American surnames).

She followed all rules and directions very carefully, she studied everything she was SUPPOSED to study very diligently, and her grades (which were based on doing every assigned task to the utmost of her ability, memorizing everything she was supposed to memorize, reiterating that memorized information on all tests, and "following the rules" no matter what---or how asinine---those rules might have been) were above-average good---good enough to get into our school's "high grade point average" honorary club. I can never remember her saying a single thing in class: she never asked questions, or asked for clarification (or suggested some sideways journey into a fascinatingly-related swerve subject), and she was certainly never called out for talking during classtime.

The main thing about her was that she was religious. VERY religious. She prayed seemingly ALL the time. She did belong to the school "Christian club" (or whatever they called it), and I am pretty sure that this was her only after-school activity...and I remember that her Bible study lessons for the Christian club were ALWAYS completed and were NEVER late because this was a topic of loud cafeteria discussion for the members of that club. What I always found most memorable about her, though, were her low-voiced (hardly audible), but perpetually visible (bowed head, hands in prayer position), prayers to Jesus which became a constant in all of our lives: before class...before she ate her food in the cafeteria...before tests...

No matter WHAT was going on, "Hortense" was visibly praying to Jesus about it.

When it came time (in that prior-to-twelfth grade critical period which would have such a tremendous effect on all of our futures) for us to take the SAT, we took it in the school library...and "Hortense" and I were seated across from each other at the same library table.

Which meant that I could EASILY read HER test paper upside down.

She began her test with a prayer to Jesus... (of course!!!)

As I was going through my different sections of the SAT, I was finishing each section when she was still working on her sections...and I was ahead of her enough that I started first questioning, and then kind of panicking, because she was putting down answers that were SO different from mine!!! I would see a specific answer that she had filled in the space for, and---extremely confused---go back and read that question and the possible answers...and for the life of me I could NOT understand HOW she could POSSIBLY get THAT answer for THAT question!!!

She and I were SIGNIFICANTLY off from each other on at least a third of the questions, and by this time I was in something of a full panic. (That SAT was REALLY important to me for a whole lot of real-life reasons.)

So I tried reasoning out the situation, and what I (in my 15-year-old wisdom) came up with was: "Hortense" prays ALL THE TIME, and if her answers are SO different from mine, then that MUST mean that I have made an incredible amount of REALLY wrong answers.

So...I went back and changed a number of my answers to conform to HER answers.

When (weeks later, as I remember) we got our scores, I scored higher than she had, on all sections of the test...

...but I was still below the score thresholds I actually did need to meet (and it DID have a negative effect on my future life)...

...and I had to realize that, because I had cheated, I had L-O-W-E-R-E-D my SAT scores!!!!!!

In the terms of this thread, I had chosen "Hortense" to be MY truck, leading me "through the snowstorm"---and this, for me, had genuinely lifetime consequences.

That experience was pivotal in my growing up...and it taught me that, even if someone else prayed seemingly ALL of the time, that didn't mean I should follow them down "into the ditch," as it really, actually, turned out to be for a number of really unhappy, slogging-through years.

In retrospect, it was an excellent life lesson...AND it was a necessary one, because it taught me a great deal which would later prove to have very wide applicability.

In a number of ways, that seemingly disastrous 15-year-old mistake led me to a much better life than, back then, was the "ideal future life" I had imagined for my future.

It took a lot of years before I could turn it around, and it eventually all came out okay, but I have been extremely wary of "trucks leading the way in a snowstorm" ever since.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/13/2018 04:39PM by Tevai.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: February 13, 2018 03:39PM

Dammit! I was hoping that the climax was that you ended up in the parking lot of a whore house in Tonopah, Nevada! ...but then, who amongst us hasn't, at one time or another...

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Posted by: not logged in (nli) ( )
Date: February 13, 2018 04:06PM

Yup, and the heavier the storm, the closer you have to follow in order to see the taillights… then if the truck driver has to jam on the brakes suddenly (aaahh!! accident ahead!) there's not enough time to react on the icy road and you pancake into the truck.

This may have been the conference talk.

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Posted by: S Richard Bellrock ( )
Date: February 18, 2018 12:27PM

Thanks, that probably was the one.

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Posted by: tumwater ( )
Date: February 13, 2018 11:24PM

Seems that almost everyone that grew up in the mountain states have had at least one Snow bling - follow the truck experience.

I had several, but the one that I remember best is the winter DW and I were headed from Denver towards Santa Fe.

After getting gas in Las Vegas, NM the weather was over cast and cold. About 30 miles later the snow coming down really hard. At one point the north and south bound lanes of I-25 are far enough apart you couldn't see the traffic on the other lanes, but you could see the head lights lighting up the snow.

One set of car lights started waving back and forth, obviously the car was skidding. Quickly the lights pointed up into the sky and stopped.

DW said we should stop and help. As I was slowing down, flashing blue and red lights lite up the sky. A police officer was fortunately on the scene.

About 10 miles further, just past Glorieta Pass the snow let up but the fog got really thick. I couldn't see very well and had slowed to 10-15 mph. Then I caught up with the proverbial semi going a little slower. I thought I'd follow him the rest of the way into Santa Fe and spend the night there.

We went a couple of miles and he put on his brakes and stopped. The driver got out and came back to us and asked if we were alright. I told him I was following him because the visibility was so bad. He said he could hardly see but we could just help guide each other.

We stayed together until we saw the lights of Santa Fe. I turned off into town and the truck headed on towards Albuquerque, flashing his brights to as if to say good-bye.

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Posted by: donbagley ( )
Date: February 14, 2018 01:21AM


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Posted by: S Richard Bellrock ( )
Date: February 18, 2018 12:27PM

Thanks Don

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: February 18, 2018 12:53PM

I was the "truck" once.

I was driving from Denver to Boulder, not on Highway 36, but the smaller two lane road that is closer to the mountains. There was a thick fog all around me. I only had a few feet of visibility in front of my car. I was driving at a glacial pace, but I was still deeply frightened. Adding to my woes, at that point in my life I did not have the deep level of experience driving that I have now.

I might have tried pulling over but for two things: One, I had no idea what was on the other side of the line, and two, I had another driver who was clinging to the rear of my car for dear life. I saw her lights close by in my rear-view mirror for the entirety of the trip. I was this other driver's "truck." So I did feel a weight of responsibility not just for myself but for the other driver as well.

I kept going, and made it safely home. Presumably so did she. Sometimes we have to look out for each other. That's all I've got.

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Posted by: Dave the Atheist ( )
Date: February 18, 2018 04:22PM

I don't have to out run the bear. I just have to out run you.

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Posted by: Mother Who Knows ( )
Date: February 18, 2018 04:41PM

I love your story, srichardbellrock!

I had two similar experiences.
I was following a truck, in thick fog, coming out of a small town in Utah, and it finally stopped at a convenience store. It had turned off the main route, 20 minutes ago, and I was lost in the middle of nowhere.

A BYU boyfriend and I ran into a blizzard. There were very few cars on the road, and we crawled along, with cars behind us. When we realized we had taken a wrong turn, we turned around, and the 6 other cars behind us had to turn around, too. My boyfriend laughed and said, "Sheep."

The kicker-twist to YOUR story, srichardbellrock, is that the truck was CAUSING the blinding snow! I love that!

After my children and I resigned from the Mormon cult, we realized that it had been the CAUSE of family disagreements, feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, fear of making decisions, loneliness, lack of love, unanswered questions--instead of the CURE.

I'm going to tell your story to as many people as possible!


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