Recently, I changed employers and am now based out of St. Stephen, NB. While on my way down there from Fredericton - with my car - and coming around a corner, a moose made its awe-inspiring appearance.
It was a big animal, standing by the side of the road, looking left and right. As the car in front of me slowed down and started to carefully give it a wide berth, the moose stepped into the road. Probably not the smartest move from a traffic safety point of view, but still, it's his country, so what can I say. The car stopped, as did I. The animal then crossed the road, quite elegantly so, and continued on into the ditch and disappeared into the scrub and the woods. This was the first moose I had ever seen since moving to Canada in November 2017. Such a gorgeous animal, quite the gentle giant, quite the encounter.
Imagine my delight that same week when in the distance, I spotted another two samples of this most magnificent of species. I had picked up a load in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and was on my way to Presque Isle, Maine, with that load. I would cross the border at Houlton, so I was following the Trans Canada 2 in New Brunswick. Near Oromocto, under the Route 7 overpass, I saw these two moose on the side of the road. Or so I believed. It was dusk and getting dark. I flashed my high beams frantically to warn them off. But getting closer, they weren't moose at all. They were a person and his shopping cart.
While passing this guy, I figured he was probably homeless and collecting cans and bottles for recycling from the side of the road. Also, I thought, it was maybe a good thing he and his trolley weren't real moose. And, for someone to clean trash from the side of the road, I find that a totally honourable thing to do. There are way too many bottles, cups, cans, candy wrappers and what not being thrown out of vehicles.
Imagine my surprise, a couple of days later when I stumbled across the following Facebook post on the Atlantic Canada Truckers page by fellow truck driver Karen Smith:
"I finally got the chance to stop and ask this young man exactly what he is doing. We see him all the time westbound pushing his shopping cart, or sleeping under a tarp in the woods. He left Moncton five days ago and he is going to Ottawa. He is hoping to make it to Ottawa for July 1. He said he’s just walking out of New Brunswick for something better in life. Very kind soul. So truckers if you go by give him a toot. His name is David."
So yeah. Definitely no moose. But the plain and loving kindness in this post is all too real. And it stunned me. Zero hostility or awkwardness, just a healthy dose of curiosity - weren't we all curious about this guy - and the heart-felt humanity of: "Very kind soul. ... give him a toot. His name is David."
David is not the only kind soul out there. So is the author of this Facebook post. And I know something else as well. I love being a truck driver in this part of the world. This place is warm and full of kindness and cool encounters, moose or mankind.
Photo credit: Karen Smith