OOIDA member Randy
Tomblin found out how quickly strangers step up
to help, and how some dont seem to care at
The phone call that bears devastating news of
a family members death can come at any time.
When the spouse or parent happens to be an
over-the-road trucker, grief is often complicated by
the frustrating task of getting home. In January,
OOIDA member Randy Tomblin found out how quickly
strangers step up to help, and how some dont
seem to care at all.
Tomblin drives for Triad Transport, a McAllister, OK,
company. He drives a tanker, working out of the
terminal in Columbus, OH. Hauling a load of acid, he
was in Georgia on Jan. 27, when his pager and
Qualcomm went crazy.
"It was an urgent message, telling me to call
home immediately," he says.
He pulled off I-75 at exit 133 and into the Flying J
at Resaca, GA, but there was no place to park. He
pulled up beside the scale, parked and ran inside to
find a phone. When he phoned his home in Lucasville,
OH, his wife Lynn answered the phone. Randy could
tell from the anguish in her voice "something
awful had happened." All she would tell him is
that there had been a death in the family. She was
afraid to tell him, knowing he was on the road and
fearing what his state of mind would be if he knew.
While he pleaded with his wife to tell him what
happened, another driver noticed his distress.
Although Randy had never met him before, the driver
got him a cup of coffee and brought it to him in an
effort to comfort him. Randy tried to calm himself
and assured Lynn he would somehow catch a flight
home. The nearest connection would be to fly out of
He was trying to make a connection when he overheard
a page saying the truckstop was going to tow the
Triad truck. He hung up and frantically went to the
fuel desk and identified himself as the Triad driver
and said he was sorry but there was an emergency, a
death in the family and he was trying to find out
He said the fuel desk manager, Darrell Longmeier,
told him, "I dont care. Were towing
your truck if you dont move it now."
Randy tried to explain that he had to use the phone,
to talk to his wife and find out what happened and
make arrangements to get home. Longmeier didnt
seem to be at all concerned.
"He told me it was out of his hands and up to
security," says Randy, "he just said,
We are gonna tow it if you dont move it,
There was no offer to find him a place to park, no
offer of assistance. Longmeier told him to leave.
Randy was shocked. Words were exchanged and in a
state of panic and disbelief, Randy swore at the man
behind the fuel desk.
"I had the cup of coffee in my hand and I threw
it at him and left. I got in my truck and drove
across the street to the CB shop," Randy says.
"I had to find a place to park and get to a
At the CB shop, it was a different story. The owner
of the place, a hospitable man, stopped everything to
be of assistance.
"The people at the shop were unbelievable,"
says Randy, "I told them what was happening and
right away, they let me use their business phone to
call my wife."
From the CB shop, Randy called his wife back, and was
stunned when she told him his 14-year old son had
collapsed at school and died of a sudden, unpredicted
heart failure. Grief stricken, he tried again to make
connections to fly home. He found out it was too late
to catch a plane out of Chattanooga. He had just
missed the last flight by minutes, minutes wasted by
the fracas at the truckstop. Randy Tomblin climbed in
his truck and drove a very long 500 miles home.
"God must have been watching over me," he
said later. On Feb. 1, he and Lynn laid their young
son to rest.
Randy Tomblin is now back on the road. There are big
bills to be paid. He thinks about his son and the
funeral services at the school gymnasium. He thinks
about Andy Taylor, his terminal manager at Triad who
drove 100 miles to come to the service, and the good
people at the CB shop. And he thinks about the
incident at the truckstop.
"I guess I still cant believe it. I have
been trucking 25 years and never in a hundred years
would expect to be treated like that. Especially from
an employee of a truckstop, a place that is supposed
to serve truckers," says Randy.
The assistant general manager at the Flying J is
Donnie Sims. Sims told Land Line he was aware of the
incident and regretted the situation.
"Granted, we should have been more
understanding," Sims said, "Im sure
this will be addressed and well be sure to be
better prepared when something like this happens in
the future to one of our customers." LL
Us | Search | Archives | Advertise | Careers |
Subscribe | Classifieds
Display Ads | Links | E-mail Us | OOIDA | Road Gear |
Copyright (c) 1999 by OOIDA
311 R. D. Mize Road
Grain Valley, Missouri 64029