Truck 579 has been parked or occasionally borrowed by other servicemen as a reserve rig since I got here. But 579 is not a reserve rig. It is Howie's ride. Or rather, it was.
Howie announced his retirement yesterday. He has been off work since shortly before I started here. I actually have never met him, because he has not stopped by when I happened to be on duty. Howie has been fighting cancer since mid-summer. He had a major surgery at the beginning of September, and when he went home to recuperate, pretty much all of our servicemen - on and off duty - were at his house to greet him. They had arranged a couple of trucks to have the buckets raised and crossed over his driveway, a "welcome home" banner stretched between them.
As an aside...what a great company this is. That would never have happened at the old place.
Anyway, yesterday we got word that he was putting in his papers. He found out on Monday that new cancer spots were found in many places, including on his lungs. The doctors prescribed pain meds and told him to go home and get his house in order. All I hear is how he isn't at all concerned for himself. All his worries are about his wife and parents and children. That is character.
The gloom in the control center is palpable. Howie is very well-liked and well-respected across the board. Although I never got to meet him, I am sad by association because my guys are all down about it.
His name has been on the board by 579 for months awaiting his return, but with the papers filed he isn't coming back. I haven't found the courage to remove it, but sooner or later another name will be assigned to Truck 579 and I won't be able to avoid it any longer.
If you are willing, send positive thoughts in whatever way you choose to do so to Howie and his family.