Tales from the Trip is a blog I created to tell the personal stories I have encountered during my time dealing with individuals in various SAP programs. The purpose of these stories is so that, hopefully, you can learn to avoid the mistakes of others and save yourself the trouble of running into a similar situation in the future. Ours is an unfortunate protagonist whom I have decided to name Fred after a stray dog I found. Fred was the sweetest and kindest little pup that you ever met. I think I decided to name our protagonist after him because Fred didn’t deserve what had happened to him. He just got caught up in some circumstances that weren’t necessarily his fault, but he was definitely the one who had to suffer the consequences. Luckily, none of the things I will describe happened to the same person, but for the purposes of this blog, Fred will ultimately become the unluckiest human being on planet Earth. All names have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved. And so begins Fred’s journey and the Tales from the Trip……
Like many others before him, Fred was just a man who wanted to make a living doing the thing he loved: driving trucks. He had started his over-the-road career early on in life and had a number of years of well-earned experience under his belt. His employers loved him because he was always on time, professional, and they knew that if a load was given to Fred, it was definitely going to arrive at its destination intact and on time. Fred was an ideal employee that any dispatcher would be lucky to have, but this did come with a few caveats. Fred was kind- hearted to a fault, and as many of us know, the kindest and nicest human beings can sometimes be the victims of individuals who take advantage of such kindness. Because of his willingness to work and take on any job, Fred had begun to feel the years of over-the-road trucking on his body. Years of gas station hot dogs, energy drinks, bad posture, lack of sleep, and endless hours in his rig had taken their toll on his body. Fred wasn’t the young buck who could spring back after a fall. He wasn’t the middle-aged guy who would help a struggling loader get things into the truck when he could tell they were struggling.
He just wasn’t the guy that his mind still believed he was. Like many individuals, Fred had gotten to that stage of life where his body had outgrown his mind, and the consequences of years of hard work had begun to manifest in his joints, muscles, and bones. It had reached a point where unbeknownst to him; he was on the verge of sustaining an injury at any moment. That day finally came on a lonely stretch of road while traveling through Alabama on his way to Texas. At around 10 pm he noticed through the windshield a car on the side of the road with their hazards on, and a lady was standing to the side of the car waving her arms back and forth through the air in an attempt to flag down anyone she could. This is the type of thing Fred could not ignore. He was raised with good morals, and whenever he came across something like this, he was always reminded of his father stopping the car when he was a child to help anyone in need who seemed to be having car trouble. Fred had been down this stretch of road many times before and knew that they were in a cellular dead zone, and he might be the last person this lady would see for some hours because the stretch of road he was on was miles from the nearest town or gas station. He put his blinkers on, pulled over, and popped out of the cabin.
He had done this sort of thing many times throughout his life, and sure enough, after introducing himself, he learned that she just needed some help changing her tire. She would normally have called AAA but obviously had no cell service. He assured her it wasn’t a problem and opened her trunk. Luckily, he was able to find a spare tire that, indeed, was in working condition.
He got to work and jacked up the car, undead the bolts, changed the tire, undid the jack, and went to lift the damaged tire. When he bent over to lift the tire, he felt something twist in his lower back and instinctively winced in pain. The young lady noticed and asked if he was all right as he continued to roll the tire to her trunk. Now Fred was a man’s man. He was the type of guy to suffer in silence, and when she asked, he told her everything was fine with a smile, but the lady could tell something was wrong. When he closed the trunk, he noticed that she had walked over to the passenger side of her car and reached into a bag. She returned, thanked Fred for his help, and handed him what looked like a vitamin bottle. He glanced down, took the bottle, and saw it was full of CBD capsules. He had seen this type of thing before at gas stations all over the US but hadn’t thought anything of it. He knew it had something to do with marijuana, but that was the extent of his knowledge about the situation. She mentioned that she had noticed he had been in some pain and that she used these for muscle inflammation, and that she wanted him to have them because she thought it might help with his situation. She told him it was a natural medication she had been using for years and a lifesaver whenever she had muscle pain from going to the gym. He glanced down and looked at the label and saw that it clearly said 0% THC on the bottle. His parents had also taught him not to refuse kindness when offered, so he took the bottle and sent her on her way.
He made his way back to the cabin and went to open the door to the cab, but when he tried to get in, the pain flared up in his back, and he had to stop himself half-step. Luckily, he had a bottle of water he could reach that was in the door of the cab, so he reached up, pulled it down, and stopped to think about what he should do. He looked down once more at the bottle and thought about what the girl had said. At that moment, he hesitated. Weirdly enough, his insides churned a bit with indecision as he thought about his circumstances. He dismissed the feeling when he saw what time it was and realized that he had taken longer to help this lady than he had hoped. Not wanting to be late for his delivery, he went against his intuition and decided to open the bottle. The instructions said to take 3 capsules with some water. He decided to take 2 instead just to be safe and sat down on the step up to the truck. He looked up at the starry sky and thought to himself how beautiful it was. The light pollution was thin on this lonely road in the middle of Alabama, and he could see the entire milky way lighting up the sky. He took a moment to take in the beauty of the sky, and after about twenty minutes, he realized that his lower back had stopped hurting. He stood up, twisted left and right, and realized he couldn’t feel the pain anymore. Surprised at the efficacy of the pills, he jumped up into his cab and headed back down the road.
Fred made it to his delivery without any problems, but after about 6 hours, the pain in his lower back started to flare up again. He cursed to himself and realized that he really was becoming an old man like everyone always told him he would eventually become. Luckily though he had his little miracle bottle, he popped it open and took a couple more capsules before eventually lying in his cabin to sleep for the night. He slept soundly and deeply, but when he woke up and went to get out of his bed, he felt that sharp pain in his lower back once again. Immediately his intuition showed up, and he knew that he should set up an appointment to get himself checked out, but then he dismissed the feeling when he realized how tight his schedule was. He did not have any time for the Doctor if he was going to keep up with his deliveries. So once again, he opened the bottle and took a couple more pills. Fred continued this process of pain and suppression, taking the CBD capsules every time his back would flare up, and eventually finished his route.
He looked up the CBD capsules online and decided he better order some more because the bottle he had been given was already half-used by the time it had been handed to him. This cycle continued for another couple of months until, one day; his dispatcher told him that he had a random drug screen to complete. Fred had been taking drug tests for 30 years and had never failed a single test during his entire career as a truck driver, so when he got a call a few days after the test saying that he was positive, his heart sank. The medical review officer informed him that he had tested positive for a small amount of THC and now had a violation in the clearinghouse. The instant he heard this, he knew what had caused the problem. He took the latest bottle of CBD capsules he had received in the mail and called the MRO, and explained what had happened. He told the MRO the name of the capsules and even sent him a photo showing the picture on the label that said 0% THC. The MRO explained that the packaging for CBD in the United States could say 0% if it is 0.385%, which, unfortunately, is enough to fail the urinalysis screening for the DOT. The MRO told Fred that all was not lost and that he could drive again after completing an SAP program.
Fred thought back to that moment of hesitation before taking the capsules and seeing the milky way shining brightly in the sky. He laughed to himself, remembering something his mother had told him when he was just a boy. He had looked up into the same starry sky and asked his mother where the stars came from. She looked back at him and said, “Fred, nobody knows where the stars came from, so don’t let anyone try and tell you that they know. People have all sorts of ideas about all sorts of things, but the origin of everything is a mystery that no one will ever be able to answer for sure, but I’ll tell you this: there’s an intelligence to this mystery called life. It’s the intelligence that knows how to make an acorn into a tree or how to grow you inside my belly. That same intelligence is a part of you and a part of me. So, whenever you don’t know the answer to something, I’ll tell you what my mother told me when I was your age. Just trust your gut. That feeling you get when you’re unsure about something is what you should always listen to. Remember that that feeling is smart enough to make a seed change into a flower or turn a caterpillar into a butterfly, so you should listen to it when it does show up. It’s the only thing you can rely on when things are uncertain, so don’t ever try to explain it away.” Fred took a deep breath and looked up at the sky one more time before taking the bottle of capsules and tossing it into the closest trash can.
If you have found yourself in a situation that requires you to meet for an evaluation with an SAP then look no further! Find more information at www.sapevaluation.org or you can reach us at 1- 800-683-7745.