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Uncommon Carriers

Who will carry our stuff?

Every day, every hour, across the U.S., somebody is carrying stuff we need or want. A representative sample of these folks let John McPhee ride along with them, and he recounts their unique stories in Uncommon Carriers.

Truck Drivers:
They have to build up a tolerance for us “four-wheelers” who are unaware of the danger of big trucks. According to the driver of a chemical tanker who carries hazmats, we are “not aware of the weight, of how long it takes to bring one to a halt, how quickly [your] life can be snuffed. If you pull any stunts around the big trucks, you’re likely to die. I’m not going to die. You are.”

Train Conductors:
Among other things, railroads transfer two-thirds of new automobiles. A bit of trivia: “Hoboes like to ride the trains inside the automobiles. Each one has a couple of gallons of gas in it, because automobiles are driven on and off trains under their own power. Transients, settling in for a trip, turn on the automobiles’ air conditioners in summer, heaters in winter. When an automobile runs out of gas, the transient moves to another.”

UPS Carriers:
Brown does more than packages. They repair Toshiba laptops and certain printers, refurbish cell phones, warehouse Jockey shorts and socks, and house Bentley auto parts. And they do big business carrying lobsters through the air.

Towboat Captains:
“There are two places in the world—home and everywhere else, and everywhere else is the same.” About towboat cooks: “The company prefers the Fifty-five Club—fifty-five years old and fifty-five pounds overweight, see what I’m sane [sic]? ...They call them in for an interview, see that they’re young and beautiful, and she isn’t hired. The company, it isn’t their first rodeo, see what I’m sane? If she’s young and beautiful, she has to be smarter than the average bear to survive. If there’s a young cook, the buzzards are sane, ‘These are the best hot dogs I’ve ever eaten.’ An old woman, she could serve them a six-course meal and they’d [complain].”

So give thanks for these men and women carriers and the unusual lives they have to lead. You wouldn’t want to depend on me to drive a big rig. I can barely parallel park or back up straight into my garage. Without these skilled carriers, we’d be left empty-handed.

Physically, anyway. But spiritually, as believers, we’re all called to be "uncommon carriers," even in these clay pots of ours (2 Corinthians 4:4-18).

We’re carriers of valuable things like hope and joy and peace through Jesus Christ, treasures that the world has been blinded from seeing. And we’re called to carry the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus shines brightly in our lives. This is stuff that people really need.

That’s what I call uncommon. Let’s carry that.


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