Falling into a trap in life

The last article introduced the reader to Hal, a trucker by profession. We learned that Hal’s lengthy work career has been financially successful. However, Hal is arguably in denial about other important elements in his life that include health, family and possibly a gambling addiction.

Hal, like all long-distance truckers, faces the stress of time tables for pickup and drop off. On-the-go travel may translate to eating unhealthy foods on the run. Exercise is a component that often gets neglected, again for the lack of time. Truckers are notorious to be subjected of weak backs and necks. Extra weight can impact knees, legs and foot health matters. Hal has been given good medical advice, which he doesn’t heed.

We learn that Hal is divorced. His family relies upon a court-ordered child support payment. The family has moved away. They lost the house. His now former wife has custody of their child. We have no information related to any visitation order. Does Hal have any communication with his child? We have learned that long hours in the truck give rise to boredom and an expressed need for something to look forward to.

The expressed need is more internalized. Hal shares little. He has few friends. We don’t know whether he shares any personal-intimate feelings or thoughts with anybody. He occasions lengthy trips with a brief excursion at a truck stop that is near a casino. Hal likes to gamble. While he prefers the crap table, he is challenged by the one-armed bandits. Time in the truck provides a lot of thinking on how to beat the odds. Hal receives an injection of hope and unspecified good feeling to offset the cumbersome experience of major life losses. His home, his wife and child are gone. This is not how Hal envisioned his life.

He and his former wife agreed that he’d continue long-distance trucking while she raised their child. He’d be home every seven to 10 days for brief periods. The money was attractive and the benefits of a stable home were appealing. She paid the bills mostly from Hal’s earnings. She worked part-time to offer added comforts.

Hal was, initially, consistent like clockwork with his check. Ample income paid for the mortgage, utilities, food, clothing and other comforts. Hal’s schedule left him precious little time to enjoy the fruits of his labor. The lights, the smiles and the free drinks from the casino (he only drank alcohol when able to shut down for the day and crash in his sleeper) combined, brought a dose of excitement to Hal’s otherwise dull life. Even when home, he only wanted to stay home. He rarely participated in family functions. He took vacations and stayed home. His wife and child remained home until she decided to vacation without him.

Something happened to the clockwork. A proverbial monkey wrench obliterated the timing mechanism. Hal’s gambling excursions came more frequently and with frequent losses. His once proud capabilities to responsibility and financially take care of his home took a downward spiral. Fast forward, the house payments were behind and eventually foreclosure took center stage. Hal’s family was not able to meet the distress that followed and left, leaving Hal alone. The losses of family home and pride mounted up. Denial and hope for quick riches manifested into emptiness.Where is Hal today?

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Marshall Greenstein, a Cassadaga resident, holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email editorial@observertoday.com.