CARL’S CORNER, TEXAS – It was just after 1 a.m. in the truck stop that was once the namesake of this incorporated city. Thanks to bankruptcy a while back, Carl Cornelius had to give it up. But that’s another story.

The clerk just started the second of three shifts she would work in a span of 36 hours of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

“I came in at midnight after getting off at 6 p.m. last night and I’ll be here until 7. Then, I’ll come back later today at 3.”

This is her second time to work the Christmas shift. Her sidekick over on the other side of the counter? This is his fifth.

I stopped counting at 24 trucks idle in the big lot out back. All of them lined up in perfect rows under the fog that had drifted in.

The only other customers inside the store was a couple who were deep in the middle of making a giant plate of nachos in the back corner, opposite the wall of CB radio antennas for sale. Complete with chili and jalapeños.

Neither clerk seemed to mind the shift. As a matter of fact, they looked…

Happy.

Peaceful?

Yes, that’s it. Peaceful.

And goodwill toward them and all those on the road this morning, man.