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the ramblings of the girl and the truck driver #3

The truck driver:

Drivin on Saturday morning is different than driving on weekday mornings.  The rest areas are empty of big trucks.

I’m lookin at bein home but for some odd reason, bein Saturday, I’m thinkin about Monday and drivin to the next destination.  So that’s kinda messed up.

When I tell a story there is often the reoccurring theme of home and place…what it’s like to be home…having a home, leaving home.  Truck driver time is unusual in that when you’re there, you’re ready to go.  When you go, you’re always ready to get there…it’s a constant state of motion, constant state of movement.

There’s a certain amount of excitement in all of this movement and it can also be exhausting.  It is.

This week, we have started off slow due to a weather delay.  Closed highway.  A slow trek to our next delivery destination prevented us from unloading until the following morning.  Hurry up and wait.  Once unloaded, we then wait 4 hours to be dispatched on the next load.  Hurry up and wait.  Driving into the night till 11 pm a rush to arrive at this loads destination, we wake in the morning early, untarp, unstrap… in an effort to be ready and to be unloaded in a timely manner.  We don’t get unloaded until 11 am.  Hurry up and wait.  With anxiety, I throw together my lunch and we race off on a 4 hour route to pick our next load in Albuquerque, NM.  Once there we hit the road about 5 pm, again driving into the night, stopping short of a full day.  Just tired.  We will not make it home.

Overall, this week, has been wonderful.  It has been wonderful sharing the experience of the road with the girl.  We live in a beautiful country.  This is an understatement.  Like a first float trip a couple takes in a canoe, a relationship undergoes a test.  We will float again! This week has a happy ending.  When I tell a story, I don’t always pull together a happy ending.  I don’t need that all the time.  I don’t care for that sugarcoated, watered down version of reality.  I enjoy all of it, the dramas of life, it’s highs and lows. I talk about my eyes moistening when I look at a beautiful vista…and I may also talk about a humiliating experience involving diarrhea, getting a ticket or being yelled at by a shipping clerk. I may also touch on death, religion and politics.

Anyway.

The girl sits next to me now and enters all these thoughts into a lap top.  With a negligible amount of editing, she quietly dictates.  THIS is wonderful!  If only she were with me everyday, she could record ALL the thoughts that fire!  Especially in the mornings.

So much gratitude for the girl.

 

The girl:

First, I was going to write about connection…us all being connected…the connection from one end of the supply chain to the other…then something else came up.

As I sat yesterday afternoon, in the cab at a drywall plant in the New Mexico dessert, the sun was hot and the wind was fierce, a small spray truck driving around the property spraying water to keep some of the dust down.  I watched these men working outside in this, as big truck after big truck got loaded with thousands and thousands of pounds of materials, these men climbed to the top of the stacks harnessed to a wire while they covered the stack in plastic…in the wind and the dust.  They covered the trailers with plastic, then with tarps, then he straps and bungies the load with hundreds of bungies.

We were the second to last truck to be done for the day.  We got here late.

Two days ago we arrived at our destination at 4:05pm…5 minutes after the unload time so they wouldn’t unload us.  We spent the night in the parking lot behind a big box store.  The next morning, he unstrapped, untarped and got ready to be unloaded.  Finally someone came out to lecture him about not calling to let them know he was coming that morning.  He replied kindly, “we were here yesterday at 4:05 and we were told we’d have to wait until this morning.”  Then we waited 4 hours to hear where we would be dispatched to.  We’d have to get to Farmington NM tonight.  He drives into the night, 11pm I think.  I got back into my bed around 10. He gets up at 6am to unstrap, untarp so we’re ready as soon as they will unload us.  He was excited for the day.  Our next load was in Albuquerque so we had time to take a walk, have a picnic together in a beautiful spot.  They tell him it will be awhile and he makes his breakfast.  We wait….and wait.  With maybe 30 employees standing around in groups talking and 1 person on 1 forklift,  nobody seems to be interested in unloading our truck.  With each hour that ticks by, our hopes of a walk and a picnic disappear.  Finally, 4 hours later, he goes back inside, comes back out with a forklift following.  30 minutes later we are unloaded and making a mad dash to get to our next destination before they close at 3pm.  If we don’t make it, we will have to wait there until Monday morning.  Top speed in this big truck is 62 miles per hour.

Here I sit now, watching these men and how brutal the work they do is.  I think about the rushing and waiting we have done, completely at the mercy and whims of the shipping clerk and their organization.  Hours spent waiting stomping on our day with frustrating force.

As I stand in a store days or weeks or months later, I will look at the products there and think of this back story.  How much we take for granted that we have what we want whenever we want it because of these people. I’ll think of how hard they work moving materials around this country.  I never thought of it this way before.

He drives a truck and his load and unload times, miles to travel dictate his life on the road.  He has made the best of this life. Seemingly romantic in its travel.  We don’t stop between loads much and not at all when we sit and wait for hours and hours at one of them.  When that happens and it seems to happen often, we race the clock and the miles.

I’ve just spent 6 days in a moving aluminum machine hauling 80,000 pounds a day with a man I love terribly.  We made it and we had an amazing adventure together.  We both made the best of each experience.  A human experience, a relationship experiment.

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