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the ramblings of the girl and the truck driver, trip 4 #3

The girl:

We stop last night in Winsor, Nebraska, not far from our load at a gigantic steel plant.  We got what you call, steel slinkies.  Big round bundles of steel wire.

It’s all big business here.  Big ag, steel, cattle, corn, soy beans, hay.  Beautiful farmland as far as your eye can see.  No human food.  Feed for cattle.  Thousands of cattle laying around in the dirt of giant feedlots.

Each property proudly displaying the name of their feedlot…posts the seed, fertilizer, chemical companies responsible for these beautiful acres and acres and acres of corn and soybeans.  These farms have big beautiful homes.  There is money in this kind of farming.

The steel plant we came from was massive with multiple scales and scale houses…warehouses, steel yards with all kinds of steel, mountains of scrap.  Oh how I’d love to do sculpture work with this!  10, 20, 30…maybe more big trucks were there when we were…getting loaded, unloaded, pulling in, leaving.

This little town, Winsor, it’s downtown, situated along a 2-lane highway.  It is a town of wonderful old farmhouses, gardens and feed silos.  This highway is the way in and out for big trucks. They roar and rumble through town all day and all night.

We went for a walk after supper.  The people were friendly enough…I wondered at the health of them.  We stroll past the grocery store looking in.  I say, you can tell a lot about a community by looking at what is in their grocery store… what do they eat.  I never saw any big box stores but I also didn’t see a clothing or kitchen or appliance or any store for supplies besides the grocery and an ACE hardware.  I wonder is it because they support their local, small businesses downtown?  Other than the community center and bingo there were no other people walking around downtown.  We did see a NO COSTCO sign as we drove into town.  Why would these people not want a Costco?  Is it because it’s a big box store?  I am still wondering if there is a Walmart someplace else here.  Interesting, complicated, complex questions and answers and problems and solutions.  Life.  Humans.  The people that live here work in the big steel plant, grain plants, big stockyards and big meat processing plants.  Their livelihood depends on these big businesses.

None of us can possibly speak for anyone else or know for sure that our own beliefs are absolutely right for anyone else.  What I love is this wonderful opportunity to see people right here in this country that are different than I am now but not so different than where I came from.  I see them and know their names.  I grew up with them.  I understand their beliefs and decisions however different they are from my own.  I get to see it and understand it.  We’re all the same, we’re all connected.  We all depend on each other and this interconnectedness for our own survival.  Maybe it’s the nails made from this steel we buy from the home depot or the steak we buy at the grocery store, the executive that sells fertilizer or we know someone that drives a truck and hauls it all from one place to another.

All of our lives and livelihoods depend greatly on other people that may be very different and have very different beliefs than our own.

We sit now in a Lowes distribution center in St. Joseph, Missouri waiting for them to load a trailer that we will take to Des Moines, Iowa.  We were supposed to be in Des Moines by 4 this afternoon to take the truck in for service.  I brought a dress and we planned on having a date for dinner out of the truck together.  We have been sitting here now for hours and hours and hours staring at forklifts loading trailers.  We wait and wait and wait.  We will not get to Des Moines in time.

The truck driver:

My truck has an onboard computer and through it I log all my, on duty, drive and sleeper birth times.  Also, through this device, I receive communications from the trucking company I drive for.  They tell me where to go, what to pick up.  All that stuff.  I also can send messages to all the other departments in the company that I may need to contact in order to do my job.  When I am dispatched on a load, the load screen gives me the address, direction and specific information about the load area.  The load I have on the trailer now was identified as steel coils on the load screen.  Some steel coils are flat sheets of steel sometimes 2 ft. wide, rolled up like toilet paper into a coil.  Sometimes these coils can be 4 ft. wide of varying thicknesses.  Todays load of steel coils are not flat steel, the steel coils are wire spun into a coil, like thread.  The specific diameter of the steel wire of thread, if you will, is 7-32nd inch.  I have 9 of these coils each weighing 5,400 pounds.  This wire product will most likely be turned into reinforcement wire of some sort.  It may be shaped into a mesh or maybe a hoop shape or basket shape to reinforce concrete products.  Many different things.  You probably see big trucks, flatbed trailers with these steel wire coils on them routinely.

I have hauled steel wire coils from a place in St. Louis down to a place in Kentucky and there they are turned into automotive parts, suspension parts, steering linkage, springs, sway

bars, strut rods, axel shafts.  I have seen special machines that grasp these wire coils, rotate them up into the air and place them onto a bobbin sort of device that will enable the wire coil to be unspooled like thread on a sewing machine.  Robots. They grasp the end of the wire and it feeds into another machine effortlessly like thread into the working of a sewing machine to be consumed by the machine and fashioned into various parts.  These factory environments almost always smell of oil, rust, heat.

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