My Truckin’ Truck Life

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Published on The Doomstead Diner December 7, 2017

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 I have a very distinct memory of being 8 years old and going with my father in his truck for the first time.  It had probably been somewhere between 6 months and a year since I had last seen him.  I saw him once or twice a year when I was a little child, and that was for many reasons, but the divorce of my mother and father at 4 years of age had a lot to do with it.  Like most of our stories it's complicated and nuanced. 
   
        In my memory I'm 8 years old, and I've got on a matching green sweatpants and sweatshirt ensamble, and my father is calling me “grasshopper” as I'm climbing up into his Semi truck, and he's laughing and smiling.  The feeling associated with this is one of fulfillment, contentment, and complete joy.  I've got a lot of memories from these visits.  I would go with him for a week or so at a time, and I would ride all over the country as he delivered loads.  Another vivid memory is going to sleep in the sleeper while he drove.  I opened the sleeper window and listened to the sounds of the road, and was rocked to sleep in a young boys bliss, in the company of his mostly absent father, to the smell of diesel. 
   
        Now I have two young boys.  My oldest is the same age I was at the beginning of these trucking memories of mine.  He knows that I love him, and that I'm proud of him, as does my youngest son.  I talk to them often from the road, as times have changed for truckers.  I have a headset and an iphone, and everything is hands free.  We do facetime.  The other day I sat at the table and watched my boys drink hot chocholate and eat Oreo cookies.  They were in South Carolina at home,  and I was in my sleeper in Kentucky.  My wife propped the iphone up on the table and pointed it at my children as I watched via facetime.  When I was a boy I was only able to speak to my father if he stopped at a pay phone or drove through my town and was able to stop. 
   
        I talk to my wife at least once a day, as I drive freight down the road.  Mostly I transport metal coils, lumber, ceiling panels and the like as I pull a flatbed trailer.  I'm loaded and unloaded via crane and forklift.  My responsibilities are to secure the loads with straps and chains and to transport them safely to the consignee.  I make .39 cents per mile as well as $22 dollars for lumber tarps and $11 for steel tarps.  I've been averaging about $170 a day, and I'll be able to increase that average to around $220 a day as I get better and more efficient at performing my job duties.
   
        After completing phase one of my training, that is passing the exam and acquiring a CDL, I went home for about 10 days before starting phase 2.  That phase involved going over the road with a trainer for three weeks.  I was flown to Phoenix Arizona to start phase two.  The company I work for has been actively increasing their flatbed fleet, and as a result they have more trainees then trainers, and the only available trainer was in Phoenix, so off I flew.  I was able to visit my pregnant cousin and her mother, my aunt, on the day that I flew into Phoenix since they both live there. 
   
        The first active load that I ever drove had me driving within a quarter of a mile of my fathers current house.  I could have driven that load to anywhere in the united states, and I drove right past my fathers house.  We currently are not talking to one another, and it has been that way since 2014 when he and my wife got into an argument while we were visiting for Christmas.  It's tragic and stupid, but there it is.  At any rate, I drove right past his house.  That night, I got off on Cherry road in Fontana California to spend the first night in a Semi truck.  That exit was the exit off of I-10 that my father used to live off of.  The drop yard we stayed in that night was on the same street as my father's old terminal.  It seemed I could not escape this fate, and this was the message I received.  This is fate. 
   
        The second load brought me further into southern California.  I delivered the second load to an alluminum facility that was five blocks away from my mother's current address.  Unfortunately I was not able to visit with my mother.  Even though I could have walked to her house in about 15 minutes, she was busy with work, and I was exhausted with learning a new career.  She's having a house built 10 miles from my current address, in what's been a cow pasture for a century or more, and so neither of us were willing to sacrifice much by way of sleep that day seeing as how she'll soon be living near me. 
   
        I still don't understand this seeming parental coincidence.  Was God trying to tell me something (I currently do not believe in God)?  Is driving a semi truck part of some larger plan for me?  Was driving past my father and mothers house on my first two loads just coincidence?  The first time I ever drove a semi truck, in phase one, U2 came on the radio just as I took the wheel.  Pride was the song.  Another memory I have as a child with my father in his semi truck is listening to U2 blaring from the radio as we drove down the road.  My father loved U2, and it's no coincidence that I have a U2 tatoo on my chest.  It's also no coincidence that I'm writing this from the sleeper of my semi truck.  How strange this life is.  I could have been anything, and yet here I am, finally (and that's exactly how it feels) a truck driver. 
   
         The influence fathers have on their children is immense, and even more so when they are mostly gone.  My childhood was spent mostly longing for the validation of my father, and in confusion as to why he was not there, and as to why he would make plans to see me only to not show up.  Why was he a truck driver?  Inherent proclivities?  Whatever the reason, now I am a truck driver, and I'm just fine with that…on one level at least.  On another level I'm not okay with it.  It's a surrender.  As I slit the carotid supplying idealism with realism, and as I grow up into mediocre and jaded, and as I give up hope…
   
        On a good day I'm getting about 7.4 mpg driving this semi around.  The two fuel tanks hold 100 gallons of diesel each, and I drive about 400 miles a day.  There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million other trucks doing the same.  We are the literal heart of the economy, and all of that diesel makes it possible.  Whether you agree with it or not, I'm sure you buy stuff, and if you buy stuff then you are voting with your dollars to continue perpetuating this trucking paradigm.  Even locally grown and produced food is transported on semi truck trailers.  Do you live in a house and drive a car, or ride a bike?  Do you wear clothing and go to the doctor?  Everything that collectively makes up our way of life is possible because of those 4 million truckers.  I remember having the epiphany, before I decided to be a trucker, that I relied on groceries from the grocery store and therefore I relied on truckers.  It was a mental and moral defeat for me.  I was agreeing with the way things are because I was eating food.  That is how all pervasive trucks are to our way of life.  You can't even be alive without trucks in this country.  How depressing is that? 
   
        It's bitter sweet for me.  I love most everything about being a trucker.  I love that I'm left alone.  I'm left completely alone.  Everyday I'm by myself, and the only interaction I have with people is at the shipper, consignee, and truck stops as I'm checking in, being loaded and unloaded, paying for my scales, buying morning coffee, and acquiring a shower amongst the other things I need that I can't get from my truck.  For the most part it's just me, satellite radio, and the road.  I have to deal with people by way of their car extensions, and people are their most retarded when behind the wheel of a car.  They are also the most narcissistic and intolerant while driving.  However, I don't see their faces because I'm so much higher up.  I'm the biggest thing on the road, and so I'm not able to be pushed around.  I like that about it as well. 
   
         I don't like most other truckers I run into, and I think the feeling is mutual, but then I don't like most other people regardless of their profession.  It's the same with all people.  Most people in Merika are angry, disgruntled, jaded, financially strapped, and intolerant of others, and all of that regardless of what they do to make money.  I've been struck by just how poorly the people in the trucking world treat me.  The people at the shippers, consignees, and other truckers that I meet mostly treat me as though my presence is a minor hindrance at best, and at worst they talk to me as though I'm an inmate of a personal prison in which they are the warden. 
   
         I've noticed that people think they can talk to truck drivers as though we are the lowest rung of society, and I find that interesting since the job we perform actually allows this dysfunctional society to exist in the first place.  Yet, even truckers can't help but to treat their fellow truckers like shit.  It's peculiar to me, and I think it's indicative of something deep within our collective psyche.  It's like we all know that this arrangement is bullshit, and yet we all can't help but to participate in it.  It's not unlike the self loathing heroine junkie.  That's what our country has become.  We are a collective mass of self loathing, homeless, derelict, and virtuless heroine junkies.  We're all fighting for the biggest dose of the purist heroine so that we can overdose and put an end to it just before we liter the world with plastic piss bottles. 

3 Responses to My Truckin’ Truck Life

  • SW_PA says:

    I think it's fairly harmless to be a heroine junkie; heroin, on the other hand, is bad news.  A bit of editing on the last few sentences would improve the article, which is otherwise interesting reading.

  • Bee says:

    Not so sure we have become a country of self loathing, homeless, derelict heroin junkies, if that is all you see then perhaps you need to change your social circle. A wild youth spent hitchhiking America, including rides with more than a few truckers, revealed to me mostly people just trying to get by, taking pleasure in family and friends when they could, and filling in the gaps with hobbies ranging from hunting to the occasional beach vacation. Our world has definitely changed since then, and for the worse I agree, but please don't let coastal bastions of consumerism influenced by Hollywood be the metric that you judge the entire country by. There are small towns strewn across flyover country chock a block full of good people forgotten by the current paradigm, still just getting by as best they can, and avoiding the pothead syndrome that appears to be part and parcel of the way America is trending nowadays. 

  • Lucid Dreams says:

    Bee, I know you are right.  If I'm being completely honest, which is my default setting, I was just in a mood when I wrote that piece.  Also, after I wrote it, I drank some and then edited.  You can probably see the alcohol edits if you look with a discerning eye.  Whatever, I drink, and so it has an influence on my writing.  Of course, I only drink on my 34 hour resets…that is, when I'm not going to be driving for 34 hours. 

    So, yeah, most Merikans really are not bad people.  I think a good part of my problem is that a lot of the jobs surrounding the trucking industry simply suck donkey legs.  People are miserable when they work in a plant that produces metal coils, or lumber, or any industrial prodcut, and that is what I transport.  I can atest to the fact that when you have to wear a hard hat, safety glasses, steel toed boots, ear plugs, pants, and long sleeves every day at work…all day…rain, shine, hot, or cold…your work lifes sucks ass and therefore your mood sucks a lot of the time. 

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