Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway

We did go around Dodge City and took in the town. Thankfully, we decided to take a nap after lunch and I had no problem sleeping. When I awoke my dad was gone walking around town again. Whenever he embarks on these excursions he spends days talking about historical tidbits and I enjoy listening to the stories. So, I knew for the next few days I would have enough talk to keep me up while driving. When Dad got back we decided to grab a bite and then head down to Oklahoma City for the morning delivery.

Since the pick up was in my area, I had done this load occasionally. As usual, I parked and slept in front of the dock door until awakened by the sudden banging on my sleeper. After getting unloaded I was disappointed to find out that there were quite a few of us laid over in OKC. The dispatchers weren't sure how long of a wait and it was back to the familiar call-me-back torture. I felt like seeing a movie while we waited. My dad and I found one we both agreed to watch. After the movie I found out we would be there for sure overnight so we found a tavern to have a few beers and shoot some pool. That is probably one of my favorite things I like to do with dad.

He learned to be a little pool shark in the Marines and sometimes I would even feel like knocking him out. I loved to join in, partnering in his hustling and enjoyed seeing others get frustrated beside myself. That was one point of contention between my dad and mother growing up. Wherever we lived, the normal living room of the house was turned into a poolroom and the smaller den or side room became the living room. My brothers and I never voiced a complaint against that vanity! The good part about drinking and playing pool for me was that I had an excuse for lousy shots. My dad on the other hand seemed to improve with the drinks. I think it made him bolder and more willing to take a risk. That's how he practiced at home--taking risk and trick shots. As they say, practice makes perfect.

The next day we found a load from a driver who was ready for time off and was dropping his trailer in the yard destined for Woodland, California. It was a good thing because the trailer I dropped in the yard to bobtail everywhere had already disappeared. I always hated having to spend hours looking for an empty trailer worthy enough for the road. I knew better than to drop an empty trailer, but with my dad with me I wasn't too worried about moving on.

We headed back toward the house and my dad agreed to help drive so I could have an extra day at the house to see my future wife. Kathy didn't know it yet, but I did. On the check-in calls, with my dad driving, I had to figure out where I was fictitiously so my driver supervisor wouldn't think I was driving nonstop. I'd be ten hours ahead of where I would tell him and always wondered what would happen if I had road problems. I wasn't sure if I could stick it out somewhere for ten hours or more before calling in. I was excited to get home to see my honey and my step-kids. Wow, soon I would be a step-dad. I had it all planned out and knew Kathy would follow those plans. I hoped.

I let my dad take the daytime hours since I was used to the nights. The hardest part was that he would keep up the logbook, but when we got to where we were going I would have to figure everything out with me doing all the driving. At least this way it would get me home quickly. It did seem quick getting home. We got home while the neighborhood was still in bed and decided to park the truck at the truck stop and walk home. The last thing my neighbors needed was a noisy, vibrating truck going through the mobile home park in the wee hours of the night. I was soon asleep in the messy house with the makeshift tent still up. It felt good to be home. With my truck at the truck stop no one except my mom knew we were home.

It was noon before I woke up and my driver supervisor was frustrated with my late check in. I managed to squeamishly work my way into giving my two weeks notice. He asked for my final date and wrote it down. Somehow in my mind I figured he would actually be disappointed or upset at my quitting. He didn't care. He was used to the turnover rate; that was part of his job. I felt relieved that I had finally put my notice in, whether it was a weak attempt or not. The task was done. I was excited and apprehensive, wondering what I would do next. I was reassured after going to the local sand and gravel company and told I would have a job waiting for me. An hourly job with no logbooks, no scale houses, no driver supervisors, no hurry up and no waiting at warehouses. Life was going to be good after all!

Kathy and the kids were out of town visiting friends and weren't back before I had to leave. I was frustrated because I wanted to start my courtship with my future bride. I knew she would go along with my plans. I had it planned that way. At least I only had two weeks on the road left. Then I could spend the rest of my life with Kathy and the kids in the house with the white picket fence.

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