Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway
Chapter IV: Misery Loves Company
When a person falls into a rut it seems almost impossible to get out. I never noticed before, but I allowed myself to get swallowed up in the road. That is how my life was transformed.
A woman named Alice brought my mind back to a sense of reality. There really is life beyond the inside of my cab. I began to think: "What do I like to do? Do I like to golf? Do I like to fish? Do I like to go bowling? I haven't bowled in years. Do adults roller-skate?" I watched movies and imagined doing different things, but never did them.
Well, so much for sleep with all these thoughts crowding my mind. I threw on my clothes. I loaded up my coffee thermos and splashed cold water on my face. At least traffic isn't too bad this time of night. I put a few miles under my belt, but as the sun rose in the distance, the tiredness is too hard to fight. I feel the tingles in my face and the headache behind my eyes. Thankfully a rest area sign informs me of a much-needed stop ahead.
A few hours later I woke up and peeked out of the curtain. The bright sun glared in my face and I felt just as tired as I did before. I laid down and fell back to sleep. When I awoke it was the familiar game of playing catch up. I drove for a few hours with a pounding headache and a great weight behind my eyes. It seemed if I didn't push myself I could probably sleep an entire week straight and still be sleep depraved.
"I don't usually do this," I thought to myself, "but I have to get off the road for a break!" I almost changed my mind at the last minute, but followed my right turn signal to the off-ramp. I pulled down to the bottom of the ramp and noticed a K-Mart to the right with several semis already parked there. I squeezed through the lot and found a spot beside the other trucks, releasing a sigh in unison with the brakes being set.
"Hey mister, you want a kitty?" came the voice of a cute little girl with wavy brown hair. She was so adorable with beautiful brown eyes beaming. It brought back thoughts of my babies. How would it be if I was still with them? To hear the magical word, "Daddy." I peeked into the box and saw several little furry critters and knew without thinking that I wouldn't leave empty handed. I chose the runt of the bunch, which happened to be the ugliest. I figured it would be the last to be taken, if at all, and figured misery loves company.
I took Misery back to the truck and placed him on some laid out newspapers. I sat there and played with him for a couple of minutes, brushing his fuzzy coat and letting his sandpaper tongue lick my fingers. "I better go get you a few goodies there, buddy," I whispered to Misery.
I walked back to the wavy haired girl and teased her that I was ready for another kitty because I just finished eating the other. The girl gasped while I giggled and told her I was kidding. The poor girl is probably still traumatized by the trucker who ate one of her kittens. I quickly found the pet aisle and went to work. A bed, a litter box, cat litter, a toy mouse, canned kitty food, flea collars, shampoo. I was starting to wonder if I had room in the truck for a cat.
I set the kitten's bed up in view where I could keep an eye on him while I was driving. It was time to get back on the road. I blew my air horn as I pulled out, waving at the little girl and getting a few glares from others for interrupting their day with a horn blast. I laughed as I pulled out and was quickly back on the highway never to see that place again.
I think that has been the hardest part about driving. You meet a person and talk for a while and, more times than not, you never see them again. You go through so many places, usually in such a hurry that you forget where you've been. You only know the date because it's on your logbook. If you forgot to log a day off, you're behind a day until the driver supervisor sets you straight. He isn't too happy because the safety department is screaming to get you straightened out.
Each day of the week is no different than another and blends together in a dizzying blur. You know the months by the changing logbooks, but sometimes still have to think about it for a moment. By April, maybe May, you are finally writing the right year automatically. Holidays are like any other day and if you actually get home you don't really know how to act.
Finally I end the day with a fuzzy critter tickling my shoulder as he nibbles on an ear lobe. There was no trouble sleeping through this night.