Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway

It was good to be back running again with my mind in the frame it needed to be in. I was actually happy to be sitting behind the steering wheel staring out the windshield while making routine glances in the mirror. On the move again. I was so good at that, moving around, stricken with that awful disease of wanderlust. The wanderlust kept me moving for so long that my social skills were waning. Yet meeting Kathy and the kids seemed to give me the feeling of actually being a socialite.

I was headed over to Palisade, Colorado, to pick up a load destined for Oklahoma City. I preferred loads from one end of the country to the other. I liked to stretch my feet and not have to worry about loading every other day or more frequently. Usually I would be disappointed at a short run, especially one where I didn't have two full days of driving, but I was glad to be back on the road.

My dad records books on tapes routinely for me and I put on "Cold Sassy Tree" read by ole John Boy from the Waltons. I half heard the reading while the other half of my mind drifted into thoughts of watching the Waltons. I laughed to myself as I remembered my siblings and I hollering across the house saying our good nights as if we were the Waltons. Idiots, I thought.

When I got to the loading dock I was the only one there to pick up so it went quicker than I had planned. My route went back by the house and since the load wasn't rushed I figured I would spend the night at the house. Since I was loaded and ready to go I didn't feel like dropping the trailer and bob tailing to the house so I walked.

Now that's a sight--a truck driver who actually parks a couple miles from the house and walks home. I was surprised I didn't go into cardiac arrest. I was surprised that I wasn't sore from playing with Kathy's kids during my time off. Just as I was thinking of that, Kathy and the kids were coming out of Gibson's and saw me walking. It looked like I wouldn't have to walk the full marathon like I thought I would have to.

It felt good to have her kids all excited to see me. Something about it made me feel like a million dollars. I had Kathy drop me off at my parents' house so I could visit with them. Dad and I sat on the front porch in half broken and decrepit chairs filling our lungs with smoke and our bodies full of coffee. Out of nowhere my dad asked, "So, when you going to marry her?" I knew he was joking but the thought overwhelmed my mind.

"I wouldn't mind marrying that gal, dad." I answered.

Wrong answer. Along with forgotten stories of commitments came advice about not being hasty in relationships with the opposite sex. I really didn't mind such talks. I knew it was a way for him to appease the "hope you don't have to learn the hard way like me" looking back agony. As a teenager who knew a little more than he could ever know, I always considered these talks torture. Now they gave me the feeling like of bonding to my father and I was glad we actually had an open communication thing going. We finally got around to where I was headed and I offered him a shotgun position to Oklahoma City. Every once in awhile he would go on a trip with me and he was ready for another. It was always good to have a companion on the road so I was glad he said he would ride along.

My dad retired a couple years back and had dreamed of the days he would go into trucking after he retired. I took him on the road before he committed to training for an over the road job. Riding along for six weeks made him realize he would enjoy his retirement better not dealing with what I had to deal with. Yet he still had that trucking bug that needed to be fed every once in awhile. I helped him out by taking him along every once in awhile and he helped me out by providing me company. It had been awhile since he rode along. I would let him drive every so often which seemed to fulfill his yearning for that American dream.

I remembered back to the first time I let him drive. I put him behind the wheel west of Salt Lake and told him to pull off into the rest area just before the scales going out of Utah. I had just come from New York and was short in the sleep department so, after seeing that he had control of the truck, I fell asleep. I woke up between Elko and Battle Mountain, Nevada. I couldn't believe I had slept that long nor that he had crossed the scales with no problem. At least I hoped he went across the scales. I always wondered if he had crossed the scales, but I never asked, not being sure if I wanted to know the answer. Since then I routinely let him drive for his enjoyment and leftover longing from his oil rig days back in the fifties. I had managed to get him prepared for the driving tests and he had a license now, so I wouldn't have to worry about a ticket in that department.

I stayed for dinner, which was my secret intention in the first place, and avoided having macaroni and cheese or ramen noodles. When I got to my trailer the kids showed up wondering why it had taken so long. They brought Misery in the house and immediately started playing. I think they liked the change in routine as much as I did. Kathy came over and saw the tent the kids had arranged in my living room and the shambles that the house appeared in. I managed to convince her that the majority of the mess was my doing and managed to get her on the porch before the children received the wrath of Mom. We sat on the stairs quietly watching the sun go down. The kids forgot the order to clean up and it was getting close to bath time. So I covered for them and said I'd take care of the mess. They left. Kathy and I didn't really say much sitting there on that porch, but it sure felt good sitting there with her. I wanted to grab her hand and, a time or two, even wanted to lean over and kiss her.

I didn't bother cleaning the mess up at all. I crawled onto the couch cushions under the makeshift blanket tent and laid there thinking out my trip. I soon fell asleep, but woke several times with a kinked neck or back, and finally moved to my bed.

Long before the sun rose my dad and I were on the road driving in the moonlight. I loved it at this time. Sometimes when there was no traffic I would shut off my lights and it would seem like I was floating along the highway. It was good being on the road again!

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