My heart goes out to the truckers in the Convoy that drove to Ottawa to protest the mandates. I applaud those headed to Washington DC, now. In fact, I am partial to all truckers everywhere. This is because I had a brief, semi-secret life as a trucker’s girlfriend.
It may surprise you to know that I once traveled all over the west with a man in a Big Rig. I was simply besotted by that guy. The origin story of that romance is too long and complicated to give it justice here. The important part is that I agreed when he spoke to me on the phone one day asking me to come to ride with him. “In the truck?” I asked incredulously. I knew he owned a truck but riding across the county in it had not been on my radar.
“Yes,” he said, “I want you to come with me for about two weeks. It will be fun!” After some questions about how one lives in a truck, “where’s the bathroom?” (Answer: at the truck stop) and “do you mean sleep in the truck??? NOT hotels?” (Answer: Yes, sleep in the truck) I gave it some thought and told him I would do it. It was one of those life choices that can not be described to someone who was not living in my skin. My children were scandalized. But no one tried to stop me.
Sitting in the cab of an 18 wheeler is a powerful “trip”. Those trucks are BIG. The height gives the rider a bird’s-eye view of the road and the world in general. One of the most fun two-week spans of my life was spent living with a lover in the cab of his Volvo Big-rig. It was not a new truck. In fact, we passed the 1,000,000 mile mark while I was with my unlikely boyfriend (who shall remain nameless here).
After agreeing to drive out west with him, I drove to meet him at the starting point in Atlanta where he was based. He showed me the truck where we would be living. I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable it was. The tricky part was climbing up into it. The two seats, drivers and passenger seats, in the front of the cab, were extremely comfortable. The dashboard and chairs were equipped with all sorts of amenities. And the seats could recline or swivel around to look into the back of the cab which was equipped with a table and two benches with a single bunk bed above them. A closet for clothes occupied one side and an alcove with a small refrigerator and a microwave on the other. There were big windows in the sides of the back of the cab but these came with serious shades which remained closed. The space was carpeted and padded with upholstery of cozy, pale gray leather. It was amazingly spacious. If two people needed a bigger bed there was a double bed which fitted where the table and benches were located. It was easier just to leave this in place as we ate most of our meals at truck stops.
What I learned about truckers surprised me. There are all sorts, all races, all ages, and both sexes. One day I was making a small purchase in a shop at a Truck Stop and the sales lady asked, “Are you a trucker?” I laughed and said, “Do I look like a trucker?” And she said, “Well, years ago I would have said ‘NO!’ But these days there are all sorts of truckers and some of them look very feminine and pretty.” I took that as a great compliment.
The truck stops we used were all extremely nice, clean, and full of things to do. There were games, big-screen TVs, shops, hardware for truckers, and restaurants serving delicious and plentiful food. Those who drive these giant vehicles need to spend some downtime. There are rules they must follow to keep everyone safe on the road. They are not allowed to drive more than a certain number of hours without taking rest days. Sort of like airline pilots. Those I saw were all good drivers, safe and sane, and organized about their schedules.
The truck stops are clearly visible from the road with very high signs you can see from the highway. I believe there are some which are more upscale than others. Everywhere that we stayed the amenities were plentiful. The bathrooms were large and luxurious. Often with marble walls and floor, and a tub with a separate shower, toilet, sink, and plenty of space. You ask for a bathroom key and they give you a towel along with the key and off you go. Of course, you can bring a towel of your own if you wish, and extra soap or shampoo or whatever you wish. Shower shoes are recommended for walking in strange bathrooms.
It was not unusual for us to eat dinner by 6:00 pm and be in bed by 7 and on the road by 2 or 3 am or even earlier. Though we sometimes slept later. If we got a start at 6 am we were not unhappy about it. But the traffic was lighter the earlier we began our drive. Everyone I met was nice, friendly, and non-threatening. I felt totally safe the entire time in all those different truck stops in so many states. Truck drivers are salt of the earth. “It is like being a cowboy!” my friend told me. They are “real”. Not fake and not superficial, they know what is right and what is wrong. They are independent and individual and they are self-sufficient. On the other hand, they will help out a stranger at a moment’s notice and ask for nothing in return. They have a type of “Truckers Law” which includes being honest, honorable, trustworthy, and resourceful.
Driving a truck is work, not the least of it when parking or backing up. Sometimes my guy would need to change the balance of the truck this took precision. I marveled at how he could possibly have been able to do that by himself. Even with me saying “Yes, you are right over the spot.” It was not an easy target. When delivering a load he was able to aim that huge truck backing slowly into place exactly in line with the loading dock. The loads’ contents were normally emptied by others. So heavy lifting for the actual drivers is mostly just to do with the truck itself. We did keep it clean after a messy load. Sometimes a load of potatoes left a dusty residue or something with straw as a buffer left a whole lot of squiggles of straw to sweep up. A truck is big. It takes a long time to sweep one clean inside. That truck had a personality. It did not have a name but it should have. I always thought of it as Marvin, though there is no particular reason for that. It was just something that hovered in my mind but was never spoken. I didn’t want to insult my friend who was the owner of this big rig. And Marvin just did not sound very dignified. The affection I felt for that truck remains long after my romance cooled.
Those two weeks were just so much fun! What a means for sightseeing! Of course, that was a side issue, but for me, it was one of the main things. Oh! The things we saw! A double rainbow all the way across the highway seemed to stay in front of us for hours as we drove towards it. Herds of deer, flocks of birds, and even buffalo were things we viewed along the way. If only I had kept a diary. We crossed the Mississippi and I barely noticed. We drove across Arkansas, Oklahoma and it was flat. New Mexico was cool (but HOT) and we were barely into Arizona before we were out of it again and heading for Utah. I had never been there and never seen the great Salt Lake. We were briefly in Nevada and then Idaho. We drove into Montana and then down to Wyoming and across Nebraska. I may have forgotten South Dakota in my haste to list all the many states we drove through. Then we headed down through Iowa and into Missouri and Rt # 66. Somehow we got back across the Mississippi River but I cannot remember from where. That trip is pretty much a blur nowadays. But the spirit of it remains with me. The freedom. The feeling that the whole country was laid out before us and we could go wherever we wanted.
That is what I wish for everyone in the USA. And elsewhere, as well. I wish those citizens in all communist countries were as free as I have felt for most of my life. It is only in the last two years that I have felt really confined by ridiculous rules, here at home. And I do NOT like it. The strange veil of fear and constraint which has befallen the entire world due to a virus with a 99.8% survival rate baffles me. Mandates have no place in American life. Forcing people to accept a medical procedure is abominable. Masks do not work. Rise up, everyone!
Now that we are suddenly under threat of world war III perhaps people will wake from their fearful trance and stand up for our country. I hope so. Go Truckers!
Copyright©. 2022 Bonnie B. Matheson