Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway
Chapter XXIII: The Beginning
"Let me show you an easy way of downshifting," Lyman, the old man, said. "Use your left foot on the brake pedal and use your right to jump up the rpm's. It beats the way you're doing it that's for sure!"
I had always dropped my rpms down real low and then shifted in a race to keep from picking up rpms too fast. Never even thought of using my left foot. I remembered always being told to always use your right foot. It sure did smooth up my downhill goings. I already liked the job knowing I was learning from an old timer and hadn't learned much from anyone before. It was still nervous on me driving with my new boss in the passenger seat. He made it easier talking to me like we've been friends for years.
He must have been something in his early days. He had to have been one of them wild and crazy drivers just the way he acted. He should have retired years ago but still hobbled in a truck off and on. They said he had talked of "selling out" for years but said it'd probably be his kids that "sell out" once he's dead and gone and they have inherited the business.
It had been an interesting day of driving. I wasn't used to all the bouncy dirt roads and tight turns but it gave me a good feeling driving off the beaten path. I stank like crazy though and figured it would take about three hot soaking showers just to get that smell out of my skin. They were hauling cows yesterday but we were running today, tommorrow and the next. No wonder the other driver didn't put up a fuss about going to Texas.
I hoped I didn't have to haul too many sheep in my life. It wasn't the highlight of my existence anyways. Crawling around on hands and knees getting soaked in sheeps "mud" with some dripping on my neck and head from above. It felt good when the last one was off and we could get out of the overalls and back on the road again. I didn't even have to tell Kathy what I was hauling today. She knew when I got within 100 feet of her and she told me not to even think about hugging and kissing until I showered. I tried but wasn't fats enough to catch her. I did get one of the kids who wasn't fast enough. She didnt seem to mind that stinky smell though her nose twitched at first and she exclaimed, "Eeeeyouuu, what's that smell." She did move pretty quick when we told her what the smell was from.
The next few days were just as interesting and on Friday Lyman told me to take the weekend off. He gave me all the information to leave at three in the morning on Monday for Texas. A load of bulk potatoes down to Dallas and a load of beer back up to Grand Junction. Then he lectured me like a dad on how to drive with beer in the trailer making me paranoid like I was hauling fine chinaware. I never heard of anyone ever being so careful about protecting beer before. That's what put food on his table so I did understand though.
I spent the whole weekend playing the new role as step dad and enjoyed every minute of it. It did get frustrating at times with the bickering and fighting but laughing at the things the kids did sure did make it worth the time. I liked this new life that had just seemed to fall into place. There's no experience like reading a bedtime story to a child. Or being joked at by your love who exclaims, "Wow, I didn't know you could read!" in a hillbilly accent. Or when momma was gone and time for a pillow fight. I wasn't sure how to act around kids at first, but I learned they are easy to love.
The time flew until Monday morning and I was excited about making a run to Texas. I had my load information for going down and for coming back and didn't need to call unless something happened. "Wow", I thought. "It'll be nice not having to spend half my life on the phone. Won't even need one unless I run into trouble." Something I planned not to do.
The trip seemed just what I needed for awhile. Just long enough to keep me in the saddle but home enough to have a start with my new life. No more depressed lonelieness. No more wondering what purpose life has on earth. I learned it was to share with others and without that sharing, there's just emptiness. It was a four day journey and yet I experienced homesickness, something that didn't rally happen before. At least not that quick. I was in love.
My whole trip was filled with thoughts of Kathy and the kids. It was a new day in my life, one where I could have my cake and eat it too. I could be out on the road in my big truck spending time with what I love...and come home to spend time with the people I love.