Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway

I pulled over in a rest area a few miles before the Kansas line and offered my dad the wheel. He needing his occasional fix behind the wheel and gladly took the offer. Most drivers who aren't used to having someone else drive their truck would find it hard to sleep. I had the same problem with some people, but with my dad it seemed different. Maybe it was knowing that my dad could do anything and do it better. That was the way I viewed him all my life. He was a man who you looked up to and respected. If he wasn't, he would have never made it to Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps with thirty-one years in.

It didn't take me long to fall asleep. It could have been fatigue or it could've been Highway 50 across western Kansas. Whichever reason, it didn't matter to me as long as I was sleeping. It seemed I never could get a full, uninterrupted night of sleep. I tried thinking back to when I used to sleep all night and nothing came to mind. Maybe that was the problem. I was always so worried about getting a solid, eight-hours of sleep that I couldn't sleep for the sake of frustration. My dad seemed to be doing fine and I felt safe enough to take a nap.

When we got to Dodge City at the truck stop, my dad woke me up. With my dad helping out with the driving I was well ahead of schedule. I was about five hours away with a day and two nights to get there.

My dad was a history buff and loved to read about western tales and folklore. Dodge City was full of history and I decided that in the morning we would go to the museums and sights of the area. I figured if I could leave around seven the next night, it'd put us in Oklahoma City at midnight and give us a good night's sleep. It was one of the places I liked where you could just back a few feet from the dock and they would bang on your sleeper to wake you up. Then all that was needed was to pop the doors open and back in.

The nap made it hard for me to sleep, but it seemed my dad didn't have any problem in that area. I got out and walked around chain smoking while thinking of how I'd give my two weeks notice to my driver supervisor during the check in call in the morning. Most drivers would just have them route them back to the terminal and turn in the truck, and not worry about notices. Some drivers would even dump their truck wherever they were at and just go home. There were a few times I felt the same way, but knew it was just frustration and the wrong thing to do. In most jobs it was customary to give two weeks and so that's what I would do! I was giving myself an ulcer just thinking about giving my notice. It was plain torture giving up a job even if I was treated like a number.

After I got back to my truck I sat up most of the night, sleepless, thinking of the near future and what was in store. Maybe I should just keep doing what I'm doing and not change anything. Maybe I just needed a break to get a fresh view of everything. Why does life get so confusing at times especially when the opposite sex is involved?

I couldn't honestly say whether I loved the road or not. I was just addicted to it; since being out of the military that's what I've done. That's what I do. I'm an over-the-road driver and maybe it should stay that way. Why should I get a local job where I'm home every night trying to figure out what to say or do with Kathy or whoever else? Confusion reigned all night. At least I only had five hours to my destination, if nothing happened.

I watched the sun come up and then the fatigue came on. I cursed to myself, complaining why I couldn't have felt tired earlier and slept! Soon Dad would be up and we would fill up on coffee and cigarette smoke for breakfast then take the entire day to scope-out the town of Dodge City. I felt like sleeping all day, but didn't want to spoil the plans.

I napped for a short while until I felt the truck jar from my dad's movement in the back. I was back to that feeling of drudge and the blues and it was only the second day out. At least it felt normal. We climbed out and found a booth in the cafe to get our fill of fresh-brewed coffee. My dad was a stickler when it came to fresh-brewed coffee. I remember the times growing up when he would go into McDonalds or any other place and make them brew up a pot right then. Some would put up a protest, yet always losing to my dad's staunch ways. At first I was embarrassed with his methods and then grew to enjoy his torturous dealings with the service industry.

I told him I would be back and that I had to go call in. As the phone rang, I contemplated the conversation of putting in my notice. I had it all rehearsed out in my head from the night before. My supervisor finally answered and immediately put me on hold. I always hated the phone. If I wasn't put on hold I was always told to call back in ten minutes. The dispatchers would actually mean an hour. Sometimes you could call all day and still be told to call back in ten minutes or an hour. Once they found something to dispatch then they would complain that you should have called back sooner. Sometimes it would even be a load that was supposed to have been picked up already. "No wonder there's an outrageous turnover," I mumbled bitterly to myself. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to give my notice.

The dispatcher finally came back on and had to be re-oriented to which driver I was. I gave him my location and my hours used and what was available, and told him when I would arrive at the consignee. Then I started to tell him timidly that I was putting my two weeks notice in. Before I could let that out he had abruptly said thanks and hung up rudely.

I walked back to the truck, trying to figure out which was the harder feat--giving my two weeks notice or the attempts I had made to call Alice. There was her name again, Alice; now history, Kathy, in her place.

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